Notes on cold emails

In response to my post from day before yesterday on writing better copy for cold emails, Seth shared a thoughtful and passionate response –

“Cold email pitches are a trap.

Personalizing is different from personal.

Pretending that you’ve used someone’s software, listened to their podcast or used their onesie on your kid is a way of telegraphing your selfishness in just one sentence.¬†

Email costs nothing to send and a lot to read. When you (send a) cold pitch in email, you’re stealing–time, attention and trust.

Sorry, but the right advice is: don’t send cold email pitches.

Don’t build a business that depends on them.

You can do better.”

I reflected on this response and realized I had a couple of questions. The first – Cold emails are a key part of a growth marketer’s playbook. While I agree that we shouldn’t build businesses on these, aren’t they a key tool? And since so many of them are sent out, wouldn’t it be better if we learnt how to do them right?

To this, Seth shared that the difference in his mind was in whether this was in the context of a business or a person. There is no such thing as a cold email to a business as it is someone’s job to find the right products/services and respond. That is not the case when it comes to people. So, we’re better off making something people choose to talk about.

This distinction cleared it up in my mind. In case it was on your mind as well, I hope it clears it up for you too.

Some of the enduring lessons from writing this blog over the years have come from such exchanges and notes from you. So, to everyone who takes the time to write and add your own spin/perspective, I appreciate it. :-) Thanks for this one, Seth.

PS: While some of what I learn from Harry’s work on “Marketing Examples” is specific to certain kinds of advertising or marketing, most of my salient takeaways over the past 2 years has been in writing simpler copy. “Be plainspoken. Then write like you speak” is a lesson that never gets old.