Cold outreach is part of doing business. At some point in every entrepreneur’s career, they’ve had to pick up the phone or open their computer and contact people they’ve never spoken to before. Even if you’ve never done this running your own company, you’ve probably gained cold outreach experience as you ‘smiled and dialed’ at your first sales job or sat carefully crafting an email to a recruiter.

Cold email outreach has replaced the cold call as the main doorway to new business relationships. They’re less intrusive and it’s easier to personalize a message that resonates with whoever you’re trying to contact. You also don’t have to deal with the awkward rejections. Even better, with cold email outreach, you weed out the people too passive to turn you down over the phone or face to face. The folks who respond to your emails have a genuine interest in what you’re offering. That means higher conversion rates and more satisfied clients.

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Getting the email right, though, is key. When you enter into the world of email marketing, you need to understand that there’s a ton of competition. The people getting your messages are possibly getting hundreds of emails a day. Your job is to make your email stand out from the rest, and motivate them to take the time to read and take action.

With the right approach, you can match your services with clients who need them. Targeting is crucial. Done right, cold email outreach can supercharge your business and grow your network bigger than ever before.

Cold Email Outreach vs Bulk Emails

As you start crafting your email outreach strategy, you need to separate what you’re doing from the more common marketing approach that uses bulk or spam emailing. In 2020 and beyond, business clients and even consumers don’t want to consume mass-produced content. What they want is something crafted and catered to them specifically.

Stay out of the spam folder by spending time learning about the people you are marketing to. That one or two sentences in your email that let them know you have put some time into the background will make a difference. On the other hand, bulk emails could turn off potential clients to any future marketing attempts. Designing personalized emails that speak directly to whoever you’re emailing is the way to go.

Rules Around Email Outreach You Should Know

Currently, the rules around cold email outreach and email marketing, in general, are much more open than restrictions around cold calling. Still, the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. has laid out some rules that you should be aware of.

Avoid Misrepresentation – Stay true to your company and yourself in any email outreach. Don’t stretch the truth or make any false claims in your marketing material. That includes clearly stating who you are (your name, company name, etc.) and stating your purpose in your subject line.

Include Your Business Address – People on the receiving end of your marketing campaigns have the right to certain company information. Include your name and business address somewhere in the email. Your signature is often a good place.

Give Them the Option to Opt-Out – You should make opting out of your emails or other forms of outreach easy. Being upfront about this exhibits confidence in your message and products or services.

Disclose Ads – If your email includes an ad, a coupon, or some other offer, you need to disclose it by labeling it as such.

Track Your Contact History – You should maintain a record of how many times, when, and with what you’ve contacted potential customers. Not only is this a critical part of a successful marketing strategy, but it will ensure compliance and make any handover to a marketing firm or some other partner easier.

In general, most people have a radar that lets them know when they’ve sent too many emails to someone, misrepresented information, or been too aggressive in their outreach efforts. Stay inside the lines by making contacts appropriate with regards to timing and content.

Getting Your Cold Email Outreach Off the Ground

Okay, so now you know the boundaries, let’s get started. You’re steps away from designing a killer email system that is going to drive business and produce the results you want. Understand that this isn’t going to happen all at once. Just like with other forms of marketing like ad purchasing, email marketing is nuanced and requires continual reassessment. You’ll learn, though, over time when to make the right tweaks and what approach to use at a certain point along the sales cycle. Here are some principles to live by when you’re getting started with email outreach.

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Start Small

One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs and other businesses make with cold email outreach is being too wordy. Think for a moment how you use email at work. You can probably count on your fingers the number of people for whom you’d sit and read through a paragraphs-long email. For most emails, however, you may read the first few sentences and quickly scan the rest before deleting or marking for later.

Your leads and potential clients are the same. Your outreach emails need to be short and sweet. They should communicate why you’re reaching out and how you can help their business. Don’t tell them how great you are, try to point out why they need whatever you can provide.

Use a Different Email Address

Don’t use your email address or main work email. In the beginning, you’re going to make mistakes, a lot of them. Cold email outreach is all about experimenting with your content length, your tone, and your pitch. It’s a constant adjustment, so you don’t want to risk your main email being sent to the junk while you learn the ropes.

It’s much safer to set up a new domain to use for outbound marketing. Also, that domain needs time to become established. Email filters are programmed to notice when they’re getting messages from a brand new domain or address. They’ll block it and send it straight to the spam folder. A good rule of thumb is to wait a few weeks and send it around to colleagues so they can respond and lift the new email address’ legitimacy. You’ll need to do this manually for a while before automating any email outreach to increase your chances of not getting blocked.

Understand Sending Limits

Your email provider likely has a limit on how many emails you can send an hour or a day. Gmail, for example, limits you to 20 emails an hour and 500 a day total. Exceeding these limits could flag your account. Your provider will even stop your account if they feel that you’re spamming. Remember, companies like Google, GoDaddy, Microsoft, and other providers have a reputation to protect as well. If their servers get associated with spam, it will push other users away from their platforms.

