How to Personalize Cold Emails

Andy Cabasso

December 30th

how to write personalized cold emails.

Are you frustrated by your response rates? Want to learn how to write personalized cold emails that get replies?

Tell me, do you answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize? No? Me either, no one does. When we see those calls, we assume they’re from a stranger trying to sell us something we don’t need or, worse, from a scammer.

The same is true for many cold emails. They simply look like mass emails destined for the spam folder.

How do you increase your reply rates and, ultimately, your conversion rate for cold outreach emails? Lots of ways! Many of which we’ve covered. But today, we are looking specifically at how you can personalize your cold emails for higher responses. 

What is Email Personalization?

Email personalization is the sending of emails that are tailored to individual recipients. Common ways to personalize cold emails involve things like:

1) including the recipient’s first name in the email;
2) writing a personalized message specifically for the recipient;
3) having a subject line that mentions the recipient’s company name; or
4) including images or videos in your email created specifically for your recipient.

For cold emails, email personalization is the art of making the recipient feel as though you know and understand them, they like you, and they want whatever it is you’re offering.

It’s the art of charming a reader using the personal touch, that human touch that we all respond positively to, in a single email. It’s going the extra mile to learn about individual prospects so you can appeal to them directly in a cold email. 

Why Personalization is Critical for Cold Emails

A personalized email campaign takes more time to craft than just using a generic email template, so is the extra work worth it? Absolutely! 

Increase Response Rate 

Merely using a personalized sales email subject line can increase the open rate by more than 22%. Find more interesting cold email personalization statistics here. Further personalization when cold emailing can help increase your response rate.   

Ensure Higher Conversion Rates

It stands to reason that the more people you can entice to read your emails, the more people you can convert from prospects to customers. A more personalized correspondence can help convince a reader they will also have a more personal customer experience. 

Personalization Increases Delivery Rate

It doesn’t matter how brilliant your email is; if it gets caught up in the spam filter, you’ve fallen at the first hurdle. Basic personalization, first name, company name, and industry don’t go far enough. Go deeper and include references to timely things like a recent Tweet or LinkedIn post. 

What Elements To Personalize

The most critical and detailed personalization should come in your opening line. Readers skim, and this is your chance to capture their attention. But don’t stop there! Personalization should carry on through:

Laying the Groundwork 

Personalization will be easier and more effective if you take these steps before crafting your sales emails. 

Fine Tune Your Buyer Persona

A buyer persona is a kind of mock-up of your ideal customer-created based on market research and your data on current customers. Your buyer persona should not only include the perfect person for your product or service but the correct person to make that decision. 

Segment Your Leads

The more you can niche potential customers down, the easier and more impactful personalization of a cold email outreach campaign will be. Intel, intel, intel! Thus segmenting your leads is mandatory.

  • Group prospects based on pain points
  • Common tech stack problem
  • Based on geographical location
  • Collect common competitor lists
  • Demographics-Age/gender/position
  • Behavioral-Joined a webinar/content/social
  • Monetary-Income/company revenue/funding/team size

Best Ways to Send Hyper-Personalized Cold Emails

Before we break this down technically, we want you to focus not just on personalization but personality too. Personalization will get you further than cold email campaigns using a generic template, but it’s no longer enough to set you apart from your competitors. Why? Because everyone but total novices has figured that out. 

What do we mean by personality? Think of it as super-duper advanced personalization, injecting some human presence into your digital marketing.

Aiming to write as you speak helps to humanize words on a screen and thereby the person who wrote those words, which is you! Of course, all within the bounds of politeness and professionalism. Long story short, maintain email etiquettes. Here are two examples. Which would you respond more favorably to?

Hi John,

I just saw on LinkedIn that you were made Senior VP. Congratulations on the new position! 

Hi John,

Congratulation on your recent promotion. 

Both sentences say precisely the same thing, but the first is more personal and has more personality while the second is totally generic. Effective personalization sounds like what you would say if you were face to face with a prospect rather than what you would write in an email.

Read your email aloud before you send it. Does it sound like you, or does it sound like HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey? You’re going for the former. 

Use Their Name! A Lot

Dale Carnegie said, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Using a name repeatedly can help foster a sense of familiarity. Using someone’s name is like voting in Chicago, do it early and often:

  • In the subject line
  • In the opening line
  • In the CTA

Find a Mutual Connection 

People are more likely to trust a stranger with whom they have friends, contact, or colleagues in common. Pour over their LinkedIn contact list and see if the two of you have a common connection. If you find one, mention them in your email. If they like you, if not, leave them out! 

Compliments Work! 

Your hair is looking fantastic today! You read that I said that to you, and you smiled. Everyone likes compliments, sincere ones. Everyone can also tell when you’re blowing smoke to get something you want. 

Poke around their public social media sites and search Google News for a recent achievement you can pay a sincere compliment on. 

Personalize Based on Their Interests

If you ask me about third-wave ska music (which you will immediately regret), I will talk to you for hours, and you will be my new BFF because I love it so much and love talking about it.

