15 Most Common Cold Email Campaign Mistakes And How To Avoid Those

Andy Cabasso

March 19th

Cold email campaigns are partly a numbers game, but there are many things you can do to make your campaign more successful. 

Cold Email Campaign Mistakes

And some things you should definitely not do. 

Best practices are often trial and error depending on many factors, but worst practices are across the board. 

Now, I want you to read this list of the 15 most common cold email outreach campaign mistakes and pinky swear never, ever to do them! 

What is a Cold Email Outreach Campaign? 

Cold emailing involves sending emails to people you have never previously communicated with before, with a specific business goal in mind. It could be to generate leads for salespeople, get press coverage for a business, or SEO-oriented cold outreach to build links and get more search traffic. These potential partners or customers are contacted via an initial email and a series of follow-up emails.

How Do Common Mistakes in Outreach Campaigns  Affect Your Success?

The more of these 15 common cold email mistakes you make, the:

  • Lower your open rate
  • Lower your click-through rate
  • Lower your response rate
  • Lower your conversion rate

Hit all 15, and you’ll torpedo the entire campaign, wasting lots of time and effort. This is why you must avoid these common mistakes in your cold email outreach campaign. 

Avoid These 15 Cold Email Outreach Campaign Mistakes to Increase Response Rates

Writing cold emails is kind of like that first message to a potential match on a dating app. One wrong move, and it’s over before it started! So don’t fall at the first hurdle! If you stringently avoid doing these 15 things, you will significantly increase your chances of reaching the finish line. 

Mistake #1: Not Having Clear Goals and Objectives

No good general goes into battle without a battle plan. If you don’t have a clear idea of what you want the end result of your campaign to be, it won’t be effective. 

How to Avoid This:

Before you start crafting your cold sales email campaign, ask yourself two questions:

  • What is your ultimate objective?
  • What do you want the email recipient to do? 
Email outreach goals meme

Every word, every step of your cold email strategy should be created around the answers to these two questions. 

Mistake #2: Not Segmenting Your Email Lists

To some degree, cold sales are scattershot. You cast a wide net to reach the most potential customers. But if the net is too wide, you’re scooping in irrelevant fish! Failing to segment your list of prospects also makes effective personalization impossible. Segmentation allows you to organize and scale your campaigns and better personalize them for your target market. 

54% of B2B sales leaders believe too little quality data is their most significant barrier to success. 

How to Avoid This: 

You get what you pay for. Spend the money for a reliable data vendor or create an internal data research team (aka hire VAs to help you prospect and segment). The second option may be cost-prohibitive for some companies. 

Mistake #3: Writing Lengthy Subject Lines

No one likes long subject lines. People are busy, receiving dozens of emails per day, and the fewer words you can use to grab someone’s attention while still getting your main point across, the better.

If your subject line is too long it will not even show the complete sentence on phones.

optimizing email for subject line

Another thing to avoid is using too many emojis or signs, and anything over one is too many. Also, avoid using ALL CAPS (Why are you yelling!?), bolded or italicized words. These can make your message look like spam. 

How to Avoid This: 

Subject lines with fewer than 70 characters have an open rate of 42%, but those with more than 70 characters had an open rate of just 30%. We wrote an article on how to craft subject lines that will get you more positive responses. Remember that you should not start a new email thread during a sales campaign, so luckily, you only have to come up with one killer subject line per campaign! If you want to craft it to be perfect do give this a read the mistakes to avoid in subject lines article.

Mistake #4: Failure to Personalize the Email Subject Line

We’re all inundated with emails. A generic or spammy subject line will lower your open rate. You might think you can get around this by using a deceptive subject line, but that makes you look untrustworthy, and the reader is unlikely to want to do business with you. Personalized emails are a must. 

If you use merge fields, make sure each field is complete. A naked merge field is embarrassing! Avoid using the recipient’s first name in the merge field for the subject line. It used to be a useful tactic, but spammers caught on and ruined it for everyone. 

How to Avoid This:

Use another bit of personal information about the recipient, like their job title. Another trick is to use a name, your name:

How to increase your open rate-insider tips from Andy

Mistake #5: Sending Generic Template Email

There is nothing wrong with using cold email templates; they make your job easier and are excellent email marketing tools. But it’s a big-time cold email mistake to send a generic message copied from a template. It reads robotic, not like a real person wrote it, and that’s off-putting to your fellow non-robot humans! 

How to Avoid This: 

If you are using a template for an outreach email, you still need to customize it. Personalize it for the reader, add some details, and make sure the tone sounds human. An excellent way to check for this is to read the email aloud. 

Mistake #6: Sending Long Email Copy

Everyone is busy, and frankly, even if they aren’t, they have things they’d rather be doing than reading work-related emails! If the email body is too long, a reader can quickly lose interest or skim it so quickly that they skip over the information you want them to read. 

long cold emails meme master chief

How to Avoid This?

Get to the point! People appreciate a writer (and speaker) who doesn’t beat around the bush. What’s the sweet spot? Response rates increase 42% when the email body is 200 words or fewer. Brevity is a powerful tool! Also, be sure to keep your sentences short and break up the copy into paragraphs. 

