Cold Email Mastery: Steering Clear of 10 Common Structural Errors

Created On:
December 19, 2023
Updated On:
February 26, 2024
mistakes in cold email structure

Picture this: you’ve worked hard to create a lead list, segmented it, and crafted the ultimate mail sequence, only to see poor results. 

Sounds horrible?

Well, that’s the reality. According to stats, only 23.9% of all sales emails are ever opened. The rest either go to the junk folder or remain unopened in the inbox.

To save your emails from such a fate, here’s a list of 10 common mistakes in cold email structure and remedies to avoid them.

Let’s get started. 

Cold Email Structure

The structure of a cold email typically includes: 

  • An interesting subject line
  • An engaging opening
  • personalized message
  • A clear offer
  • A compelling call-to-action

A well-defined structure is crucial because it ensures clarity, captures attention, and guides the recipient smoothly through the communication. A coherent structure enhances the email's effectiveness, increasing the likelihood of engagement and achieving the desired response from the recipient.

Interesting Subject Line

The subject line is the first thing your recipient sees, and it determines whether they open your email or send it straight to the trash. A compelling subject line grabs attention and sparks curiosity, making the recipient want to know more.

Tips to Write Better Subject Lines:

Example: "Do you use any editing tool?"

  • Be concise and specific.
  • Use personalization when possible.
  • Create a sense of urgency or curiosity.
  • Avoid clickbait; ensure the subject relates to the email content.

Interesting Opening Line

The opening line sets the tone for the rest of the email. It should be engaging, relevant, and make the recipient want to continue reading. Personalization here establishes a connection and shows that the email is tailored to the recipient.

Tips to Write Interesting Opening Lines:

Example: "Hey Vaibhav, I was going through your articles on {website name} about {topic}."

  • Begin with a compliment or acknowledgment.
  • Address a pain point or challenge.
  • Keep it concise and to the point.
  • Make it relatable to the recipient.

Personalized Message:

Personalization creates a connection with the recipient, increasing the likelihood of engagement. It demonstrates that you've done your homework and are genuinely interested in them, not just sending a generic message.

Tips to Write Personalized Email Body

Example: "Proofreading is fundamental to look authoritative with your audience and of course, Google."

  • Mention specific details about the recipient.
  • Relate your offer to their needs or challenges.
  • Use a conversational tone.
  • Avoid sounding too automated or robotic.


The offer is the core of your email, presenting a solution to the recipient's problem or a benefit they can gain. It should be clear, concise, and highlight the value of what you're offering.


Example: "With {tool name}, you can paraphrase complex sentences, write human-like content, proofread, edit, and generate content ideas."

  • Focus on benefits, not just features.
  • Be specific about what you're offering.
  • Use bullet points for clarity.
  • Keep it brief and easy to understand.

CTA (Call to Action)

The CTA guides the recipient on what to do next. It should be clear, specific, and encourage immediate action. Whether it's scheduling a call, downloading a resource, or responding to the email, the CTA drives engagement.

Tips to Catchy Cold Email CTAs

Example: "Can I interest you in a call for a brief walkthrough of the tool?"

  • Use actionable language.
  • Be specific about the next step.
  • Create a sense of urgency if applicable.
  • Keep it simple and straightforward.

10 Common Cold Email Structure Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Although it’s not mandatory to follow the traditional cold email structure, it certainly help beginner marketers to get a clear idea of what to do and what not to do. I recommend keep these common cold email structure mistakes and experiment your way to find what aligns best with the target audience. 

#1 Weak Subject Line 

A weak subject line is a common misstep in cold email structure. It's a missed opportunity to grab the recipient's attention and entice them to open the email. A subject line lacking creativity, relevance, or personalization can lead to your email being overlooked or even marked as spam.

The subject line is the first impression of your email. It determines whether the recipient opens or deletes your message. A compelling subject line sparks curiosity and sets the tone for the entire email. In a crowded inbox, it's your chance to stand out and make your recipient eager to explore what you have to offer.

Consider using cold email tools like SmartLead that offer A/B testing for subject lines. This feature allows you to test multiple subject lines simultaneously and analyze which ones result in higher open rates, click-through rates and other metrics. A/B testing helps you to refine your approach and increase the effectiveness of your cold email campaigns.

