Cold emailing is one of the most popular methods of generating new leads, and it’s easy to see why, with low costs and the ability to rapidly scale your efforts. However, although anyone can send a cold email, sending one that consistently generates new business is a skill that—judging from my inbox—few have mastered. At Reply we offer cold outreach automation software that helps thousands of people build their business, and we’ve learned a thing or two about what cold email lead generation hacks work and which don’t—it’s how we built our own business after all. Here’s our simple step-by-step process to get started.
Step 1: Use a high-quality list
Of all the cold lead generation methods and strategies that get talked about, having the solid foundation of a high-quality list is vital. Anything else is simply a waste of time.
What makes a high-quality list? Essentially, it should be made up of verified, current email addresses of people who would clearly benefit from the product or service you’re offering.
You can buy these lists, and there are reputable companies who offer verified lists with guaranteed delivery rates. However, I personally recommend you build your list yourself. Nobody knows your ideal customer as well as you do, which makes you the perfect person to build your prospect list.
Hopefully, you already have an ideal customer persona down on paper, one based on actual data and experience. If you don’t, make that your priority. It’ll make finding your perfect customers a lot easier.
If you’re struggling to find those email addresses, you can either use a scraper to collect the contact data from websites and social networks or use a tool such as Name2Email to find the details.
Whether you’ve bought your list or built it yourself, I’d still check the email addresses are still in use using an email verification tool. There are many dedicated apps available, or you can use the built-in tools from software like Reply to do the job.
Step 2: Create a pitch that gets replies
Once you know who you’re talking to, then you need to find out what to say.
A typical newbie mistake is to sell sell sell with your first email. Would you buy anything from a complete stranger? Then don’t expect your prospects to either. Instead, your first email should focus exclusively on your prospect and what’s in it for them.
Far too many cold emails I receive go to great lengths to talk about the sender, how long they’ve been established, what awards they’ve received, and what a big shot they are. We’ve all met people in real-life who love to talk about nothing but themselves, and we’ve all been quick to make our excuses and leave as soon as possible. The difference is, when you send a message like that, your recipients don’t have to make any excuses. They can just delete your email, and maybe mark it as spam for good measure.
Instead, strike up a conversation, with your recipient at the center of it. Craft your message around them. An easy way to tell if you’re on the right track is to compare how many times you use words like ‘I’ and ‘me’ compared to ‘you.’ Keep the first to a minimum and use plenty of the second.
Always have your prospect, their problems and challenges at the top of your mind when you write your email, and finish off with a sincere question designed to get a response (rather than a sale).
Step 3: Follow Up
If you’re sending a single email and expect results, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. With the average business receiving hundreds of emails a day, even the best email may be missed, ignored, or ‘saved’ for a more convenient time (that never comes). In that case, the best way of making sure your email campaign is effective is to send multiple emails. I’ve even spoken with people who only bother opening emails after they’ve received a follow-up, reasoning if the sender couldn’t be bothered to send a follow-up then it couldn’t have been that important in the first place.
While it’s perfectly acceptable to send your follow-ups manually, it’s important to have a system in place. This could be as simple as a calendar reminder to follow-up. However, convincing yourself you’ll remember all by yourself is a mistake. The best cold email software solutions will make it easy to automate your follow-ups, sending a sequence of emails that automatically stop when you get a reply.
There’s no need to overthink your follow-up; in our experience, a simple reminder of your original email is sufficient. For this reason, we recommend following up in the original email thread, so they don’t have to go searching their inbox for the original email.
Step 4: Review and Optimize
I’ve got a secret to share with you, one that’s not shared often. No matter how many templates you download, no matter how many posts on cold emailing you read, no matter what software you use, no-one can tell you the best email to write for your business. There are hundreds of factors that’ll go into writing a top-performing email, and it’s almost impossible to write the best one on your first go.
Writing emails for your business is an iterative process, where you look to improve over time. This is one reason why it’s so important to have proper email software that allows you to see the results of your campaigns and test different variations easily. Otherwise, you’re just making guesses, with no way to tell what works with your specific market and what doesn’t.
The main thing to remember with any kind of testing is to change one thing at a time. If you’ve tried a new introduction, offer, and CTA all in the one email and see a change, you won’t know what’s caused it. If you’re anything like me you’ll have so many ideas you want to try out that trying each one individually and waiting for the results can be tricky. However, your patience will pay off when you see the results.
Cold emailing is as popular as ever, and it’s still possible to stand out from the noise and find new business leads. By emailing the right people, creating a compelling message, following up and measuring the results, you can build your business effectively with cold email.
Lucy, VP of Marketing @ Reply. Lucy is #3 employee in Reply with 8+ years of experience in different fields of B2B Marketing. Her main areas of focus are SEO, Content Marketing, Analytics, CRO and a bit of PPC for SaaS companies. Fond of working, traveling and Sci-Fi.