5 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Cold Email Marketing Campaigns and How to Fix Them

October 6, 2021
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5 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Cold Email Marketing Campaigns and How to Fix Them5 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Cold Email Marketing Campaigns and How to Fix Them

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Cold email marketing can be a game-changer for your business. But let's face it, crafting the perfect cold email is no walk in the park. Did you know that 72% of consumers prefer email as their primary means of communication with businesses? From catchy subject lines to personalized copy and irresistible CTAs, it's a daunting task.
And, sadly, many marketers in their initial days make mistakes writing cold emails. But fear not! In this ultimate guide, we're here to reveal the common mistakes that salespeople often make in their cold email campaigns, and, more importantly, how to turn those missteps into your outbound gamechanger.

How do Cold Email Marketing Mistakes Affect Businesses?

Cold emailing is still one of the most effective mediums for outbound lead generation. However, even the most obvious mistakes can negatively impact the performance of your campaigns. Here’s how cold email marketing mistakes affect businesses:

1. Low Deliverability Rates

According to a Validity report, on an average 20.3% of commercial emails worldwide do not reach the inboxWhen your cold emails contain mistakes, they often end up in spam folders. This not only decreases the chances of your message being opened but also harms your domain's sender reputation. With a poor deliverability rate, it’s challenging to reach your target audience via cold email. Even those who have willingly subscribed to your list may miss out on your valuable content.

Read more: How & When to Test Email Deliverability? List of Tools & Alternatives

2. Poor Email Open Rates

Just landing in the prospects’ inboxes is not enough; recipients must open your emails. If you make common cold email mistakes, the chances of getting lower email open rates than the industry standard is high.

The global average email open rate is approximately 21.5% across all industries. If your email open rate is lower than it should be, your emails will remain unopened and the CTA will be unclicked. Poor email open rates, thus, results in lack of engagement, which severely impacts your sales funnel.

3. Poor Quality Leads

Poorly written cold emails may land in a prospect's inbox and get read. However, quality leads (most likely to convert and match the ICP) rarely respond positively to poorly written messages. Even if they engage initially, the following sales process lacks vitality. You may find yourself investing time in leads that ultimately go nowhere, costing you valuable time and resources.

4. Wasted Time

Time is a crucial aspect of sales, and bad cold emails can eat it up rapidly. You might be eager and hopeful after sending out your first emails, but if they contain common mistakes, it may lead to low response rates and, as a result, fewer sales.


5 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Cold Email Marketing Campaigns and How to Fix Them

The goal of a cold email campaign is to increase email click-through rates. Many marketers complain that cold email campaigns don’t work for them. And there are explanations for them. Most of them are making very common mistakes. Here are the 5 common cold emailing mistakes and how you can avoid them:

1. Not Segmenting Your Email Lists

One of the biggest downsides of not segmenting your email lists is the inability to effectively personalize messages. Sending generic emails to a diverse group of people affects the relevance of your message.


According to research, 54% of B2B sales leaders mentioned the  lack of quality data as their most significant barrier to success. The same happens with your email list if you don’t segment your audiences based on interest – there’s a high chance of your recipients receiving irrelevant information.

What to do Instead?

Segmentation is the secret to turning your cold email campaigns into a focused and successful outbound lead generation platform. Here's how to fix this mistake:

Gather and Organize Your Data:

  • Start by collecting relevant prospect data. Include information like job titles, industries, company size, geographic location, and past interactions with your brand.
  • Ensure that your data is accurate and up to date. Cleanse your list of any duplicates or outdated information.
  • Clearly define Your Segmentation Criteria. These criteria should align with your campaign's goals and target audience. Common segmentation criteria include demographics (age, gender, job title, company role, etc.), firmographics (industry, company size, revenue, location, etc.), behavioral (past interactions with your emails, website, or previous purchases), and psychographics (interests, pain points, buying preferences, etc.)
  • Use your chosen criteria to divide your email list into segments. You can create segments like ‘Small Businesses in the Tech Industry’ or ‘Marketing Managers in the B2B SaaS Industry.’

2. Crafting lengthy Messages

On an average, an email user receives around 120 emails in a day. Another interesting study also shows that an average worker spends no longer than 12 seconds reading an email.  

If these two data indicate something, it’s about ditching lengthy emails. No need to be Stephen King, stick to writing the bare minimum. If you want to boost your cold email reply rates, stick to short email copies.

The ideal length of a cold email is within 50 -125 words. Start your email with a greeting/personalization point/complement, summarize your point in 2-3 sentences and lastly add a specific yet short CTA.


