Here’s the deal:
Contrary to popular belief, cold email isn’t dead.
“But I’ve tried cold email to get new clients – it just doesn’t work! Nobody opens my emails, much less replies to them… I’ve given up on cold email.”
I used to be in the same position as you. In fact, my first cold email campaign got a 10% open rate and a whopping 0% response rate.
My second campaign?
Not much better. 15% open rate and 2% response rate, both of which were negative.
But over the past year, I can confidently say I’ve gotten a lot better at the art of the cold email. Now my email campaigns average an 50% open rate and more than a 23% response rate.
Sending cold emails for sales can be daunting, and fighting the low trend of average email open and click rates (even for opted-in subscribers) can be too. But any email outreach strategy can yield above-average open rates and response rates like the ones below.
Sure, using the right email service is important, but if your emails suck, it doesn’t matter how great your email service provider is if nobody responds!
If you’re tired of the frustrating results you’re getting from cold email, apply these 5 tips and tricks to maximize the ROI of your cold email outreach campaigns.
Let’s dive in:
1. Email the Right Person
The first step to increasing your response rate is to ensure that your email goes directly to the right person. If your aim is to schedule a meeting with the CEO or COO of a company, you want to email [email protected], not [email protected]
This applies to any cold email outreach you are doing where you want something from someone.
Whether you want a link, a guest post, a meeting, a partnership, or ultimately a sale, you want to start with a specific point of contact. Not a generic email address, but the first name of a person and their personal email address.
Most company websites have an About Us page that will reveal the name of your prospect. Alternatively, you can visit the company’s LinkedIn page, click on the link to see all of the company’s employees and find the name of your prospects based on their job title.
If neither the website nor LinkedIn profile reveals the email address for your prospect, you can use tools like Norbert and Hunter to help you find it. Norbert offers your first 50 searches for free to try their service, and Hunter offers 50 free searches per month with a free account.
Hunter also offers a filter for free searches so you can look for personal emails only, allowing you to narrow your results to just the ones you want for your outreach campaign.
They even categorize results by possible job categories (communication, executive, sales, etc.).
Check this out:
Using their email finder tool, you can actually enter the name of the person you’re trying to reach, which will return their personal email:
2. Use an Intriguing Subject Line
The importance of using an intriguing subject line cannot be overstated. Remember, the objective of your subject line isn’t to make a sale or get a link.
The only goal of your subject line is to get your prospect to open the email.
Unfortunately, the average open rates for email are low. The benchmark across all industries, according to Campaign Monitor’s analysis of billions of emails sent in 2018, is an average open rate of 17.92%. I have achieved open rates closer to 80% with the following tactics:
- Start with a personalized subject line. Include your target prospect’s first name or company name in your subject line to catch their attention. Science has proven that our brains are activated when we hear our own first name, so using their name in the subject line is a great way to grab their attention.
- Spark curiosity with parenthesis. Now that you have your prospect’s attention, mention something that is going to make them want to open your email. The use of parentheses, proven to increase clicks, did the trick in this email subject line: Jacob from SleepSources (Your podcast with Joe rocked!)
As you craft your subject line, remember to keep it short. Shorter subject lines with seven words or 41 characters tend to be the sweet spot in terms of the highest open rates.
Plus, you don’t want the best part of your email subject line to get cut off by the ellipses in your contact’s mobile app, so it’s best to phrase it short and sweet.
Remember, optimizing your subject line for opens applies to all email campaigns, not just cold email.
But that doesn’t mean you should use a misleading subject line just to maximize open rates. Nothing is more annoying than a subject line that says “You won $1,000,000!” but after opening, the first line says “just kidding”. Come on dude.
Your subject line should be interesting and attention grabbing, but only if it makes sense in the context of the actual email itself.
If you have a good open rate of 80% but a terrible reply rate (less than 10%) then you know there’s something wrong with the body of your email. It could be poorly crafted, or misleading.
On the other hand, let’s say you have a low open rate of 10%, but half of the people who opened the email responded, it means there’s a problem with your subject line, not your body.
You can use this information to A/B test your emails – once you’ve optimized both your subject line and your body, you’ll have not only terrific open rates but response rates as well.
3. Personalize The Email
Personalization in the body of your email can increase the response rate by 32.7% according to Backlinko’s analysis of over 12 million outreach emails.
