The Ultimate Guide to Cold Emails

This guide has been designed to help you get the most out of your cold email campaigns.

Set Your Goals

Before you setup your cold email campaign you will need to think about your goal, this will help you target the right people with the right message.

Here are some example goals for your cold email campaigns.

B2B Lead Generation (Prospecting)

Generate hot B2B leads by sending cold emails with automated follow-ups to prospects, asking for referrals, booking demos or anything to move the prospect to the next step.

Rescue Sales

You have a number of lost opportunities, that you want to hit again, but this time using an automated approach to drive sales.

Ramp Sales

Target your existing customer base get new business, or up-sell and even cross-sell.

Customer Satisfaction

Make sure your customers are not neglected, set up clever and informative email drip campaigns and make them happy.

Outreach – Connect with People

Maybe you want to connect with people, such as influencers, find business partners, candidates in a target market or even potential investors for your startup.

Outreach – Content Promotion

You are reaching out to websites or other publishers to promote content such as blog articles or as part of a SEO strategy for link building.

Email Lists & Data

Now you have established what is that you want to achieve, you can now plan who you should target for your outbound email campaigns.

If you are going to target existing customers or prospects then you probably already have an email list, however if you are going to target fresh prospects, investors, suppliers you will need a new an email list.

You will need to come up with a profile to help you build your email list for cold email campaign.

If your goal is to generate B2B leads, then you should look at your existing customer base and determine what your ideal customer profile is. Anything else you will need to come up with a profile that is relevant to your cold campaign objectives.

  • Industry
  • Company Size (Employees)
  • Revenue
  • Geography
  • Job title or function

There are three main ways that you can get data

Use Existing Data

If you are targeting customers or existing prospects, then you should be able to export and segment your data from your CRM. Some of the existing records might not have email address, if that is the case then you can use an email finder software to find missing email addresses.

Buying Data

You can buy existing data, making sure that the provider’s B2B data is fresh and accurate.

Some B2B email data providers are:

Obviously stay away from huge email databases offered online and buy small sets to start for testing, for example 250 contacts to test is a good starting point.

Before sending out any cold email campaigns go through the email list and randomly check out the contacts, visit the company website or LinkedIn profiles. Check that their job position is correct and current, this will tell you a lot about the data provider. Some data providers might lump directors in other management positions, e.g. sales manager or marketing manager, which may or may not be relevant in your email campaigns.

Don’t buy contacts which include generic email addresses such as admin@example.com or sales@example.com or info@example.

Building Your Own Email Lists

This is the best option when sending cold email campaigns, but it also very time consuming.

You will need to identify where you will get the initial data from and come up with a process for building your email list, and decide who will do this. You can easily find a virtual assistant online who can do this for you for a very reasonable cost and in some cases, it might work out the same amount as buying an existing prospect list or even less.

At the very minimum you should collect the first name, last name, email, company, position data in your spreadsheet. This will come in handy later even if you don’t use this to personalise your outreach emails.

Here are some example processes for building a prospect email list for your outbound email campaigns:

Crunch Base

  1. Search Crunchbase companies that fit the profile (depending on what your objective is)
  2. Visit the company website and see that they are good fit
  3. Go to the about us or team pages and find the name of the contact that you want to target. Copy their email address (if none then use an email finder tool)
  4. Add the prospect to a spreadsheet

then repeat

LinkedIn

  1. Search for prospects on LinkedIn (if you don’t have LinkedIn premium then signup for a trial or use a free tool like LiSearcher to search LinkedIn profiles on Google.
  2. Find the contact details for the prospect on the LinkedIn profile or the company website pages such as about us, team etc, if not then use an email finder tool.
  3. Add the prospect to a spreadsheet

then repeat.

Cleaning Data

Before sending out your cold email campaigns you will need to clean the data, especially if you plan to use it to merge into an email template, check that the capitalisation is correct and clean up company names. For example. remove (UK), Limited, Ltd, Branch, dot com or any other data that might look funny in your outbound email.

