One Way to Write A Powerful Cold Email

by Scott - 63 Comments

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The tactic I’m about to share is not only for sales and business development professionals; it’s a unique strategy that can literally be used to start an email dialogue with anyone who has an online presence.


One of the most important things in writing an effective cold email is to keep it short. However, communicating all the things necessary to elicit a response in 3-4 sentences can be extremely challenging. One  way I’ve been able to overcome this and start dialogues with many c-level execs and big time entrepreneurs is by communicating my message in a more visually engaging format that’s easier to consume than text.

I’ve written about how to write effective cold emails before. The formula is simple:

  • Keep it short
  • Personalize it and demonstrate your email is unique to the recipient
  • Allude to the recipient’s problem and how you can alleviate it early on

Again, the challenge is doing all of this without writing a Bill Shakespeare novel that busy people won’t read.

An amazing tool that allows me to do all of these things is called BContext. BContext is an Ipad software that allows you to create dynamic presentations from static pdf’s or powerpoints which can be easily shared through a private or public link. The “dynamic element” it is that you can record yourself talking over the presentation as well as make annotations using an ipad. The end result is a highly personalized, human presentation that can be created in less than 5 minutes.

In your cold email, you want to embed and link to this presentation following a similar formula I’ve alluded to before.

Here is an example email I’d write if I was trying to promote the WP Touch mobile site builder to wordpress bloggers – a timely email to my buddy Dan Shipper:

Hey Dan,

I noticed your blog currently isn’t mobile optimized:

Dan’s Mobile site Review(contains sound)

WPTouch is a plugin that actually mobile optimizes wordpress blogs to enhance the viewing experience for your readers on phones and tablets. When you have a few minutes would love to connect to get this taken care of for you. Alternatively, you can just download the plugin here.



Here the BContext I created for Dan and linked to in the email above:

Dan’s Mobile Site Review


Over the past 3 weeks I’ve sent emails with BContext presentations embedded to 28 execs who previously did not respond to initial cold emails – 15 have responded. That’s a response rate of greater than 50% from people I don’t know that probably receive 100’s of cold emails and calls a day.

Here’s How to Do It

Step 1: Create a Powerpoint With Screenshots

The best way to grab someone’s attention is to allude to their problem from the get go. Screenshots are an amazing way to accomplish this while signaling that your email is personalized and unique.

I like to take screenshots of the section of the target’s site (social media presence, listing etc) where I can optimize. These screenshots are the first slides in the powerpoint.

The next slides should relate to your solution to their problem. If you’re pitching a comments widget this could be pictures of it on a competitors site followed with key benefits. If you’re trying to network with a popular blogger, this could be a list of specific tools that they might benefit from which they’re not currently using.

The last slide should be a short summary of all the things you touched upon along with your contact information.

Powerpoint order in summary: their problem – > your solution -> overview

At this point, you should have a 3-7 slide powerpoint, which is ready to be turned into a dynamic presentation.

Step 2: Save to Dropbox and Import to BContext

BContext syncs with dropbox. From the BContext Ipad app, import your presentation by selecting add new file and import from Dropbox.

Step 3: Script Out What You’re Going to Say

First impressions are important and this might be the only chance you have to get in front of this person – the last thing you want to do is show up and throw up.

Take the extra 5 minutes to write out a script of exactly what you’re going to say while walking through your powerpoint.

Step 4: Record Yourself Talking Through the Deck

Showtime. With your script in front of you, record yourself talking through the presentation while annotating certain pages of the deck for emphasis.

Step 5: Create A Private Link and Send it To Yourself Via Email

BContext hosts all of your presentations on their site and easily enables you to create private links to these pages. You want to send yourself this link immediately after creating the presentation to be used in the email. Note* you can send the presentation directly from BContext as well.

Step 6: Write A Short Compelling Email Linking to the Presentation

Now its time to send the presentation to your target. I use a similar cold email format that I’ve written about before with an explicit hyperlink to the presentation. If you really want to be a hero, you can take a screenshot of an annotated slide and then paste that into the email with a hyperlink. Make sure to indicate the presentation has sound.

Step 7: Analytics Review

One of the beautiful things about BContext is that it provides analytics on the presentation views (# of views, duration of view, time of view etc). This provides me insight on when to follow up if they don’t get back to me.

I’ve had tremendous success using BContext in this way to start an email dialogue with people I don’t know. 

In the above example, if I tried explaining to Dan why mobile sites are important and all the features of the product, it’d likely be a 10 sentence email. As a busy person, he might not read an email that long, especially if he didn’t know me.

What BContext allows me to do is postpone the communication of this information until I’ve directed him to a more engaging format while condensing my email into a easily consumable size. Very few people are going to ignore a personalized, unique presentation that highlights a problem you can help solve.

From start to finish the creation of the presentation and email takes fewer than 10 minutes – less than 5 once you create templates. When you’re talking about engaging people that can change the trajectory of your career, company, and life, I think the extra few minutes is worth it.

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