A cold email is an email you send someone, usually a marketing prospect, with whom you have no prior contact. It is akin to a cold phone call, except it is less obtrusive. It is also markedly different from spam emails, which are unsolicited emails sent to multiple recipients at once. In contrast, a cold email is sent to a lead who has been qualified through research and whose email address has been confirmed.
If you’re like most cold emailing newbies, the question probably hangs in your head: Does it pay off? The long and short of it is yes. In fact, almost 90% of marketers can attest to cold emailing as one of the most effective lead generation techniques they have used. Cold email is, indeed, a handy tool for all businesses for many great reasons, but mainly cost-effectiveness, scalability and, most importantly, efficacy.
Below are five steps to get you started with a cold email campaign that actually works:
1. Laying the Bricks: Your Email List
It’s unbelievable how this step is so ridiculously basic yet taken for granted. Before you can begin a cold email campaign, you obviously need people to receive your emails, so build email list before you take it any further. In other words, your first big step is to define your target customer customer personas.
These are sets of characteristics that are true to the people who will most likely want to hear from you and be your customers eventually. By defining your customer personas, you can create more relevant cold emails and raise your chances of hearing from your recipients.
There are many ways to build your customer personas, and you can use one or a combination of them. The most commonly used approach, however, is manual prospecting. While it takes time, it comes with zero cost to you and usually leads to a very high list quality – that is, an email list with well-qualified prospects. To start prospecting manually, you can explore a whole range of free sources available out there, from search engines to social media networks for more specific queries.
2. Writing a Killer Cold Email
Many things can be said about increasing your cold email response rate, but nothing could be more crucial as the cold email itself. In other words, if you want people to bother responding to you, make sure your email is worth their time. So how exactly do you come up with a killer cold email?
Write an Appropriate Sender Line
Remember, you are sending a cold email, which means the person who receives your email doesn’t know you or is at least not expecting you to communicate. Hence, when filling out the Sender, make sure it makes your recipient want to open your email, read it and actually respond to it instead of throwing your hard work in their junk folder.
Does the format really even matter? Absolutely, but deciding on a format to use will depend on the content of your email, your pre-defined customer persona or personas, and, of course, your goal for sending the email (for example, to sell something, propose a marketing cooperation, etc.). While there are no hard and fast rules, you will do well to remember a few important points when deciding what to write in your Sender line.
For one, you have to make it consistent with the rest of your email. If your email body is formal, your Sender line should be too. Another important consideration is your prospect’s frame of mind. You should also look into your recipient’s communication style and “speak their language.” In the end, it’s about connecting with the other person out there. Unless you make that connection, a response is downright impossible.
Craft an Inviting Subject Line
Your subject line gives your recipient a taste of what’s to come when they open your email. It is also what usually dictates whether or not people your send cold emails to, will actually open them. Needless to say, your subject line should be intriguing enough to lure them into your email body, which is, of course, where you want them to go. But be careful not to spill the beans yet. Remember, you just want to pique their interest at this point.
Like making a good Sender line, writing a perfect Subject line also doesn’t come with concrete rules, but there are some things you need to take note of. First, you need to get inside your prospect’s mind. What kind of subject line will probably make them interested? How can you write this line in a way that makes them believe something worth looking inside your email? Are you offering something that meets their needs or satisfies their curiosity? Remember, this is about them, not you or your business.
Indeed, you have to make them the star of your Subject line, and one of the ways to do that is through personalization. Make them feel that you actually planned on reaching out to them and researched their information well. Mention their name or perhaps their position. Reassure them that you are not some sneaky spammer who uses the machine-gun approach. You don’t just send untargeted emails everywhere while hoping to get a few responses. You’re a conscientious marketer!
Definitely, that goes without saying that you should sound as human as can be - not a bot. Even so, don’t overdo it by sounding too aggressive or formal. The idea is to keep your Subject line as catchy as possible yet still natural. And of course, make sure your Subject line accurately represents the body of your email. Absolutely no click baits, which aren’t only ineffective but repulsive to recipients.
Make Your Introduction Irresistible
After convincing recipient with your From and Subject lines that your email is worth opening, you have, at most, three seconds to get them reading past the first two lines of your email body. That’s the reason you should take time to create a powerful introduction. So how do you write a cold email intro that rocks?
