October 11, 2022 Featured

A-Z Cold Email Checklist: The Modern Version

The cold email game is moving fast. Here’s a checklist of what you need to do to set up an effective cold email prospecting programme.


  • Ideal customer profile
  • Technical setup: how not to land in spam boxes too much
  • Cold email copy
  • List building
  • Extras
  • Conclusion

Ideal customer profile: (in a husky voice) “thee shall know thy customers well”

  • Take your existing customers (competitors’ as well) and put them through databases like Crunchbase, LinkedIn, G2 and Capterra. Record all the patterns you see. Take screenshots.
  • Write a list of direct and indirect competitors and copy all the customer testimonials on their website.
  • From this information, get the voice of customer data: how customers describe the problem, its impact and what success looks like. People selling complex fintech products will really benefit from this.
  • Take notes on any observable characteristics about your customers such as location, who gives testimonials, size, etc.

Technical setup: how not to land in spam boxes too much

  • Buy a separate cold email domain that’s close to your primary domain e.g. if your site is money.com, buy trymoney.com and money.io.
  • Set up your DNS records, SPF, DKIM and DMARC. There are plenty of tutorials out there depending on your domain host.

Here’s a deeper dive into this.

  • Buy an account in a popular email service provider: Outlook or Google Workspace.
  • For each domain you’ve bought, set it up in a separate email service provider account. E.g. if you buy one Google Workspace account only host emails from one domain.

Why? In case you screw up in one domain, your other accounts aren’t affected. If you’re doing low volumes, you don’t have to worry about this. Ignore it like a pimple.

  • Warm up your email accounts for a minimum of two… preferably three weeks.

Use warm-up tools like WarmupInbox (dot)com or Inboxy (dot)io.  Some email automation software have built-in warm-up tools: Instantly, Woodpecker, Snov, etc.

  • Register for newsletters/demos/webinars using your new email addresses instead of your usual email to get them active.
  • Add a headshot to each email account. Every email service provider has a different method to do it, just follow their tutorials.

Having headshots in your email accounts helps you stand out in crowded boxes and humanises you to prospects when you’re reaching out. 

Cold email copy

  • Ensure the combo of your first line and subject line make the recipient curious enough to open. They have the same job as article headlines competing in crowded newsfeeds.
  • Include an agitating line to get the prospect thinking about the problem you want to solve for them.

E.g. “how are you dealing with X without doing Y…”

  • Try out different call-to-actions in your follow-up messages. Different niches respond differently to calls to action.

Some prefer interest-based ones: “curious to learn more?” While others don’t mind aggressive asks: “let’s chat.”

  • Follow up at least twice.
  • Show and tell the problem or impact you want to solve for them (or what success looks like).

Use a screenshot, GIF, or video to do this. Example:

List building

  • Segment your list properly e.g. based on problems being experienced, and publicly observable actions like hiring. Relevance can be more impactful than personalisation. 
  • Find common triggers among existing and competitors’ customers and use them to build your list. For example, selling a subscription management product to a list of Stripe merchants. 
  • Have 2 to 3 contact people ready to put into your outreach campaign in case the initial contact does not work out. Especially true when prospecting into large companies.

PS: I feel list building is the most time-consuming part of cold emailing, so build your list consistently and power through even when you’re unmotivated.


  • Record videos and use tools such as Tolstoy and Vidyard to spark conversations when prospects ghost you, cancel meetings, etc.

Find more info on using video in cold emails. 

  • Reach out to prospects on other channels away from your email sequence. E.g. Following them on LinkedIn, commenting on their posts, and viewing their profile without connecting.


If you need help with setting up a cold emailing system and plugging it into your go-to-market plan. You know who to say hi to… phew! that’s enough for the day, off to drink some tea…

Check out our Fractional Cold Email Service if you want help finding and reaching out to a targeted group of ideal customers through the inbox.

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