Your Ultimate Email Format Guide for Cold Outreach in 2024

Your Ultimate Email Format Guide for Cold Outreach in 2024

To effectively connect with potential buyers in today’s day and age, one has to become a masterful guru at cold emails. 

Sure, there are other channels like phone calls, SMS, LinkedIn messages, etc., but emails remain far ahead in first place when it comes to all types of business communication, especially in the B2B landscape. 

As no surprise, 80% of modern buyers prefer to be contacted by businesses via email, with cold calls in second place (surprise-surprise!). By no means does this signify that as long as you blast out enough cold emails to prospects, the conversion rates will follow, in fact, that’s far from the truth. 

In reality, buyers will often ignore even the most relevant emails for numerous reasons. One way to increase the likelihood your email won’t be one of them is to properly format it from top to bottom before you hit send, and that’s exactly what we’ll cover in this article.

Structure of a business email format 

Ever feel stuck staring at a blank screen when writing a business email? 

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Let’s dive into the basics of structuring a business email to make it easier and more effective.

Subject line

This is the first attempt to capture your recipient’s attention within a few short seconds, and quite often the deciding factor on whether your email gets opened in the first place or not. 

The golden rule here is to keep them as short as possible, according to our research — 2 to 4 words is the sweet spot for greater open rates. 

subject line as a part of email format template

While not a significant difference, one thing’s for sure — definitely do include a subject line in each and every email, because those without one have significantly lower open rates! 

Struggling with subject lines? Get fresh ideas from Reply now!

Generate subject lines →

Greeting

This is your simple, customary, and polite way to greet your recipient before jumping into business. There’s no need to overcomplicate this part, a simple ‘Hey’ or ‘Hello’ will get the job done, but definitely do follow with your recipient’s first name (no ‘Hey there’). 

email format example with greetings

The goal here is to establish a friendly connection, so perhaps you could take it a step further and add a touch of personalization with your recipient’s local greeting: 

Intro 

While not a mandatory element of cold emails, we’ve found that starting off with a short introductory sentence sets the tone for a more engaging conversation. 

Alternatively, we’re also huge fans of personalized ice-breakers to showcase to recipients that this isn’t another mass email. While it can take a minute or two to scroll through your recipient’s LinkedIn and/or company profile, this will go a long way in making a genuine connection, regardless of whether the sale goes through right away or not. 

Besides, you can use AI sales assistants to get the job done in seconds.

Reason for outreach 

If you decide to skip the intro part, this becomes your first sentence, so it’s crucial to gauge the recipient’s interest right away.  The ultimate purpose of you reaching out to the recipient should be clear, concise, and most importantly—resonate with them and their needs, not you or your product. 

Here are a few examples of well-crafted ‘reason for outreach’ sentences: 

→ I saw that {{Company}} sales department has grown significantly in the last 6 months, so I thought this might be relevant. 

→ I saw that you’re doubling your SDR team. → I’m curious, how are you dealing with managing your increased quotas as you scale?

Value proposition 

Once your recipient understands who you are and why you’re reaching out, it’s time to right away highlight how your proposition may benefit them, in other words, what’s in it for them? 

This is the most important part of any cold email. This is where you can expand your message (within reason), highlighting a specific problem they face, and then explaining how your services, product, idea, or partnership will help them solve it. 

Then, lock it in by including the potential outcome of your cooperation as well as some form of social proof. 

value proposition as a part of email format examples

CTA 

Your CTA will also play a huge role in the overall success of your cold email, the goal is to prompt and facilitate the next step for communication. Make sure to include only 1 crystal-clear CTA per email, and make sure it’s low friction (not pushy or too sales-y). 

Here are some of our favorite CTAs: 

→ No rush, but is this worth exploring?

→ Open to learning a bit more?

→ How about a quick call on [Date and Time] to see if there’s a fit? 

Closing sentence 

These are your last words, so make sure to leave a good impression! You could choose to go with a short summary/recap of your message, or a personalized P.S. line or ice-breaker. 

Once again, while not mandatory, we’ve found they definitely help break the ice and better connect with our prospects, and considering everyone knows that about 90% of their inbox is full of automated emails, they will appreciate the human touch as well. 

