What is Cold Email? A Complete Introductory Guide to Get Started

Cold emails are great conversation starters with B2B decision-makers. But are they still relevant?

This guide covers all the essential elements of cold emails to make you implement your first campaigns seamlessly. We’ve broadly covered the benefits, whether it’s still relevant, use cases of cold emails, sample templates, and frequently asked questions. 

Once you finish reading it all, you’ll have a strong knowledge base and become a cold email expert. It’ll help you generate effective outcomes like more qualified meetings. 


What is Cold Email?

Cold email is when you approach prospects you’ve never interacted with before. They are sent without any prior communication. There is no one purpose for all cold emails, but they can be used to

  • Generate B2B sales leads 
  • Build personal network 
  • Invite people to an event, workshop, or a webinar 
  • Reach out to generate sales 
  • Validate your solution with market research  
  • Hire candidates for open opportunities 

Cold emails can be the most personal way to reach prospects and start meaningful conversations. Yet, the excessive use and abuse of cold outreach have led to people often questioning if cold emails are spam.

Let’s find out. 

Is Cold Email Legal?

Cold email is legal in most countries since it’s different from spamming. Spam refers to irrelevant, impersonal messages. But spam emails are also not necessarily illegal. Cold emails are, however, governed by several rules and regulations. The most popular ones include:

  • CAN-SPAM for US-based prospects
  • GDPR for EU-based prospects
  • CASL for Canadian prospects

What do these laws and regulations mean? Can you email prospects without consent?

The most important consideration for cold emailing is your contact list or recipients. The variables that you need to look at include:

  • Type of email address: Company or personal?
  • Relevance or interest in your product/service
  • The geographic location

Reaching out to prospects on their company email addresses is permissible by most laws as long as your email is relevant. But sending bulk or mass emails to personal Gmail and iCloud addresses is not allowed unless they have opted-in. 

CAN-SPAM Act in the USA

The CAN-SPAM Act regulates commercial messages, enlists recipients’ rights to stop emailing them, and penalties for violations. It applies to any e-mail message sent to advertise or promote a commercial product or service. Here are the common rules you need to follow to stay compliant:

  • Use a real name/company name in the “From” section
  • Reach out to company email addresses, not personal ones
  • The subject line should introduce the content of the email
  • Send emails with relevance, avoid bulk generic messages
  • Include your company address in the email
  • Simplify opt-out/unsubscribe for recipients
  • Remove opted-out prospects within 10-days

Cold Email Laws in Canada

The CASL governs cold emailing in Canada. It has two types of content: explicit and implied. 

  1. Explicit Consent: is when the recipient asks you to reach out, but since it’s a cold email, this isn’t applicable.
  2. Implied Consent: is when you reach anyone who has made their email address public on the website, company contact page, LinkedIn, or the local Chamber of Commerce.

You can reach out to business contact as long as

  • There is no statement declaring they don’t want to receive Commercial Electronic Mail (CEMs).
  • Your email content is relevant to the prospect or their company/business.

Cold Email Laws in Europe

Europe has strict rules on data protection. It regulates senders to

  • Avoid email-based spam
  • Protech personal data

GDPR Simplified

GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Email prospects who have a “legitimate interest” or relevance in your product/service
  • Use clear messaging to convert why you’re reaching out
  • Acquire manual opt-in for marketing emails
  • Allow prospects to unsubscribe whenever they want
  • When asked, delete all personal data of your prospect
  • You must appoint a Data Protection Officer

In short, quality of quantity! 

Cold Email Laws in the United Kingdom

Cold email outreach in the UK must comply with

  1. The Data Protection Act 2018
  2. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR)
  3. The UK GDPR

Data Protection Act 2018

It means you need consent and a relevant purpose or legitimate interest to send cold emails to your prospects. It is applicable to personal email addresses and accepts cold email outreach to businesses.

Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR)

It implies the right to privacy for electronic communication, including emails, calls, texts, and website cookies. It is slightly lenient towards B2B communication as long as the relevance is in place.


It is similar to Europe’s GDPR. You need to ensure the following: 

  • Simplify opting out  
  • Include your business address
  • Reach out to company email addresses
  • Staying transparent about deleting personal data

Even the UK laws are not against cold emails but spam emails. 

Cold Email Laws in Australia

Cold email is allowed in Australia but is regulated through the Spam Act 2003.

The main focus of this act is to reduce unsolicited emails, phone calls and improve how companies handle personal information for their subscribers.

Spam Act 2003

To send legal cold emails to recipients in Australia, you need to do the following:

  • Don’t use any email harvesting software to scrape websites for personal details
  • It must be simple for someone to unsubscribe
  • You must make it clear who is sending the email
  • You must have a good reason to reach out to a business
  • Business-to-consumer emails are prohibited without an explicit opt-in

If you’re in breach of the Spam Act 2003, you can face fines and penalties depending on the level of the violation.

cold email vs. spam emails

Is Cold Email Still Relevant In 2023?

The single-word answer is Yes.

Cold emails are relevant for sales, marketing, and recruiting. Several reports claim 8 out of 10 buyers prefer to be contacted by email. Your inbox is bombarded with emails, but only the personalized ones get your attention. To make your emails count, you must follow certain best practices (which we will cover later in this article). 

Now that you know email is still among the most preferred channel of communication let’s look at cold emails vs. spam emails and cold emails vs. warm emails.

Kyle Coleman’s Formula for Cold Email

There’s a lot spoken, tried, and tested for cold emailing. There are different schools of thought and techniques based on experiences. But Kyle Coleman’s formula is neat, clean, and consistent. His technique can increase your open rates and response rates, and lead to a qualification. The principle is “simple” but not necessarily “easy.” You’ll need practice, patience, and time to master it. 

The Checklist

The checklist by Kyle Coleman is a useful guide with details behind each point. Let’s uncover the “substance” point and include examples to describe the “style.”

Subject line matters

When your email hits a prospect’s inbox, there are three main differentiators: the sender’s name, the subject line, and the preview text. Since your name is personal and nothing can be done about it, let’s focus on optimizing the other two points. 

Personalization is your way to attract clicks 

“Personalization” can be intimidating, but let’s simplify it. You can personalize emails even without knowing your prospects’ middle names. Research them, their background, company, or industry to move forward. If you can’t take out time to understand a person or the company before reaching out, how can you expect them to listen to you? You must know enough about their challenges and offer them help. 

Reason to reach out

You must have a legitimate and specific reason to reach out to a prospective customer. The most suitable approach could be the “challenge & solution” format. Some insights & examples to identify compelling reasons.

Interest-based actions

Most sales reps ask for time immediately, even before they have earned it. The goal of your cold email should be to make the prospect curious. It should make them want to learn more. Some call-to-actions that can work are

  • “Curious to learn more?”
  • “Interested to explore more?”

You can conclude with, “Either way, thanks for reading.” Remove the pressure of responsibility and show them you value their time. 

To summarize it all

If you put it all together, here’s how it will look. While the “substance” is important, the “style” compliments it. It’s always about prospects, not you. It’s a simple language, not words from a website. It’s conversational, not formal. Separate thoughts are on separate lines, making it easier to read. And all of this in just 72 words!

You can follow Klye Coleman for more interesting reads.

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