cold email for digital marketing agency

Does Cold Email Work for Digital Marketing Agencies?

Key points

  1. Cold emailing can be an effective way for digital marketing agencies to generate leads and acquire new clients, but it requires a well-crafted message and a targeted approach.
  2. To increase the likelihood of a response, digital marketing agencies should research their target audience, personalize their message, and highlight their unique value proposition.
  3. By using a combination of empathy, authority, and credibility in their cold emails, digital marketing agencies can demonstrate their expertise and build trust with potential clients.

The short answer is: “yes, cold email is a perfectly viable option for an email marketing agency.”

The segue to the long answer is “…but not all the time, not for all agencies, and not for every situation under the sun.”

How to make cold email work for your marketing agency, and how to create cold emails that don’t fall on icy eyes?

I dug deep into this topic, and here’s what I found out.

What is cold email marketing?

Cold email marketing is one of many marketing strategies that has the goal of converting a list of leads into prospects, and finally clients. In order to accomplish that, a cold email outreach campaign targets anyone who might be interested in your service or product. Ideally, the campaign uses an email list that has been enriched with details such as:

  • first and last name

  • job title

  • email address

  • company name

Any other details, such as a blog post, or a product/service the lead offers, can be used in order to personalize the cold outreach sequence.

Top 7 tips for writing digital marketing agency cold emails

Although every digital agency is different, there are some general best practices you should follow when writing cold emails. The most important rules include the following.

Know your audience

Knowing who you’re sending an email to is absolutely crucial. Not only should you know what the person you’re emailing does, but also:

  • their full name

  • what they may be interested in learning about

  • what they like and don’t like

This way, you can tailor your message specifically to the reader and make your email as personalized as possible.

Knowing your target audience will help you:

  • Address them by their name,

  • mention recent articles they may have written,

  • refer to their pain points directly,

  • customize your solution, and

  • and use language they’re likely to respond to.

Further reading

Make your subject line stand out

Did you know we get about 121 emails every day? Plus, according to Statista, in 2023, we will collectively send more than 347 billion emails daily. That’s a lot of emails to sift through, so naturally, people are unlikely to open every message in their inbox.

In fact, we’re likely to open an email only if:

  • we know the sender (and we either know their email’s going to be important)

  • the subject line looks interesting

Clearly, when you send cold emails, you’re not in the first category. So your best bet is to get your subject line right. Use interesting, eye-catching words, and make sure it’s brief but descriptive. Emojis may help, but don’t overuse them, particularly if your target audience is not likely to appreciate them. Personalization and focusing on pain points will usually get you a better open rate.

Follow up

Of course, you don’t want to pester your prospects with too many emails. While sending multiple follow-ups will make your name more memorable, too many follow-ups can come off as pushy.

Still, it’s a good idea to send at least one or two follow-ups. Try to space them out with the help of software and use different words in the subject line with each one to keep your prospects interested.

Done right, a follow-up may work as a:

  • reminder (people are busy)

  • clarification (people may not have understood your message the first time)

  • an extra push nudge (people sometimes put off replying email)

Done wrong, it can:

  • make you look desperate

  • be seen as overbearing or pushy

So, be mindful of your approach and send follow-up emails that add relevance without making your prospects feel like they’re being chased.

Hook them

Has your prospect opened the email? Congratulations, but this is just the beginning of the battle. Now, you need to make sure they actually read it and respond. Your first lines have one main goal: to make the reader go through the following lines as well.

Although it might feel tempting to focus on yourself on those first lines, remember that we’re always more likely to keep reading if we relate to the text in front of us. And the easiest way to make your prospect feel curious is by putting them at the core of your entire message.

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.

—Dale Carnegie

Although this may sound a bit harsh, it is true: we’re far more likely to connect to a stranger that makes us feel important than we’re to connect with someone who starts off by talking about themselves.

Some of the ways you could do this (subtly) in your cold emails include:

  • referring to their accomplishments or aspirations

  • mentioning a mutual connection (even if it’s just digital)

  • asking something about their pain points

  • mentioning something they posted about on LinkedIn

  • referring to a recent blog post they wrote/were included in

The key here is to make your prospect feel like they’re being listened to. Once you’ve accomplished this, you can go ahead and dive a little deeper in your offer/proposal.

Make sure your value proposition is clear

The biggest mistakes in cold emails come from including too much information and making the email look cluttered. If you want your prospect to take action, you should make your offer and value proposition crystal clear.

