Cold Email · · 8 min read

No More Awkward Pauses: Conversation Starters For Emails

Conversation starters are as important in cold emails as they are in real life. It’s a chance to captivate your recipient and begin a meaningful relationship.

conversation starters

A conversation has to start somewhere. Without a conversation starter, you’re left scrambling for a way to begin, and that usually means resorting to mundane small talk. “How’re you doing?” or “How’s business?” These are neither memorable nor worthy of most people’s time.

The significance of a solid conversation starter is even more pronounced when you factor it into cold emailing. Cold email outreach is an incredibly powerful tool for businesses and entrepreneurs, but you have to stand out. If your first impression is, “Hi I’m X and I’m a Y at Company Z,” you just sound boring. What’s worse is you sound like just another salesperson touting for business. One of the many dozens of emails your recipient receives day in, day out.

It’s time to stand apart and use some top-notch conversation starters. In this article, we’ll not only share some of the best conversation starters, but we’ll also talk about the dynamics of cold emailing and how to craft an engaging conversation starter.

  • The Conversation Starter and The Cold Email
  • Crafting Engaging Conversation Starters
  • The Ultimate Compendium of Conversation Starters

The Conversation Starter and The Cold Email

email converation starter

Many people falsely believe that cold emailing is sending unsolicited emails to prospects in an attempt to get more sales. This is a common misconception. Cold emailing is far more than that. It’s an opportunity to foster connection and nurture new relationships.

Email isn’t dead. Far from it. Cold emails are still an integral method of business communication used by hundreds of thousands of businesses every day. When you begin to see cold email as more than an underhanded sales tactic, you can see the work and finesse that goes into each. It’s a combination between creativity and science.

Elements of human psychology are mixed with marketing techniques before getting wrapped up in effective copywriting. When mastered, cold emailing can unlock paths to new opportunities and set the foundations of relationships.

As with all scientific projects, there are formulas that you can use to achieve the desired result. These formulas can be adapted to best suit your purpose, but the systems that underpin them remain the same.

The first step is to understand your recipient. You need to get into their mindset so that your email is received in the best light.

The Psychology of Cold Emails

With inboxes inundated by constant emails, you need to position your email and your business as different from the rest. Your recipients are far more likely to send your email directly to the trash bin than they are to open it.

The key is to present yourself in a way that shows them their time is worth spending on you. You can achieve this by demonstrating you have something of value to them and that your email is relevant to their interests.

Ask yourself if what you’re sending is of genuine value to the recipient. If it’s not, consider not sending it. It’s better to consistently deliver value than it is to risk alienating recipients with junk.

The Importance of Personalization

There’s more to personalization than including their name or the company that they work at. Yes, that’s a good start, but to be truly successful, you have to go a step or two further. It’s difficult to achieve at scale, but the most successful emails will be tailored to the recipient in their entirety.

You can only personalize emails effectively if you’re armed with sufficient information. Start with their pain points and needs, then investigate their interests and further demographics. Bear these in mind while writing, and you’ll have a far more positive reception.

The Power of The Subject Line

As far as conversation starters go, the subject line is a great place to position them. The subject line is, after all, your first chance to entice the recipient to click your email. It’s your opportunity to grab their attention. You want your email to stand out from the crowd and look interesting in the inbox.

A good way of looking at the subject line is as a movie trailer. It’s got to give a good overall picture of what the content is about, not give too much away, and encourage them to see the whole thing.

Your conversation starter doesn’t start in the first line of the email. It’s before that. It starts at the subject line.

Crafting Engaging Conversation Starters

engaging emails

The conversation starter sets the tone for the rest of the email. Indeed it sets the tone for the entire exchange between the two of you, especially when it's the first cold email. One of two things will usually happen. The recipient is intrigued and goes on to read more, or they’re uninterested and move on.

The craft is in your ability to blend value, relevance, and intrigue into a tiny amount of words that instantly capture the reader’s attention. No small task. This is where we’re here to help.

Hook Them, Then Reel Them In

If you’re able to hook a recipient from the first line, chances are you’ll be able to reel them in and get them to engage with the rest of your email. That’s why the opening line, your conversation starter, is so critical.

A compelling hook comes from empathy. Put yourself into the recipient’s shoes. Imagine having to deal with their pain points. Think about how it might feel to be in their position. Then gauge how your solutions can solve their problems.

Working through this process means you’ll be able to see precisely how your USP is able to assist them. Then you can work this into your hook. Take Instantly for example. We know that our solution can save email marketing professionals hours of time each week. We might start with, “Wouldn’t it be great to get 5 hours back into your week?”

Be Genuinely Interested

You’ve hooked them. The recipient is interested. Now you need to continue that conversation and steer them through the rest of your content. This is the time that you need to show some genuine interest in them and their life. This relationship shouldn’t be one-sided. It’s not just about you getting what you want from it. It needs to be a mutually beneficial relationship that works for everyone.

