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5 of the Best Cold Email Formulas for Lead Generation

I like formulas over templates.

There’s a difference.

Formulas are fluid and can fit many different scenarios. Templates are rigid and either need to be used as is or gutted and redone.

Using a word-for-word template has its place. But formulas can adapt to nearly any sales pitch, product and service making them a better choice for cold email.

Whether it’s been finding clients for my company or working as a Content Manager in the marketing and sales technology space Formulas have always come in handy.

In this post, I’ll share some of the most successful formulas I’ve found.

Note: You won’t find AIDA, BAB or other typical copywriting formulas. They’re awesome, but you’ve likely heard of them.

I hope you haven’t thought about all of the ones hereafter.

Let’s go.

1. The Direct Approach

Intro Sentence + Brief Explanation + One Line Ask


I’ve written tons of lead gen emails for clients and myself.

Almost every time it’s better to avoid a direct pitch. Get them to download something or agree to a consultation. But there are exceptions.

One time, I wrote emails for a guy selling a device that would text all Android devices within a certain range of a brick and mortar business.

No intro needed there. It was basically, Hey, you want to text everyone within 500 feet to come visit your store??

What shop owner wouldn’t?

Possible Subject Lines: Quick question, I’ll get to the point

Sample Email:

Hi {First Name},

What if you could send a text to everyone within 500 feet of {shop name}

That’s exactly what {product name} can do.

You can alert anyone carrying an Android phone, tell them where you are and even offer them a discount for stopping by.

Set up a time to talk right here, or simply reply to this email to find out more.


{Your name}

Key Point: If the elevator pitch for you company helps you convert cold contacts, then this may be applicable to your products/services. (I’d still test the formula and see.)

2. Our Customers Succeed

Client Results + Limited Explanation + Call-to-Action


Nothing beats a good case study.

Essentially, you’re highlighting what others have done (with success), especially those who succeed using your company’s products and services.

The biggest key here is to use specific results, yet a subtle (nigh non-existent) pitch.

You want them to check out the case study, not buy now. If they check out the case study, it’s a great sign that they’re ready to talk.

Possible Subject Lines: How {Client name} + {Achieved benefit} + {Specific number} (How McDonalds sold 30% More Cheeseburgers)

Sample Email:

Hi {First Name},

McDonalds sold 225 million hamburgers last year. (Psst: That’s XX% more than before).

What could {Lead’s company name} do with a jump like that, {first name}

If you’re interested in seeing the full case study, detailing exactly how {Your company} was able to help achieve these results click here.

Let me know what you think!


{Your name}

Key Point:

If you have happy customers, you’ll want to reach out and put together a case study. Make sure it looks and sounds awesome. Then, use it to reach out to prospects.

3. Consultation Offer

Common Industry/Role/Individual Problem + Experience + Consult Offer + Call-to-Action


One of the easiest ways to get a conversation started is to offer your expert advice to those who will likely want to hear it. Consultations can be a great lead gen strategy.

If you’re a real estate agent, you could send bulk emails to FSBO home owners who have been on the market for too long. If you are not sure how to come up with an appealing email, you can always check pre-made email outreach templates.

An agency can give actual semi-technical SEO tips that boost the site-in-questions rankings leaving them to wonder what you could do if they paid you.

If you do something for a living, there are other people who want to hear your tips.

Bonus: You could put the most common tips into a written report or webinar (which we discuss further down). With a tangible resource, you’re not using your own time and people still feel the value. (This method may or may not perform as well as a consult. TEST!)

Possible Subject Lines: Listing for {Property Address}

Sample Email:

Hi {First Name},

Selling your home can be tough.

After looking through listings, I noticed your home is for sale by owner.

First things first, I’m a real estate agent. But I wanted to reach out and offer a consultation on ways that you can improve your listing and sell your home as soon as possible.

You’d be more than welcome to take my advice and keep your FSBO listing, if you’d like.

Interested? You can give me a call or simply reply to this email to get things set up.


{Your name}

Key Point: Offer your advice and make it good. If they’re able to avoid the DIY method, they’ll likely pay for you to implement the plan.

4. Webinar Invite

Description of Pain Solved in Webinar + Invitation + Scarcity + CTA


Woah, woah. Wait a minute.

You may be thinking, I can be direct, create a case study and offer a consult. But a webinar sounds tough.

Yes and no.

Webinars take some knowledge in presentation building (something many sales reps already have) and a bit of technical know-how.

But honestly, holding a webinar has never been easier. And if the people you email are targeted enough, you shouldn’t have a problem building a decent audience for your presentation.

If you think about it, it’s a unique way to get people to pay attention to your cold email and get them to attend something that has had crazy conversion rates.

Possible Subject Lines: Webinar: {Title}

Sample Email:

Hi {First Name},

Open Enrollment is the craziest time of year for HR pros.

To help, we’ve put together a webinar with 7 of the most common mistakes made during enrollment and how to avoid them.

These mistakes costs companies money and, more importantly, leave people underinsured every year.

Get your seat in the limited webinar, by registering right here.

Look forward to seeing you there, {First name}!


{Your name}

P.S. Check out the bonuses you’ll get for registering and attending the webinar while you’re on the registration page 🙂

Key Point: Webinars are like a consult with (potentially) hundreds of people listening. Use them to fill your funnel with highly qualified leads.

5. Be Our Guest

Ask for Help (for Audience) + Description/Invitation to Podcast + CTA

Possible Subject Lines: Quick question, I’ll get to the point


Here’s another real world successful outbound campaign.

It came when a certain agency set out to attract clients in the medical industry. Doctors and dentists are constantly hounded by agencies. It’s a crowded niche.

But this agency decided to start a podcast for their target prospects.

Their outbound campaign consisted of emailing doctors to see if they would be guests and help other doctors grow their practices.

Response rates were off the charts.

Guests were booked, leads were qualified (from the guests) and clients were won.

Possible Subject Lines: Be our guest, Want to be on our podcast? (Seriously.)

Sample Email:

Hi {First Name},

Would you be interested in helping other {Insert target role, demographic}?

{Your company name} has started the {Title of show} podcast and we’re actively looking for guests.

After doing quite a bit of research, we’d like you to consider coming onto the show!

If you would like to know more, you can pick a time that works best for you right here. (Or you can simply reply to this email.)

Look forward to speaking with you, {First name}!


{Your name}

Key Point: Setting this offer up definitely took some work. But it wouldn’t take too many clients to make up for a few hundred bucks of equipment and a couple days of time, right?

Wrapping It Up

Man, most of these lead gen cold emails will take work to set up.

You’re right. And it’s worth it.

Here’s why.

You are creating a resource to draw prospects to you. Doing this attracts your most qualified leads and entices them to respond to you practically qualifying themselves.

The responses you’ll get will be those who are looking for a potential solution, making it easier to close.

In a nutshell:

  • Use these email strategies to pre-qualify leads
  • Work harder on the front end
  • Stop pitching hundreds, if not thousands of leads who weren’t interested

Josh Slone

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