How to cold email potential clients, that actually works

Written by: Sapphire Li, BA

Communications specialist, 8+ years writing and copywriting for companies
Make it rain, by proactively reaching out to clients
Table of contents

Developer: give businesses a few ideas of what you can help them build

Many businesses are open to working with freelancer developers or dev agencies to bring projects and features to life and out of backlog. The key is to proactively reach out to the owners or department directors of companies you want to work with and share a few ideas of what you can help them build that'd help achieve important business goals.

These ideas are just a way for you to show them what you can create with your skills (they likely have existing ones they dev help with), you stand out from most of the other developers who just list the programming languages they know.

Subject: A few membership ideas for Art of Say
Hey {First name},
Good job on making your email templates editable.1
Here are a few other ways you can provide value and increase paid upgrades:2
Add a free membership tier that lets users save their edited email templates and bookmark their favorite ones.
This gives users a reason to come back more often and discover new templates.
Offering a free membership tier also means these users would already have an account and don't have to create one to upgrade.
Enable comments on each template
This lets members ask questions about the templates and help each other. A supportive community creates engaging content on their own and keeps users coming back.
A little background about me: I'm a PHP developer who has helped companies like Verve and Compass build and improve features their customers love. I recently helped Groove (a skincare subscription company) build an interactive onboarding survey with a 20%+ higher completion rate and it recovers a lot more people who stopped the survey mid-way.3
Let me know if you're open to a 15-min brainstorm call to bounce around a few ideas?4
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1. Make a comment about an aspect of their business to show them you've done your homework about what they do.

2.   Share a few valuable ideas of what you can build for them that would help achieve an important business goal (more conversions, signups, paying customers, so on).

3.   Briefly describe what tech stack you specialize in and mention a recent project you built for a client and the metrics it helped them achieve to get them excited about the potential of working with you.

4.   Ask for an initial call, framed as a brainstorm to pique their curiosity to learn more.

Save these templates to get clients
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Writer: share a few content ideas that will help them capture more leads or sales

For this approach, reach out to the owners or marketing managers of businesses that either make money with their content (such as affiliate marketing, paid courses, so on) or offer a paid product or service and capture leads with their content. This means they likely have the budget to hire a freelance writer.

The key is to share a few content ideas you can write for them that would attract their target audience. This really helps you stand out from writers who simply link to a few pieces they've written and list topics they can write about.

Subject: Ideas
Hey {First name},
Since content is a major source of customers for you, here are a few meaty topics that would bring in high intent leads and get lots of social engagement.1
・Break down the most effective productivity systems into actionable easy-to-follow steps (Pomodoro Technique, Getting Things Done, so on)
・A compilation of the most interesting insights from top productivity gurus like Craig Jarrow and Katie Mazzocco
2

A little about me: I create really engaging content that converts (recent examples: 1, 2, 3). 3
Would you be open to a 15-min brainstorm to bat around some ideas?4
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1. Set up what you'll be sharing with them and the business goals they'd help achieve.

2.   Briefly flesh out a few interesting topics you can write for them so they can see the potential of working with you.

3.   Give a bit of background about yourself and link to a few of your best content pieces so it's clear what you offer.

4.   Ask for an initial call framed as a brainstorm so they're intrigued to learn more.

Save these templates to get clients
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Copywriter: share a fresh, engaging way they can talk about their product or service

Subject: New copy for X bank: open a USD bank account from [Country]
Hey {First name},
You have a great, unique offering.1
Here's an idea about positioning X Bank to acquire more customers:2
Headline
Open a USD bank account from [Country]
Version without geolocation: Open a USD bank account
It highlights your biggest selling point, with a personalized touch. This does double duty explaining they can open a USD bank account from their country, to address initial doubts "this is cool, but is it available for me?"
Subtitle
Earn 4.1% annual interest and use stablecoins to affordably top up and withdraw in [local currency].
This reveals two other important benefits and explains how international customers can use stablecoins for an instant aha, rather than just saying you offer them.
2
Can we have a quick call for a copy brainstorm?4
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1. Make a comment about their product or service to open the conversation.

2.   Set up the idea you'll share by mentioning what they'd get out of it.

3.   Share a fresh, engaging way they can talk about their product or service to show them the potential of working with you and explain why you think it'll convert and engage better.

4.   Ask for an initial call, framed as a brainstorm to entice them to jump on one to learn more.

Save these templates to get clients
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SEO consultant: share an actionable idea to improve their search ranking

Subject: One change you can make right now to improve your SEO title
Hey {First name},
When I looked you up on Google, I noticed that you're using your company name as your search title.1
If I was just searching for a florist without knowing you, I'd probably search for something like "florist Santa Monica" instead. So if you put "Florist Santa Monica CA" in your website title, you would have a greater chance of appearing higher in search results for people actively looking for a florist in your area.
To entice more people to click through, you can also mention your same day delivery service in the title, which will be very enticing for those in a rush.
Put together, here's a new title that would entice more ready-to-buy customers to click on your search result:
Santa Monica Florist | Same Day Delivery | Belle Jour
2
Let me know what you think.3
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1. Describe what they're doing that you're sharing an idea about.

2.   Share with them an idea they can implement right now to improve their SEO. This will really help you stand out from other SEO consultants who just make vague promises, which many prospects are skeptical of.

3.   Ask them for their thoughts to open the conversation.

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How to get regular work from agencies by offering to take on their overflow projects

For this approach, reach out to agencies and offer to take on their overflow work, which can be a steady source of paid projects. The key is to highlight what would matter most to agencies in this scenario, your communication skills, reliability and ability to adapt your style to what their client needs.

Subject: UX designer: how I can help your team keep wowing clients
Hey {First name},
Kudos to your team for consistently hitting it out of the park for your clients.1
Are you looking for someone who can take on your overflow work, so you can earn more without needing to scale up your full-time team?2 Here's how I can help Swell keep wowing your clients:
Quick communication and work done on time
With every client I've worked with, I have always delivered projects on time, with prompt communication along the way. So you never have to worry about: “Will this be done on time?" "Where did they go?"
3
UX design adapted to your client's needs
I have created UX designs for businesses in diverse fields from spa centers to medical software so I'm adept at deep diving into creative briefs and customer research to create unique experiences that achieves clients' conversion and branding goals. Here are a few results I achieved:
4
・Revira: 35%+ more visitors booked beauty appointments after I redesigned their homepage and appointment booking funnel
・Insightseer: customer retention improved 20%+ after I redesigned their UX to make it much easier to discover and use important features4

Would you be free for an initial chat so you can see if we'd work well together and how I can help your team?5
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1. Make a comment about the agency's work to open the conversation.

2.   Explain why you're reaching out to them, and what they'd get out of hiring you so they can understand the potential right away.

3.   Briefly describe your communication skills to reassure them you won't be flaky or take forever to reply, a worry that many agencies have about working with freelancers.

4.   Since agencies often work with clients from different industries, show them that your work is adaptable and share a few examples of results you've achieved to show them how you can help the agency with their clients.

5.   Ask for an initial chat, framed in terms of you wanting to learn more about how you can help their agency.

Save these templates to get clients
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