Pro Tip: Plain text emails work best for cold emails. Also, one size doesn’t fit all. So, A/B test different email copy variations and see which one works best for your audience.

Read more: Boosting Email Deliverability in Cold Email in 2023: Actionable Tips for Success

3. Using Wrong Subject Lines

Subject lines create the first impression of your emails. In fact, 33% of email recipients decide to open emails solely based on subject lines.
Spam-trigger words in your subject lines can be flagged by spam filters, resulting in your emails landing in the junk/spam folder. Never send cold emails with spammy subject lines like “Check out our latest product” or “Double your income” as these texts are considered too good to be true.

Instead, place your offer in the email body, in the CTA section. As mobile devices accounted for approx. 42% of all email opens in 2019, not optimizing your subject line for mobiles can be fatal for your cold emails campaigns.

Here are a few cold email subject line best practices:

  • Try to keep your subject line within 4-7 words or maximum 60 characters.  
  • Do not write generic subject lines. Pique curiosity of your prospect.
  • Avoid spam trigger words such as “Sale”, “Earn”, “$$”. “Income”, Profit” etc., to steer cleaver from the spam filters.
  • Add preheader text in your emails.
  • Personalize the subject line; but do not use too many personalization points.

Here are a few examples of cold email subject lines that work:

  • FOMO: “Exclusive Opportunity for Early Adopters"
  • Questioning: "Is Your [Problem] Keeping You Up at Night?"
  • Social Proof: "Join 500+ Happy Customers Who Improved Their [Outcome]"
  • Curiosity: "The Secret to [Benefit] Revealed"
  • Personalization: "Your [Recent Activity] Impressed Us"
  • Reciprocity: "A Gift to Boost Your [Specific Goal]"
  • Urgency: "Limited Time Offer: [Discount/Deal] Expires Soon"
  • Pain Point Addressing: "Solving Your [Pain Point] Problem"
  • Social Connection: "We Share a Common Interest"
  • Storytelling: "From [Challenge] to [Success]: Our Journey"

Just like your email copy, it’s best to A/B test subject line variations internally to check which one works the best.

4. Adding No CTA or, Multiple CTAs

Many marketers, especially in their initial days, make the mistake of not adding a CTA in their cold email. Either they add multiple CTAs or no CTA at all.

A well-crafted CTA clarifies the desired action you want the recipient to take, which leaves no room for ambiguity. It guides them on the next steps, making it easier for them to respond appropriately. And without a CTA, the email may lack direction and fail to inspire action.

Besides that, CTAs make it easier to track the success of your cold email campaigns. By monitoring click-through rates or specific actions (such as meeting booking, webinar registration), you can measure the effectiveness of your messaging and make data-driven improvements.

On the other hand, another big mistake you might be making is adding multiple CTAs in one email. This not just confuses the recipients but also dilutes the importance of the main CTA. This phenomenon, although arguable, drastically reduces click-through rates for email campaigns.

5. No Follow-Ups

Did you know that 80% of the sales happen only after 5 follow-ups. That’s right. Follow-up is the key.

According to a study, businesses that follow up within the first hour of receiving an inquiry are seven times more likely to convert the lead into a paying customer. This highlights the critical importance of timely follow-ups.

Cold emails are sent to prospects who have shown some interest in your product or service. When you fail to follow up, you miss the opportunity to nurture these warm leads and move them through the sales funnel.


Besides, Marketing Donut suggests that it takes an average of 7 touchpoints to convert a prospect into a customer. By not following up, you're losing out on potential revenue, as most prospects won't make a purchase after just one email.

So, how do you fix this?
Create a follow-up schedule with at least 5 email sequences. Make sure you are adding value to your prospects. Don’t just say “Hey, just following up…”, make sure you are sharing additional information/informative pieces/case studies/customer testimonials to help them make the purchase decision.

It’s better to invest in a sales engagement tool like Smartlead. It allows you to create omnichannel outreach campaigns (Email and LinkedIn) and subsequences for better targeting.

For the first follow-up email, 1-3 days after your initial email is standard. And if you don’t get replies, follow-up once a week.


Email marketing, especially the field of cold email marketing, is ever evolving. Crafting the perfect cold email may seem like a daunting task, but with the right information and copywriting skills, you can avoid the common mistakes and generate sales from cold email campaigns. So, seize the opportunity, avoid these pitfalls, and watch your outreach efforts transform into fast moving sales funnels.