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Ultimate Cold Email Checklist to Book More Meetings in 2024

23 min read
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If you want to boost open rates, increase replies, and book more meetings through cold emailing, you must:

  • Find the ideal prospects
  • Create the perfect sequence of cold emails
  • Finally, make sure those emails land in their inboxes.

Sounds easy, right?

Well, it is!

Many cold emailers who follow the right steps at each stage generate thousands of dollars in revenue.

To help you achieve the same results, we created a comprehensive cold email checklist covering all the important and secret steps that veterans follow.

Keep a copy of this checklist on your end. It will help you improve your chances of booking more meetings with your prospects!

Cold Email Checklist: Table of Contents

The Ultimate Cold Email Checklist

We have divided the ultimate checklist into 5 sections, namely:

  1. Cold Email Strategy Checklist
  2. Checklist For Building a Verified List of Prospects For Cold Emailing
  3. Cold Email Deliverability And Technical Checklist
  4. Checklist For Your Cold Email Copies
  5. Checklist For Follow-Up Cold Emails

Each checklist would have must-follow practices that can potentially increase your open, reply, and conversion rates.

So, make sure to read about them without skipping!

Cold Email Strategy Checklist

Strategy plays a vital role in the success of your cold email campaigns. It is the first step you should perfect before creating copies or finding prospects.

Here are the steps in this checklist:

  1. Define What You Wish to Achieve
  2. Build Your ICP and Buyer Persona
  3. Develop Your Value Proposition
  4. Choose The Right Tool To Help You Achieve Your Goals
  5. Calculate the Number of Domains and Secondary Emails Required

1. Define What You Wish to Achieve

You and your team should first discuss and decide the goals you wish to achieve through cold emailing.

This includes the monthly meetings you would like to book and the benchmark for metrics like open, reply, and conversion rates.

For example, the average open rate for cold emails is about 50%, and the reply rate is about 8 to 10%.

At least 15% of your replies should be positive, and your conversion rate should be about 15% to 25%.

However, these numbers depend on your industry, so do your research and set realistic goals you want to achieve.

Having this sorted out will give you a rough idea of how many prospects you have to contact, how many emails you must send in a day, etc.

2. Build Your ICP and Buyer Persona

Next is creating your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and buyer personas for your product or services.

The most critical and common cold emailing mistake people make is not putting enough effort into defining their ICPs and buyer persona.

ICP and Buyer Persona

You can find the most ideal prospects who will need your product or service with detailed documents.

Moreover, it will also help you create tailor-made value propositions for each of your ideal prospects’ pain points.

3. Develop Your Value Proposition

Once you have sorted your ICPs and buyer personas, you should create a compelling value proposition for your products and services.

Ask yourself how to solve your ideal prospects’ problems and help them achieve their goals.

Brainstorm with your team and develop value propositions, differentiating you from the competition.

Show the unique benefits they will gain by choosing your product or service.

4. Choose The Right Tool To Help You Achieve Your Goals

The final checklist in the strategy part is getting the right cold email software to support your cold emailing effort.

The right tool will help you automate entire campaigns—from the initial email to the final follow-up.

You can also use the advanced deliverability features to ensure your cold emails reach your prospects’ inboxes and avoid the promotion tab and spam folder.

Here are some basic features a cold email tool should have. Look for these when choosing your tool.

  • Email warm-up: You can use this to improve the reputation of your new email address senders and prepare them for sending cold emails.
  • Email verifier: This will help you remove any potentially invalid email addresses.
  • Personalization features: These are the most basic features that will help you personalize your emails at scale.
  • Email tracker: This will give you insights into your campaigns’ performance, such as open rates, reply rates, and click-through rates.
  • Master common inbox: This will be your central inbox, where you can view all your sent emails and replies.
  • Sender rotation or inbox rotation. This feature will help you scale your outreach by spreading the email volume across multiple email accounts connected to your campaigns.
  • Integrations: Look for tools that integrate seamlessly with your existing tools. This will help you streamline your entire process.

