Cold Email

5 Cold Email Phrases To Avoid

Discover the dos and don'ts of cold email communication. Learn to navigate greetings, personalize your approach, and craft clear, effective asks with our practical guide, ensuring your emails resonate with recipients and achieve better results.

Jan 24, 2024

Woman in white long sleeve shirt getting cold email responses

Ever found yourself staring at your screen, drafting a cold email and wondering, Will this even get a reply? You're not alone. Cold emailing can feel like throwing a message in a digital bottle out to sea, hoping it lands on receptive shores. But there's a fine line between making a splash and sinking without a trace.

You've probably heard that first impressions count, and in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it world of someone's inbox, what you say (and don't say) can make or break your chances. So, what are the email faux pas that could be costing you that crucial connection? Let's dive in and find out what to steer clear of to ensure your cold emails warm up the right way.

1. Inappropriate Greetings

1. Inappropriate Greetings

When you're dipping your toes into the world of cold emailing, think of your greeting as a virtual handshake. Imagine stumbling through the doorway at a network mixer, sprinting up to a CEO, and yelling, Hey buddy! That's essentially what you're doing with an inappropriate greeting in a professional email.

First impressions matter. So, it's crucial to strike the right chord with your opening line. Steering clear of overly casual or sloppy greetings can help you maintain the professional demeanor that you'd exhibit in person. Common mistakes include using laid-back language or guessing at titles — it's a bit like walking into a tailor’s shop and calling the craftsman a carpenter. You've missed the mark, and it may cost you the rapport you're trying to build.

So, what should you avoid in your email salutations?

  • Hey or Hi there — too informal

  • To whom it may concern — impersonal

  • Dear [incorrect title/name] — shows lack of research

Instead, a little sleuthing goes a long way. If you're reaching out via LinkedIn, you've got a treasure trove of information at your fingertips. Use it to personalize your greeting. A simple Hello [First Name], when you're confident of the recipient's name, or a respectful Dear [Proper Title] when addressing someone with a specific role, sets a professional tone from the get-go.

Different techniques can be adapted depending on your recipient. For startups or creative industries, a smidge more casual approach might be acceptable — but always err on the side of formality. For traditional corporate sectors, sticking to classic professionalism is your safest bet.

Incorporating the right practices into your cold outreach involves consistently aligning your tone with the recipient's expected corporate culture. A practical tip is to mirror the formality you observe on their company’s website or their LinkedIn profile. Think of your greeting as the attire you'd choose for an interview with their company — it's all about dressing your words to impress.

2. Generic Openers

When crafting a cold email, one of the first pitfalls to avoid are generic openers. Generic Openers can make your email feel impersonal and forgettable, much like a Dear Occupant mailer. These are the kind of openings that make your email look like it's part of a mass blast and not tailored to the recipient.

Imagine walking into a party and shouting, Hello everyone! Chances are, you won't get a very warm reception. Now consider if you walked up to someone, addressed them by name, and mentioned something you know they're interested in – a different story, right? That's the difference a personalized greeting can make in your cold emails.

So, let's talk common mistakes with generic openers. You might feel tempted to start your email with a simple Hello or the dreaded To whom it may concern. But in the world of cold emails, you're looking to stand out, not blend in. Think of your opener as a handshake; you wouldn't offer a limp hand, so don't offer a limp greeting.

Instead, focus on these practical tips:

  • Research your recipient to find something that connects your message to them.

  • Use precise and respectful language that directly speaks to your recipient's interests or the pain points your offer resolves.

Talking about techniques and methods, you have a few options:

  • Look for LinkedIn profiles or company websites for hints about the formality or interests of your recipient.

  • Utilize mutual connections by mentioning a shared contact's name if applicable.

When incorporating these practices:

  • Always ensure any information you use is accurate and up to date to maintain credibility.

  • Personalize the degree of formality to reflect the recipient’s company culture.

Remember, in the world of email outreach, you're not just selling a product or service, you're also selling a relationship. Starting that relationship on a note that feels custom-made rather than cookie-cutter is crucial in nurturing future communication.

3. Lengthy Introductions

3. Lengthy Introductions

When you're reaching out with a cold email, you might think that including a long, detailed introduction is the key to building trust and rapport. But here's the kicker: in the fast-paced world of email communication, brevity is your ally. Imagine you’re meeting someone new at a networking event. You wouldn’t launch into your life story before shaking hands, right? Apply that same principle here.

Your goal is to engage the recipient swiftly. A detailed biography or an exhaustive rundown of your company's history is more likely to elicit a yawn than a reply. So, how can you avoid falling into the trap of oversharing?

  • Keep it short and sweet. Aim for an introduction that’s no longer than two sentences.

  • Stick to the essentials. Mention your name, your position, and why you’re reaching out.

  • Spark curiosity. Provide just enough info to pique their interest without overwhelming them.

A common mistake is thinking that more information equals more credibility. However, in the world of cold emails, less is often more. People are busy, and their inboxes are cluttered. Your email has to fight for attention, and a novel-length introduction won't win that battle.

Remember, the point of a cold email is to start a conversation, not close a deal. Think of it as an elevator pitch; if you can’t summarize your reason for reaching out in the time it takes to ride a few floors, it's too long.

You might be wondering about different techniques or variations based on the recipient. If you're emailing a high-level executive, for example, they'll likely appreciate you getting straight to the point. On the flip side, a mid-level manager might expect a bit more warmth.

So tailor your approach:

  • For executives: “Hi [Name], [Your Name] here from [Company]. I’ve got an idea I think you’ll be interested in.”