Use Real Data

Using your real name, company information, and other legitimate data will help get you into prospect inboxes. Make sure your new email addresses have a real name, recent photo, and other pertinent information. Additionally, plugins like Rapportive will help your leads confirm your identity and view some of your recent social media activity on platforms like LinkedIn. That’s important. It’s very likely that, even if a lead finds your offer or outreach email intriguing, they’re going to want to find out more about who sent it. Make it easy for them so a rapport can be established.

Avoid the Spray and Pray Approach to Stay Out of Spam

Your leads and how they react to your email outreach matters a lot. Even if you spend a ton of time crafting the best copy in the world if they don’t open your email, you’re likely going to get shut down. While your email is establishing a reputation, take the time to search out high-quality leads that will help your delivery rates. The number of people who move your email to spam or junk will affect whether your other leads will even get the message in their inbox. You don’t want to end up on a spam list, so don’t just push out outreach emails willy nilly. Otherwise, it’s going to take you even longer to establish new email addresses and start the process all over.

This also includes what’s called your bounce rate. The bounce rate is the percentage of your emails that are sent to either an old email address, one that’s misspelled, or some other error that prevents delivery. Email server algorithms are designed so that even if a small percentage of your emails bounce, it will affect your ability to get inboxed. Don’t rely on your email provider’s validation system either. They’re better than they’ve ever been, but still not as reliable as you need them to be considering how much work you’re putting in to get to this point.

Stay Away From Spam Trigger Words

Certain words will trigger spam filters and send your emails straight into junk folders. The list changes too, so you need to stay on top of what’s going to set the filters off. Words like “opportunity”, “make money”, “work from home”, “cheap”, “discount” and hundreds of others will shoot down your best efforts. The list is so long that it’s hard to avoid having any in a cold outreach email where you’re trying to tell a lead who you are and what you do. That’s why it’s so important that you research your leads and personalize your communication on the first outreach attempt.

Segment Your Leads to Increase Personalization

Too many people think they need to find a ton of leads and shove them all in the same bucket and wait for the responses to roll in. Reality is much different. We’ve already touched on this a few times, but your emails need to be personalized to your audience. How many mass emails have you responded to in the last year? Exactly.

Shrink your outreach size into small segments of around 20 leads. That will help you write a more effective, relatable copy that will get into inboxes and garner responses. Your open rates will be higher along with every other indicator that will eventually result in higher conversion and ultimately, revenue. Here’s an example of an email that uses real data that’s pertinent to the lead:

“Hi {FirstName},

Steve here from X Company – we help sales teams with lead generation.

I’m writing because I noticed some of your colleagues at {Company} have visited our site in the last few weeks.

I’m wondering if they were trying to figure out how {Company} might improve cold outreach and lead generation?

It might be a good idea to have a 10-minute chat to find the best approach. Let me know if we can set something up.

Thank you for your time.”

Segmenting also minimizes the impact of any errors. Have you ever written and sent an email and then discovered that there was a dead link or some spelling errors in the copy? Avoid doing that to your entire lead list all at once by segmenting your audience.

Draft Multiple Versions for Each Segment

It doesn’t make sense to draft an entirely new email for each lead unless your conversion rate is through the roof. You’re most likely going to see the most success from creating multiple templates of the same general outreach message. That way, you can easily personalize them to your audience without everyone getting the same email. By sending a few different emails to a segment, you can track what kind of tone or wording gets you the best results and adjust from there.

There are thousands of email templates online that you can buy or read for free. The better ones will cost you more money, but it’s a good idea to take a look at what other businesses are using and seeing some success with.

Keep Your Email Low Key

The most important thing in your outreach is getting into the inbox and opened. Responses are great, but no one’s going to respond to an email they can’t read because they never saw it. Think about how you would email an old friend or colleague you haven’t spoken to for a while. The tone is casual and the copy is to the point. Don’t spice up your email with a bunch of images, links, or fancy fonts. Keep things basic to increase your odds of getting read.

Here’s an example of a casual email that’s to the point and avoids being intrusive:

“Hi {FirstName}

My name’s Steve from X Company– we help sales teams with lead generation.

I’m reaching out because I went through your Linkedin profile and saw that you are {Job Title} at {Company}. We’ve helped companies in {Industry} automate outreach to existing or potential clients. As {Standardized Job Title}, I thought you might be interested in some of our features.

I’m wondering if you’d find this kind of solution useful? If so, I’d be glad to explain how it works.


Schedule Follow-Ups

Email outreach takes consistency to work! Think about any sales position you’ve had in the past. Immediate golden sales opportunities were the exception, not the rule. Most sales come through multiple contacts and by establishing real relationships with leads who become long-term clients. It’s the same with email outreach.

You need to be ready to prep personalized follow-up emails and track a schedule on how often you’re emailing a lead. That data, and at what stage you garner a response, will help you understand your sales flow and make your marketing better as you go.