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cold email outreach

Best practices for cold email outreach

If creating a lead gen marketing strategy feels overwhelming to you, you’re not alone. Nevertheless, email marketing continues to provide the highest ROI of all marketing channels: according to Forbes, email marketers earn $42 in profit per $1 spent on email marketing. As many of you already know, cold emailing has the potential to substantially grow a business’s email marketing reach.

Marketing to your existing, or warm, list of customers is likely well within your comfort zone: you know their past purchase behavior and you probably have thoughtful demographic markers that help you understand what products or services may be of interest to them in the future. They’ve also received emails from you before and have at least an idea of your business. They are almost acquaintances.

Cold email marketing, on the other hand, is reaching out to total strangers, which is more challenging because people are wary of being contacted by someone they don’t know. But there is much to be gained by cold email marketing and now is a great time to start thinking about adding to your marketing plan or improving your existing cold email strategy.

What is cold email outreach?

An adjacent concept to “cold-calling”, cold email outreach is sending emails to people with whom you do not have an established relationship and often have never spoken to before. However, receiving a cold email is much less disruptive to a prospect than receiving a cold call. While people tend to be averse to phone calls from strangers interrupting their day, they tend to be more open to emails from the same strangers because they can view the information when it is convenient for them. 

What is cold email outreach?

One way to market to a list of people who have not given you their email address is to purchase pre-populated lists. While doing so is technically legal in the US, most email service providers don’t like it and many Email Service Providers (ESPs) won’t allow it. So the better alternative is to use a data scraping tool or hire a data scraping service to create a list of targeted potential customers. Data scraping – which is the mass extraction of data, generally for contact information, from a website or social media platform – of public online information is legal and is much more targeted than a purchased list is likely to be.

Are cold emails an effective method of lead gen?

A common phrase in business (and anywhere, for that matter) is “people don’t know what they don’t know.” This appears circular logic at first glance but refers to the fact that people don’t know how to interact with your business or the value you can bring them if they have never heard of you.

Cold outreach gives you the opportunity to introduce your business to target customers who would never otherwise know how your products or services could benefit them.

Another common expression, generally credited to the basketball legend Michael Jordan, is “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” If you don’t try to engage with your target customers, there is little chance they will engage with your business even if you can help them.

How to use cold emails effectively

Poorly written email copy sent to people outside your target audience could result in recipients marking your email as spam. If you acquire a sketchy list of email addresses, it can only make matters worse.

Poor performance on these metrics will start training your prospects’ email providers to automatically throw your emails right into the spam folder without the prospect’s eyes ever seeing them. We recommend using the following cold email best practices from the start to give your lead gen campaigns their best chance to be seen.

How to use cold emails effectively

Know who you’re trying to reach

People are more likely to care about your product or service if it feels personalized to them, so understand your target markets and buyer personas. If your lead gen campaign fails to explain how you can help potential customers they will simply see you as another business trying to take their money.

In a 2017 study by Globe News Wire, researchers found that 49% of shoppers made impulse buys of products they had not intended to purchase after receiving a personalized recommendation from a brand. The same study found that 44% of shoppers will become repeat buyers after personalized experiences with a company. So, the more personal you can be, the more likely you are to get a good response and even repeat business.

While the term target market refers to a specific group of people, a buyer persona refers to a somewhat fictionalized person who has even more specific qualities, and usually, there will be a few buyer personas that fit into one target market.

For example, a target market for a high-quality womens’ tennis shoe store in Nashville, could be runners who invest top dollar in their footwear. Some of their buyer personas for specific marketing campaigns could be 18-35 year old women who like fun and flashy colors; 36-50 year old women who like a nostalgic, old-fashioned sneaker with better padding; and/or women who stand on their feet all day like medics and veterinarians and are limited to neutral solid colors for work dress codes.

Each one of your buyer personas has different challenges that they’re looking to overcome with a certain product or service. We highly recommend using these specific pain-points as an opportunity to show prospective customers the personalized care your business can provide.

Start with a clean lead list

As we’ve already discussed, one of the fastest ways to mess up your email marketing outreach is to send out a large number of low-quality emails and get a high bounce rate. An ideal bounce rate is <2% but anything over 5% can be detrimental to your current and future outreach efforts. To reduce your bounce rate, make sure you are getting your prospect emails from a trusted data enrichment provider which guarantees the emails it provides to you are valid.

The upfront process can take a little time but investing in a clean and thorough leads list will make a major difference in the effectiveness of your lead gen marketing strategy.

Write compelling content

All of your email marketing content should inform, entertain, or educate your prospective clients to prove that your business brings the kind of value they’re looking for.

Our managing director lives by the philosophy, “Why you? – Why now?” Make sure your cold outreach explains to prospects why your solution is the right fit specifically for them and why now is the right time to purchase.

If you don’t have this information, then you might need to rethink your target customers. Consider whether you’ve selected the right group of people your product or service is the best fit for, and how you might narrow down or pivot to a slightly different set of prospects.

Make the most out of marketing automation

The number of opportunities to utilize marketing automation in your business may seem overwhelming, but one easy way to implement automation is having the recipient’s first name automatically generated in the email greeting and subject line. Emails with the recipient’s name in the subject line get opened 26% more often, and with automation, it takes as much effort to send one personalized email as 2,000.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of email automation opportunities. You can also set up emails to send automatically based on actions that your audience takes. For example, reminding an audience member about an abandoned shopping cart so you have another chance at getting that sale, sending reward points to customers for every purchase, and triggering a series of welcome emails to new subscribers to introduce your brand, products, and services in a favorable light.

Additionally, you can also automatically add new people to your email list as they meet your criteria. For example, when someone gets promoted to the CIO role in your sales territory, that new title could get them automatically added to your list without any effort on your part.

Monitor your email campaign and tweak as needed

No lead gen campaign is going to reach its full potential on the first outreach. You need to constantly learn lessons from your communications and the feedback (or lack of feedback) you receive from your targets.

One way to experiment is to use A/B testing. A/B testing is the process of sending out two similar emails with one difference in sales copy, images, subject line text, etc., to test which one performs better with your audience.

For example, a Nashville chocolate company promoting some new types of chocolates could write an email and A/B test for different subject line text. Email A’s subject line reads “Visit our location and sample our new chocolates” to half the audience, while Email B’s subject line says “Order our new chocolates online” to the other half. Based on open rates or click-through rates, the chocolate company would know whether their audience is more likely to come into the store or order online. 

Whether it’s the targets, the copy, the email frequency, the email volume, or the tools being used, there are so many levers to tweak within a campaign. Experimenting with small changes will eventually strengthen your campaigns by showing you what works and what doesn’t. Be patient and honest about your results, and you’ll find your path.

Need help with your lead gen marketing strategy?

Email on phone

While all the potential benefits of using a strong lead gen marketing strategy are great, building and tweaking each campaign can also feel overwhelming. Bringing in a lead gen strategy expert to help your business with this vital piece of cold email marketing could have a huge positive effect on your business’s growth this year.

Don’t let the chance of significant ROI slip through your fingers. Contact us to learn how our Nashville-based marketing experts can help you create and maintain a strong lead gen marketing strategy for your business.

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