So, you’re trying to solve the problem that every B2B business faces: not having enough leads every month. So, you do what so many other B2Bs do – you send out cold emails.
But no matter how much you tweak your emails or change the messaging, the results aren’t great. You’re not getting enough responses, and when you do, the responses aren’t the ones you’re looking for.
You might think this is a post on how to craft a winning cold email campaign. But it’s not.
Instead, this post is going to show you what not to do when sending cold emails. And we’ve even taken it a step further and put together some of the strangest cold email replies we’ve ever seen.
They definitely won’t get you results, but we think you’ll get a kick out of them.
A quick word on cold outreach
Cold emailing gets a bad reputation because a lot of businesses do it totally wrong. People in the B2B world get bombarded with cold emails every day, so most are now blind to the generic, spammy messages at best (completely turned off a business at worst).
But it’s actually incredibly easy to stand out from the crowd and get your cold emails noticed for the right reasons. All it takes is some decent market research and a personalized approach.
And we have some great resources to help you write cold emails the right way. So after having a laugh at some of the outrageous responses below, make sure to check out our helpful guides:
- How to build a prospect list for your email outreach
- How to write killer email subject lines that get clicks
The Strangest Cold Email Replies: A Lesson in What Not to Do
We ran a HARO project and asked some key people in different B2B industries to share the craziest responses they’ve had to cold emails. Here’s what they said:
Ju Li, Entrepreneur, Antler.co
I’m an Entrepreneur at Antler.co (an early stage VC) and my co-founder and I ran into this odd one.
Basically, my co-founder reached out to conduct a potential customer interview for the purpose of validating our product idea and the response we got back was a plug of the guy’s eBook lol.
It’s not an email but was a cold LinkedIn add.
Jafar Sadhik, Customer Success Partner, SmartKarrot
This is one of the bad cold emails I received in my lifetime.
The person is directly trying to sell the product without a proper Query, Context, and Content in the email. The sales executives should use their time to produce a quality email that fascinates users to read it enthusiastically.
Otherwise, even a thousand emails like this will go into the trash.
Alcides Otiniano, Prosperous Frugal
Alcides here from Prosperous Frugal. We provide tools to help people be frugal and prosper. When I saw your query about strangest reposes to cold email, many emails came to mind. As a business owner, besides my efforts to control the cold emails, almost every time I sign up with my mail to a web page, I receive more cold emails.
*Gentle first and rude if insisting*
For example, on page tuning for SEO. Only 1 or 2 people really took the time to use the contact page and write a proper mail. Most people send generic emails. Of course, the first kind of people get kind answers.
For most of the others, a direct click on “Unsubscribe” is enough. Tools like hunter.io make this possible. If not, for people insisting, I have to block their address(es) and mark them as spam.
Unfortunately, many people do not understand and keep sending mails. At least they fall directly in spam folder without taking my focus from really important subjects
Jason C., founder of Writing by Jason
Here’s one: Hello, I am interested. But I have to go to the mountain first. I’ll reply later.
Jason is the founder of Writing by Jason, a content writing service.
Edward Shaw, Co-Founder of Leeline Sourcing
Here are some ridiculous cold email templates that are sure to get you a response. It was sent just a few days before the US election, which gave it perfect timing.
The subject line was also amusing: ‘Even Hillary wouldn’t delete this email.’ This type of email can appeal to people’s interests and sense of humour. In fact, there is no one-size-fits-all cold email that will work in every situation and with every person.
The best cold emails are those that are well-targeted and highly personalized, and that demonstrate basic human communication principles.
Edward is the co-founder of leelinesourcing. We are an over 10 years experienced China Sourcing Company including sourcing, preparing and shipping products to Amazon FBA. We provide one-stop service help you import from China,Alibaba,1688 to Amazon FBA USA/UK. We serve 2000+ Professional Amazon sellers all around the world.
