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How I get 60% open rates and 40% response rates cold emailing

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PJ Pahygiannis

Oct 6, 2014
Olney, Maryland
I get 60% open rates and 40% response rates on my cold emails, do you?

Many people I talk to blast out thousands of unpersonalized emails at a time and then complain that they got no results. Cold email that works should be a conversation, NOT A PITCH. If you pitch in the first email it’s kind of like those people at mall kiosks trying to sell you something (or spray you with perfume) as you pass by. Get to know the person you are cold emailing. Ask them questions. Make it easy for them to respond. A pitch is extremely easy to ignore and delete.

I’m always in awe of how many people I talk to about cold emailing don’t know their markets. They might be selling to business owners yet they don’t know what business owners in that niche are struggling with or the daily challenges they face. I like to ask a one sentence question in a separate email before I pitch. It’s all about having a conversation. The trick is to ask a question specific to their business/niche but vague enough where it doesn’t scream your selling something. For example, DO NOT ask them “Do you need more leads?” I was helping a Facebook friend with cold emailing gyms. He was selling lead generation. The questions I came up for him to ask in the first email were “What classes do you offer? How many people are usually in each class?” Or “How long have you been in business? How many members do you have?”

The goal is to use that question to start a conversation about your services. I helped a client get over 50 phone calls for lead generation. He was pitching tankless water heater lead generation to plumbers. The first email was “Hi, do you install tankless water heaters or just regular water heaters?” 60% of the plumbers opened the email and 40% responded. 1,500 emails sent got 900 opens and 600 replies! We manually replied to all 600 with a five sentence response/pitch to get them on a phone call. This same technique got a reply from the CEO of Chick Fil A. The subject line I use for these emails is just “Question”

Most people only cold email during business hours. If you do, you are doing exactly what everyone else is doing. Stand out from the crowd. Email them at 6 AM (if you’re up, if not then schedule it). Email them at 11 PM. I’ve sent cold emails to executives at 10 PM and have literally gotten a response one minute later. As a general rule I’ve found the sweet spot is to email them two hours BEFORE their business opens and two to three hours AFTER their business closes. Pitching a restaurant owner? Check and see what time his restaurant opens and closes, if he opens at 8 AM and closes at 10 PM then you have a window from 6 AM to around 7:30 AM and from 10:30 PM to 12:30 AM to send him an email and get a response. This works especially well when emailing general email addresses like, since most of the time it will be the owner responding to you personally

Please, DO NOT use Mail Chimp for cold emailing. First, it was not meant for it. Second, you will be banned before you even send an email. I use Woodpecker, which is $40 a month, and Yet Another Mail Merge, which is $25 a year

Want to discover New niches to sell to? Watch Dirty Jobs. Google things like “dirty profitable businesses.” Everyone I talk to is going after the EXACT same niches. Why are you making it harder for yourself? There are untapped niches out there with far less competition and saturation. I’ve always said this, and I’ll say it again - the crazier the niche the better, faster, and bigger results you’ll get with cold email. I love to fish - my dream is to find a spot in the middle of nowhere that no one has ever fished before. Having never seen a lure before, the fish will be a lot hungrier and will bite quicker. Yes, I know many of you go after Chiropractors, dentists, and plastic surgeons because they have money to spend. The statement “riches are in the niches” is also still true today. But realize this - for a chiropractor your cold email is likely to be the twentieth they get that day. Out of 20 other marketing agency’s that also offer result money back guarantees and proven track records, how are you REALLY different? They are all fishing for the same fish in the exact same pond with the exact same bait. It doesn’t take long for the fish to just ignore every lure that passes by. I’ve found that those who have dentists, chiropractors, and plastic surgeons as clients USUALLY, but not always, did not make the connection or sale online but face to face or through a referral. This makes perfect sense if you put yourself in the shoes of a chiropractor who gets cold emails from twenty agency’s a day that all sound AND promise the exact same thing. That chiropractor does not have the time and will not take the time just to figure out how you are different through a cold email. BUT, he will listen to a friend or a referral!

I also want to make a point of saying that when you are cold emailing people, do not shy away from sending emails to addresses such as or Many people do, and they are missing out. Over the years I have found that many company owners have all emails sent to an address such as then automatically forwarded to their personal email address such as Plus, many company’s only have one main email address such as which they will respond to. I have also found that if the person who receives the email cannot help you, they will forward it to someone who can

Subject Lines: You are over complicating it. The only subject line I have EVER used is "Question"

For those of you that cold email executives at large company’s: DO NOT ask for the sale. Want them to reply? Ask them for advice. I discovered this last year when I was trying to build an app in the influencer marketing space. I would cold email these executives at billion dollar brands and describe the idea (the app wasn’t built yet). I would say in the first few sentences in the email that I wanted and valued their advice. I asked them for their “brutally honest feedback”. I got replies from executives at Sephora, Estée Lauder, and several other billion dollar brands

Men are more responsive to cold email than women. I’ve tested this extensively. 90% of the replies I get from cold email for me and my clients are from men and that goes for every niche I’ve ever worked in. When women do reply, they are typically not interested. 100% of the calls I’ve booked for my clients are with men.

Want me to rewrite your cold email? Send it to me at
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New Contributor
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Apr 11, 2018
This was really useful thanks. You said you use an automated email after you get the first response but how do you keep the segue from the question to the pitch without it seeming out of the blue?


Intermediate User of the Flying Guillotine
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Speedway Pass
Oct 16, 2015
This was really useful thanks. You said you use an automated email after you get the first response but how do you keep the segue from the question to the pitch without it seeming out of the blue?
This story took a hard left turn sadly.



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Speedway Pass
Jun 4, 2019
Ouch, that's rough. It does however very well illustrate the necessity for the commandment of Control!
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Speedway Pass
Apr 12, 2019
Hamburg, Germany
Thanks for sharing this.

I didnt read it yet, but bookmarked it and will execute on it soon.

Going to post my results in this thread!



Yes and
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Speedway Pass
Sep 25, 2017
Portland, Oregon
Great post. Inspiring.

You posted a while back an offer to sell to members niche-specific lists of prospects. What ever happened to that?


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Apr 11, 2018
Thanks for the heads up @broswoodwork read through the thread and it looks like my gut was right about the auto-responses. Looks like I would have to get my own server to get it to work which is not necessary at all for me at this point.
I think doing the responses yourself is necessary
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