#2 Generic Opening Lines:

Using generic opening lines in a cold email is a common mistake that can lead to a lack of engagement. Phrases like "Dear Sir/Madam" or "I hope this email finds you well" fail to capture the recipient's attention and can make the email feel impersonal and automated.

The opening line is the first impression you make on the recipient. A generic or uninspiring opening can result in the recipient losing interest before even reading the rest of the email. A personalized and engaging opening sets the tone for a meaningful interaction and increases the likelihood of the recipient continuing to read.

****A/B test the opening lines to see which one works best for your customers. 

#3 Lack of Personalization

Sending cold emails that lack personalization can be a critical error. When emails appear generic and fail to connect with the recipient on an individual level, it diminishes the likelihood of engagement and response. 

Personalization is crucial in cold email campaigns because it establishes a genuine connection with the recipient. It shows that the sender has invested time in understanding the prospect, making the communication more relevant and compelling. Studies consistently indicate that personalized emails result in higher open rates and increased customer engagement. It's not just about using the recipient's name; it's about tailoring the message to their specific interests, challenges, or achievements.

#4 Unclear or Complex Offer

Providing an offer that lacks clarity or is overly intricate is a prevalent error in cold email structure. When the recipient struggles to comprehend the value or benefits of your proposition, engagement and interest decline. Complex language or an unclear presentation may lead to confusion, diminishing the chances of the recipient taking the desired action.

Clearly articulate the benefits of your offer in simple, straightforward language. Use concise and easy-to-understand sentences, and if applicable, utilize bullet points to highlight key features. Ensure that the recipient can easily grasp how your solution addresses their specific needs or challenges.

#5 Vague Call-to-Action

A vague call-to-action (CTA) is a common pitfall in cold email structure. When the desired action is unclear or lacks specificity, it leaves the recipient uncertain about the next steps. Phrases like "Let me know if you're interested" or "Feel free to reach out" lack the precision needed to guide the recipient toward the desired response, resulting in potential opportunities slipping through the cracks.

A catchy and clear CTA is crucial because it serves as the linchpin for driving engagement and conversions. It provides a roadmap for the recipient, clearly outlining what action to take next. A well-crafted CTA can instill a sense of urgency, encourage immediate responses, and lead to a higher conversion rate. It acts as the catalyst for turning a cold prospect into an engaged lead, making the difference between a lost opportunity and a successful interaction. A compelling CTA should be actionable, specific, and aligned with the overall goal of the cold email campaign.

#6 Lengthy Email Body

Sending a cold email that exceeds an optimal length is a common mistake. Lengthy emails risk overwhelming recipients, especially busy professionals who may not have the time or patience to sift through dense content. In a cold email, brevity is key. Attention spans are short, and concise communication increases the likelihood of the recipient absorbing the key message. Long-winded emails may dilute the impact of your value proposition and make it harder for the recipient to grasp the essential information.

Importance of Keeping It Short

  • Attention Retention: People tend to lose interest quickly, and a lengthy email increases the chances of the recipient disengaging before reaching the key points. A short, focused email is more likely to retain attention.
  • Ease of Understanding: Complex and verbose emails can be confusing. Keeping it short ensures that your message is clear, easily comprehensible, and quickly digestible.
  • Respect for Recipient's Time: Professionals receive numerous emails daily. Keeping your email concise shows respect for the recipient's time, making it more likely they will appreciate and engage with your message.
  • Increased Response Rates: Shorter emails are more likely to be read in their entirety. When recipients can quickly understand your offer and call-to-action, they are more inclined to respond positively.
  • Encourages Follow-Up Engagement: A short initial email sets the stage for follow-up interactions. If recipients find value in the brief introduction, they are more likely to engage in further discussions and explore your offer.

#7 Overuse of Automation in Crafting Cold Emails

Overusing automation in cold email communication can lead to emails that feel robotic, impersonal, and lack the human touch. When every aspect of the email is automated, it might fail to connect with the recipient on a personal level, diminishing the effectiveness of the outreach.

How to avoid it? 

Review cold emails before launching the cold email campaign. It’s crucial to catch errors, ensure personalization is accurate, and verify that the content aligns with the recipient's profile. 

