Crafting Highly-Personalized Cold Email First Lines Using AI: Complete Workflow

Cold email first lines


Crafting highly-personalized cold email first lines requires more than just good copywriting and research skills. It’s about adding a layer of personalization & relevance to your message.Learn how you can automate this whole process using AI tools in just a few easy steps.

The digitalization of B2B sales processes in recent years has led to an increased importance of personalized B2B outreach and sales strategies. At a time when prospects’ inboxes are constantly flooded with cookie-cutter, impersonal pitches, making a distinctive first impression is key. 

Subject lines are important, but so are the cold email first lines you use. They’re the very first sentences your prospect looks at, and makes a decision to either: 

  • Close the email window, or
  • Go on to read your message further. 

They’re also critical to boosting reply rates. 

By the end of this article, you’ll learn how to automate writing cold email first lines with AI, and a few tips & tricks to nail them, every single time. 

So let’s start. 

What Are Cold Email First Lines? 

Cold email first lines are the opening sentences of an email that are specifically designed to instantly capture the recipient’s attention. They set the stage for the message that follows and are critical for making a personal connection with the reader. 

The effectiveness of a cold email often hinges on these initial words – since they can determine whether an email is engaged with or ignored. 

Moreover, with multi-point personalization improving reply rates by 142%, it’s clear as to how crucial first lines are to get the desired results. 

Why Are Cold Email First Lines Important?

There are several reasons as to why personalized first lines are crucial for any B2B email campaign: 

  1. Creating a strong first impression: Adding personalized cold email first lines are crucial for making a strong first impression, and help determine whether the recipient feels intrigued or indifferent towards your message.
  2. Establishing a personal connection: Cold email first lines which reference something of value to the recipient shows that you’ve done your homework. It also makes the prospect feel that they’re not just another contact in a mass email blast and that they actually matter.
  3. Boosting open and response rates: Having an engaging opening sentence in your email piques curiosity, encouraging the recipient to read through and respond to your message.
  4. Standing out from the crowd: In a competitive digital landscape, unique and highly-personalized cold email first lines can differentiate your email from countless others. 

How Long Should Personalized First Lines Be? 

Most top-performing cold emails are shorter in length. They’re brief, and quickly get to the point explaining the reason for your outreach. 

Similar to the subject line, the opening sentence in your emails should be short too. As per experts & our own experiments, cold email first lines should be around 10-30% of the total email content. 

In terms of structure, one should have a short opener that builds rapport, and then jump straight onto the main topic without being pushy.

What’s more, even the top B2B sales email templates see first lines that stick to about 1-2 short opening sentences. 

Method 1: Writing Cold Email First Lines Using Clay AI: Stepwise Process 

Similar to other use cases, Clay is ideal for writing personalized cold email first lines using a variety of data points. 

Given below is a step-by-step process on how you can generate AI first lines in Clay based on the prospect’s recent LinkedIn post:

Step 1: Setup the Clay table 

To start writing cold email first lines with AI, you need to set up a Clay table. To do this, simply log into your Clay account and then on the dashboard click ‘New Table’. 

You can then add 3 columns there titled: Name, Email & LinkedIn Profile. One can easily add more columns and fill them with the data points they want. 

Another way to set up your Clay table is to import the data as a CSV file. 

Step 1 for generating AI-powered cold email first lines requires enriching the sheet with additional data.

Step 2: Enrich data with LinkedIn post 

The next step for writing cold email first lines involves enriching the Clay table with data from your contacts’ LinkedIn activity. We’ll be using Clay’s enrichment feature to fetch their most recent LinkedIn post by clicking the ‘+’ sign and then choosing ‘Enrich Data’ to move forward. 

A pop-up will open on the right where you’ll need to click the ‘Find Recent LinkedIn Posts for User’. You can also search for a specific keyword in the search bar to find them. 

Find recent LinkedIn post by the user to start generating personalized cold email first lines for the list.

You then have to set up the input, where the ‘LinkedIn Profile’ drop-down appears. Select it and then click ‘Continue to Add Fields’. One can also add another column to display the actual LinkedIn posts. 

