About this episode
In this episode, Yurii Veremchuk, Head of the Business Growth team at Woodpecker.co shares insights into reaching out to future clients and clients to scale business growth. Insights he shares include:
- The essential technical aspects of cold outreach campaigns that most people tend to ignore but could cripple campaigns.
- The best ways to reach your target audience while making the best use of different channels that exist today.
- How to automate processes that allow business development reps to focus on building lasting, human-to-human business relations.
- The best practices for cold outreach.
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What is cold email outreach?
If you have a product to benefit a market or that the market wants, it is necessary to find the right people within the market to whom you can speak and possibly sell.
To scale this process, businesses tend to use some form of cold outreach, and cold emails tend are a particularly common strategy.
The following statistics certainly build a solid case for using the cold email approach:
- Email delivers the highest ROI for marketers
- Email beats social media by 40x for customer acquisition
Why do companies rely on cold email?
Businesses tend to use cold email because it provides a reliable method of outreach. Other reasons include:
- Provides excellent ROI
- Allows you to take quick action
- Scales your outbound and sales and marketing easily
- Makes for a predictable way to achieve business success and increase revenues
Companies can run cold email campaigns for a few months and have enough data to know:
- How many people are necessary to achieve a sale
- The kind of terminology and copy to which your market segment will respond (or not)
- The titles/positions your target audience hold and other details that your target audience possess
Once you have mastered targeting the right people and have identified a message that converts well, you can automate the initial qualification process and only need to respond to people who express interest in your offer, meaning you can pair email outreach with other outbound strategies to compound effectiveness.
Another attractive feature of cold emails is that you retain greater control of what happens (except for anti-spam related laws). Conversely, running advertising campaigns on Facebook, Google, or other platforms requires you to be on top of algorithm and platform changes that may or may not work in your favor.
Why is cold outreach ROI not worth the effort?
Most people have received some form of spam or cold email outreach that was generic and did not acknowledge anything about the recipient or their needs. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that recipients only open about 24% of cold outreach emails.
However, if done strategically, you could achieve a 70 – 90% open rate and expect 15 – 30% reply rates.
Consider how HubSpot improved the cold outreach email results for a SaaS company that was receiving a 2% response rate. They reframed the email, added social proof and a call to action, and made clear the benefits to the recipient, using the following email template:
The improvements resulted in:
- 57% open rate
- 21% response rate
- 16 new customers
How to decide whether cold outreach is worth the investment
If a business has clients that are worth only, say, $5 a month and the average lifetime is six months, then a cold outreach email campaign would probably not be worth the effort. However, if a business has clients that pay $2000 or $10,000 a month, then gaining a single client would pay for a considerable portion of the marketing costs and help them become more profitable.
It can work well for businesses that:
- Have a clear and easily understandable value proposition
- Want to find product-market fit
- Offer a customer lifetime value that exceeds the cost of acquisition
- Target individuals who will benefit from their offer
- Source quality contact data and invest in scaling the process
However, it is probably not a good option for those who:
- Operate in highly regulated industries with strong email filters like healthcare or financial services
- Have just received funding
- Make low-value sales
- Utilize an embedded solution that will be harder to swap out
How to ensure the best results for your cold outreach emails
To achieve the best results, you need to ensure you have access to quality data first.
Data quality depends on relevance, accuracy, and deliverability. No matter how you dice the data, three factors remain critical to the success of your efforts.
Ensure you are reaching out to the right people in the right type of business. For example, you do not want to email the CEO of a food retail franchise about hair salon management software. Tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Clearbit, RocketReach, Powrbot, and FullContact can help verify that you are reaching the right people.
Verify that the information you receive is accurate. Mistakes and errors can occur, so you want to ensure the data are accurate. Including seemingly simple things like:
- Spelling the recipient’s name correctly
- Confirming the recipient still works at that company and is in a relevant position
With inaccurate information, you are less likely to receive responses; your emails might be marked as spam and, if you do receive a response, it could be an angry response reflecting the fact that you did not verify the accuracy of your data. Be especially wary of buying lists and ensure the quality of such lists by using the verification methods we described above.
Ensure that the emails you send stand the best chance of reaching the intended person’s inbox. To do that, you can:
- Determine the accuracy of the email by using a tool like Hunter.io or GetProspect
- Run the email addresses through a deliverability checker like EmailHippo or NeverBounce to ensure your bounce rates are within safe parameters.
- Ensure people have not blacklisted the domain you use to send your emails by marking it as spam (A tool like MXToolBox can help with this.)
- Determine how your email is likely to be treated (for spamminess) with a tool like Mail Tester.
Should email be your go-to channel for cold outreach?
Yurii Veremchuk of Woodprecker.co, recommends thinking carefully about using email as the go-to channel when you have had no contact or conversation with the recipient yet.