Mistake #7: Not Checking Your Grammar and Punctuation

Not everyone is a stickler for proper grammar and punctuation, but you don’t know the sticklers from the non-sticklers when you’re sending a cold email! And it’s doesn’t matter anyway. Sending any message with poor grammar and punctuation makes you look sloppy, lazy, and uneducated and can make your message look like spam email written by a bot farm and impact your deliverability rate. 

How to Avoid This:

I write for a living, but I’m by no means perfect at spelling, grammar, or punctuation! You don’t have to in order to be a great writer! But you do have to be if you’re a professional anything. So for all of my blog posts and every single email I send to anyone, strangers, colleagues, friends, and family alike, I use Grammarly. Grammarly is a program that auto-checks your writing for mistakes, and it works on lots of platforms.

Long story short, don’t speak like YODA.

Mistake #8: Sending a Self-Focused Email

In this context, being self-focused doesn’t just mean talking about yourself. That’s already a rather well-understood, “Duh!.” The more critical aspect of this particular sin is simply listing out the features of your product or service.

theres no value in your cold email

How to Avoid This: 

Of course, your target audience needs to know what your product or service can do, but more importantly, they need you to tell them what it can do for them. How can it make their life easier, their business more successful, or fix a problem they’re having. 

Mistake #9: Adding No Recipient Name

A person’s name is arguably their most personal possession. It’s with us almost from the moment we’re born, it (usually) doesn’t change, and it’s part of our identity, literally and figuratively! 

A nifty little social trick that lets you take advantage of this is regularly using a person’s name when speaking to them. It makes people warm up to you because it signifies that you’re focused on them. The digital equivalent is to address your email recipient by their name. 

The opposite of this is to either forget to include your email recipient’s name or use the wrong name, and we’ve talked about how important personalization is in cold emails. 

How to Avoid This: 

Triple check that you have the correct name AND spelling, and make sure you’ve not left the name blank in the name merge field.

Mistake #10: Including Too Many CTAs

A clear CTA is an essential part of a cold email message, so it’s a no-no to leave it out. But having too many CTAs is also a mistake, and it can look suspect and spammy and confuse the reader. Asking too much in a CTA is another mistake. You don’t propose marriage on the first date! 

How to Avoid This: 

Include a single, clear CTA that isn’t asking for too much commitment. Something like, “Let’s schedule a brief call to discuss things.” Add a scheduling link with a handful of slots within the next five business days. You don’t want too much time between your initial email and the next contact between your sales team and the reader. 

Mistake #11: Reaching Out to the Wrong People

If you send an email to the wrong person, it doesn’t matter how great your campaign is. Either the person reading it can’t make the decision you want, or they have no idea what you’re talking about because it has nothing to do with their job function. 

If you’re lucky, they’ll know who the correct contact is and let you know or forward it to that person, but you can’t count on that. If you want to publish a guest post on their site, you need to reach out to the content manager, not the CTO. 

Don’t send emails to a prospect’s info/hello/contact address or large provider addresses like Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail, etc. Always look for a corporate email address like [name]@[website].com. 

One more, I promise! Don’t mass email every email address you can find in the company. It’s annoying to the people who aren’t relevant to your campaign and makes you look like a spammer. 

How to Avoid This: 

Do your research and find out who can get you the result you want. LinkedIn is great for this but always double-check just before sending your email. The person who was the right contact three days ago could have quit, been fired, or been promoted the day before! 

Mistake #12: Not Setting Up Follow-Up Emails

You created the most perfect, convincing email ever written. I mean, really. This thing is gold! You hit “Send,” and it’s job done. Not so fast! Here is a scary statistic, only 2% of sales are made after the first contact. 

cold email meme

That makes sense when you think about it. The more you are in contact with someone, the more you trust them. And if you remember back to Mistake #6, you can’t cram everything a potential customer needs to know in a single email without making that mistake. 

How to Avoid This: 

Part of planning your campaign should include follow-up emails, and they should follow the correct cold emailing sequences. The first and last emails should be written simultaneously, as well as the appropriate number of emails in between. 

If you don’t have your entire sequence ready to go from the jump, you’re losing valuable time and momentum. There are tons more things that can go wrong read our mistakes to avoid in follow-up emails guide.

Mistake #13: Not Using Proper From Line

When you get a call from an unknown number, you probably don’t answer it. You have no idea who is on the other end of that call, and in this day and age, that typically means it’s a spam call. The “From” line in your email is a quick glance way for the email recipient to separate a legit message from a spam one. 

True, the person likely won’t recognize your name but let’s look at two possible from lines:

The first one is clearly a person, while the second seems a little more suspicious since it isn’t a name, but an email address, and real people have a From Name that is their name. Which one are you more likely to open? 

How to Avoid This:

The “From” line is the first thing your reader will see, so make sure it includes your name. 

Mistake #14: Not Email Through The Proper Email Address 

Using an email account other than your own work address or third-party email service providers is too impersonal for a cold email campaign because it’s obviously a bulk email and, therefore, not personalized. 