Find Recent Posts by User to generate cold email first lines.

To do this, you’ve got to choose ‘Post’ by toggling the switch on before opting for ‘Run 1 row in this view’ to display the result. 

Toggle on the 'Post' option and then save and run for the first 10 rows.

At the end, you’ll see 2 new fields on the table – namely the ‘Find Recent LinkedIn Post for User’ and the ‘Post’ columns. 

Step 3: Writing the ChatGPT prompt 

ChatGPT & Clay are the two AI tools you’ll need to generate cold email first lines at scale. This is where using the right ChatGPT prompt becomes crucial. 

After all, you don’t want to send a long, artificial-looking email to customers (that’d be a big turn off right?). That being said, make your prompt as detailed as possible, with specific instructions for each step (including do’s and don’ts) similar to how you do it for a fifth-grader. 

To do this, click ‘Add Column’ on the table and then choose ‘Enrich Data’. Once you do that, under the ‘Enrichments’ tab select ‘Use AI’ to move forward. 

Use AI for ChatGPT to generate personalized first lines

Inside the text box here, go on to write the following GPT prompt: 

“Pretend that you’re a sales professional. Please write a compelling email to /Name introducing your accounting services. But first, I want you to write a warm email regarding their recent LinkedIn /Post-Posts to make it personal.” 

Once you’re satisfied with the prompt, click ‘Continue to Add Fields’ and run the first 10 rows. You should then see a new column with the AI-generated text. 

Step 4: Improving your cold email first lines 

Improve your cold email first lines by fine-tuning the GPT prompt for specific tonality/writing style.

The final step for writing high-quality cold email first lines involves optimizing your GPT prompt. While the previous one is useful, it is sure to give you a generic response which may or may not be optimal. 

You want to really hit the nail when it comes to writing AI first lines, and this is where you’ll need to make certain adjustments to the prompt. 

To do this, simply run the prompt: 

“Assume that you’re a sales professional. Write a warm email quoting the prospect’s most recent LinkedIn post and share how you loved reading about it. Start with something like: “I noticed you recently wrote about…..” followed by quoting a short, 1-2 sentence highlight from the post. Follow it up with a compliment & then write: “This makes me think you could possibly double up your paid ads ROI with our 3x growth system at XYZ Company. Open to chatting strategy on how this could help {{CompanyName}}?. Please make it short, around 100-150 words. Use a friendly, casual tone when writing the email. Please also personalize the subject line based on the LinkedIn post. 

The client’s name is this: /[insert First Name]

The LinkedIn post is this: /[insert Posts]”

Once you do that, you’ll get a revised personalized first line for specific prospects when finally executed at scale.

Finalized cold email first lines as executed by Clay.

Method 2: Writing Cold Email First Lines Using SheetAI

YouTube video

While Clay is extremely useful, there might be instances where you don’t want to spend much on buying extra credits for the tool. As an alternative, you can even start writing personalized first lines inside a Google Sheet. 

Here’s how you craft cold email first lines inside Google Sheets using the SheetAI app: 

Step 1: Prepare Your Data in Google Sheets

Begin by organizing the data you wish to personalize in Google Sheets. For instance, if you’re generating certificates for students, include essential information such as names, achievements, or specific attributes you want to mention. 

This preparation is crucial for tailoring each email to the individual’s contributions or accomplishments.

Step 2: Install SheetAI

SheetAI serves as the bridge between your data and personalized content creation. To incorporate SheetAI into your workflow:

  • Visit and enter your email to initiate the installation.
  • Follow the prompt to install the SheetAI add-on for Google Sheets. This process integrates AI’s power directly into your spreadsheet, enabling on-the-spot content generation.

Step 3: Launch SheetAI

After installation, launch SheetAI by navigating to the add-ons menu within Google Sheets. Selecting SheetAI from the list will open a sidebar panel, setting the stage for generating personalized content.

Step 4: Write Personalized First Lines

With SheetAI active, start crafting your personalized email first lines directly within your spreadsheet:

  • In a new column labeled “Email First Line,” initiate the SheetAI function by typing =SheetAI into a cell.
  • Specify your request to the AI. For example, you might input a command like, “Write a thoughtful email first line mentioning [specific detail or achievement].”
  • Ensure that each command is directly tied to the individual data points in your sheet, such as the student’s name or a unique attribute.

