How to Start an Email That Gets Results And Replies: Top 5 Examples and Best Practices

8 mins

Even if you have the best offer, the most significant business, and you’re targeting your ideal target audience with your emails; it’s hard to get results and replies unless you master this one thing:

The hook.

The start of your email is arguably the most critical part of any outreach message.

Because if you can’t capture your lead’s attention and get them to read your email further, then everything else falls apart.

Consider the following scenario:

You’re targeting highly qualified leads with an exact solution to their problems and a proven offer.

But no one is clicking on your emails.

If you’re targeting business owners, chances are, they get hundreds (if not more) emails per day.

So, your emails might not even be getting noticed!

You need to stand out. There’s no other way around it if you want to get results (whether it’s booking a call or asking for something minor).

By the end of this guide, you’ll know how to write subject lines and first email lines that get clicks.

Below, we’ll teach you how to start (and finish) your emails, with the latest up-to-date practices as well as some real-life examples.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Why Email Introductions And Hooks Are So Important In Cold Outreach Campaigns
  • 5 Proven Formats to Start Your Cold Emails With
  • Top 5 Cold Email Outreach Examples

Let’s look at how you can start writing quality emails that get results consistently.

Why Email Introductions And Hooks Are So Important In Cold Outreach Campaigns

Your email introduction is your first impression.

It’s one of the essential things your prospect sees first – along with your name and subject line.

And the introduction affects two main things:

  1. If your email recipient will open the email.
  2. If they continue reading the message and what kind of an impression they’ll have.

Keep in mind most email inboxes look like this:

Now, imagine a prospect looking at 100s of emails like these. Each tries to capture a prospect’s attention and have them click on it.

That’s what you’re competing against.

So, first, let’s take a look at the subject line.

How to write a good email subject line for lead generation that gets clicked on

Your subject line sets the expectations of your prospect’s email on what to expect.

Your goal is to intrigue them and get them to click on your email.

However, one common mistake people make with subject lines is overdoing it. Your email subject line should only be up to 5-6 words at most.

And even then, you can’t go wrong with simplicity.

Our best subject lines for cold messages were straightforward and short.

One added benefit of a short subject line is that your recipient sees more of your email’s first line.

So, with that in mind, here are a few essential practices you’ll want to keep in mind when it comes to your subject lines:

  • Personalize your subject lines – Simple personalization tags like (first_name) and (company_name) have been proven to work time and time again.
  • Intrigue your prospects – Most people will say they don’t like clickbait-y headlines, but more often than not, they get clicked on.
  • Use social proof – Can you name drop a company or an influencer? Go for it! The bigger the name, the better.

Here are some cold email subject lines we’ve had some success with high open rates:

  • “Quick question, (first_name)”.
  • “Question for (company_name)”.
  • “Knock knock…”.
  • “Loved your thoughts on (topic)”.
  • “(Influencer or business CEO) liked this – you might too?”.

No need to overcomplicate this. Just keep it short and punchy.

Fortunately, A/B testing subject lines is easy (and highly recommended).

And if you’re doing cold email outreach at scale, we also recommend going through the proper email warmup steps.

Now, let’s get back on track.

First, let’s look at some different email starting formats and best practices; then, we’ll cover some real email examples and what they do well.

5 Proven Formats to Start Your Cold Emails With

There are a lot of different ways you can capture attention.

And for the most part, these formats work in any industry.

Because human psychology stays the same. And no matter what outreach tool you use, you’ll still be able to A/B test your emails and use personalization placeholders like these:

  • (First_name).
  • (Last_name).
  • (Company_name).
  • (Job_title).
  • (Dynamic placeholder) – If you’re uploading a custom spreadsheet of lead contact info, you can also add a custom row of personalization (see example below).

Then, your email outreach template might look something like the following:

“Hey (first_name),

(Personalization first line).


(1-2 Sentence case study).

(Call to action).”

Let’s break down what this might look like:

Subject line: Knock knock…

Email body text:

“Now you’re supposed to say – ‘Who’s there?’

I am just kidding, Harald.

I recently bumped into your LinkedIn profile and your experience in technology sales is impressive. It’s great to know that you’ve been able to build relationships with the C-level executives of your clients.

I wondered if you’d be interested in discovering some new unique LinkedIn outreach strategies?

With our LinkedIn InMail outreach strategy, we manage to book 14 calls for our clients through automated outreach, consistently week over week.

I do free personalized strategy sessions for marketers like you and I thought you’d want in too.

How does this Wednesday or Thursday evening sound like?”

Not bad, right?

Now, let’s take a look at some other ways to start your emails and then we’ll look at even more examples below!

#1 Starting your emails with personalization

There are many ways to increase email personalization, for example, using email coding to introduce templates and begin with the prospect’s name every time. Also show that you are interested in them as a person, not just as a sales opportunity.

The rule of thumb here is that your personalization should be so specific, it would not work on any other prospect.

Something like:

  • “Well done using fashion as a force for good! Donating 1,500,000+ pairs of reading glasses to individuals in need is huge!”
  • “Congrats on being named a national finalist for the social enterprise businesswoman of the year! Only six months in, that’s pretty impressive.”
  • “Love how apparent it is that (brand) is a labor of love. (Founder)’s story of deciding to drive instead of flying so he could bring his labrador was seriously heartwarming.”

These personalization lines are so specific; they would work only for a particular lead. It simply wouldn’t make sense for anyone else.

#2 Using comedy and humor to stand out

Humor is always a great icebreaker.