Be specific on what you’re offering, how it can help them, and why they should trust you. Your prospect needs to understand why they should be interested in your offer and, most importantly, why it’s different from all the others they’ve received.

Underline your credibility

Welcome to the internet, where in 2022, more than 300,000 reports for phishing were sent in the United States alone. And this doesn’t include the thousands upon thousands of people who didn’t report phishing attempts. Nor does it include the many other ways people can get scammed over the internet (particularly via email).

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In this kind of environment, you must demonstrate your credibility. Why would your cold email prospect believe you? Why would they give you their time and money? Does your company have any notable accolades? Were you featured in any magazines or blogs? Are there any reviews that can help you build up a good reputation?

Nail the right timing

This one’s rather difficult, but it’s essential to cold emailing. You want to make sure your emails are sent at the right time, so they don’t get buried in your prospect’s inbox. Plus, the right timing can also make it more likely for your prospects to open, read and reply to your email. Some things to keep in mind when looking for the best timing for your cold emails include:

  • Research your prospect’s business cycle: For example, some businesses may be more open to buying marketing services from an agency when Black Friday rolls around. Others may be more open to this type of service in January, as they get ready for a new year.

  • Look for triggers in your prospect’s potential calendar: Is your prospect part of a certain industry event? Is their business undergoing any big changes? Are they launching a big product soon? Any sort of trigger can make them more likely to respond to your cold email.

  • Keep an eye on your prospect’s LinkedIn and Twitter activity: If you notice that they are active at certain times, then those might be the best time to send your email.

  • Test, test, and… test some more: Unfortunately, there’s no universal recipe for nailing the right timing for cold emails. That’s why you should test out different times and see which ones your prospects respond to most.

You may not get it all right the first time. Or the second time. But if you use a data-driven and lesson-focused approach, you can perfect your cold email strategy. Good luck!

Examples of how to write a cold email

Alright, now that the theory is out of the way, let’s go over some cold email templates agencies can use to reach out and capture leads.

The great personalized

Subject line: Let’s create something great together, Jake!

Hello Jake,

I recently came across your website and I just wanted to say I love your latest article on driving better productivity for software development teams. I particularly enjoyed the psychology-driven approach you took to the topic.

My name is John, and I work for ThisIsYourNextSEOAgency. We specialize in crafting custom software solutions that can help transform businesses like yours—and put good content in front of more potential readers organically.

I think articles like the last one you wrote could reach at least 1,200 people every month (according to both Ahrefs and Semrush data). We’ve already done something similar for ClientOne and ClientTwo already (attached you will find graphs on how we grew their website traffic in six months).

Would you like to discuss how we can help you make that happen?

I look forward to hearing from you.

All the best,


The value-based pitch

Subject line: You can double your website traffic within 4 weeks

Hi Jake,

I’m John from ThisIsYourNextSEOAgency. I recently looked at your website analytics and was absolutely amazed by the results. You’ve done an incredible job getting your message out there, but I think you could be doing even better.

Our team specializes in SEO, and we’ve already doubled website traffic for ClientOne in four weeks (check out the graph attached). I’m confident we could get the same incredible results for you as well.

Would you like to discuss how we could make this happen?

I look forward to hearing from you.

All the best,


The “your competition is doing this, why aren’t you already?”

Subject line: YourCompany is actually better than TheirCompany

Hi Jake,

I just came across your website and thought I’d drop you a line. YourCompany is an amazing business, with a lot of potential.

In fact, a quick check of your analytics reveals that you are actually doing better than TheirCompany in a lot of areas. The way I see it, however, what they do differently is focus more on long-tail keywords, rather than top-of-the-funnel ones. This is likely to help them bring more qualified traffic to the website, and thus convert more of their site visitors into actual customers.

The good news is you could do this a lot better. Your content is already top-shelf, so all you’ll need is a little SEO magic.

We specialize in helping businesses like yours grow their online traffic exponentially and turn more visitors into paying customers. We’ve worked with more than 340 companies like yours, and their reviews say a lot more than we ever could (link to testimonials/reviews).

Would you like to discuss how we can help?

I look forward to hearing from you.

All the best,


The conversation starter

Subject line: What’s your take on Scrumban, Jake?

Hi Jake,

My name is John, and I was just browsing through your company blog. That’s some great content right there! I particularly enjoyed your article on agile methodologies. It made me curious—what’s your take on the methodology?