This can be something as simple (and not related to your proposal) as: 

→ P.S. Loved your recent post about the top 5 AI tools.

Sign-off + Signature 

Just like your greeting, your sign-off should be simple and friendly, anything like ‘Best’, ‘Best regards’, ‘Take care’, or ‘Cheers’ will do just fine. 

Then it’s time to attach your email signature and hit that send button. You can either have a simple, plain-text signature, or a more visual signature that looks like a digital business card. 

This is more a matter of preference, so just go with what feels more natural to you, though it’s definitely a good idea to keep all company workers’ signatures the same for a more cohesive brand image. 

Elevate your brand with a free, customizable email signature from Reply!

Start generating →

While some of these elements like the intro and closing sentence are not necessarily crucial, they definitely do add a touch of personalization and authenticity to your messages. But overall, this is the ideal formal email format ‘sandwich’ to follow. 

Breaking down the proper email format (with research) 

The ‘email format’ is an umbrella term for numerous components, and now that we’ve covered the proper email structure formatting, let’s dive into more intricate elements that create top-performing cold emails based on our analysis of millions of emails (yes, you read that right)!

Email length 

Research on the length of a cold email showed us some pretty interesting results. 

For starters, emails with longer text, specifically over 1000 characters, produced the highest click-through rates compared to emails with less text. Yet, we also found that these longer emails produced the lowest reply rates (1.3%) compared to shorter emails — 100-200 characters (3.6%) and less than 100 characters (5.4%). 

In addition, cold emails with 2 paragraphs produced the greatest reply rates (3.8%), and as the number of paragraphs increased — the reply rates decreased. 

email format template length
The conclusion? Keep your cold emails as short as possible and concise, with up to 2 paragraphs in your main body.

Visuals 

After comparing the performance of emails that included visual elements such as images, videos, and GIFs, we found that plain emails produced double the reply rates (2%) compared to their visual counterparts. 

Yet, when it comes to meetings booked, we found no difference in whether visual elements were included or not. So while more emails get responded to if they don’t have any images, videos, or GIFs included, those that do include visuals tend to get the job done just as well.

Subject line 

We’ve already covered the ideal wording length of a cold email subject line (2-4 words), but when looking at the correlation between numbers, emojis, letter casing, and open rates, interestingly enough, there wasn’t a significant discrepancy. 

So don’t shy away from including some numbers or capitalization in your subject lines, as long as the wording itself has the potential to grab your recipient’s attention.

Links 

Emails including links produced slightly greater bounce rates (4.1%), which makes sense considering the strict Google policies affecting email deliverability

At the same time, they also resulted in lower reply rates (1.4% compared to 2.3%), lower interest rates, and lower meetings booked. So it’s probably best to avoid any links in your initial cold emails unless you really have to include them.

Attachments 

When it comes to attachments, we found that cold emails without attachments produced greater reply rates (1.9% compared to 1.3%), though recipients of emails with attachments showed greater interest rates in continuing the conversation (1.2% compared to 0.7%). 

I guess the conclusion here is to avoid including attachments in your initial cold emails unless it would really help you deliver the value proposition to your recipients.

Cold email format example

Going from theory to practice, here are some of our most effective cold email templates that follow the formatting and structure we’ve talked about: 

General B2B sales cold email format template 

The best B2B cold emails are those that truly resonate with the prospects, which is why whenever we see some kind of intent signals—we make sure to revolve our cold outreach around them. In this case, we leverage our prospect business growing their sales team, which often signifies that they will be upgrading their tech stack.

Subject line: Growing {{Company}} [Department] team

Hi {{FirstName}}.

I noticed that {{Company}} [Department] department has grown significantly in the last 6 months so thought it might be relevant.

Given your job title and since other fast-growing [Department] teams from companies like [Company1] & [Company2] use [Your Company] for [Problem You Solve], I thought you might be interested in improving your [Department] team effectiveness.

Would you be interested in seeing how [Your Company] can help both your top performers and new hires?

Department Growth Email Template

This template directly addresses the recipient’s potential needs by highlighting recent growth and drawing parallels with successful peers. It’s personalized, concise, and positions your solution in context, making it more relatable and actionable.