Remember, the right tool will act as your right-hand man and help you scale your cold email outreach cost-efficiently!

Pro Tip: Most cold email tools, like Saleshandy, offer a free trial. You can easily sign up and test how the tool fits your and your team’s needs.

5. Calculate the Number of Domains and Secondary Emails Required

“Never use your primary domains to send cold emails. Use an alternate – secondary domain instead.”

Reserve your primary domain for sending emails to people who have consented to get emails from you.

You may ask, “Why should I get multiple secondary domains and email addresses? Isn’t one enough?”

A recommended practice to avoid spam filters and maintain the deliverability and reputation of your email addresses are:

  • Sending less than 50 emails from a single email account.
  • Having not more than 5 email accounts per domain

So, depending on how many cold emails you send in a day, a single domain and email address may not be enough,

You can even send 10,000 cold emails in a day with multiple domains and email addresses.

Calculating all these beforehand will give you an idea of the costs involved and give you a chance to revisit the drawing board to fine-tune your strategy.

To get the exact number of domains and email accounts you need for your cold email campaign, you can use Saleshandy’s Email Account Calculator

With this, the strategy checklist comes to an end!

Checklist For Building a Verified List of Prospects For Cold Emailing

With the strategy finalized, it’s time to start building your ideal prospect list.

By the end of this checklist, you will have a verified list of your ideal prospects. Here are the steps on this list:

  1. Find The Right Prospects
  2. Verify Email Addresses
  3. Research Your Prospects
  4. Segment Your Prospects

Check them out!

6. Find The Right Prospects

This step is what is going to determine the success of your cold email campaigns majorly!

Without the right prospects, all your further efforts fall apart

There are two ways to find the right prospects. 

One is to use prospecting tools like Saleshandy Lead Finder, Apollo, RocketReach, etc., to find the ideal prospects and export their contact information and other details in a CSV.

The other option is to directly buy an email list from vendors, who will do the prospecting for you.

But whatever approach you take, use the information from your ICPs and buyer persona to create the list.

Important Note: You should send cold emails to your prospects’ professional email, not their personal email.

7. Verify Email Addresses

In cold emailing, having the right information is critical.

Once you have your list of prospects with their email addresses, use an email verification tool to verify the validity of the emails.

This is a necessary step. Why?

It is almost impossible to have real-time accurate data on your prospects.

Who knows? Maybe one prospect changed jobs a day ago, and this data might not be updated in the business database you use for prospecting.

So, to be safer, always re-verify the email addresses. This will help keep the bounce rates to a minimum.

8. Research Your Prospects

The next step after finding your prospects is to get to know them thoroughly.

Cold emailing is not about sending generic emails to thousands of people, hoping someone will reply.

It’s about reaching out to people to form genuine relationships. This is possible only when you get to know them personally (before contacting them).

You can use the information extracted during prospecting to discover their pain points, goals, recent achievements, etc.

You can then use them to create better cold email copies that resonate with them. This will increase your chances of getting positive replies and conversions.

9. Segment Your Prospects

After you have a verified list of prospects, you need to segment them to easily target them with a tailored cold email sequence.

The most common way to segment them is based on location. This will help you schedule your emails.

You don’t want someone from the US and the UK on the same list. The difference is that the time zones are literally day and night.

Next, you can segment them based on pain points and goals they want to achieve.

This will allow you to create tailored subject lines and copies that resonate with their immediate needs, leading to increased email opens and replies.

After completing this, you will have a verified list of segment prospects ready to receive your cold emails!

Next in line is a checklist to ensure your cold email reaches your prospects’ inboxes, so keep reading.

Cold Email Deliverability And Technical Checklist

In this checklist, we will examine all the important steps you should follow to prepare your email accounts for sending cold emails.