  • For managers: “Hello [Name], I’m [Your Name] with [Company], reaching out because I noticed your team's recent success with [Achievement].”

4. Demanding or Impersonal Language

When drafting your cold emails, it's like walking a tightrope; you have to balance being persuasive without coming across as demanding. Imagine you're at a networking event. You wouldn't immediately ask someone you've just met for a huge favor, right? That’s the sentiment to bear in mind.

Avoid phrases like You must or You need to, as they can come off as aggressive or presumptuous. Instead, use language that encourages dialogue like Would you be open to, or I'd appreciate your thoughts on. This softer approach respects the recipient's autonomy and opens the door for a mutual conversation rather than a one-sided demand.

A common mistake is assuming one-size-fits-all language works across the board. That's like using a screwdriver to hammer in a nail – it's not the right tool for the job. Tailor your language to the reader. Craft your message to resonate with their interests or the problems they're facing.

Another blunder is overusing industry jargon or buzzwords that can make your message sound robotic. Instead, aim for a human touch. Reframe complex ideas with simple analogies. For instance, if you're explaining a multifaceted service, compare it to a Swiss Army knife – many solutions in one. This tactic makes your content more relatable.

As for techniques, consider the PAS formula – Problem, Agitation, Solution. Start by identifying a problem the recipient might have, agitate by delving into the pain points, then present your offer as the soothing balm. This method is particularly effective because it shows empathy and understanding before segueing into your pitch.

Incorporating best practices starts with understanding your recipient's position. Are they a business owner? Talk about growth and ROI. A marketer? Discuss engagement and conversion rates. Aligning your message with their goals and challenges is how you craft an email that not only gets read but also acted upon.

Remember, at the heart of successful cold emailing is the ability to connect and build a relationship, even if it's through the digital ether. So, keep it personal, keep it concise, and most importantly, keep it tailored to the person on the other side of the screen.

5. Overcomplicating the Ask

So, you've nailed the introduction, avoided the aggressive language, and used the PAS formula. Now, it's time to talk about the actual ask in your cold email. Think of it like popping the question on a first date – it’s risky business. You want to be clear and straightforward without overwhelming the recipient.

One of the most common mistakes is overcomplicating your ask. This is usually like handing someone a puzzle when they've only got a second to spare. It’s baffling! Keep it simple. Instead of dropping a heap of information or requests, focus on one clear action you want the recipient to take. Is it a reply, a phone call, or perhaps to review some material you've sent? Whatever it is, make it as easy as replying with a yes or no.

Let’s break it down with an analogy. Imagine you're at a coffee shop, and the menu's a novel. It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? Now picture a menu with just three options. Much easier to decide! That’s exactly what you’re aiming for in your cold email. Provide an easy-to-digest option that they can’t help but choose.

Here are some practical tips to keep your ask uncluttered:

  • Be direct: Use simple language and get to the point without beating around the bush.

  • Guide them: Show them the path of least resistance. For instance, if you want them to schedule a call, provide a link to your calendar.

  • Highlight the benefit: Make sure they know what’s in it for them right off the bat.

Different techniques will apply depending on your recipient. If you're reaching out to a CEO, time is of the essence, and your ask should reflect the value you can bring immediately. For a manager, you might demonstrate how your product, service, or information can make their team's life easier.

Incorporating these practices is simple if you adopt the mindset of making life easier for the recipient. The best route? Always put yourself in their shoes. Would you respond positively to the ask in your email? If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track. Keep refining and testing different approaches to see what resonates best with your audience, and you'll surely see those leads start warming up.


Mastering the art of cold emailing is about striking the right chord from the get-go. It's about empathy, precision, and speaking directly to the recipient's needs and interests. Remember to keep your ask straightforward and considerate of the recipient's time and workload. By crafting messages that are both personal and professional, you'll set the stage for a positive response. Don't forget to test different strategies and track your results. This way, you'll refine your approach and increase your chances of success. With these insights, you're now better equipped to send cold emails that get noticed—and get results.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some tips for writing effective greetings in cold emails?

Keep greetings professional yet approachable. Avoid overly familiar language and use the recipient's name to personalize the greeting. It's essential to make a positive impression within the first few lines of the email.

Why is it important to avoid demanding language in cold emails?

Demanding language can be off-putting and may reduce the likelihood of getting a positive response. It's vital to be respectful and considerate to keep the reader engaged and willing to consider your request.

How can you tailor your email to the reader?

Understand your recipient's industry, role, and interests to customize your message. This demonstrates that you have done your research and are genuinely interested in what is relevant to them, increasing the chances of a successful interaction.

What is the PAS formula and how does it apply to cold emails?

The PAS (Problem-Agitation-Solution) formula is a persuasive writing technique that first identifies a problem, agitates the issue to emphasize its importance, and then offers a solution. In cold emails, using PAS can effectively showcase how you or your product can resolve a recipient's specific challenge.

What is the key to keeping the ask simple in cold emails?

The ask should be concise and straightforward. Clearly state what you want without overcomplicating the request. A simple ask is easier to understand and more likely to get a response.

Why is it important to consider the recipient's position and goals?

Understanding and acknowledging the recipient's position and goals show that you have a genuine interest in providing value to them. It aligns your request with their interests and increases the chances they will engage with your email.

How can making life easier for the cold email recipient improve response rates?

If you make responding to the email as effortless as possible, the recipient is more likely to engage. Offer clear information and actionable steps, minimizing the effort required from them to engage with your ask.

What is the best way to test different approaches in cold emailing?

Experiment with various email formats, language, and calls to action. Use A/B testing to send different versions of your email to similar audiences and analyze which generates better responses, then refine your strategy accordingly.

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