You need to have done your research at this point. Showing interest means referring to their work and talking about some shared interests. It could be mentioning how impressed you were by one of their recent achievements. Maybe the prospect won an award for their outstanding customer service, “Huge congratulations on winning {{Name of Award}}. It really is a testament to your outstanding customer service.”

Don’t get too schmaltzy, though. There’s the cliche of the typical salesperson flattering a potential client to the Nth degree. Instead, master the art of sincerity. You have to mean it. Consider the conversation a friendly one, and talk as if you’re talking to someone you genuinely admire. It’ll make writing and reading it a far sight better, plus it’ll foster a deeper connection with the reader.

Deliver Value Immediately

Value is where the real heart of your email is. You need to deliver it, or at least the promise of it, from the very start. Delivering value to the recipient should be the core purpose of your message. It clearly demonstrates that you’re here to offer them something beneficial. You’re not solely here for their money.

What is value? Value can be presented in many different ways. It could be as simple as sharing an article you think they might find interesting or a snippet of news they might have missed. You might have a suggestion that will make their life easier in some way. Perhaps you’d like to introduce them to someone that can help their business.

The beauty of delivering value is that it puts you into the position of an advisor rather than just another salesperson. You’re actively trying to help them. This is almost always well-received and shows that you’re willing to put in extra effort.

All of this combined puts you in the best possible position to receive a response.

The Ultimate Compendium of Conversation Starters

What follows is our complete list of conversation starters, ready and raring for you to use. Some will work better in situations than others, but that’s for you to gauge and consider. They will always work at their best when you adapt them and personalize them to your cause.

I’ve just finished reading your article, “XYZ,” and it got me thinking…

- This is a great way to show that you’re interested in their work plus you’re willing to share some insight.

You won! Congratulations on the win at the XYZ awards. You and your team deserve it.

- Everyone likes to have their achievements recognized. This shows your admiration and respect.

I see that we’re both just as passionate about XYZ in business

- A strong mutual interest is a great way to set common ground and build rapport between you both.

As a fellow XYZ, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by your approach toward…

- You’re showing shared industry experience plus admiration for their work.

Your work with Company A really caught my eye. I loved that you…

- This demonstrates that you’re interested in their work and you’ve researched it enough to have an opinion on it.

I also struggled with XYZ for months when I was at Company A

- Here you’re building empathy. No one likes to feel that they’re the only one that struggles with a particular pain point.

Don’t think I haven’t noticed your explosive growth in the XYZ market

- This shows that you’re paying close attention to where they are positioning themselves, but also that you’re mindful of their business development.

Your Tweet/Post on XYZ really resonated with me. It got me thinking…

- Following people on social media is a great way to build rapport, it shows that you’re paying attention when you reference a recent post.

Your name keeps coming up when I research innovation in XYZ

- Here you’re demonstrating that you regularly research your sector, and you’re also aware of the innovation happening at their business.

{{Connection name}} suggested that I reach out. They said that we shared…

- You could go on to mention any number of interests here. It’s a great way to start a conversation because you’re immediately on mutual ground thanks to your shared connection.

I admit it. I’m obsessed with your blog. Your latest article on XYZ was incredible. It got me thinking…

- A combination of flattery and proof of research work well to segue into your own thoughts.

It was great to hear your thoughts at XYZ

- This could relate to a conference, a networking event, a meeting, or anything where you were both there. This establishes common ground and is a great foundation for the relationship.

I couldn’t help but notice your post on LinkedIn saying you were looking for help with XYZ. I’ve got a few ideas…

- Here you’re demonstrating that you spend time engaging with them on social media already. You’re not immediately selling something, instead, you’re looking to help them.

I can see that you’re using XYZ, have you thought about using ABC?

- This isn’t a chance to immediately plug your product or service. Use it as a chance to talk about wider methodologies and suggestions.

This new partnership that you’ve got with Company B is a complete game changer. How did it start?

- With this conversation starter, you’re simply asking genuine, insightful questions to begin a dialogue.

Key Takeaways

Opening with the right conversation starter can be the difference between a blossoming relationship and being kicked into the junk folder. Remember, more than anything, that you’re talking to another human being. Treat them as such and deliver true value, and you’ll be having endless conversations.

  • Personalizing your conversation starters is a great way to build rapport.
  • Ensure that you offer something of value to them whenever you can.
  • The conversation starter begins from the subject line.

Now that you’ve got your conversation starter, all that’s left is to write the rest of the email and send it. Want to make sure it lands in your recipient’s inbox every time? You need a quality email marketing tool. You need Instantly. Thankfully, you can get started for free today.

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