Here is a list of all the steps on this checklist:

  1. Buy Secondary Domains and Email Addresses
  2. Set up DMARC, DKIM, and SPF Records
  3. Warm Up Your Email Addresses
  4. Check Email Reputation Regularly
  5. Add A Custom Tracking Domain
  6. Set Delays Between Your Cold Emails
  7. Set A Hard Sending Limit For Email Addresses
  8. Use Inbox Rotation To Spread Email Volume Between Multiple Email Accounts
  9. Set-Up Email Ramp-Up
  10. Set a Schedule For Your Emails

Pro Tip: You can start doing all the below steps along with your prospecting phase to save time.

10. Buy Secondary Domains and Email Addresses

This is pretty straightforward.

Once you have decided to book meetings through cold emailing, set up your secondary domains and necessary email addresses.

Make sure your alternate domains are similar to your primary domain.

For example, if your primary domain is {company}.com, then get secondary domains like {company}, go{company}.com, {company}.org, etc.

11. Set up DMARC, DKIM, and SPF Records

We cannot stress enough the importance of this step!

Once you have your secondary domains and email addresses, immediately set up your SPF, SKIM, and DMARC records.

These records are used by Email Service Providers (ESPs) to check the authenticity of your email addresses.

These records will help keep you under the spam radar and maintain your deliverability.

So, set up your secondary domains and email addresses properly.

Note: As of February 2024, Google and Yahoo have their sending guidelines for bulk emailers, making it mandatory to authenticate their email addresses and domains properly.

12. Warm Up Your Email Addresses

After getting your email addresses, you should start warming them up.

Email warm-up is a process where you send and receive emails in your newly bought email accounts, gradually increasing the volume over time.

This will help build a good sender reputation with ESPs, which is important to ensure your cold emails land in your prospects’ inboxes.

Pro Tip: Most email outreach tools nowadays come with an in-built warmup tool or are partnered with one. You can look for such a tool to automate your entire warm-up process.

13. Check Email Reputation Regularly

The next step you should not miss is keeping an eye on your email reputation.

After starting your warm-up process, you should check the deliverability of your email addresses.

If you spot a drop in deliverability, pause your campaigns and check what may be going wrong.

You can also contact the support team to resolve any issues.

Pro Tip: Customer support plays a vital role. Make sure you use tools like Saleshandy and others that offer prompt, 24/7 customer support.

14. Add A Custom Tracking Domain

We recommend setting up a custom-tracking domain if you plan to track cold email metrics like opens, replies, and clicks.

This is an important step that you should not miss.

The cold email software you use without the custom tracking domain will assign a tracking pixel from a shared domain.

This can trigger spam filters as ESPs view this as a security concern.

15. Set Delays Between Your Cold Emails

Make sure to set delays between each email you send.

This is another important step you should take. Delays between emails show that you are a human.

Simultaneously sending multiple emails can destroy your sender’s reputation immediately.

Pro Tip: Set a delay of 1 to 3 minutes between each email.

16. Set A Hard Sending Limit For Email Addresses

To protect the health of your email accounts and maintain deliverability, sending a maximum of 50 emails from an email address is recommended per day.

If you are using a tool like Saleshandy, you can easily set these limits for all your email accounts.

17. Use Inbox Rotation To Spread Email Volume Between Multiple Email Accounts

Many cold email software will help you to scale your outreach by allowing you to add multiple email addresses.

It will then spread the email volume among the connected accounts.

For example, the Sender rotation feature in Saleshandy will randomly alternate between email accounts when your cold email campaign is active.

So, make sure to choose an outreach tool that has features like this.

18. Set-Up Email Ramp-Up

Email ramp-up is another deliverability feature that popular cold email tools will have.

This will gradually increase the number of emails sent daily until you reach the maximum number of emails that can be sent.

This will help protect your email health. 

If you use older email accounts, you need not use email ramp-up. On the other hand,  if you are using a new address that has just been warmed up, you should still set up an email ramp-up.

Pro Tip: Start with a low sending volume, like 10 emails a day, and increase it by 15% until you reach your threshold of 50 emails daily.

19. Set a Schedule For Your Emails

A common step many cold emailers forget is scheduling their emails.

Why is this an important step?

