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[Hemingway Corner] Pros & Cons of a Real Cold Email

Reading time 4m 13s
Hemingway Corner

“Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.”

This age-old saying applies to countless situations.

It also applies to adding links and URLs to cold emails.

There aren’t any rules restricting your inclusion of links. But if you add two or more links to an email, there’s a strong chance it will trigger Outlook’s or Google’s spam filter.

That’s why you’re better off using one or none.

Times are changing though. Using even one link in first-touch messages could keep a cold email from reaching a lead’s inbox.

Nowadays, a better approach to avoid landing in spam is to finish your outbound email with a request that they write back if they’re interested. 

Here’s a closer look at an actual cold email that we found in our spam folder.

Cold email example

This is a cold email we received in late April:


I hope this email finds you well. We’re excited to offer you an opportunity to boost your revenue through our proven link building and SEO services.

Attached is a portfolio showcasing our successful work with clients, including links to their improved online presence:

  • [list of urls]

We specialize in delivering high-quality backlinks that drive targeted traffic and enhance online visibility. If you’re interested in learning more about how our services can benefit your website, simply reply to this email.

Thank you for considering our services. We look forward to the opportunity of working with you to achieve your revenue goals.

Best regards,

The Good

Even though this email landed in our spam, it is a cold email example that has a few nice touches:

  • Tone – The email maintains a professional tone throughout the message. The greeting (“Dear,”) and sign-off (“Best regards,”) match reasonably well with the overall tone of the body. 
  • Value proposition – The email makes it apparent early on as to what the sender is proposing. There’s also a collection of previous work to help establish credibility.
  • Call to action – The sender clearly specifies what the reader’s next step should be (i.e. “reply to this email”).
  • Subject line – The subject line uses actionable, positive framing to create a sense of opportunity and appeal to the reader’s desire to succeed. It’s also eye-catching thanks to the idea of a payoff and direct benefit to the reader.

The Bad

Although the email has a few bright spots, there are a lot of issues:

  • Links – First, there are too many (more on that in the “Spammy” section). Second, it’s not obvious which links are worth checking and requires the reader to dig around (which most won’t bother to do). Third, the relevance of the links and cases is questionable, and the trustworthiness of the links is close to zero. Last think you’d want is to click on a phishing or malicious link. 
  • Lack of personalization – Nowadays, no personalization is a major no-no. Not only does the email feel generic, but it also makes the polite tone seem superficial and mildly condescending. 
  • Lack of relevance – The topic of relevance goes hand-in-hand with personalization. This email doesn’t outline the specific benefits that the reader will gain by working with the sender. Instead, the offer seems like it’s one-size-fits-all, which is automatically less engaging and appealing. 

The Spammy

As we mentioned earlier, we found this email in our spam folder. While we can’t know the exact reason why this cold email landed in spam, here are a few potential candidates:

  • Too many links – As a rule of thumb, any email with 2+ links will likely end up in spam. This email had 9. What’s more, links that lack sufficient context are even likelier to trigger spam. This email doesn’t really go into the context of each link.
  • Generic greeting/closing – The email starts with “Dear,” and closes without a proper signature. The lack of names makes this email look like a mass-produced message, which is what spam filters look for.
  • Lack of unsubscribe option – Even though cold email means sending emails to people who have never subscribed to you, you still have to include a way to unsubscribe. Failure to do so is frequently a one-way ticket to spam.

See how AiSDR can run your outreach

Overall, what dooms this email is the one-two combo of too many links and no personalization. If both issues were fixed, the email would have had a better chance of not landing in spam.

It still may not have been enough though.

AiSDR tries to maximize deliverability by personalizing every email using a lead’s data and 3 most recent LinkedIn posts while keeping the email itself short, relevant, and to the point. AiSDR also runs multiple tools in the background to boost deliverability, such as inbox warm-up and bounce checks.

Additionally, we feed sales tactics and good cold email examples from 50+ sales leaders to our AI to keep emails from landing in spam and going unseen.

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