To be clear, personalization is more than just using a person’s first name in the email. You have to go a little deeper than that and make a personal connection.
Review the company or CEO’s latest news, social media posts, interviews, videos, or blogs and mention something noteworthy in your email.
The goal is to be as detailed as possible without droning on for ages. You will want your prospect to have no doubt that you are their biggest fan, their company’s biggest fan, or you have at least done your homework.
An opening like, “Hi there. I loved your podcast interview!” could be applicable to anyone who has been on a podcast recently. And it’s one that will get your email deleted or sent to the spam folder.
When you personalize the first line of your email, you want it to only apply to the CEO you are trying to connect with, either personally or with his company like the following.
“Hi Jacob, I loved the advice you gave on Joe’s podcast last week. Breaking the screen addiction before bed is going to be tough, but if it’s going to lead to a better night’s sleep, I’m going to give it a shot!”
Your prospect will likely see a preview of the first line of your email in Gmail or Outlook before they open it. So including their first name in the subject line and/or the first line of the email will help ensure the email is opened and read.
Assuming you gave a good, genuine compliment, you should receive responses like this:
4. You Just Want a Response, Not a Sale
As you craft your email, remember that your objective is to obtain a response from your cold email prospect.
In the buyer’s journey, they are still in Awareness, which means they are not ready to make a purchase. This is the stage where you are introducing your prospect to you and your company.
Use this opportunity to build a relationship with your prospect. You’ve opened your email with a compliment.
Now, build common ground between you and your prospect. Talk about some of the ways that you can provide value for your prospect.
It could be something small like you both do podcast interviews to promote both of your businesses, or you happen to know some other good podcasters that might like to interview your prospect, and maybe you could introduce them.
As with most relationships, you don’t want to start it by talking about yourself and why your business or your products are the best. Don’t make it all about you – make it all about them.
You want your prospect to feel like they can open up to you about their biggest challenges – particularly the ones that your business can solve.
5. End With a Question (CTA)
One of the top mistakes people make before sending an email or publishing marketing content is ending it without a strong call to action (CTA).
A CTA doesn’t have to be a sales pitch, however. If you’re ranking organically in Google, your CTA might be an affiliate link. If you’re running PPC for a restaurant, your CTA might be a phone call to make a reservation.
In this case, it’s going to be a simple question. Ending your email with a question mark is going to compel your prospect to respond.
Especially after you started the email off with a compliment and spent the time building a strong rapport with your prospect.
Before you sign off your email, you’ll want to end it with a question. Consider one of the following or something similar that flows with the dialogue that you have started in your email.
- Is expanding your business a priority for you now?
- Is this something you’d be interested in learning more about?
- If this is something you’re interested in, how about a quick 30-minute chat tomorrow at 3pm EDT?
The key is striking a balance. You don’t want to ask a question that puts too much pressure on your prospect, making it an easy enough question to respond to in an email.
At the same time, you do want to ask a question that will help move your prospect into the next stage of their buyer’s journey and relationship with your business.
Some experts lean towards more specific calls to action, like the latter, to increase response rates. This changes your prospect’s mindset from possibly responding to sending a specific response of yes, no, or an alternative time.
Ideally, you will wrap up the body of the email and CTA question in under 200 words, according to data HubSpot found on the ideal length of a sales email.
This will also help increase your chances of response rate as it is a concise enough length for even the busiest prospect to read and reply to, even from their smartphones.
Cold email outreach can be really time consuming, especially when you have to process a bunch of emails at scale. Luckily, implementing the right email productivity strategies is a great way to maximize the ROI of your time.
But before you worry about processing email replies, you need to get them in the first place!
Alright, you’ve used the 5 tips above and sent your emails. What’s the next best thing you can do to maximize reply rate?
Don’t expect your first email to be your last. Follow up messages typically receive the most responses, so if at first you don’t succeed, continue trying. It’s like sending follow-up texts and making follow-up calls – they’re required if you want results.
As with most email strategies, A/B testing works best. Play around with different subject lines to see which ones get the most CEOs to open their emails.
Try different CTAs to see which one leads to the most calls scheduled. Keep track of the number of follow-ups it takes to get a response.
Every business has to find the right formula that works with their unique selling points and personalities.
Once you find yours, you’ll begin to see positive ROI from your cold email outreach campaigns.