Automated systems may not always account for subtle nuances or recent developments in the recipient's context. By reviewing the email, marketers can identify potential issues, refine the language for clarity, and make adjustments to enhance the overall quality of the communication.

#8 Ignoring Spam Triggers

Neglecting potential spam triggers in your cold email can result in your messages being flagged and sent straight to the spam folder, reducing the likelihood of engagement. This includes using all caps, aggressive language, or common spam keywords that automated filters recognize.

To send an email campaign with no spam triggers, you can also try Smartlead. It has a "spam checker" feature in the mail sequence tab. This feature is designed to analyze your email content and identify words or terms that might trigger spam filters. 

By utilizing Smartlead's spam checker, you can review and modify your email copy to ensure it aligns with best practices and avoids elements that might be perceived as spam. This proactive approach helps improve the deliverability of your emails and increases the chances of them reaching the recipient's inbox rather than being flagged as spam. Regularly reviewing and refining your email copy based on the spam checker results is a crucial step in optimizing your cold email strategy.

#9 Neglecting Follow-Up Strategy 

Neglecting a well-thought-out follow-up strategy is a common mistake in cold email campaigns. Failing to plan strategic and spaced follow-ups can result in missed opportunities and decreased response rates. Some marketers send too many follow-ups too quickly, overwhelming the recipient and potentially damaging the sender's reputation.

To avoid this mistake, consider implementing a structured follow-up sequence by using tools like Smartlead. A powerful automation tool can streamline this process. You can easily set up and automate follow-up emails at specified intervals. 

#10 Readymade Email Templates

Using generic, readymade email templates without customization can significantly hinder the effectiveness of cold emails. While templates can be a helpful starting point, sending emails that appear mass-produced and lack personalization can make recipients feel like just another target. This approach diminishes the chances of building a meaningful connection and achieving the desired response.

Customize templates based on the recipient's industry, role, and specific challenges. Incorporate personalized details, such as the recipient's name, recent achievements, or relevant projects. Avoid relying solely on a generic template; instead, use it as a foundation and tailor each email to the individual recipient. 

This personal touch demonstrates genuine interest and increases the likelihood of engagement. Regularly review and update templates to keep them fresh and aligned with your evolving outreach strategy.


The perfect cold email comes with a proper structure—a catchy subject line, a good opening line, a personalized message, an offer, and a CTA. Sometimes, the order of the structure may change, but these remain the must-have elements in a cold email.

To ace a cold email campaign, avoid the above-mentioned cold email structure mistakes. Focus on creating a killer email body, use a cold email tool to set up the follow-ups, and you’re good to go. 

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

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Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Author’s Details

Rajnish Das

Rajnish Das is an in-house writer at SmartWriter and SmartLead. She writes product-oriented, data-driven content for B2B SaaS audiences and educates them on marketing and sales topics. Her expertise includes outbound marketing techniques like cold emailing and LinkedIn outreach.


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Frequently asked questions

General Questions

What is Smartlead's cold email outreach software?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Smartlead's cold email outreach tool helps businesses scale their outreach efforts seamlessly. With unlimited mailboxes, fully automated email warmup functionality, a multi-channel infrastructure, and a user-friendly unibox, it empowers users to manage their entire revenue cycle in one place. Whether you're looking to streamline cold email campaigns with automated email warmups, personalization fields, automated mailbox rotation, easy integrations, and spintax, improve productivity, or enhance scalability with subsequences based on lead’s intentions, automated replies, and full white-label experience, our cold email tool implifies it in a single solution.

How does the "unlimited mailboxes" feature benefit me?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Our "unlimited mailboxes" feature allows you to expand your email communications without restrictions imposed by a mailbox limit. This means you won't be constrained by artificial caps on the number of mailboxes you can connect and use. This feature makes Smartlead the best cold email software and empowers you to reach a wider audience, engage with more potential customers, and manage diverse email campaigns effectively.

What do you mean by "unibox to handle your entire revenue cycle"?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

The "unibox" is one of the unique features of Smartlead cold email outreach tool, and it's a game-changer when it comes to managing your revenue cycle. The master inbox or the unibox consolidates all your outreach channels, responses, sales follow-ups, and conversions into one centralized, user-friendly mailbox.