John Frigo, eCommerce Manager, BestPriceNutrition
I’m currently the eCommerce Manager with BestPriceNutrition however a while back after selling a business and prior to starting here I was doing some freelancing managing people’s Shopify Stores, affiliate programs and doing some freelance digital marketing.
I would regularly do cold outreach if I saw a problem with someone’s site or an area of improvement. My strategy which was pretty effective was actually pointing out things about their site instead of the typical cold email where you can tell someone’s never even looked at your site.
Anyhow I reached out to a CBD brand with a thoughtful email and analysis of their site and the response I got was short, it was eat poop. Definitely the weirdest response I’ve gotten to a cold email.
James Walsh, Entrepreneur
As a sales trainer who assists individuals and companies of all sizes across the US, my clients have received their fair share of strange responses to cold emails. The most bizarre occurrence was when a prospect responded to one of my client’s cold emails at least fifty times in one day.
But here’s the catch. Each response featured copy-and-pasted lyrics to a different Nickelback song! The prospect basically wasted most of his day emailing the entire Nickelback discography to the company that I was assisting through sales training.
Why? We’ll never know.
My name is James Walsh. I’m an entrepreneur, financial advisor, sales trainer, author, life/career coach, podcast host, and public speaker based in Los Angeles, California. You can find out more about my background on my website.
Sherry Morgan, Founder, Petsolino
Okay, so I don’t think this would be counted but it was basically *disguised* as a cold email so hear me out.
My friend had a boyfriend of 2 years who has always been head over heels even before she was single. That man works as a lead generation specialist at an agency and what that love-struck man did was send a cold email to my friend, *asking her to marry him*.
The subject was on point, it will really drive you to open the email and think that there is a great pitch that awaits you. But along the email’s body, he proposes to her. She didn’t say yes because she wasn’t still over her past but two years after the proposal, fast forward to this year, she was the one who proposed to him. And they’ll be getting married once the pandemic’s over, they say.
Daivat Dholakia, Director of Operations, Force by Mojio
Back when my business sent cold emails, we’d often receive unusual responses. One that stands out came from a small pest control business.
For reference, we were emailing businesses with small to midsized fleets to advertise free trials of our fleet tracking software. The owner of the pest control company sent us back…a picture of his car interior. No words, no explanation, just a photo of his car.
When we responded to ask for clarification, he wrote back, Saturday appointment. No date, no question mark, nothing. We later worked out that he thought we were going to come install software in his car for him.
Out of context, it was extremely bizarre!
Force by Mojio provides the best in class GPS fleet tracking for small businesses.
Chrisen Costa, CEO, Gadget Review
Like anything, retro game sales operate off of scarcity and demand. The generation that grew up with Mario 64 is now old enough to make their own money and establish investments. While that’s a hefty sum for the average Millennial, I’m sure some have inherited or grown their wealth to that degree.
A lot of times I will end up getting someone who’s very aggressive about trying to sell me something. No matter how innocuous and introductory my cold email is, they see it as an open door to also push whatever they’re trying to sell. I suppose that’s the danger of B2B, but I had one standout email where the man I contacted tried to sell me supplements from some kind of MLM scheme.
Devon Fata, CEO, Pixoul
I’ve gotten a few truly baffling replies to cold emails in my day:
– One potential client asked me to design and launch the entire website for free–they offered to pay me after 6 months if the website led to more business.
– I already have a website. Won’t it just confuse people if I have another one?
– I already have a website. (They had a Facebook page.)
– I don’t have a website and I don’t want one. (I found them through their existing website.)
My name is Devon Fata and I’m the CEO of Pixoul a human-centric web design firm helping clients see better returns through intelligent, beautiful experiences.
I’ve received virtually thousands of cold emails over the years from scammers, small businesses, and even corporations. Recently my business has been putting a lot of our advertising into TV commercials, which has resulted in a lot of recognition from our competitors and similar companies in our industry.
Last month I received a strange email from an up-and-coming small business who sold modern looking ties for the casual workplace. They wanted us to showcase a couple of their ties in a TV commercial we were producing in exchange for a considerable chunk of change.
