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Maximize Your Business Growth – The Anatomy of a Successful Cold Email

In recent years, the digital marketing landscape has evolved immensely, with a wealth of strategies from SEO and paid search, to social media and content marketing, utilized to accomplish brands’ varying marketing goals. But while the channels and options are there, not every company has the resources to tap into all the options available – particularly when it comes to lead generation.

Successful Cold Email

One option for those who fall into this category is a strategy that’s often overlooked – a simple and cost-effective approach to generating leads—cold emailing. 

What is Cold Email Marketing?

As suggested by its name, a cold email is one that’s sent to a prospective customer who has had no previous relationship with your company. It’s designed to be a personal conversation – similar to the one you’d send to a business acquaintance (except the recipient doesn’t know you).  

Wait, Isn’t That Spam?

The vital difference between a cold email and spam is that the former is a personalized email sent to a targeted business audience, while the latter is sent in bulk, often with misleading identities and subject lines. The Federal Trade Commission has outlined the rules under the CAN-SPAM act here. 

How Not to Be Considered Spam?

LeadFuze notes some key elements of how to avoid violating the CAN-SPAM act. Some of the key elements include:

  • Identify who you are
  • Don’t use misleading subject lines – If you’re cold-emailing to pitch a product, say so – don’t say they’ve won a trip somewhere just to get them to open the email.
  • If the email’s an ad, say so
  • Include your business address
  • Provide an opt-out option – As noted by LeadFuze, this doesn’t necessarily mean using an unsubscribe link. Instead, you can say “Do let me know if you’re not the right person to contact about this.”

Can Cold Emails Still Work?

Cold Emails

Despite all the digital advancements the world has seen over the years, email remains one of the more personal channels to connect with. While you can target your audience with ads, and sponsored posts, they still need to come across your marketing materials. An email goes straight to their inbox, and everybody checks their emails at least once a day.

There have been many success stories attributed to cold email outreach. Gabriel Shaoolian, founder and executive director at DesignRush, says that improving his outreach approach for his digital agency, Blue Fountain Media, has led to $20 million of new business in just the last few years – largely through cold email outreach.

Cold email marketing allows you to reach out to thousands of leads, with minimal marketing spend. It’s also much less obtrusive (than, say, a cold call), and allows your target to get back to you on their own time.

But before you get on your laptop and start sending emails, you need to understand a couple of key elements when it comes to email marketing: 

Find Your Prospects

Sending emails to the right people is the most important aspect of email marketing. As noted by Forbes, to help you identify who to send your emails to, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who uses my product?
  • What industries are they in?
  • Who is the potential decision maker?
  • Who might be interested in my product but doesn’t know it yet?

Know Your Customer

A crucial element of a successful email outreach is personalization. And one of the best ways to convey that is by being able to speak your prospect’s language. If you’re not sure, you can check out their tweets, LinkedIn updates to get an idea of their industry, role, and priorities. 

Quick Tips on How to Write a Sound Cold Email

Writing a Cold Email

1. Craft the Perfect Subject Line

As pointed out by HubSpot, the best email body copy in the world will be all for naught if your email remains unopened. This is why a compelling email subject line is necessary, especially when it comes to a cold email. A vague subject line that reads “The No. 1 Dating App in Europe” will do nothing for most people.

Think of what you’re really trying to say, and trim it down between 5-7 words. Make sure that those few words are able to convey the interest of your recipient, as well as what you want out of the email exchange.

2. Tailor the Message to the Recipient

The best way to do this is to put time into understanding who the person you’re sending the email to is—what interests them, and what they want. This will also enable you to make it clear why you’re reaching out to them specifically. As noted by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), people are more motivated to help others when they feel uniquely qualified to do so.

3. Get to the Point

There is a very short window before you lose your prospect’s attention and get your email deleted. Get straight to the value proposition and skip the pleasantries and introductions for later. Inboxes are full, and people are busy.

One key to accomplishing this is by writing like a human. A great way to turn off a recipient from the rest of your email is to sound like a marketing copy. Make it sound like something you would send to a colleague. If it takes too much effort to read and respond to, you’ve already lost.

4. Provide a Solution

Instead of talking about your product’s features, talk about the potential benefits it can bring to your prospect’s pain points. Paint a concise picture of why your company is the answer, and how you’ve helped others with similar concerns. This should be done within the first paragraph.

5. Use Social Proof and Highlight Results

You may have done your homework on your prospect, but they have no clue who you are. Showing a common connection (be it a peer, or a competitor) is one of the strongest forms of social proof you can offer.

If that’s not an option, point to anything that’s relevant to that person and your request (authority, credibility, social status). As noted by HBR, the more important you are, the more likely you are to get a response.

As well, if you can briefly provide a link to numbers that back it up, put that in there. Say you’re inviting someone to appear in your podcast, it would be much more enticing if they knew that 100,000 people are regular viewers.