Step 5: Generate Content with SheetAI

After setting up your commands, SheetAI will process your instructions and generate personalized first lines based on the data provided. For example:

  • “Hi {{firstName}}, I was on your LinkedIn recently & loved your post about {{post topic}}…..”
  • This step requires a careful balance between the information available in your Google Sheet and the instructions given to SheetAI. The quality of output significantly depends on the specificity and clarity of your prompts.

As stated above, you can use the revised prompt from step 4 of the first method to craft a highly personalized cold email first line. 

Step 6: Refine and Repeat

The initial results from SheetAI might require fine-tuning. Review the SheetAI-generated cold email first lines for relevance and personal touch. Adjust your prompts as needed for more precise messages.

Repeat the process for each entry in your Google Sheet to ensure every email starts with a personalized touch that resonates with the recipient.

Tips to Create Compelling Cold Email First Lines

Writing compelling cold email first lines isn’t any easy task. While AI does help you, it’s about consistent trial and error, and experimenting with different styles and tonality of writing. 

Follow the below-mentioned tips to make sure your cold email first lines convince the prospect to hit the ‘Reply’ button by the time they finish reading your email: 

  • Don’t be overly formal in your email. Try to maintain a casual, friendly tone that makes prospects feel comfortable.
  • Show the recipient you’ve done your homework. One good way to do this is to use specific triggers and events to add in your message.
  • Keep the message short and sweet. People are busy, and no one has the time or bandwidth to read a long, boring email. A cold email of about 50-150 words is ideal.
  • Be genuine. While AI and automation tools help, you need to be genuinely interested in adding value to the recipient with your email.
  • Avoid aggressive pitching in your emails. Keep things relevant, friendly and non-pushy. 

Wrapping Up!

Crafting high-performing cold email first lines is a skill that evolves over time. The key to cracking them lies in identifying unique insights about the prospect and using them in a way that your message stands out. 

Doesn’t matter if it’s a LinkedIn post, a shared interest or an observation about their technology stack – leveraging these details contextually can improve reply rates & get you more meetings booked per campaign. 

At Cleverviral, we specialize in not just writing AI-personalized first lines, but also in setting up scalable, high-growth cold outreach campaigns. If you’re a B2B business looking to enhance your outreach game with AI-powered systems, shoot us an email on [email protected] or simply fill out the contact form.

Until then, happy prospecting!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you write the first line of a cold email?

To write highly-personalized cold email first lines, make sure you:

1. Make use of simple, conversational language. Don’t be too formal and start off with a quick compliment.

2. Add a layer of personalization using specific insights, LinkedIn activity of the prospect or even the tech stack of the prospect’s organization.

3. Start off with a compliment and then jump into the reason for your outreach.

4. Ask a question or state an observation.

5. Focus on the prospect’s pain points & use a soft CTA.

What is a good opening line for an email?

All good cold email first lines grab the recipient’s attention and make them want to read more. They’re highly-personalized, relevant, and show genuine interest in the recipient or their work.

For example, mentioning a recent accomplishment, commenting on a shared interest, or referencing a mutual connection can create a connection from the start.

Opening with a question can also engage the reader by sparking curiosity or providing value. For instance, “I was impressed by your latest project on [topic]; how did you tackle [specific challenge]?” ensures the email feels tailored and demonstrates that you’ve done your homework.

What is a personalized first line?

A personalized first line in an email is a tailored opening sentence designed to resonate specifically with the recipient. It goes beyond generic greetings by incorporating details unique to the individual, such as their name, recent achievements, interests, or specific aspects of their work.

This approach demonstrates that the sender has taken the time to learn about the recipient, fostering a sense of connection and recognition.

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About the Author


Manan is a B2B copywriter & content strategist at Cleverviral. A content marketer and writer for 5+ years, he has written for our clients like Forms On Fire, Wigzo and Lenovo for their email and other content-related operations.Get in touch with him at: [email protected]

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