Due to timezone differences, it is important to schedule your emails. This way, you can make sure your emails reach your prospects’ inboxes at the right time.

Imagine your prospect comes into work at 9 AM and opens their inbox to check their email; at that exact moment, your email drops in!

This will significantly improve the chances of your emails being opened.

Pro Tip: The best time to send cold emails to get opens and replies is weekday work hours. You should also be aware of any local or national holidays.

Checklist For Your Cold Email Copies

Now that your email accounts are getting warmed up and ready, you should start creating your cold email copies.

Here are the important steps you have to follow under this checklist:

  1. Use Personalization
  2. Create Compelling Subject Lines
  3. Create Cold Email Templates For Your Segmented Audience
  4. Keep Your Copies Short (Less Than 120 Words)
  5. Create Variations in Your Copies and Subject Lines
  6. Remove Any Spammy Words
  7. Keep Links To a Minimum
  8. Have a Single Clear CTA
  9. Add an Email Sign-Off and a Professional Signature
  10. Make Sure To Add an Unsubscribe Link

20. Use Personalization

Personalization is the most important part of cold emails. If you want your prospects to connect with your emails, you have to do the research and personalize them.

Go beyond {First_Name} and {Last_Name}.

Come up with personalized icebreakers based on your research, and use tailored value propositions that resonate with the prospects’ pain points and interests.

All this effort will reward you with more opens and replies in the end!

21. Create Compelling Subject Lines

The subject line is the first part of your cold email that your prospects lay their eyes upon.

A good subject line can boost your open rates significantly.

So, come up with subject lines that are short and eye-catching.

In fact, our internal study shows that 33% of people open emails with a catchy subject line.

22. Create Cold Email Templates For Your Segmented Audience

You can create a basic cold email template – initial cold email, follow-ups, and breakup email and use that template to create personalized emails for the rest of your segmented prospects.

This way, you can save a lot of time and effort.

Note: Most cold emailing software allows you to create and share templates. Some tools, like Saleshandy, also come with pre-existing templates that you can use.

23. Keep Your Copies Short (Less Than 120 Words)

Your prospects are busy people. They don’t have the time to read your long emails.

In fact, long emails come as a complete turn-off!

Keep your emails short and to the point.

Tell your prospects why you have emailed them, what you can bring them, what they should do, and finally, thank them for their time.

In email terms, these are your email opener, value proposition, CTA, and signature.

All these should be within 120 words.

24. Create Variations in Your Copies and Subject Lines

Create variations in your email copies, as sending the same email to multiple prospects can raise alarms with EPS.

You can also try creating various subject lines, openers, CTAs, and A/B testing them to find which works best.

Pro Tip: You can use features like Spintax to create variations of words and phrases in Saleshandy. This can make your emails appear more human-like to ESPs

25. Remove Any Spammy Words

Most, if not all, ESPs monitor emails continuously for spam, and one of the criteria for flagging emails is the use of spammy words.

So you should avoid words like unlimited, free, etc., to keep under the ESPs’ radar.

Here are some common spam words are:

  • 100% more
  • Free access
  • Free consultation
  • Click below
  • Exclusive deal
  • No strings attached

Ideally, your cold emails should be plain text with no links or HTML elements.

However, this is not completely possible, as you need an HTML-based pixel to track your emails and links and display case studies and other resources.

So, what you can do is keep everything to a minimum.

For example, you can keep your initial cold email link free and free from tracking. You can then have links and enable tracking for your follow-up emails.

This way, you can strike a balance between deliverability, your need for analytics, and sharing resources.

Recommendation: Saleshany has a content guide and email preview feature that can help you spot common mistakes, such as using spammy works, having links, and writing long copies. 

27. Have a Single Clear CTA

All your cold emails should have a single clear Call to Action. This will guide the prospects to what to do next.

It is recommended to have soft CTAs, which are less demanding.

A good example of a soft CTA is asking your prospects if they are open to discussing your offer.

A hard CTA sends a calendar link and asks them to schedule a time.

