Copywriting Codex: How Not to Do Cold Email

How’s it going? I mentioned that I’d be critiquing a piece of spam email for the heck of it. And that day is today.

Let’s get to it. The business is between the “===.”


The sender is a guy I don’t know (the same first name as the guy who’s on the Columbian coffee bag), no last name.

The subject line is just my name, nothing more.

Then he writes:

Hello Ty, I’m bringing 3 new people into my system this season and I thought that you might be great for it.

I have attached your secure invitation, the password is <blah blah blah>.

I am looking forward to hearing back from you.



All right. I’ll get to the kicker down below, but there’s some other stuff first.

Am I humanity’s gift to cold email? Nope. There are people way better at it, and in the coming weeks, I’m going to learn from them, and hope to do it better.

But there are some things I see off the top:

The sender field put me off. I don’t have any friends that match the name of this guy at all. There’s no indication of what he does, or even a last name, which struck a chord on my weird meter.

The subject line isn’t interesting at all. Yes, it’s my name. And people like their name a lot (I know I do). But with no indication of what this email’s about, I’m not likely to open it, or be curious about it.

Zippo personalization. This is a big part of it. There’s almost nothing about me, even though he did say hi. He could have taken 5 seconds to Google me or something, to come up with a blog post that I wrote, and just briefly mention it to get my attention. To connect with me as a human being–as someone real who’s on the other side of the screen. There’s a bit of a compliment, okay, but without taking time to find out a little about me, how does he KNOW I’d be great? If he followed up with “because I saw your post on XYZ and thought your skill at ABC was a fit,” I may have been convinced. As it stands, nope.

And here’s the kicker: attached to the email is a 17 kilobyte PDF file. It’s labeled “invite” and has a random string of numbers after it. I NEVER (and I really mean that) open emails with attachments from somebody I don’t know. I’ve heard too many news stories, read too many Facebook statuses, and what-have-ya to run my life any other way. If I don’t know you, I’m not accepting attachments from you. That’s also why I put uncloaked web links into emails that I send to prospects–so they’ll know they’ll end up on my LinkedIn profile, or the samples page of my website.

There’s no fear, and no guesswork.

Yes, email is a great way to engage with prospects if you can’t/won’t do face-to-face meetings for some reason. And unfortunately, this message will probably get a response of some type, which will encourage this dude to keep on doing it.

But do your reputation a favor and don’t do it this way, all right?

Until next time,



About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
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