Even if you work in professional B2B sales, keep in mind, your prospects are human. And chances are, they receive many boring, corporate emails that sound robotic.

So, you’ll want to use this to your advantage to stand out.

Something like:

  • “Hey fname! Haha, just kidding, (first_name)…”.
  • Subject line: “Knock knock…”
    • First line: “Now you’re supposed to say ‘who’s there, (first_name)!”
  • “Hey (first_name), just what you wanted – another cold email. But hear me out! This one’s special…”
  • “Good news, (first_name) – only # days until Friday. Until then…”
  • “Hi (first_name), it’s me again. Wait! Before you click that ‘X’ button and delete this email…”

#3 Adress relevant pain points (know your audience)

This might seem like a “one size fits all” approach. But depending on who you’re targeting, it might work!

Essentially, one big issue with email marketing is that too many marketers talk about themselves.

To avoid this, talk about your prospects. If you know your audience well (which you should), take the opportunity to explain that you’ve done the research.

Something like:

  • “Managing time is often hard as a startup founder. Don’t you wish there was a better solution than using ten different tools for project management?”
  • “Saw (company_name) was using (Software name). How’s that working out for you? We help business owners using (software name) specifically by…”
    • Pro tip: You can target websites using a specific piece of technology by filtering for sites with BuiltWith. Check out our complete guide to LinkedIn message automation for more info.
  • “Grats on the series C funding, (first_name)! Bet you’re celebrating hard at (company_name)…”
    • If you’re targeting startups specifically who recently gained funding.

#4 Talk about news in your industry

Industry news is a great way to start your emails as they position yourself as an expert in your domain and that you’re up to date with everything that’s going on.

You’ll also have more credibility and you’ll save time on personalization, depending on who you’re trying to reach. This works well in the tech industry, where there’s often something new happening always.

  • “Did you see the news, (first_name)? It seems everyone is doing some kind of a new VR venture – saw (lead competitor) and (lead competitor) had just invested in this…”
  • “It seems AI can automate everything these days, (first_name). If you’re ready to start saving 5-10 hours a week for lead generation, you might be interested in…”
  • “Is attribution getting harder and harder with Facebook ads in (industry)? You’re not the only one…”

#5 Hyper-personalized images, GIFs, and visual assets in email outreach

This is something we’ve had a lot of success with lately.

Humans are hardwired to process images and visual assets in milliseconds faster than text.

Using the latest growth-hacking outreach and lead generation tools, you can quickly (and very easily) create personalized GIFs for your email outreach like this.

All you have to do is upload your audience’s information and Hyperise will do all the dynamic personalization for you. With this approach, we’ve seen click-through rates as high as up to 85%.

Simply, but incredibly effective.

Learn more on how to start using hyper-personalized automated outreach here.

Now, before we wrap up, let’s take a look at some more cold email examples to get you inspired.

Top 5 Cold Email Outreach Examples

#1 Post LinkedIn connection request email follow up message

Interested in the full omnichannel LinkedIn and email flow sequence?

Check out our free ebook on the top 10 proven LinkedIn outreach templates LinkedIn influencers and business owners use.

#2 Personalization and pain points

Check out similar sales email templates from Lemlist too!

#3 Recent company event namedrop email

Check out some other, similar ways to start your cold emails from Mailshake!

#4 LinkedIn webinar promotion email

This proven email template is part of the outreach strategy we used to generate 1,000+ attendees for one of our LinkedIn webinars.

Check out the complete list of LinkedIn events promotion strategies article for more info and how to promote your webinar.

#5 LinkedIn action outreach flow

The target audience here is people who replied to the LinkedIn poll. Though this is a LinkedIn sequence, it would work just as well on email (though with a slight rewording).

Check out our complete guide to LinkedIn social selling strategies to learn the full omnichannel outreach messages we’ve used to book 100+ sales calls per month.


Now, let’s sum up.

  • How do you start an email to the first sentence?

As we’ve covered above, you can start an email in a few different ways. Your first sentence can include:

  • Personalization.
  • Comedy and humor to stand out.
  • Relevant pain points based on your target audience.
  • Recent relevant news for your industry.
  • Hyper-personalized GIFs or visual assets that capture attention.
  • How do you start an email in 2022?

From our experience, using hyper-personalized assets in your email is a great way to stand out. Humans process visuals better than text. And if you want to stand out, using your lead’s profile picture or company logo is a fantastic way to capture attention.

  • How do you start and end a professional email?

In most cases, regardless of the industry, you can’t go wrong with being conversational and human—no need to overdo it with the formalities. We’ve had the most success with starting emails with “Hi (first_name)” or “Hey (first_name)”, and ending with a classic “Thanks, sincerely (your name)” or “Cheers (your name)”. What’s important is what you include between the start and the end of your emails!

  • How do you start a cold email?

With cold emails, it’s important to note that you don’t have a large window of time to capture attention. Your email needs to stand out in your prospect’s inbox and incentivize them to click on it. One of the best ways to do this is using the proven email formats and examples we covered above. Make sure your email focuses on the prospect instead of talking about yourself and shows that you care.

Ready to start sending emails that get results and replies?

With Expandi, you can send LinkedIn social selling messages and emails.

So, you can launch fully automated omnichannel marketing campaigns based on “if-this-then-that” flows starting today.

Get started with a free, 7-day Expandi live demo trial and learn how to launch all of your omnichannel lead generation campaigns on autopilot!


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