A cold email introduction is often effective up to two to three sentences. You’re not supposed to introduce yourself to your prospect right away but instead talkl about who they are and what they do, their accomplishments, how appreciate their work, and so on. That’s how you get someone interested.
Flattery sure works, but even it has limitations. You don’t want to overdo it and make it cheap, or it can actually harm your chances of getting the response you want, if at all. Definitely, don’t stalk your prospects either. Spare their personal details, such as how many kids they have or where they live, and just focus on details that are relevant to the business relationship you are trying to start.
This is where you express your intention for sending the email – in short, your pitch. You must have read or heard about pitches. It’s something you should painstakingly prepare, full of benefits that give the potential buyer a clear picture of how you can make a give them something they need or want.
But be careful not to sound too sale-sy, or you might lose your chance of being seriously considered. Remember, the primary purpose of a cold email is not to make a sale, but rather to establish a solid business relationship with a prospective customer. Clearly, that requires a personal approach.
Put your prospect at the center of your pitch. Give them as much value as you can realistically offer. Know what problems they have that you can help them solve. Show them that you’re there to help them find a solution.
Add a Call-to-Action
One thing you should never write a cold email without is a call-to-action (CTA), which is how you make your recipient do what you want them to do, whether it’s sending feedback, talking on Skype, buying a product, etc. In any case, make your CTA easy to understand, or you could end up confusing the person and losing your chance of a response.
To increase the chances of your recipients actually taking action, make sure the purpose of your email is clear, and don’t ask them for too much. Don’t ask them to call you if your purpose can be served by a simple click of a button. Even if you were shooting for a personal appointment, your first email is probably not the best time to make it known.
3. Stamping It With Your E-Signature
Without a doubt, your email signature is a crucial marketing tool that you should take advantage of when sending cold emails. E-signatures are particularly important to cold emails as they are a subtle way of taking your recipients to where they can learn more about you. They can embed media files (for example, YouTube video) and link an email to the sender’s website, blog and social media channels. Of course, e-signatures can also be used to promote upcoming events, e-books, whitepaper, or any other type of digital content. If you’re going to use an email signature though – and you should – keep it the same for all of your emails for consistency and credibility.
4. Scaling It Up
Cold emails are basic to most businesses but especially for small enterprises that don’t have huge budgets to spend on full-scale marketing campaigns. If you’re currently sending emails straight out of an inbox and monitoring your progress with a spreadsheet, you could probably use an efficiency boost. It’s always a good idea to invest in tools that let you come up with segmented campaigns as well as use customizable templates and schedule follow-up emails. Not to mention these tools also let you track your email open rates, the clicks made on your links, the responses you’ve received, and many other data that vital to assessing your campaign’s success. You can even check which subject lines and templates are working best for you.
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of using tools is the ability they give you to score your leads. We all know that personalized emails are more likely to get responses and that it’s impossible to totally customize your emails for each contact when you’re scaling up. Still, the need to personalize emails remains. Lead scoring is the technique that lets you do that. By scoring leads, you can determine the level of personalization with which to write an email. The higher the score, the higher the level. The usual metrics used to score leads include industry, position and seniority and whether or not the lead is a customer of your competitor.
Once you have assigned scores to your leads, you can use those to decide whether you should use simple merge fields to customize your email based on name and company. Of course, this requires some serious research on your prospect’s background, allowing you to write an impressively personalized email (again, don’t overdo it if you don’t want to scare them off).
5. Following Up and How It Makes a Difference
Never assume that just because people don’t reply to your first email, they’re aren’t interested at all. Don’t remove them from your email list just yet. In fact, this is not something that should surprise you. In a study, only 18% of recipients responded to the first cold email sent to them by a marketer, but 27% replied after receiving their sixth. Of course, while following up is important, not all kinds of follow-ups are good for your campaign.
For example, never ever spam. Make sure there’s a bigger gap between one email and the next email as you go along. You can follow up on your first email after two to three days, but after that, wait a few weeks. Finally, avoid sending follow-up emails manually, except for a handful of highly qualified leads. You don’t want to waste your time when there are many tools out there that can let you create follow-up sequences automatically.