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5 Cold Outreach Email Mistakes To Avoid In 2021

Updated: May 24, 2022

Even though emails have the highest lead generation and customer acquisition rates, cold emails remain to be one of the most under-rated and under-utilized strategies of lead generation for businesses.

Did you know over 75% of all cold emails are never even opened? They're directly dumped in the spam folder. So, you might be thinking… 🤨

Do Cold Emails Even Work?

Long answer short: YES! Cold emails work.

Cold emails have one of the highest marketing ROIs in the industry. For every $1 spent, the average return on investment is $38. That's a humongous 3800% ROI. Compared to offline networking or cold calling, cold emails have several distinct advantages:

  1. For starters, cold emails (when done right!) hit your prospect’s inbox directly. That's good news because an average US worker spends more than 5 hours every day just checking their email.

  2. Cold emails can be automated with ease. You don't need to lug around fancy software or high-level employees to set up cold email campaigns.

  3. A cold email campaign can be scaled to 1000s of people — with just a click. No other lead generation route is this efficient.

The average industry open rate of a cold email is about 23%. But, at TheScalelab, you know, our email open rates are as high as 92% by simply using the right methods 😉

First Thing First…

But, before starting, make sure the backend of your email is fine, primarily, your sender reputation, IP address, and that you’re following the necessary ISP Protocols.

In short, make sure your email reaches your prospect’s inbox in the first place. So, check your previous Email Deliverability Metrics, improve the areas that need to be improved — to increase your chances for the next steps.

And now… if your cold email outreaches aren’t working or giving you results, you might not be doing a few things right. Here is a list of common mistakes to avoid and to ramp up your cold email game (almost immediately).

Cold Email Fail #1: Using The Wrong Subject Line

Your subject line acts as the cover of your email. And remember, in this virtual world, people do judge a book by its cover. So, getting it right maximizes the chances of getting your emails opened by your prospect. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:


Craft short, catchy subject lines for your cold emails, preferably including your prospect’s name.

❌ A small questionnaire about spammy emails

✅ Amy, does spam mail spoil your mood too?

We tried and we liked…

catchy subject lines for cold emails example

Cold Email Fail #2: Generalizing Your Mail

A study conducted by Woodpecker compared the response rates of 2 kinds of emails:

[1] with advanced personalization, and [2] with no personalization. And as expected, the personalized emails had 83.33% more replies than the non-personalized ones. So:

  • Address your prospects by their names in the cold email (including subject line, introductory blurb, offer, and CTA).

  • Find out about your prospect — through news, articles, or their social media platforms. Learn what they’ve been up to, and weave that information into your email subtly for hyper-personalizing your cold email.


Just using your prospects’ names is not personalization enough. You need to be specific.

Forage all publicly available data about your prospect — What role do they play in their firm? Did they author a blog recently? Do they have a birthday coming up? Or did they just return from a holiday in Italy? Include that in your copy to add warmth to your cold outreach email.

✅ An example:

Hey Mark,

Just wanted to congratulate you on your article being published in the Washington Post. The perspectives you presented provided some fresh insight into how automation has transformed the sales funnel.

Note: [hyperlink the article, so they know you have read their article and are not faking it.]

We tried and we liked…

example of a personalized cold email

Cold Email Fail #3: Rambling About Irrelevant “Stuff”

Pardon the vagueness, but this is an extremely common problem with all the emails, not just the cold emails — the writer tends to mask his intentions behind several unrelated topics, hoping to catch the recipient off-guard. Honestly, this does more harm than good.

With a dwindling attention span and increasing busyness, you need to capture your prospect’s attention right from the start. If not, they’d trash your email even before reading it.

So, it is best to get to the point straight away, especially if you're targeting high-level executives who don't have time to go through your long email copy. Here's what to do:

  • Be short & snappy. Get straight to the point. Brief, quickfire sentences that spell out the crux of the email work best [applicable for both subject lines and body copy].

  • Use the AIDA copy rule to structure your email copy for maximum attention.

  • Do not pitch straight away in your 1st email. Focus on developing a connection with your prospect first to understand their requirements.

  • Then, when you pitch, portray your product as a bridge between the 2 worlds: one without your solution and one with your solution.


Your job is to catch your prospect’s attention immediately. So, don’t ramble on about anything irrelevant to your prospect and might waste their time. Remember: every word counts.

We tried and we liked…

example of email that catches prospect attention

Cold Email Fail #4: No Proof, No Statistics

You've got a lot on your mind. We get it. But not using statistics to jazz up your offer is the biggest mistake you could make.

The human mind is designed to latch on to numbers. Moreover, stats and figures can help you convey your point much more quickly than mere words ever do. So:

  • Do your research. There are tons of statistics out there. It's your job to use the right ones according to the prospect and their industry 😉

  • But — Do not overplay this card. A couple of stats here and there are good enough to grab attention. Overloading email with links triggers the spam filter.


Statistics are like a super potion. They can improve your message’s coherence and validity. Use it, but use it wisely! 🚀

❌ We can help you increase your sales and improve customer retention.

✅ Companies have seen their sales grow by 30% translating directly into a 2.5x profit margin.

We tried and we liked…

email using proof and statistic to catch prospect attention

Cold Email Fail #5: Doing Everything Manually…

The best part about cold mailing is that you don’t need to do things manually. With the right software and tools, you can set up an entire campaign in barely an hour.

Imagine getting 3800% ROI without having to spend hours on the computer. Here's how you can do it right:

  • Use cold email automation tools and software to streamline your entire campaign. Set up all your touchpoints in the funnel and launch.

  • Automation software also helps you segment your audience, do A/B testing, personalize, and gather relevant data.


If you haven't already signed up for email automation, trust us, you're missing out on tons of benefits. And it isn't even that hard.

Say goodbye to manual follow ups with Lemlist. You can build multi-step sequences to increase your chances of getting results.

Wrapping Up…

Cold emails might be a tricky maneuver to master. But if done right, the rewards are massive 🎯 Remember these 5 key points:

  1. A short & snappy subject line

  2. Personalized emails

  3. Straightforward talk

  4. Relevant statistics

  5. Right Emailing software (such as Lemlist)

You might not get it right in the first cold email campaign itself but, to ensure incremental success — measure your results, track numbers and analytics to improve. And… keep reading our blogs 😄

Happy Emailing,

Team The Scalelab

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