He says –
The thing that I found that works best for me is when I’m trying to build a relationship with a person is it’s good if we had some connections before, and it’s really great if we had a conversation about something before because the person might remember me. But it’s fine when the person notices me or the company that I work for. By that, I’m saying maybe some kind of paid advertisement before sending an email so that person unconsciously will remember that, see some kind of advertisement online, then probably your invitation on LinkedIn and then all of those things together. When I’m sending an email, it’s obviously… It’s for the clients that are really valuable to you because doing that on the mid touch or on the just little/no personalization would be really time-consuming and probably not worth it. But doing it for the client that’s really valuable to you and you know what they’re looking for, is really something worth to try because you build the presence of your brand of you, and then when you reach out, you’re much more likely to be approached and noticed.
Why preparation is key to successful cold outreach
What most businesses do not know about cold outreach email is that they should be well prepared before sending out on scale. By that, I do not mean preparing the message of the email but rather from a technical point of view.
Yurii says –
So, if you want to be able to reach a lot of people, and you don’t know anything about your domain reputation, you don’t know anything about the limitations your SPF & DKIM records you be in for a whole lot of trouble. These are technical details, but if you aren’t aware of them it’s kind of hard to predict what results you’ll bring.
Why? Because you can run the best campaign in the world, but due to technical issues, not all of the emails reach the recipient, which can hurt your results and ROI.
It is also necessary to contend with change. Email may not be an old channel, but it is constantly evolving, as does technology.
Yurii says –
For example, more people are using video emails for prospecting. It’s a challenge to integrate the video into the system, which connects to your email account and how to do it.
Other challenges are:
- To send personalized images.
- People also increasingly want to be not only present on the one platform, which is email, but they want to be present across several platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, YouTube, etc.
So again, being able to integrate all of that is a challenge.
Why? Because now you also have multi-step campaigns in which the first touch is an email, the second touch could be a comment via LinkedIn, and the third is a quote in Quora, and so on. In other words, you want to be omnipresent and have a diversified outreach strategy.
What sort of turnaround can a business expect with a cold outreach campaign?
If you are starting from scratch with no previous history of cold outreach campaigns, you should expect to break even during the second or third month.
Why? Because you need time to learn whom you should contact in business, what copy works, which subject line yields better open rates, etc. Treat it as if you were running an AdWords or Facebook campaign; you will need to allocate time to testing which elements work in achieving your goals.
How to engineer a great cold outreach email ROI
There are many people in the market, and new ones are constantly joining the fray. As a result, there is a lot more noise in the market. There is also a perception that cold email outreach is less effective because people are receiving so many different types of messages.
However, by creating the right kind of system to run your cold outreach, you can achieve a great ROI. The system consists of using the right tools like GSuite apps, Woodpecker, etc., as well as having the right sort of messaging, copy, and follow-ups.
A key question to answer when designing your cold outreach campaigns is – “What benefit do I provide to the customers I want to work with?”
Most people approach the designing of their campaign by trying to answer this question instead, “How do I get my business in front of my future customers, so they understand what I offer?”
What are the best ways to reach your target audience while making the best use of different channels that exist today?
You should know where the people you contact are present the most, so it will be unwise to try to go and look on Twitter for a person who has not been active on that platform for the past two years. Maybe the person is present on an Instagram channel; if so, try to find them there. Additionally, you need to know which platforms are appropriate for sending business proposals versus building relationships.
Sending a business proposal via a private Instagram might work, but it probably will not, in most cases. Do your research. Find where the person is present and try to find the least crowded platform through that individual likely receives messages which to contact them.
Emails are always being sent and received, but let’s say you have a Facebook page or a YouTube section where the person you want to contact has two comments. If you put a comment on there—it increases the likelihood that the person will notice you.
That is also how to build a relationship with them later on; the person will know that you exist. It is a good strategy to find the places with the least outreach from other people; however, remember that some places are not appropriate for business relationship building.
Yurii suggests the following steps –
Gather as much data as you possibly can about the user experience data of people that are using your tool.
Try to see what challenges they have.
Try to look for the pain-points, and issues they contend with daily.
Identify your ideal customer groups that are worth pursuing.
Discover how the structures of those businesses work.
Discover where they are present the most, which platforms, which websites.
Once you have the information, you can apply some advertisement strategies.
Construct your message, so it is appropriate for your target audience.
You want to make the people who view your message believe that you know the challenges they face, so they want to talk to you.
How to automate processes that allow business development reps to focus on building lasting, human-to-human business relations
Automating processes is a great way to save on time, money, and resources. However, it needs to make sense by ensuring you can achieve your business objectives.
Mass messaging can work well if you contact the right people, with an appropriate message, and at the right time. If all those things come together, yes, mass mailing could work. But, it is difficult. More importantly, you must be prepared with the research.
Yurii says he sees better results by personalizing the emails.