As someone who’s been frequently involved in projects that flopped because the team was not clear on how to divide tasks and work together, I feel that articles like yours should be seen by a lot more people.

All the best,


Once they reply, you could keep the conversation going for one or two more emails and then drop a “by the way” in the form of:

I could help with that, if you’re interested. I run an SEO agency (ThisIsYourNextSEOAgency) and we specialize in helping businesses like yours get more visibility online.

We’ve already worked with ClientOne and ClientTwo and had great results with them.

Attached are the graphs showing how their website traffic and sales skyrocketed within 6 months.

The name-dropper

Subject line: ClientOne 10x’d their site traffic in 18 months

Hi Jake,

I hope you’re doing well. My name is John, and I’m the founder of ThisIsYourNextSEOAgency.

I recently worked with ClientOne, and I’m proud to say that we 10x’d their website traffic in 18 months (check out the graph attached).

I’m sure your business could benefit from similar results. I’d love to chat with you about how we can make this happen.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

All the best,


Bad cold email examples for agencies

Now that we’ve gone through some good examples of agency cold emails, here are some bad ones too.

No context

Subject line: Got a minute to spare?

Hi there,

I’m John, and I’m the founder of ThisIsYourNextSEOAgency. I’ve been in the SEO industry for a while and I think we could be of assistance to your business. Would you like to discuss how we could work together?



No personalization

Subject line: Hi, can I help you with your SEO?


I hope you’re doing well. I’m John and I run an SEO agency called ThisIsYourNextSEOAgency. We specialize in helping businesses like yours get more visibility online. I was wondering if you’d be interested in learning more about what we do.



No value proposition

Subject line: SEO help?


I’m John from ThisIsYourNextSEOAgency. We provide SEO services and I think we could help you out with your website. Would you be interested in learning more?



No call to action

Subject line: Let’s chat about your SEO needs

Hi there,

I’m John and I run an SEO agency called ThisIsYourNextSEOAgency. I noticed that you’re not taking advantage of SEO to grow your online presence.



Focusing only on yourself

Subject line: Want to hear more about my agency?


I’m John and I run ThisIsYourNextSEOAgency. We were founded in 2017 and so far, we’ve been able to help more than 340 companies boost their website traffic with SEO. We got three nominations for the Best SEO Agency Award in 2020, and we’re looking to build on that success.

We can provide high-quality SEO services in a quick, affordable manner. Would you like to hear more about us?



Sounding unrealistic

Subject line: Get 10x more website traffic in one month

Hi there,

I’m John and I run ThisIsYourNextSEOAgency. With our help, you can get 10× more website traffic within one month! We’ve got a team of experts who will work tirelessly to ensure that your website ranks first in search engine results.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Cold email marketing FAQ

Does cold email marketing work?

A cold email campaign can work if done correctly, meaning: you need to create a targeted list of leads, write a convincing email subject lines, and run multiple experiments to achieve the best results.

How do I find prospects for cold emailing?

To find prospects for a cold email campaign, you can use platforms such as LinkedIn, use prospect databases such as Apollo, or run a Google search based on keywords that fit your ICP.

How to send cold emails?

The easiest way to send cold emails is through special software that has been created for this task. It allows you to connect your email account, create targeted and personalized campaigns, and even reply to incoming emails.

How to personalize cold emails?

Personalization increases the chance that leads open your email. To personalize a cold email, gather as much data about leads as possible, for instance their name, company name, and job title.


While cold email isn’t an exact science, following the best industry practices can help you create higher-converting emails. Focus on personalizing the emails, making it about your customer and not about yourself, clearly highlighting the value proposition, and driving home an engaging call-to-action. All this can help you stand out from an ocean of cold emailers, improve your response rate, and get more business for your agency.

Contrary to popular belief, lead generation via email marketing isn’t dead. They just need to be done the right way—and anonymous, canned emails aren’t it. Pushy sales tactics aren’t going to help either. Nor is it going to help if you stalk your prospects on social media and bombard them with messages, fake likes, and empty comments on their LinkedIn and Twitter posts.

The best way to get a stranger’s attention is by providing value upfront. One-on-one conversations and personalized emails focusing on the recipient’s needs can help you establish relationships, build trust, and eventually get the sale.

So, next time you’re crafting your cold emails, make sure to keep these tips in mind!

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