So you’ve written what you think is the perfect email, listing all the “awesome” features your product or service offers. But for some reason, your prospects aren’t responding to your email.

What’s wrong with them? They’re missing out on a great opportunity to work with you and your amazing company, right?!

Not so fast.

When you send cold emails, you’re a stranger to your audience. They don’t know anything about your company and how awesome it is, nor do they care. If you want to connect with them and receive a response, you have to tap into their emotions, and play on their existing fears and desires.

There’s nothing compelling or exciting about an email that starts out with an impersonal introduction, only to dive into half a dozen different bullet points that list out boring features. If you want your prospects to open, read and respond to your cold emails, you must be considerate of their needs and time.

These three steps will help you start many more warm conversations through cold email, and also help prevent you from becoming blacklisted as a spammer.

Step #1. Build a List of Prospects That Actually Needs Your Product

There’s no point to investing time and money on sending cold emails if you have a crummy list of leads that was put together poorly. List quality can make or break your outbound email efforts before they ever start, whether you’re targeting 20 companies or 2000. Poor contact data results in high bounce rates (anything above a 10% bounce rate can start to give you problems), which will prevent your emails from inboxing, and can potentially even get your IP address blacklisted. This will not only affect your deliverability, but every email sent from everyone at your company who is on that same IP.

Being lazy and careless by sending to an untargeted list also means that either your email copy must be extremely vague and generic to appeal to such a wide audience, or that your emails are not relevant to the majority of your audience. Sending the same email to a VP Marketing and a Chief Financial Officer won’t work well, since those roles have very different pain points and priorities.

Pro Tip #1: Think quality over quantity when it comes to outbound email, and you will have much better results.

Before you start writing a single cold email, clearly define all the criteria of your “buyer persona” as much as you can. That starts with defining their role, but can include details like company size, industry, location, etc. You can segment your list however you want, as long as everyone in your buyer persona has the same needs and would have the same use case for your product.

EXAMPLE: Let’s target VP Sales at SaaS companies with 200-500 employees.

Step #2: Take Your Prospects to the “Meat” As Fast As You Can

You’re not the only person vying for your prospects’ time and attention, so you need to grab their attention fast. The purpose and benefit of your email needs to be crystal clear so your prospects can understand your point within seconds.

The best way to create a compelling message is to focus on one core benefit at a time so that they don’t feel distracted or overwhelmed. This concept starts at the subject line, and should continue throughout the email, all the way to the Call to Action.

Highlighting the benefits of your product or service is not the same thing as listing features.

Feature are distinctive attributes, for instance, “we write email campaigns” or “build your prospecting list with automation.” Benefits show the advantage you gain from using something, such as, “our cold email campaigns triple your response rate” or “our software helps you cut your prospecting time in half.”

Benefits are more impactful than features because they elicit emotion in your prospects.

Pro Tip #2: Make a list of benefits before you even start writing a single email. Each benefit/concept can become a different email in your sequence. That will help you create a more powerful email campaign and prevent you from running out of ideas.

Step #3: Build Credibility With Compelling Social Proof

Does your cold email look and feel like a personalized request, or does it resemble something that came from an obnoxious spammer that feels like a robot?

If you want your prospects to respond to a stranger, you need to establish your credibility with them, and there’s no better way to do that than with social proof. Instead of “telling” your prospects how awesome your company is, show them why they should talk to you by giving examples of real results you’ve driven for past or existing customers.

Example of a lame sentence that feels vain and self-obsessed:

[Company Name] is the top localization provider for Fortune 5000 companies.

Instead, what would be better is:

How well does your team understand the cultural nuances of the global markets {!Company} is planning to expand into?

If you start your cold emails by talking all about yourself, you’re signaling to your prospects that you’re your own number one priority. The second example above is much better because it addresses a pain point that your prospects are potentially already contemplating. If you want your prospects to read on and respond, you have to engage them in a thoughtful and relevant introduction.

And if you don’t do that, why on earth would your prospects want to waste their time responding or taking a call with you?

Pro Tip #3: Stats and hard numbers are great for demonstrating the value your company can add, but not without context. Great cold emails paint a “before-and-after picture” of a problem your product/service solved for a customer, and how it improved their business.

Here’s an example of a solid customer case study sentence:

We helped Rango make the global launch of their app, “Space Riot,” a popular hit by localizing it into 25 languages in only 3 months. Road Riot received over 30 million downloads in 2015 and was the No. 1 racing game in the Google Play app store, with 4 million coming from China.

A Few More Tips To Help You Improve Your Cold Emails Even More

So now you know that you need to build a laser-focused list of contacts to prospect from, that every email you send should be focused on a crystal clear benefit, and that the best way to demonstrate your worth is with social proof.

If you’d like to hear more tips on cold email best practices and a step-by-step explanation on how to write effective cold emails in the Human’s Guide to Cold Email by Salesfolk.