We usually don’t respond to cold emails like this, but we were intrigued with how much they were offering us and we ended up taking them up on the offer. The commercial was a huge success and led to improved sales on both of our ends.
Laura’s love for every major sport made her aware of the frustration that comes with trying to acquire a decent cable sports package. In turn, she became a major advocate for Dish and began operating Infinity Dish.
Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO, Lawn Love
I’ve been doing cold emails for a long time and I’ve gotten a lot of rude responses. A majority of non-responses. But some that have just made me question if the person was trying to rattle me or if they didn’t realize what they sent was strange.
One time I was sent what I swear was a chain letter circa 1999. And this was in 2011. It just had that old AOL vibe but at least it was one of the hopeful ones and not malicious. In that instance, I’m sure someone sent it intentionally to mess with me, but it made me laugh more than anything.
I’m Jeremy Yamaguchi and I’m the CEO of Lawn Love, a company that’s bringing high-tech solutions to the lawn care industry. We’ve helped thousands of commercial and residential customers connect with the absolute best local lawn care professionals.
Katherine Brown, Founder & Marketing Director of Spyic
The strangest email I had received is-
My name is Brett Lee. I am the CEO of TouchLife Beauty.
TouchLife Beauty is a high-performance beauty products manufacturing company that achieves profitability with minimal funding.
The entire team is alumni of Verax. The beauty experts have an average of over ten years of experience.
We have created a term sheet from an excellent VC on Sand New Road, and we are looking for an additional investor. We were wondering if you would like to buy our products worth $11299. With this, you can partner with us as a ‘Business Associate,’ and we would, in return, give you a voucher for $99.
Would you please let me know how you would like to proceed?
This amazed me, that a random company that apparently does not have a ‘real existence’ is asking me to buy such expensive products out of nowhere. With a feeling of being bamboozled mind, I could just reply in one line– Thanks for the mail, but apologies, I can’t afford your products/services.
I’m Katherine, the founder of Spyic, a company engaged in parental control and remote monitoring programs. We have over one million users and attract over 20,000 parents and administrators each month. Besides, Spyic has been featured on major platforms such as iLounge, TNCnet, SFWEEKLY, among many others.
A company that I have worked with launched a cold email campaign to drum up business during the 2020 Covid pandemic. The opening line asked the recipient if they thought Carole Baskin from Tiger King was guilty of murdering her husband.
They got a great response and closed some deals from it!
Andre Kazimierski, CEO, Improovy
Usually those uninterested in the cold emails we send won’t reply at all – but some will try to troll us. One time, someone responded with an “automated” response that said things along the lines of “this email address is no longer valid and you cannot reach the owner, etc.”
However, there were multiple typos in the email and it was clear that the person had written it themselves! We don’t send cold emails very often, and we never press people who express clear disinterest.
Brian Donovan, CEO, Timeshatter
Those who receive cold emails from us but are uninterested in our service typically don’t reply at all, or they respond with something along the lines of “not interested – please don’t contact again.”
The funniest response we have ever gotten was getting “Rick-rolled.” Someone responded to our cold email with a link to Rick Astley’s song “Never Gonna Give You Up,” which is a meme and popular way to troll people online. Even though it wasn’t the response we were looking for, we couldn’t be mad at it!
Charles Leduc, Chief Operations Officer, Mold Busters
Why would someone reply to a cold email with a novella?:
When I was running a sales office at a former company, a frequent email reply that I saw that made no sense was “I don’t do business via email.” So your company email address is just for looks, no touch?
The most unusual reply that we got to a cold email was from someone who wrote a novella instead of just saying “No thanks”. It was a story of a man who had lost his business because he answered a cold email and purchased services through a company that quickly stole his information and cleaned out the business accounts.
Very compelling. He should have been a writer.
