I have a simple rule for dealing with incoming email: If you send me an email and I don’t know you, I need to know in about 15 seconds how reading this email is going to make me more money. If, after 15 seconds of reading, I don’t know that, I move on to the next email.
And that’s generous. I’m on the other side frequently, sending cold emails to busy people, demanding their attention over everything else they’ve been thinking about. I know I’m not going to get a lot of their time or attention, and everyone, consciously or unconsciously, filters the same way: Is this (email|blog post|product|person I meet) going to help me get more (money|power|fame|women)? If not, move on.
Studies show that the average short term attention span of an adult is about 8 seconds. Considering that the average adult reading speed is about 250 words per minute, or 4.167 words/second, that gives you about 33 words to convince your audience that devoting their attention to you will help them achieve their goals.
Cold emails work. But you only get one shot, and about 33 words.