7 Cardinal Sins of Cold Emailing

Sarah McMahon
4 min readMar 31, 2024

In 2024, there are a lot of ways to communicate with potential customers or prospects. I’ve booked meetings in Instagram chats and had productive chats via Facebook messenger. Cold calling is not dead (that’s a story for another day), and of course, there is the age-old cold email. My career started in the world of fundraising and eventually morphed into the world of sales. I’ve been sending (and receiving) cold emails for a long time, and here are some of the biggest mistakes I routinely see.

1. Not Personalizing Your Message

If your email could be sent to 100 different prospects, then your email isn’t personal enough. If you’re sending a cold email at a time when you know your prospect might be busy, your email is probably going to be overlooked. I sell ticketing/registration software to events, so I tend to reach out in the days or weeks after an event wrapped up. Their technology (and any tech-related problems) will be top of mind. In the same vein, I’m not going to be able to sell event software to an organization that never does events. Spending five minutes on Google will make you appear far more credible than simply blasting out as many emails as possible. Now more than ever, quality trumps brute quantity.

2. Not Using a Clear Subject Line