Remember, the right cold email CTAs can help you book more meetings.

28. Add an Email Sign-Off and a Professional Signature

At the end of your email copy, include an email sign-off thanking the prospect for reading the email and letting them know you’re looking forward to their reply.

This kind of email sign-off shows the prospect that you value their time, creating a positive impact on them.

Keep your signatures as simple as possible

Something like


John Doe

Designation, Company Name

Pro Recommendation: It’s best not to have any social media links or links to your company’s website. It’s best to keep the signature as simple as possible.

Having an unsubscribe button is another mandatory change mandated by Google and Yahoo.

You should give your prospects an easy way to unsubscribe from your emails.

It would be difficult to do this manually without a tool like Saleshandy and other cold email tools.

As soon as your prospect clicks the ‘Unsubscribe link,’ your cold email tool will remove them from the active campaign.

Checklist For Follow-Up Cold Emails

Here’s a checklist that will help you get more replies from your follow-ups:

  1. Add at Least 3 Follow-Up Cold Emails
  2. Space Your Follow-Ups Properly
  3. Reference the Previous Mail
  4. Avoid Being Pushy

30. Add at Least 3 to 4 Follow-Up Cold Emails

All your cold email campaigns must have at least 3 follow-ups.

Our study shows that sending at least three follow-up emails can increase the response rate by 28%.

Unlike your initial cold emails, follow-up emails are slightly different.

If you want your follow-up to generate more replies, you should create curiosity among your prospects by providing them with social proofs.

This will naturally compel them to reach out to you.

Although following up can eventually get your prospects to respond, you should know when to give up.

Make sure you don’t send more than 6 follow-up emails to your prospects. There is a thin line between being persistent and being a pest

Your final follow-up or breakup email should recap the interaction and thank the prospect for their time.

It should also show that you are open to collaborating with them if your goals align.

31. Space Your Follow-Ups Properly

You should properly space your follow-ups for them to create maximum impact.

We have found that strategically sending a follow-up on the third, seventh, and fourteenth day after your first cold email can significantly boost your reply rate by 40%.

Pro Tip: Use a cold email tool like Saleshandy to automate your follow-ups and have a hassle-free cold emailing experience.

32. Reference the Previous Mail

Ensure that each follow-up email references the previous email you sent.

This will help in keeping the continuity.

You can simply start your follow-up emails with “I’m following up on my email last week about [topic].” or “I wanted to follow up regarding [topic] and [how it could help them/solve a pain point].”

The key to cold emailing is to keep things as simple and straightforward as possible.

33. Avoid Being Pushy

An amateur mistake is being too salesy and pushy with your cold emails.

You must understand that you are contacting people you have had no previous contact with.

Diving head-first with a sales pitch can be off-putting for your prospects, and there is a chance that some of them might mark you as spam.

So, to avoid this, be polite and courteous as much as possible.

Even in your follow-ups, you should focus on showing value rather than being pushy. This is a more compelling way to win them over.

Use the Cold Email Checklist and Start Booking More Meetings

I am sure you can bring in more positive replies and meetings by following this comprehensive checklist than you planned.

You will eventually get accustomed to all the processes involved in cold emailing and become a natural at it.

Till then, this checklist can be your right-hand man.

But there’s a better way. Saleshandy can be your personal hack to succeeding in cold emailing.

With Saleshandy, you can save time and effort by automating entire campaigns. It also has advanced features that ensure your emails land in your prospects’ inboxes.

It can also cater to your analytical needs by providing real-time email tracking and analytical capability.

So, sign up for a free trial and try it out!


1. What is the best time to send cold emails?

The best time to send cold emails is on weekdays during working hours. However, remember to account for time zone differences and local and national holidays.

2. Can I add images to my cold emails?

You can experiment with plain images, but it is recommended that you do not use them in your initial cold emails.

3. What is the average response rate of cold emails?

The average response rate of cold emails depends on the industry. It can be anywhere from 2% to 12%.

Skyrocket your conversion rates with cold emailing

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