There’s more to successful cold-sales email than just the words you write.

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My email inbox is a trainwreck. Yes, I’m one of those people with 1,200 unread emails in their inbox –yet I’m constantly checking my email and deleting, archiving and replying. Somehow, it’s never enough.

Related: How to Write Cold Emails That Get Opens and Get Sales

And that’s no wonder, with 205 billion emails being sent every day, according to Radicati. That number is only expected to increase, which is bad news for my inbox, but good news for sales professionals.

Email inboxes, in fact, have become prime real estate for businesses. MarketingSherpa found that 72 percent of consumers it surveyed said they preferred to communicate with businesses through email. But only 24 percent of sales emails are opened, according to TOPO.

So what are sales reps doing wrong?

The problem could be with what you’re writing, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are other factors involved in sending cold emails to prospects. Here are five of my top tips for increasing the chances of prospects not only opening, but also reading, your emails:

1. Form a connection.

If you’re using a template and sending mass emails to hundreds of contacts, your emails are going to feel very chilly. The key to getting your cold emails read is to make them feel less cold.

Related: 4 Cold Email Subject Lines That Generated $4 Million in Revenue

You want to form a connection with the prospect right off the bat, and that means doing your research. Before you even send that email, learn everything you can about your contact, such as his or her age, profession, industry, interests and preferences.

Then, use what you’ve learned to tailor your email. Figure out this person’s pain points and then focus on how you can solve them. The more you learn, the better you’ll be able to connect with them once you send the email.

2. Warm up cold leads.

While you’re researching, know that there’s even more you can do to make your emails feel less cold. You need to make yourself known and start building your connections before you ever hit “send.”

When I get an email asking me for something, I always put more value on the contacts who have not only done their research, but have reached out to me in other ways before emailing me.

To become more familiar with your own contacts, consider following them on social media, commenting on articles they’ve written and engaging with them in forums. Get onto their radar so that when it comes time to send your email, your name will already be familiar to them. People are much more likely to read emails from someone they know than from someone they don’t.

3. Show validation.

When you come to my website, one of the first things you’ll see is what I do (“I grow companies”) and whom I have worked with in the past. This brings credibility to my website and encourages readers to learn more about me and even contact me. You can do the same with your emails.

Your prospects don’t want to get an email from just anybody. They want to know who’s emailing them. Sharing a bit of information that establishes your credibility can go a long way in getting your emails read.

Share your qualifications or even articles you’ve written that show your thought leadership. If you have a mutual friend you can mention, even better. Do whatever you can to show that you know what you’re talking about and make the reader stop and pay attention.

4. Upgrade your signature.

Most people have boring email signatures. These usually consist of the sender’s name, title and maybe a phone number. But you can do a lot more to make your email signature more attention-grabbing.

Consider adding a link to an article, a case study or a webinar that you or your company is promoting. This provides another opportunity for your prospects to engage with you. Even if they aren’t ready to purchase your products or services, this is a great way to share information that will allow them to learn more.

5. Follow up.

You could follow every tip on this list, write a beautiful email and yet still get no response. It happens to the best of us. But the thing is, your first email doesn’t have to be your only chance to connect with your prospects.

Most salespeople don’t bother following up after they send an email. But, according to HubSpot, 80 pecent of sales require at least five follow-ups.

Related: 4 Cold Email Subject Lines That Generated $4 Million in Revenue

The fact that recipients don’t read your email may not mean they aren’t interested. Maybe they were busy that day and missed the email or deleted it by accident. Or maybe your subject line wasn’t clear. Following up with another email ensures no prospect falls through the cracks.

What’s your biggest challenge with cold emails? Let me know in the comments:

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