Now, let’s take a look at some more specific email format examples for various business use cases: 

Collaboration/partnership email format template 

In B2B, not all cold emails are sales/marketing related. Oftentimes, businesses will leverage such email templates to spark a connection with potential partners and/or collaborate on joint ventures.

Subject line: {{Company}} {{Your_company}}

Hi {{FirstName}},

I am leading the partner program at {{Your_company}} – [Your brief value proposition]

We are expanding our Reseller Program and I would love to personally invite {{Company}} to join as a partner.

What’s in it for you? You will generously receive 20%-30% recurring monthly commission for life on every customer you refer to us, or up to 50% discount if you use our platform to run campaigns on behalf of your clients.

Would you be interested to jump on a quick call to discuss?

Reseller Program Outreach Email Template

This email template presents a compelling partnership opportunity for the recipient company. By highlighting the exact benefits, such as generous recurring monthly commissions or discounts, it captures their attention and creates a sense of exclusivity. 

Business development email format template 

Business development comes in different forms, and while you may not be directly selling your product, the goal here is usually to establish a connection between your companies for potential future partnerships and/or sales. 

Subject line: {{Company}} {{Your_Company}}

Hi {{FirstName}}.

I came across your company on {{Source}} and was really impressed with the idea.

As you may know, one of the quickest ways to [Problem They Face] is [Problem You Solve].

I was just wondering, do you currently use any tools for [Your brief value proposition] at {{Company}}?

Startups Outreach Email Template

It starts with a positive and personalized introduction, acknowledging the prospect’s company and expressing genuine interest in their business idea, which helps establish a positive rapport. 

VC and investment email format template 

When it comes to pitching potential investors, it’s crucial to make your email message compelling and concise, showcasing your company’s unique value proposition.

Subject line: {{Business USP}}, seeking {{Investment Type}}

Hey {{FirstName}},

{{Introduction + brief info about the company, including the problem you solve and what makes you stand out from the competition}}. Here are some numbers:

{Stat 1}
{Stat 2}
{Stat 3}

You can find more details in our short deck here {{Deck Link}}.

We’re currently seeking to raise {{Investment Amount/tType}} to {{Growth Outlook}}.

I heard/read your interview/post/talk and your point about {{Key Point}} really struck home. {{Short note on how the key point relates to your business plans}}.

I’d love to tell you more over a 30min call or a coffee. Do you have any time next week?
{{Sender.FullName}}

Fundraising Email Template

Use this effective template to grab your recipient’s attention and establish your value proposition right from the beginning with a brief but impactful overview of your company, highlighting the problem you solve and what sets you apart from the competition.

Follow-up email format template 

Follow-ups are important, but it’s equally important to keep them short and right to the point, making them a friendly reminder of your initial email rather than rephrasing it entirely.

Subject line: {{Your_Company}} // {{Company}}

Hey {{FirstName}},

I appreciate you taking the time to read my previous emails! I thought you might be intrigued to find out more about how [Your brief value proposition] can be used by {{Company}}’s {{Department}} team to [Pain Point].

I’d love to share some insights on how {{Company}} can benefit from collaborating with us via a quick chat.

Appreciate Cold Follow-up Email Template

While this follow-up email template is very simple, it takes a direct, no-time-wasting approach, which your recipients will appreciate. Acknowledging previous contact attempts conveys persistence without crossing the line of being pushy.

Networking email format template 

Your network is your net worth, isn’t that what they say? Well, it’s definitely the best way to grow as a professional while increasing your company’s brand awareness, that’s for sure! Over the last couple of years, I’ve become a huge podcast enthusiast, and this is the template I use when reaching out to podcast hosts for potential guest appearances. 

Subject line: Joining {{Company}} podcast

Hey {{FirstName}},

{{Your_Name}} here, [Title] of {{Your_Company}}.

I’ve listened to a few episodes of your podcast, and I’ve really enjoyed it: {{Personalized_Sentence}}.

So it got me thinking – is there a chance to join your podcast as a guest?

[Share your story in 1-2 sentences], and I’d love to share some of my learnings with you and your audience.

