Cold email vs. Spam: The Key Differences 

If you are a business owner, you probably have this dilemma at least once in your life: Will the promotional email I send to my audience catch their attention or end up in the spam folder? How many times have you given up sending your email worrying about how your potential clients will receive it?

You should know that there’s a difference between spam emails and direct email campaigns. While cold email is an excellent way to expand your network and find new clients, spam emails are unsolicited emails that every business owner could send accidentally at least once in their career. Usually, this happens when business owners are not aware of the spam laws and regulations that apply in their country or the country of their recipients. 

If you are wondering: What is the difference between direct e-mailing and spam? you came to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the key differences between cold email vs. spam. 

what is the difference between direct e-mailing and spam?

What are Cold Emails?

Cold emails are emails sent to potential customers without a prior contact in order to build a relationship with them. Usually, this type of email aims to introduce your product, service, or brand to recipients. That said, cold emails are the first point of interaction with your future clients. 

Cold emails are named “cold” because you’re sending them to people you haven’t met before. However, it doesn’t mean that they are spam emails; cold emails are just a way to say hello to your potential clients. 

The main purpose of cold emails is to help you find clients by expanding your network and finding an audience. Compared to other marketing methods, cold emails are the fastest way to get quick answers from recipients. 75% of cold emails are opened within the first hour of sending them, a recent study found. 

Another reason why B2B marketers appreciate cold emails is that they are less intrusive than other marketing methods. Unlike cold calls, cold emails allow recipients to read and respond at their convenience. 

Additionally, cold emails are cost-effective, allowing businesses to reach a large number of potential customers without spending much money. It’s not a surprise why companies prefer to use them to maximize their budgets. 

What are Spam Emails?

Unlike cold emails, spam emails are unwanted bulk emails or SMS sent to random people who didn’t show any kind of interest in a product or a service. Logically, they don’t want to receive emails that offer those products or services. Spam emails are also sent more frequently. According to new research, around 45.6% of all emails were spam in 2023.  

You probably already have a bunch of spam emails. Some of these might be ads for products you’ve never heard of, offers for services that you didn’t ask for, or strange messages from unfamiliar senders. 

Unlike cold emails, spam emailing doesn’t include researching potential clients beforehand. So spam emails are not a targeted campaign. They are just sent to anyone, regardless if they show any interest in a product or a service. 

Every country has its own rules about sending emails. It’s crucial to get familiar with the laws of the country where you are doing business. Many spam emails don’t pass spam filters used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) because they include words that trigger spam alerts or have low-quality content. 

Key Differences Between Cold Email vs. Spam

Cold emails and spam emails are different things, but some new business owners don’t realize the contrast between them. Understanding the key differences between cold emailing and spam emails is crucial for effective business, helping you achieve your sales goals

So, what is the difference between cold email vs. spam? 

Cold Email Provide Value to the Receiver 

One of the most important differences between cold emails and spam is a value that the former is more personalized and targets the audience’s needs, aiming to provide value to the recipient. In contrast, spam emails are generic, offering a recipient something that they didn’t ask for. 

A cold email reaches out to a potential client with a business purpose. The most effective cold emails include carefully created, personalized message that offers a specific product to the recipient. That said, clod emails always include prior research to ensure the message is relevant and tailored to the recipient’s needs.

On the other hand, a spam email is not intentional and it doesn’t bring any value to a recipient. It’s a plain product-centric, introducing a product or a service.

Cold Email is Personalized 

As already mentioned, cold emails are personalized. Unlike spam emails, which are mass-sent, without previous client research, cold emails are tailored to meet the specific needs of individual recipients, making them more effective in engaging potential customers. Cold emails are personalized, addressing recipients’ needs. 

When creating a cold email, you should add a personal touch. This shows your recipients that you’ve taken the time to learn about them and how your product or service could help them. It makes a big difference, making your cold email stand out as genuine instead of being seen as spam. 

Cold emails include Follow-ups 

Another key difference between cold emails and spam is the follow-ups. In cold email campaigns, there are follow-ups, which help inform prospects more about your products or services. 

Follow-ups aren’t just to sell, but to help your prospects. Usually, a good cold email series includes two to three follow-ups that emphasize benefits, talk more about problems your product can solve, and provide examples of how others have used it successfully. 

Cold emails are buyer-centric 

Another thing that you should know about cold emails is that they are buyer-centric. They are entirely crafted for the person you’re emailing and how your product or service can help them. 

On the other hand, spam emails are more about selling the product and less about the person getting the mail. Before sending a cold email, you do research on the person you’re emailing and make sure your product is a good fit for them. But spam emails are often the same message sent to lots of people without any changes. 

Cold Emails Follow Data Compliance 

Cold emails are data-compliant, following laws and policies in the sender’s area. The sender keeps data clean and ensures that emails are not marked as spam. This also reduces their bounce rate and ensures the right email addresses. 

All cold emails comply with the CAN-Spam Act. Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) is a law that deals with unwanted commercial electronic messages. 

Cold Emails have a Pre-Warm-Up Routine

Cold emails require a pre-warm-up routine, which includes sending emails to a small number of recipients to build a good sender reputation. This ensures that future emails are more likely to reach the inbox instead of being marked as spam. It also allows time to monitor and adjust the email strategy for better results. 