Even better if you can find common ground that the two of you share an interest in. This kind of personal connection can be invaluable in a cold email template. 

Be the Fixer They Need

We all have problems, and we like people who can help solve those problems. Find a highly specific pain point your prospect is having and address it. These levels of personalization are not easy, it takes a mole on the inside or some FBI-level investigative skills, but you’ll be rewarded if you can do it. 

Personalize Based on Current Technology

If you can find out what tools a prospect is using, it can give you an “in.” You can ask their opinion on it (And we all love being asked our opinion). It can also be a pain point, and your company’s tool is way better! 

Personalize Using Visuals

Our brains process visuals faster than words. Including an image, gif, or video in your email can help get their attention. Sending a screenshot of their website using Nexweave can be a real attention-getter!

From 28 Minute

Cute cat gifs have been scientifically proven to create a chemical reaction that will make the reader like you immediately (Joke! Unless they just love cat gifs, and really, who doesn’t?)

Trigger-Even Personalization

A trigger event could be good; the company landed a big new client or bad, they lost out on that client to a competitor. These are an excellent opportunity to swoop in to help with the new workload or help them get the next client. 

Be Mindful of Timezones

Names aren’t the only thing personal to us. Timezones, time of day, day of the week, if it’s a holiday there, if the area has suffered some kind of tragedy or natural disaster. All of that matters for email marketing personalization. If the area is evacuating due to wildfires or an impending hurricane, no one gives a damn about your email. 

A Backdoor Tip! 

You sent an email. No answer. There wasn’t a wildfire, you checked. They opened your email! But no response. Of course, you’re going to send the appropriate number of follow-ups but send one of them through LinkedIn rather than to their email address! 

A LinkedIn message is more personal than an email, so you might be able to sneak in the backdoor.

Problems With Cold Email Personalization Practices

There are two common mistakes people make regarding successful cold email personalization. The first is under-personalization. Think of it in terms of compliments. 

That shirt is great! versus That shirt is a great color for you, it brings out the blue in your eyes. 

The first is too generic; it’s surface level. Anyone could be wearing that shirt. The second is much more specific to the wearer. 

The second is trying to scale too fast. Yes, you can cover more ground with a paint roller than a paintbrush, but the brush gives you more control and greater detail. Sure the paint roller is faster and easier, but faster and easier isn’t what we’re going for. Success is what we want. 

It Takes a Village to Succeed  

Successful personalization is not a one-person job. You need a talented writer to craft your email backed up by a top-notch researcher who can find the kind of information you need to hyper-personalize your emails. 

And you need a proofreader to not only proof the text but to make sure all elements, CTA, calendar links, etc., are working correctly. 

Pro Tip: If you’re sending emails to multiple employees of a company, you may need to personalize your opening line for the company and not the person. 

When Should You Not Personalize?

If you’re sending emails to unverified email addresses, personalization may be a waste of time. The potentially high bounce rate means your time is better spent elsewhere. Like crafting perfect follow-up emails to the replies, you get back! 

To Wrap It All Up

The type of hyper-personalization detailed in this blog does take work; we won’t deny that. But done correctly, your work will be rewarded! 


How do you craft a personalized email?

Be sure to use the readers’ name frequently through all parts of the email and look for common ground between the two of you; common contact shared interests to build a connection.

What are the things to take into consideration for personalization?

Hyper-focus on the needs, wants likes, and dislikes of the person you address. Including their time zone and things that may be happening in their part of the country or world. 

How do you personalize a cold email?

Know your audience! Finding out enough information to personalize on more than a surface level can take some time and research, so it’s essential to have help from your colleagues. 

How do I personalize a prospect’s email?

Fine-tune your buyer persona before getting started. Once you have done that, segment your leads list so you can really niche down for each person you’ll be addressing. 

How do I personalize my prospecting?

Once you’ve figured out your Ideal Customer Profile/Buyer Persona, you can segment your prospects effectively, which will make personalization much easier and ultimately more effective. 

How do I personalize my outbound emails?

That’s the great thing about personalization! It works for outbound emails, cold emails, follow-up emails, and emails to your mom! Segment, mention common contacts and common interests. 

What’s the best way to send mass personalized emails?

A cold email list is only as good as the emails you’re sending and the tool you use to send them. Postaga can help you find the right contacts and help you personalize your content to appeal to those contact. 

How can I write hyper-personalized emails at scale? 

Depending on your company size, outsourcing might be your best bet. In a small company, the employers are already wearing a lot of hats. Outsourcing can be a way to get the work done without burning out your staff. Or yourself!

How can you add a personal touch to sales emails?

Always focus first on the person on the other end of your email. Not what they can do for you. You’ll get to that! But really find ways to appeal to them as a person and not just a prospect. 

How do I write a personalized sales email?

Use the reader’s name frequently, mention a personal interest they have, even better if you share it! Find out what they need to make their job easier or solve a problem, and give it to them.

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