Never send cold emails through:

How to Avoid This: 

Always send cold emails from a work domain. If you are doing a lot of cold outreach, your company may want to be using domains other than their main domain (just in case you get marked as spam a lot, which could threaten your sender reputation). But, the domain should have your company name in it. 

So, for example – if your main domain is something like “@postaga.com” you might want to send cold emails from “@postaga.net” or “@m.postaga.com” or “postaga.org”.

Mistake #15: Connecting Through the Wrong Channel

Bloggers get a lot of requests for guest posting, collaborations, interviews. Because they’re so inundated, they can sniff out an opportunist in a split second! One of the biggest blogger outreach campaign mistakes is to look like an opportunist! 

You might think you’re being clever by finding a non-business email or contact details for a blogger or journalist, so you then hit them up there. But, it can backfire and bother them.

How to Avoid This: 

When reaching out to a blogger, use their business, not their personal one. While their personal page or email address may be available, you’re not a friend. You’re trying to establish some kind of professional relationship with them. Most bloggers will have details in some platform that tells you how to reach out for a business opportunity. 

Bonus: You Don’t Know When to Pause or Quit

This is the most important of all our cold email tips because falling afoul of it can hurt your reply rate and even land you in some serious hot water! 

stop get some help

Timing is an essential part of cold email outreach campaigns. Before you schedule your initial email and your follow-ups, note holidays, those most offices close for, and your own vacation schedule. Sending a cold message close to a holiday means it’s more likely to get buried under hundreds of emails in the recipient’s inbox, and it’s also intrusive. People don’t want to think about work matters over the holidays. If your email client is international, be sure to check for holidays in their country too that aren’t on the American calendar. 

Sending an email just before you go on vacation means that you won’t be as available to respond to inquiries. 

If you continue to send follow-up emails after being told to stop, all you’re doing is annoying the recipient. If they’re really annoyed, they can report you for violating the CAN-SPAM Act, which can result in fines. 

Bonus Bonus: Never Send Attachments

It’s a twofer today for our list of bonus cold outreach campaign mistakes! Never send email attachments in your cold email campaign.

Attachments can negatively impact email deliverability, and if it does make it through the filter, it can mark you out as a spammer. 

Bonus Bonus Bonus: Never Send Too Many

Just thought of another one, but the article is already called “15 most common email mistakes and I’m not about to change the title”…

This mistake?

Sending too many emails.

If you send too many emails (generally more than 50-100 per email address per day), it substantially increases the likelihood your emails will end up in the spam folder. 

If you’re sending a lot of emails over time, you might be noticing, “My email open rates are going down. Not sure why that is!”

Chances are, sending that many emails is going to get you flagged as a spammer by email servers, and your deliverability will suffer.

How to Avoid this:

Make sure your email sending is staggered and scheduled so that no more than 50-100 emails go out from 1 email address, per day.

Let’s Wrap This Up!

Is your head spinning? Take a breath. While this list is long (we wanted to give you all of the information you’ll need in a single article), some of these common cold email mistakes are pretty intuitive. Put yourself in your potential client’s shoes. These 15 plus bonus mistakes would annoy you too! 


Why Is Cold Emailing Essential?

A really well-crafted cold email can be a great and inexpensive way to find and convert new clients, increase your sales, and achieve your business goals. 

What Is the Click-Through Rate of a Cold Email?

Your cold email click-through rate or CTR is a statistic you can use to track how many recipients have clicked on at least one link that is in the body of your email. 

Why Does My Cold Email Have a Lower Response Rate?

Go through this list of common cold email mistakes. If your emails have any of them, there is your answer! Some reworking with these rules in mind will help boost your response rate. 

How to Get More Responses From Cold Emails?

Be sure to properly segment your email lists before creating your cold email campaign. With that information in your back pocket, work towards personalizing your message for each potential client.

Why Should You Add Only One CTA in Cold Emails?

A compelling CTA makes it easy for a potential customer to take the next step you desire from them. Having more than one CTA can confuse the reader and make them less likely to take any action. 

What’s the Most Common Mistake in Cold Email?

Failing to send any follow-up emails is the worst cold email marketing sin you can commit! Only 2% of sales are made after the first point of contact with a new customer.

What Is a Cold Email Outreach Campaign?

Cold email outreach campaigns are a series of unsolicited emails sent to people you have not had previous contact with, in order to establish a relationship, business, or find a collaboration opportunity. 

Why Should You Segment Your Lead List?

Segmentation allows you to narrow your pool of potential clients to those your product or service is most relevant to and personalize your messages more precisely to increase the effectiveness of your campaign. 

How Do You Get in Touch With Company Ceos?

It’s pretty easy to find the CEO of a company online; LinkedIn is a great resource. To better the odds that they’ll personally read your email, send it early in the morning before their assistant gets into the office!

What Is the Primary Purpose of Cold Emails?

The end purpose of a cold email is to create more business or marketing opportunities. But it should be written in such a way as to start a conversation that can lead to a sale, not as a hard sell from the jump. 

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