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Hemingway Corner: How We’d Fix a Cold Email About Link Building

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Hemingway Corner

Cold emails can quickly go wrong. And when they do, they don’t just land in spam. 

If it’s just one or two instances, then it’s “no harm, no foul”. But when many do, then all bets are off. At best, your deliverability tanks, but at worst, your domains get blacklisted and blocked.

To make sure we’re on the same page of what makes a good cold email, it should:

  • Possess an attention-grabbing subject line
  • Be for a real person (personalization!!) as if it were written by a real person
  • Have a short, concise main body (think Hemingway 😉)
  • Mention why you’re interested in working with them (and why they should trust you)
  • Finish with a clear call to action (CTA)

However, bad emails are a dime a dozen. 

So that you don’t repeat the same mistakes, here’s a deep dive into a real cold email we received, what went wrong (and right), and how you could improve it.

Cold email example

This is a cold outbound email we received in late March:

Hi,

Link building is more than just a collection of backlinks—it’s a strategic investment in the future success of your business. Our proposal focuses on the tangible value and benefits that link building can bring to your brand.

Your brand is unique, and so are your goals and challenges. That’s why we’ve crafted a personalized link building proposal designed specifically for you. Through in-depth research and analysis, we’ve identified unique opportunities to enhance your online presence and drive meaningful results.

From niche-specific outreach to custom content creation, we’ll work closely with you to develop a bespoke link building strategy that aligns perfectly with your objectives. Let’s collaborate to bring your vision to life and achieve SEO success together.

Looking forward to discussing further.

Best Wishes,

The Good

If we’re being objective, this email checks some of the boxes for what a good email should do:

  • Hook – The first sentence is effective at subverting the idea that link building is just adding a bunch of links to posts. On top of that, the extra formatting (bold & underlined) makes the hook even more eye-catching.
  • Customer-centricity – This email strikes a decent balance between “we” and “you”, which is challenging when you don’t have much space or time to communicate value. 

The Bad

There might have been a few strengths to this email, but there are several weak spots:

  • Lack of meaningful personalization – While the email is good at incorporating “you” into the language, there’s no evidence that the sender knows who they’re messaging. The email fails to mention the recipient’s company, their position and responsibilities, or anything about the brand. Even the most basic level of personalization mentions the person’s name, whereas this email just says “Hi,”.
  • Generic language – Phrases like “enhance your online presence” and “bring your vision to life” are vague and can apply to any business. There’s no indication of the measurable value that will be provided.
  • Vague subject line – The subject line reads very empty, and instead of mentioning the company’s name, it just says “your brand”. Its generic nature isn’t going to convince many to open the email.
  • Lack of social proof – Cold emails perform better when there’s some amount of social proof included. This email contains nothing that supports the sender’s claims or demonstrates their expertise. 
  • Call to action – The email has a few CTAs, but there’s no 100%-clear CTA that answers the question “What’s next?” Just a “let’s collaborate” and “looking forward to discussing”. No link, no question, nothing.
  • Delivery time – This email was received on a Saturday. While some regions work on Saturdays, most American companies like AiSDR consider Saturday a day off, keeping only a skeleton crew to provide customer and technical support in case of questions or issues.

The Spammy

This email also contains a few huge red flags that could cause it to be marked as spam:

  • Lack of transparency – The email doesn’t include the company’s name, the person’s name, or their position at the company. Cold emails should at least mention the company, while adding the writer’s name and position would help increase trust.
  • Proposal – On the one hand, this email references a personalized proposal but there’s neither a proposal attached nor a link to a proposal. This fact there’s no proposal despite mention of one is a big red flag. However, the writer put themselves between a rock and a hard place. Because had they included a proposal as a link or file, it would’ve almost definitely triggered the spam filter.

How to fix the email

There are many ways to improve and personalize this email, but here’s one possible solution:

Hi [Recipient’s name],

I saw [Recipient’s company] isn’t ranking on Google for [keyword].

I’ve crafted a custom proposal for you based on the same strategies I used to help [company] [result]. Not only will you build [Recipient’s company]’s online presence, you should [start landing on the first page or other meaningful result] in [expected timeframe].

How about we set up a time to discuss?

Best,

[Sender’s name]

From here, all you’d need to do is build out the rest of the email by filling in the personalization placeholders.

See how AiSDR can run your outreach

AiSDR helps you avoid generic language and empty personalization by using a lead’s contact data and recent LinkedIn activity to craft hyper-personalized emails that address their pain points. All you need to do is feed the AI links to your relevant social proof, and it will build client testimonials and results into the messaging.

Emails follow the success scripts of 50+ sales leaders, allowing them to stay crisp, concise, and tailored to a prospect’s current stage in the buyer journey.

Book a demo to watch AiSDR in action.

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