6. AIDA (Attention – Interest – Desire – Action)

  • An opening line like, for example, a reference to something the recipient retweeted earlier in the day is one sure fire way to catch their attention.
  • Build on this by piquing their interest by providing a reason on why they should engage with you.
  • FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) is commonly used to appeal to people’s desire
  • Point them directly to what you want them to do after reading the email

7. Add a Relevant CTA

Whether it’s asking for 15 minutes in their calendar to schedule a call, or telling them you’ll be in town within the week to discuss your proposition further, it is important that you provide a clear CTA that’s relevant to your recipient. You can do this by asking a question like “Who would be the best person to speak to about this?” – something that could also further a conversation.

8. Include All Your Contact Info

Putting your contact info in your email signature not only validates yourself, it also allows your prospect to check you out. You can even include links to your site that you want them to be aware of, subtly promoting more of what it is you do.

9. Be Careful with Images

Yes, the digital world is increasingly getting more visual by the day, but if you want an email that appears personalized, and sincere, using too much flashy imagery might make your email look too PR-ish. If you really must, you could include all relevant images on a landing page in the link you provide.

10. Track Your Emails

There is no perfect equation to get emails opened, that’s why the most successful cold email outreach campaigns take time and tinkering before they hit the spot. This is where tracking your emails, and split testing copies come in. See what doesn’t work, and improve on it. Understand what does, and do more of it.

Worst Cold Email Examples 

As pointed out by Proposify, there are a number of cold email no-nos from the get-go:

1. Too Vague – I mention hearing about Kyle’s company from a digital agency without saying which one exactly. It carries on with the vagueness by using terms such as “technology company in the payment space,” (could be anybody) and “create a significant revenue stream for you” (without showing proof).

2. Doesn’t Give a Reason for CTA – Julie asks for a call before giving Kyle a reason to agree to do so.

Worst Cold Email Examples 

3. Pretty Scary – While it ticks off some of the components of a good cold email (recipient’s first name, specific subject line), it says nothing about who the person is and the services they offer. Worst, they’re asking for a mailing address after all that ambiguity.

Worst Cold Email Examples 

4. Where to Begin? – Maybe the subject line, which is—absent. Then, there’s the confusing formatting (all caps, ellipses). To add to that, nowhere in the email does it suggest what company the sender is from, or if she knows who the recipient is. 

Worst Cold Email Examples 

Best Cold Emails Examples

1. Personalized and Gives Value Proposition Right Away – Within just one line, the email already shows that it understands what the recipient cares about (understanding customer experiences). It also provides a demo of the sender’s product interacting with the recipient’s website (showing he did his research) – and a CTA which will only take 30 seconds. Perfection.

Best Cold Emails Examples

2. Value & Validation – Not only has the sender shown that he’s done his research, he’s actually a customer. He also quickly drops conveniently that an industry leader (KISSmetrics) trusts his work, while also linking to the sample work.

Best Cold Emails Examples

3. A Unique Format Provides Wireframe – While the email breaks the rule of talking about yourself instead of the recipient and what you can do for them, the sender does so by highlighting his success. And because successful people tend to want to work with other successful people, he catches the recipient’s attention and gets away with it. The sender also provides a wireframe for the app idea he presents, showing that he’s already done the legwork. 

Best Cold Emails Examples

Types of Cold Emails 

1. Introductory

It’s what it says it is—an email to introduce yourself, what you do, how you know the recipient – basically a relationship-building email, where you aren’t proposing anything…yet.

2. Hard Sell Email

It’s not the type of cold email that has the highest success rate, but when you catch your prospect at the right time and circumstance, a hard sell email can generate a positive response and a quick sale.

3. Soft Sell Email

On the contrary, a soft sell email is one that introduces your company and value it could potentially bring to your recipient. Its tone is similar to an introductory email, but with a slightly more sales-centric approach.

4. Social Media Email

This type of email is often sent in hopes of establishing a connection on social media. Another, relationship building tool, it also provides the recipient with your email address, which could expedite the process of setting up a meeting in the future.

5. Blog Post Email

This type of email accomplishes two key things:

  • Provides valuable content to the recipient
  • Establishes thought leadership

Closing a sale isn’t the only way cold emails can help your business, and this type of email is an example of that.

6. Name Drop Email

It’s basically an introductory email, with the added value of name dropping to strengthen your credibility. It’s a good way to quickly establish trust, provided you name drop the right connection.

7. Advice Email

The idea behind this type of email is to establish a relationship by flattering the recipient enough for them to give you the advice you’re asking for.

8. Free Help Email

On the flipside, this email gives a background on your expertise, and the type of free help you’re offering. While it’s obvious you’ll be pitching a sale in the future, everybody appreciates free advice.

The Takeaways

Is cold email outreach part of your marketing efforts? If you’re looking for a way to generate leads and validate future business ventures, without requiring too much of your marketing spend, this could be a strategy that gives your company the boost it needs.

It has worked for countless of companies before, there’s no reason it can’t for you. Good luck!

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Naida Alabata

Naida is born and raised in Manila, Philippines and a graduate of BS Entrepreneurship. She's an entrepreneur and a junior content marketing specialist for various online brands. She writes mostly about branding, entrepreneurship, business development, and marketing.

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