Cold email outreach isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes grit, fortitude, persistence, and a whole lot of enthusiasm in the face of rejection.
The most successful cold email outreach campaigns are meticulously crafted and battle-tested until every drop of conversion is squeezed out of them. Every detail, from the subject line to the ending, should be optimized for opens and prompt action. Only then can you get your foot in the door to do what you do best.
This might sound overwhelming, but it doesn't need to be. You just need a winning formula. It’s entirely possible and likely that if you start your email campaign from scratch today, you can start seeing results tomorrow – especially if you follow some tried-and-true best practices and a proven game plan from the beginning.
TIP: Email marketing tools can help you manage cold email campaigns. Check out reviews of the best email marketing software.
Determine your desired results
What is it you really want to achieve with your cold email outreach campaign?
Everything starts with a plan, but you can’t start planning until you know precisely what you want to accomplish. It could be spreading brand awareness, prospecting, or even just letting the masses know about a new feature or product line they didn’t know existed.
Once you’ve nailed down the particulars of what success looks like, you have to make the campaign measurable. There is no bigger waste of time and money than launching a campaign carelessly and halfheartedly.
If you’re seeking brand awareness, then look at click rate. It will tell you not only who opened your email, but also who was engaged enough to click a link and visit your landing page or social media.
For prospecting, the most important metric is actual responses. Everything else is either a vanity metric or helping you diagnose your campaign's strengths and weaknesses.
Whatever you do, don’t stop testing and tweaking your campaign.
Identify the perfect prospects
Similar to cold calling, even the best cold outreach emails are worthless unless you are contacting the right audience. List building or list buying is a critical step that shouldn’t be overlooked or left to chance.
Prospecting isn’t about getting the biggest list, it's about getting the best-qualified list. Social media is a great place to start because it’s free and allows you to learn more about your prospects' interests, goals, and reach. For example, LinkedIn and Twitter are ideal platforms for gathering information because most users leave their profiles public for all to see. Instagram is becoming a solid choice as well, but you'll find more profiles are kept private there. Connecting with prospects can still happen in real life, too. Don't forget about networking and events that you may be able to make a connection, too.
While you can manually scrape social media profiles every day, you can also leverage smart automation tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator or other sales intelligence software. Once you have a rock-solid list, work to stay out of the spam filter by making sure you have prospects' correct contact information. You can’t go wrong with a tool like Voila Norbert that will automatically find anyone’s email address and verify it in real-time, so you can focus your efforts on more important matters.
Craft the ideal email template
Similar to an email newsletter, crafting a winning cold email starts by seizing attention with the right subject line. Subject lines aren’t rocket science, but they shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought either.
Personalize. Use a prospect's name, company name, or any other insider knowledge you have in order to get their attention in the inbox.
Cut to the chase. Be brief and conversational like a colleague or friend would. Doing so makes your email stand out amongst the mountain of lengthy marketing email subject lines.
Be genuine. Don't compromise your credibility. Instead of over-promising, try over-delivering by being specific and useful simultaneously.
The body of your email needs to deliver on any promises or statements made in the subject line. It also needs to start strong to keep recipients' attention, each line building upon the last. Try leveraging social proof, showing how you’ve helped other companies. You could also provide helpful articles, share exclusive statistics or knowledge that could help them, or offer congratulations based on recent accomplishments in their career or industry.
Lastly, your cold email templatemust end on a strong call-to-action. Every email has to come to an end, and when it does, the recipient should know exactly what the next step is. At a bare minimum, ask a question that leaves the door open to continue the conversation more in-depth.
Set a winning email sequence
The best marketers and salespeople know that deals aren’t closed in one email or conversation. With that in mind, you can’t just write one message and expect it to solve all your problems.
Instead, craft your follow-up strategy from the beginning. Know exactly when you'll follow up and what you’ll say if they respond – or if they don’t.
While you’re at it, optimize your email sequence to be sent at the optimal date and time to maximize the chances of conversion. According to research, the best time to send an email is between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., and the best day to send an email is Tuesday.
Remember, these are more guidelines than hard-and-fast rules that can’t be broken. Finding what works for you through trial and error is typically the best course of action.
4 cold email templates
If you're still wondering what your emails should say, here are four cold email templates you can tweak to fit your needs and kickstart your cold email outreach campaign.
1. The 'help me find the right person'
I’d like to discuss [common industry problem, pain point] with your company. We've helped [company name] solve a similar problem, and I'd love to see how we can help [their company] too.
Would you be so kind as to point me toward the best person to talk to and share the best way I can reach them?
Thank you for your help.
2. Highlighting mutual connections
Good morning Michael,
At brunch yesterday with [shared connection or friend’s name], she mentioned you were looking to [solve pain point or achieve specific goal], which happens to be my company’s specialty.
She suggested I reach out to share a recent success we had with [happy relevant customer], where we improved their [goal-related metric] by on-boarding [software, service, etc.].
If that sounds interesting to you, I’m available Thursday at 2 p.m. for a quick call if you are.
3. Showcasing value and social proof
Could your team handle an additional 15 leads a month?
I only ask because after just three sessions with our consulting team, we were able to help our other clients in [their specific industry] see results that impressive. In fact, we just finished working with [notable company or person in their industry], and they are already seeing dramatic results.
I'd love to tell you how we can help [their company] achieve similar results. I have an open slot on my calendar this Friday at 11 a.m. Does that time work for you?
4. Establishing trust through sharing helpful resources
I’ve just finished research for my new [industry] white paper and discovered that [specific pain point] can be a major challenge in your field. Do you find that to be true?
If so, I came across this [piece of content] that I found very useful and thought you might also. It dives into great detail on how [pain point] originated and how the best in the business overcame it. I’ve attached it here if you'd like to check it out.
I’m finding all sorts of useful content like this in my research. Would you be open to chatting more about it over coffee next week?
TIP: Want to learn more about email strategies? Take a look at these email newsletter tips to help you succeed.
Remember, always warm up your cold emails through personalization and don’t hesitate to switch up your winning formula from time to time. Find small tweaks you can test over time. Keep what’s working and ditch the rest. Only then can you truly craft the ultimate cold outreach strategy and start seeing monumental results.
Lastly, be sure to end on a clear and specific call-to-action so your prospect knows exactly what you want and the next logical step. A CTA can differ between sending cold emails for finding a job vs finding prospects, so be sure to craft the right message.
That’s it! You’ve now got the winning formula for mastering your cold email outreach strategy right from the start.
Sujan Patel is the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency helping companies leverage the latest and greatest marketing strategy to fuel their businesses. In addition to running his marketing agency Sujan is also a partner at a handful of SaaS businesses, including Quuu.co, Narrow, Linktexting.com & Mailshake. His SaaS companies help 10,000+ marketers scale their social media, mobile marketing and content marketing efforts.