You might end up with multiple contacts at the same company, and unless want to specifically target multiple contacts at the same business, then you should remove these, an easy way to do this sort the data by and deduplicate the website column, we published an article on how to deduplicate in Excel.

Sending Cold Emails

Keeping it Real

For cold emails to work they need to look like you sent the message only to them, so that it is personalised.

Using an email marketing software for newsletters such as Mailchimp is not going to cut it. Hopefully you will use Lead Demon for sending your cold emails campaigns.

Obviously if you send outreach emails to somebody at 5am or on the weekend, this effect is lost, and the email starts to look like it is from a bulk mailing.

Also, there is a myth that sending emails on a Saturday gives you the higher open rate. Common sense tells us if you are sending a newsletter to customers on the weekend they are more likely to open it because they are not working, and they open all emails rather than it getting lost in the inbox. That said if you are sending cold emails on the weekend to higher level executive who doesn’t know you, then it is not going to look like you have composed the email just for them and it will have that automated bulk feeling, and you are less likely to get a response.

Cold Email Templates

I would not use cold email templates that you can find on the internet for your actual outbound campaigns, but you can read through them for inspiration.

If you are sending your email campaigns to competitive industries they probably have already seen your template in use before, and it makes you look lazy.

At the end of the day you will need to (and should) write your own cold emails.

Keep Your Cold Emails Short

When writing your cold emails keep them to maximum of a few sentences at the most, the longer your email is the less likely somebody that doesn’t know you, will actually read it.

Call To action

Only include one call to action in your cold emails e.g. hit reply, call me, send me an email. This is the same for all marketing channels, and also applies to sending cold emails.

Understand Thy Cold Email

Your outbound cold email campaigns are not there to sell your product or service, they are to help you close the prospect on next step, which could be booking a demo, arranging a telephone call or even sending more information.

If you are sending emails to customers for a promotion to sell a product, then this can be an exception and you will have to test to find out what is better.

Use a Separate Domain

You should buy a separate domain for your cold email campaigns, this to protect your existing domain and keep your emails separate. If your domain is example.com then you buy example.net or example.co.uk and use this for your outbound email campaigns.

If your domain ever gets a low sender reputation or blacklisted then you can dispose of it and start again, this should not happen if you send out your cold email campaigns properly using the right software.

Don’t Upset your Prospects

If you upset the people you are sending an email outreach too then they will most likely mark your message as spam and eventually this will hurt you.

Make sure your cold emails are relevant and honest and that they don’t look like they are part of a bulk email campaign.

If they ask to opt-out of future emails then don’t send them any more emails, if you continue to send emails to them then  you are probably breaking the law and you are also going to infuriate them even more.

Don’t send your outreach emails to generic email addresses such as info@company.com, if you can’t find the email address of the prospect then just skip them or  give them a cold call instead.

Always include your contact information in your email signature, if not it will look like spam to your prospects.

Don’t Get Blacklisted

Many businesses use G Suite or Office 365 for email, so you can probably expect at least 50% of all your outbound emails to go through those servers, if you send too many emails, many emails quickly or emails with the same content then your emails will probably end up in the spam folder or even damage your sender reputation and get your domain blacklisted.

Send out emails at different times, and space them out or if not they will end up in the either the promotions folder or spam folder. If this happens to much then all your emails could be blocked by G Suite, and your emails bounce with the following error:

Our system has detected that this message
550-5.7.1 is likely unsolicited mail. To reduce the amount of spam sent to
550-5.7.1 Gmail, this message has been blocked. Please visit 550-5.7.1
http://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=188131 for 550
5.7.1 more information. ho13si622251wib.49 - gsmtp (in reply to end of DATA
command)