But what makes my experience really unique is a solid background in [Your Unique Skills. e.g. sales and AI; growth and SaaS]. Namely, here are just a few topic ideas that could be relevant to your audience:

1. [Relevant Topic 1]
2. [Relevant Topic 2]
3. [Relevant Topic 3]

Please, let me know if you’d be interested in having me as your guest.

Podcast Cold Outrech Email Template

This template is effective for a couple of reasons — it’s personalized, it highlights a clear value proposition, relevance, and genuine appreciation for their podcast. By highlighting your unique skills and experiences, this template showcases the potential value you can bring to the podcast (or webinar, seminar, etc.), along with proposed topic ideas to show your enthusiasm. 

By the way, it’s worth mentioning that cold email formatting is not only important for sales/marketing emails but also in virtually every aspect of business communication, from job applications and recruitment to event promotions and PR. 

For more email templates on various business use cases, check out our extensive email template library

Cold email outreach golden rules

While formatting your cold emails is imperative, there are several golden rules to follow at all times to ensure the success of your emails: 

  • Targeting → make sure you’re sending your emails exclusively to relevant prospects that fit your ICP (ideal customer profile), otherwise, no matter how perfectly you format your cold email, you just won’t see positive results.   
  • Personalization → whether it’s a personalized ice-breaker, a uniquely crafted value proposition, or showcasing you did your research into their company, personalization is the most effective way to connect with modern prospects. 
  • Tone → strike a balance between formality and remaining human (not robotic); ensure your tone is not overly pushy or ‘sales’y’, and avoid buzzwords and jargon at all costs. 
  • Clarity → remove all unnecessary fluff, don’t forget that your recipients are very busy and would appreciate you respecting their time with clear and concise communication. 
  • I/You ratio → cold emails should always focus on the recipient and their business needs rather than your product/company, so be mindful of the I/You ratio in your messaging. 
  • Social proof → while there’s a time and place for everything, including some light form of social proof in your cold email will definitely underline your company’s credibility in the eyes of the recipient, making them more willing to potentially engage in business with you. 
  • Soft CTAs as mentioned above, your CTAs should be light, suggesting the next step of your communication moving forward, and NOT going for the sale right from the get-go. 

And last but not least, before you click ‘send’, read through your cold email and ask yourself: “Would I enjoy reading and would I respond to this email?”. If the answer is yes — go for it! 

Let AI handle/enhance your email formatting 

At Reply, we are huge fans of leveraging awesome tech to increase our team’s productivity and efficiency, and given the boom of email/sales/marketing software over the recent years, rest assured that there are numerous solutions that can help you format and perfect your emails.  

For instance, there are dedicated AI-powered email assistants that know the ideal email format, structure, and wording for each unique use case and prospect, and while human eyes should be the final judge before pressing send — they definitely increase the quality of your emails at lightning speed. 

AI SDR can help you create email format examples

And finally, unless you’re using some type of dedicated email outreach software like Reply, run your emails through Grammarly to make sure everything is crispy-clean. The last thing you want is to damage the chances of getting a reply due to bad grammar!

Closing remarks 

While making your cold emails pitch-perfect may seem like a tedious task, the good news is that, once you nail down the top-performing email format (structure, additional components), it then becomes a walk in the park! 

It’s also a great idea to analyze your company’s cold email history to determine which professional email format works best in your industry, niche, audience, etc. And though this may take some time, you will be setting up your team for success, significantly increasing your chances of getting your emails opened, responded to, and ultimately achieving your business goals.

FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is email format?

  • How to properly format an email?

  • How to format email signatures?

  • How to format a formal email?

Subscribe to our blog to receive the latest updates from the world of sales and marketing.
Stay up to date.

Related Articles

Top 7 AI Email Generators to Try in 2024

Top 7 AI Email Generators to Try in 2024

Top 7 AI Email Generators to Try in 2024
How to Write a Good Prospecting Email: The Full Guide

How to Write a Good Prospecting Email: The Full Guide

How to Write a Good Prospecting Email: The Full Guide
Customer-Centric Sales: How to Win Over Your Customers for Life

Customer-Centric Sales: How to Win Over Your Customers for Life

Customer-Centric Sales: How to Win Over Your Customers for Life