With the "unibox," you gain the ability to:
1. Focus on closing deals: You can now say goodbye to the hassle of logging into multiple mailboxes to search for replies. The "unibox" streamlines your sales communication, allowing you to focus on what matters most—closing deals.

2. Centralized lead management: All your leads are managed from one central location, simplifying lead tracking and response management. This ensures you take advantage of every opportunity and efficiently engage with your prospects.

3. Maintain context: The "unibox" provides a 360-degree view of all your customer messages, allowing you to maintain context and deliver more personalized and effective responses.

How does Smartlead ensure my emails don't land in the spam folder?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Smartlead, the best cold email marketing tool, ensures your emails reach the intended recipients' primary inbox rather than the spam folder. 

Here's how it works:
1. Our "unlimited warmups" feature is designed to build and maintain a healthy sending reputation for your cold email outreach. Instead of sending a large volume of emails all at once, which can trigger spam filters, we gradually ramp up your sending volume. This gradual approach, combined with positive email interactions, helps boost your email deliverability rates.

2. We deploy high-deliverability IP servers specific to each campaign. 

3. The ‘Warmup’ feature replicates humanized email sending patterns, spintax, and smart replies.
4. By establishing a positive sender reputation and gradually increasing the number of sent emails, Smartlead minimizes the risk of your emails being flagged as spam. This way, you can be confident that your messages will consistently land in the primary inbox, increasing the likelihood of engagement and successful communication with your recipients.

Can I integrate Smartlead with other tools I'm using?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Certainly, Smartlead is designed for seamless integration with a wide range of tools and platforms. Smartlead offers integration with HubSpot, Salesforce, Pipedrive, Clay, Listkit, and more. You can leverage webhooks and APIs to integrate the tools you use. Try Now!

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What type of businesses sees the most success with Smartlead?

No, there are no limitations on the number of channels you can utilize with Smartlead. Our multi-channel infrastructure is designed to be limitless, allowing you to reach potential customers through multiple avenues without constraints.

This flexibility empowers you to diversify your cold email outreach efforts, connect with your audience through various communication channels, and increase your chances of conversion. Whether email, social media, SMS, or other communication methods, Smartlead's multi-channel capabilities ensure you can choose the channels that best align with your outreach strategy and business goals. This way, you can engage with your prospects effectively and maximize the impact of your email outreach.

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Do you provide me with lead sources?

Smartlead distinguishes itself from other cold email outreach software by focusing on limitless scalability and seamless integration. While many similar tools restrict your outreach capabilities, Smartlead offers a different approach.

Here's what makes us uniquely the best cold email software:

1. Unlimited Mailboxes: In contrast to platforms that limit mailbox usage, Smartlead provides unlimited mailboxes. This means you can expand your outreach without any arbitrary constraints.

2. Unique IP Servers: Smartlead offers unique IP servers for every campaign it sends out. 

3. Sender Reputation Protection: Smartlead protects your sender reputation by auto-moving emails from spam folders to the primary inbox. This tool uses unique identifiers to cloak all warmup emails from being recognized by automation parsers. 

4. Automated Warmup: Smartlead’s warmup functionality enhances your sender reputation and improves email deliverability by maintaining humanized email sending patterns and ramping up the sending volume. 

5. Multi-Channel Emphasis: Smartlead places a strong emphasis on multi-channel outreach. You can reach your prospects where they are with the LinkedIn outreach feature.   With Smartlead’s cold email automation software, you're always one step ahead in your outreach efforts, enjoying the freedom to scale your initiatives and seamlessly integrate with other tools—all while maintaining a focus on maximizing the impact of your outreach.

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How secure is my data with Smartlead?

Ensuring the security of your data is Smartlead's utmost priority. We implement robust encryption methods and stringent security measures to guarantee the continuous protection of your information. Your data's safety is paramount to us, and we are always dedicated to upholding the highest standards of security.

How can I get started with Smartlead?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Getting started with Smartlead is straightforward! Just head over to our sign-up page and follow our easy step-by-step guide. If you ever have any questions or need assistance, our round-the-clock support team is ready to help, standing by to provide you with any assistance you may require. Sign Up Now!

How can I reach the Smartlead team?

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We're here to assist you! You can easily get in touch with our dedicated support team on chat. We strive to provide a response within 24 hours to address any inquiries or concerns you may have.

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