I like to present myself, I like to put something from myself in that email, so I have some personalized touch from me and to also let know the person that, “Hey, I’m talking to you for a reason. You’re not a stranger. I’m talking to you for a reason, and here is the reason why.” And this, when it comes to personalizing messages, really works, really works, let’s say that.
This is a time-consuming process if you want to do it well.
Yurii suggests –
Once you have the prepared information of the name or email, spend from 5-10 minutes for one prospect, for one person to personalize the message. And it’s really enough, it’s really enough. The more you do that, even the less how you need it.
So as more as time comes and you do it systematically, you’ll get better and better and you’ll need less time, you’ll know what information you need, you’ll know where to find those people and you can delegate that stuff out.
You can tell them to deliver the data you need by specifying (1) the people you want to contact and (2) the information you need.
Then, you can focus only on sending out those messages and building up the relationships for yourself. It is never fun work to prospect, but it is a fundamental task because, without it, you will have no contacts.
It is worth the investment to determine for yourself whether your clients are worth proceeding for that high personalization or if the mid-touch would be sufficient.
Best practices for cold outreach
The first step in any good email outreach campaign is to ensure that your email shows value to your recipient. Without value, there is no reason for your recipient to open your email and take action let alone do business with you.
There are three main elements to include in a basic value proposition:
- End value: What is the tangible outcome or benefit your customer will receive?
- Emotional value: What gets your customers to empathize with your solution?
- Economic value: How will your customers make more money, or reduce their costs?
What to put (and what not to put) in cold emails
Subject Line and Sender Name in cold email outreach
The subject line and sender name are key elements that determine your open rates.
Subject lines play an important role in determining whether recipients open your email, and answering the right question can make a big difference to the results you get.
What benefit do you provide to the customers you want to work with?
You are more likely to focus on your future customers, so construct a subject line that is more relevant to them along the lines of:
- Explaining how you can help them
- Including a case study of how you helped a client in the same industry
- Creating a case study around a well-known brand in the industry
- Offering social proof
Tip – A good way to construct your subject line and copy is to avoid using “we” or “I” as much as possible.
You can evaluate your current cold email subject lines via this tool.
Look at the email subject lines below; notice they invoke curiosity and are highly relevant to the recipient, which means there is a good chance the recipients will open them.
Also, notice that the first email in the image above, the “From” field is in the format [first name] at [company].
It is a good practice to remind people who is sending the emails and from what organization. It also helps establish trust. Using the company name as in the case with ActiveCampaign or Retention Science is fine too.
Compare the above practices to just using your full name (e.g., Vinay Koshy) in the “From” field. It does not help the recipient very much or remind them about who you are and why you are showing up in their email inbox.
Try not to over personalize because it could be scary for the recipient and make them wonder, “How do you know so much stuff about me?”
You have to be cautious with personalization because, after a certain point, it does not do you any good.
Keep your introductions simple and personal. You don’t need to be too formal – Dear Madam or Sir… or too informal with “Hiya.” A simple Hi <first name> will do nicely.
The content of your email needs to be concise and to the point while making clear why you are contacting the recipient. Nobody has time to read long emails.
Yurii says –
Remember you’re contacting the person that doesn’t know you exist. Its great if the person knows that you exist, then you’ll have a much higher chance of not being treated like a stranger and it’s better for the conversion overall.
When writing the subject line, it helps to consider:
- Connecting with them on a personal level to establish trust and interest by mentioning things like a recent business achievement
- Keeping it brief
- Making the benefits and value you can offer to the recipient clear. A case study and social proof can help
- Trying to be polite but using your personality
- Using humor in the right contexts. If the person receives a heap of similar messages, yours could make them smile if it makes use of good humor
- Ending it positively
- Ensuring respect, politeness, and the correct business message
Call to Action (CTA)
Assuming that your recipient has read the email, you need to direct them to a specific action to take. Otherwise, they won’t know what to do. You do this by adding a call to action. A call to action is a simple action that they can take immediately. For example, try scheduling a call via a link you send them, sign up for a free trial, etc.
Keep it simple by just using a single call to action. Use a single goal and call to action for every email that you send. This much easier for your reader to respond.
A/B test your cold email outreach
To optimize results on an ongoing basis, you need to be testing different versions of your cold emails. Let’s say you have a template that converts well. You can still test different elements in that email template to see if it can perform better.
Following up on cold email outreach
Following up is also key to improving your conversion rates. By this, we mean following up with those who respond as well as those who do not. Remember, people are busy and may forget to respond, so follow-ups can help.
There is no specific number of follow-ups to use, but each one should be relevant. Don’t be afraid to test the number of follow-ups to see what works best.
Craft your cold email outreach
By keeping in mind the above practices and factors you can achieve outstanding results by using cold outreach to scale your business.
Spend time setting up a robust strategy for your sales team with the following key components:
- Ensuring the right systems are in place for finding prospects
- Sending conversion-optimized emails
- Having a clear follow-up process in place