With nearly a decade of experience heading the Mold Busters team, Charles Leduc is a certified professional inspector, a certified mold inspector and remediator as well as author, speaker and Chief Operations Officer at the company.
As part of his commitment to educating the public about the very real indoor environmental threats like mold and asbestos, Charles organizes seminars, Lunch & Learns and other events for realtors, mortgage brokers, homeowners and other industry experts.
Charles also contributes his unbiased expertise in court cases involving tenant-landlord issues, interviews for online publications, and so on.
Templates help you save time. I understand. However, no one will stand out if you and everyone else on the planet use the same exact templates.
Worse yet, your prospect is probably inundated with cold emails that sound exactly like yours. If you’re going to use templates, make sure you use them as a guide. You’ll get far better results if you tweak them to sound more like you.
Your email will come across as more genuine with a few minor tweaks, making the prospect more likely to respond.
Richard Latimer is the CEO of the real estate investment company Veritas Buyers. He gives people the ability to sell their house fast for and for cash (within one or two weeks). Instead of going the traditional route that can take up to 3 months.
Ravi Parikh, CEO, RoverPass Campground Reservation Software
The weirdest response to a cold email I remember happened after we launched a cold email campaign to promote our RV campground reservation software.
The reply started out normal enough (Hello, can you give me a quote for the package you mentioned etc.). But then it cut off abruptly and there was a long string of numbers and letters.
My colleague immediately emailed them back because we were legitimately worried if someone had had a stroke while typing.
Fortunately, we found out that it was a case of the guy’s cat hopping on the keyboard while he was away from his desk.
Lisa Lazey, CEO, Lisa Buys Austin Homes
You want to keep your message focused on your give in a cold email. You may be tempted to mention your product or begin selling it, but you must resist. If you predict the sale, you risk losing your prospect entirely. This is why: People enjoy shopping, but they despise being sold. Especially if they don’t know, like, or trust you already. As a result, don’t try to rush through the sales process. Your give should be sold. There’s nothing else.
Lisa is the CEO of the real estate investment company Lisa Buys Austin Homes. She gives people the ability to sell their houses fast for and for cash (within 7 days). Instead of going the traditional route that can take up to 3 months.
Petra Odak, Chief Marketing Officer, Better Proposals
The weirdest ever was:
“Who gave you this email and the permission to get in touch with me? Stop messaging me right now or I’ll find out who you are and sue you. Also your email sucks.”
Needless to say, we never sent them any emails ever again. In reality, you can expect people who are not interested to not reply but sometimes, you’ll get special cases like this one.
Petra Odak is a Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals, simple yet incredibly powerful proposal software tool that helps you send high-converting, web-based business proposals in minutes. She’s a solution-oriented marketing enthusiast with more than 5 years of experience in various fields of marketing and project management.
Lynda Farley, Co-founder, Numlooker
Though we don’t know each other, breaking the ice here, I am very keen to speak with you to discuss a marketing plan and its prospects. We have got sparking ideas, and with your expertise as gasoline, we can set the digital world on wildfire.
It might appear as spam, but I assure you it isn’t.
Could you lead me in the proper direction if I’m barking up the wrong tree with you? Can we talk if I’m at the right tree, not that I’m calling you a tree?
Let’s have a quick skype call at xxxx.
The mail was strange, cold, but absolutely intriguing. It made me say yes to the prospects, which ultimately turned out to be a great deal. Some cold emails are beneficial.
Lynda Farley is the co-founder of Numlooker, a company that fosters the online grey pages directory for a sophisticated and accurate crisscross search for individual or company information using cellphone and landline numbers.
Can I get your free products?
The strangest emails I get through our emails via newsletters responses or just people in general trying to connect are usually asking for free products so they can share on their social media page to get us exposure. While we do occasionally partner with influencers so they can try our beauty products and give us their honest feedback, while also sharing on their social media channels, we don’t just go on giving away stuff for exposure.
Exposure really doesn’t pay the bills, and that’s not what those people do anyways. Most of the time when people are asking for free products they’re not bloggers, or influencers, they’re just trying to score free things online.