Unlike cold emails, spam emails are just sent in bulk without previous warm-ups. This hurts their reputation and affects their ability to deliver emails, which is why many spam emails end up in spam traps. 

How to Craft Perfect Cold Email?

Every experienced business owner knows how important it is for their messages to reach the right audience and not get lost. Although it might be challenging, crafting the right emails is crucial if you want to reach your audience and achieve your marketing goals. 

There are several steps you can take to ensure your email doesn’t end up in the junk or trash folders.

  • Create a tailored email list. Focus on building a tailored email list with a specific buyer persona. This will improve response rates. Make sure you include all of your LinkedIn connections in this research. 
  • Craft a perfect email. A perfect email should be simple and easy to understand. The basics are simple: grab attention and offer value. Your email should be short and straight to the point, making it easier for the recipient to take action. 
  • Ensure clean and up-to-date data. Make sure that you’re clear with the reason why you’re emailing, explaining how your product is relevant to the recipient. 
  • Use email marketing platform. Finally, you can invest in an email marketing platform that can help you avoid triggering spam filters. It could also be helpful to craft personalized emails quickly and create automated follow-ups. 

Bonus: Method to Keep your Email from getting Flagged as Spam

If you are wondering what happens if your emails aren’t crafted properly, the answer is simple. They end up as spam emails. Your recipient will probably never see them because they’ll end up in a spam folder.

We offer you several useful tips to help you prevent this from happening: 

  • Avoid catchy lines. It might seem like a good idea to use a catchy line to grab a recipient’s attention, but it’s not a good strategy. A subject line should not be catchy but informative, telling the recipient what the email is about. For instance, don’t say “free gift just for you” if you don’t really offer a gift. Also, words like “limited offer” or “urgent” can trigger spam filters, so it’s best to avoid them. 
  • Delete email addresses that are no longer active. Every now and then you should check on your connections and remove those that are no longer aligned with your goals. The same goes for inactive emails. If you send emails to inactive addresses, it will end up with hard bounces. This will alarm spam filters, resulting in your future emails being marked as spam and sent straight to the spam folder.
  • Give recipients the option to unsubscribe. One of the strategies in leading a successful cold email campaign is to allow your recipients to unsubscribe from your email list if they are no longer interested or don’t want commercial emails. Otherwise, you might get spam complaints and face compliance problems. Many companies include an unsubscribe link or instructions for opting out in a single lenient at the end of their emails. You can also tell recipients to reply to the email and ask to be removed from your mailing list. 
  • Make sure your email address is authenticated. Making sure your email address is valid prevents your emails from being flagged as spam. This involves verifying your email with Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) records. SPF identifies if the sender uses an authorized mail server, DKIM applies an encrypted signature to verify authenticity, and DMARC helps validate email protection by combining both authentication methods. 
  • Use proper formatting. Crafting a proper cold email means using proper formatting. Avoid bold text because it might look too aggressive. Similarly, long lists should be avoided as they can make your emails too lengthy and overwhelming for a reader. Also, keep the font size consistent throughout the body of your email to maintain a professional look and ensure readability. Instead, focus on concise and clear language to communicate your message effectively.
Is cold emailing considered spam?

No, cold emailing is not considered spam. It’s a legitimate form of communication between businesses and potential clients, who might be interested in offered products and services.

Are cold emails illegal?

No, cold emails are not illegal. However, they must comply with various regulations, such as the CAN-SPAM Act and similar laws, to ensure they are sent responsibly and ethically. 

Does cold emailing work anymore?

Yes, cold emailing is still a proven and valuable marketing method. If they are personalized and crafted properly, they can help businesses reach a larger audience and find more clients. 

What is a spam email with a different name?

A spam email with a different name could be referred to as junk mail, unsolicited email, or unsolicited bulk email (UBE). These terms are often used interchangeably to describe unwanted messages sent in bulk to multiple recipients without their consent. 

What qualifies an email as spam?

An email is spam if it’s not personalized and sent in bulk to a recipient who has not given their consent to receive such messages or hasn’t expressed their interest in the offered products or services. Additionally, spam emails usually have misleading headlines and promote products that don’t have value for recipients. 


If you are wondering what cold emails are and how they differentiate from spam emails, hopefully, this blog clears out. Many less experienced business owners worry that their cold emails might end up as spam. And they have a reason for that. Crafting an email that will not end up in a junk folder, might be a challenge. However, after you read this blog, you will probably know how to do it and avoid spam. 

The main thing you should focus on is the difference between cold email and spam. In summary, while cold emails are targeted and personalized messages sent to potential customers with the intention of starting a business relationship, spam emails are unwanted and often deceptive messages sent in bulk. They are sent to a large number of recipients even if they don’t show any interest in them. 

In conclusion, the difference between cold emails and spam emails is significant. A well-crafted cold email has a value that leads to conversion. On the other hand, spam email usually just annoys a recipient, as it’s not crafted to their needs. It’s essential to approach cold emailing with care and consideration to ensure positive outcomes.

Scroll to Top