Please keep in mind we do give away products, especially to first time customers and also loyal ones, and we value all of them. But it feels very odd to get emails demanding to receive free items so we can get exposure from their IG posts.
Keith Eneix, the President of TautUSA, has been providing natural beauty transformation products since 2013. Keith has been helping women and men transform their skin from the inside out for many years and enjoys sharing all of his insights with the world. When Keith Eneix is not working, he enjoys spending time with his 5 kids and wife in the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest.
May Flanagan, Founder, Global Green Family
As a digital marketer and a founder of a green living website, I use cold email campaigns to boost our readership. We have diverse readers whose emails are on our subscribers list as our website publishes articles on a wide variety of topics. And so, we interact with lots of people and often get interesting responses from them.
The strangest (and funniest) response that I received during one of my cold email campaigns for our website was when someone sent a funny eco-living meme to say that they agree with our goals as a sustainability website.
The meme was a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger among animals and in nature, with the caption “When you remember to bring your reusable bag to the grocery store.”
My team and I definitely had a laugh with the sender’s responses and we were quite comforted by the fact that someone is reading and reacting to our email campaigns.
Maya Levi, Marketing Manager, ReturnGo
As marketing manager of our company, my job involves doing a variety of marketing efforts from launching social media campaigns to creating drip campaigns through email.
In one of our cold email campaigns for our returns management software service, we received a counter-reply from someone in our subscriber email list, claiming that he was the first one who thought of our company’s software concept.
Anyway, it definitely seemed weird and so we just ignored it.
Maya Levi works as a Marketing Manager at ReturnGo, an AI-driven returns management platform that aims to help retailers enrich customers’ experience with efficient product returns.
DylanMorgan, Content Executive, Twinkl Educational Publishing
I’m so glad I’ve come across this. Having worked in content marketing for the last few months, I’m honestly surprised at how dense some people can be. So, my best reply was ironically from HARO. I asked for a request for a blog I wrote on VE Day (https://www.twinkl.co.uk/blog/best-wartime-recipes-to-celebrate-ve-day-from-home) and I received a pitch back, to which I tried to arrange a link exchange.
Here’s what I got…
*What I can not do is provide a link back to your site. How haro works is that I get a do link from you in exchange for featuring my amazing recipes and insight. Not both ways.*
I was honestly blown away by this as a new starter in the SEO world. I didn’t realise people were so passionate about this kind of stuff (or so against). Also, the confidence in her recipes, when it was her partner who cooked them….
Miranda Yan, Co-Founder, VinPit
Inside marketing tools, when used effectively, tend to turn out some cold cases along with new issues also. Talking about the cold call tool of inside marketing has the minimum chances for conversion, but we have got some strange reactions upon attempting them.
For example, when we started to contact one by welcoming messages and the new exciting offer on the vacuum cleaner, his reply was epic by first thanking us for recognizing him as a valuable customer.
It encouraged us to communicate further, but soon after the following communication, he luxuriously replied to us & showed his anger towards frustration by not contacting him further. In one case where we approached a woman for beauty products, she also replied strangely as she wanted written mail for authentication source.
Upon using the recommended product, she will get her to look refreshed compared to her early 20’s. There are also some examples where customers make fun of us. But we didn’t take anything personally & kept trying out the inside marketing tool with our target audience.
We managed to get our social media marketing campaign for our various products with new cashback offers & got a good number of leads. We tried to make the most of it by getting them converted into potential customers.
Here’s How to Get it Right
As you can probably tell, it’s so easy to get cold emailing very wrong. From being too salesy or generic to straying completely off-topic, most cold emails get sent straight to the trash.
Luckily, Bant.io is here to help you get it right. We can help you write high-performing cold email campaigns that get more opens and significantly more replies.
Request a free demo with our team today to find out exactly how we craft the best cold email campaigns that help our clients get a consistent stream of new leads every single month.