Cold Email Rules

  1. Personalise your cold emails so they look like they are composed by you and only sent to the prospect, no fancy HTML, and it should not look like a newsletter
  2. Send targeted outbound emails to the right people
  3. Don’t mislead prospects through tricky subject lines (re: your email), whilst this might increase the open rates it will lead to an increased in opt-outs, complaints and it will damage any potential business relationship before you get started
  4. Send out your emails in human like manner, at random times throughout the workday. Only a good cold email software will do this 😉, general email automation software won’t
  5. Don’t send too many emails and respect your providers limits. A typical cold email campaign might be sending the initial 250 outreach emails each week, plus the follow-ups which are being dripped out from all your email campaigns
  6. Keep sending emails on regular intervals, rather sending out a large amount of emails then nothing for a few weeks and so on.
  7. Don’t use email marketing software such as for sending newsletters or any other mass sending tool

Setup your email domain properly

You should setup SPF records, DKIM and then test sending an email using mail tester this will help you identify any major problems quickly.

If you are user of Lead Demon, contact support and we can assist you setting up your SPF and DKIM records.

Avoid the Spam Filters

Be careful not use spammy words or ALL CAPS in your email. Spammy words include  promotion, special offer, free, hot etc. Once you have written your cold email template then run it through anti-spam checks, Lead Demon users click test and we will do this for you.

Personalise your email messages, if not the message will look identical to other messages and as a result some ant-spam servers will mark the message as spam.

Don’t add a company logo image to your email signature, why? Because of something called the image to text ratio. Sure the company logo looks nice, but the message might not get delivered to the inbox because the anti-spam server will think your email is a spam because it contains more images than actual text.

Don’t add lots of links in the email campaigns and certainly do not use URL shortners since they are almost guaranteed to trigger anti-spam filters. URL shortners turn long URLs into short ones, for example https://bit.ly/2HLpvzK. The problem is spammers use these to disguise links to trick users, so when somebody clicks on the link they will be redirect to different web page.

Any link that redirects the user to a different page or domain can potentially trigger anti-spam filters because you are sending an email with a link that sends somebody somewhere else (redirects)  and when sending email to somebody there is no genuine reason to hide the URL.

If you have enjoyed reading this article on cold emails or found it useful, please share it so other people can too.

How to Find Duplicate Values in Excel

When preparing your cold email campaigns, sometimes the data that you want to import might include multiple contacts at the same company. If your cold emailing strategy is to send outreach emails to only one prospect, then you will need to deduplicate some of the columns.

  1. Open your CSV file in Excel and select the column that you want to find duplicates for. For example, company or email or website.
  2. Click on the Conditional Formatting icon and select Highlight Cell Rules then Duplicate Values
  3. On the New Formatting Rule dialog box, click on the Ok button

Now your duplicate values will be highlighted in red. If your data provider has provided you with generic email addresses such as info@somecompany.com then you should also check for duplicate values on the email column.

What is Cold Email, is it spam and is it legal?

What is Cold Email?

So, what is cold email? Think cold calling, but rather than hitting phone, your sending out emails. Cold emailing is sending an email to someone you don’t know, and they don’t know you, in other words an unsolicited email.

Companies in the B2B sector are generating leads using cold emails, the amount of companies using this lead generation strategy are growing every month, which proves just how well this works, if done properly. If you have not heard that much about cold email for lead generation then I suggest reading ‘How A Filipino Company Earned $726,000 In New Leads In 25 Days Using Cold Emails‘.

Definition of Spam

Is sending cold emails spamming? The technical definition of spam according to Spamhaus is:

“An electronic message is “spam” if (A) the recipient’s personal identity and context are irrelevant because the message is equally applicable to many other potential recipients; AND (B) the recipient has not verifiably granted deliberate, explicit, and still-revocable permission for it to be sent.”

If done properly cold email is not spamming, that said most countries have their own laws on what they consider spamming, but before I go into more detail, lets cover some basics.

Email Marketing

I think it is important to understand what is opt-in and what is opt-out? When somebody opts-in, they are giving you permission to send them marketing emails (aka consent) and when they opt-out they are telling you that they no longer want to receive marketing emails from you.

Typically, when you collect details from your website (lead generation) you would have an opt-in check box, where the prospect grants you permission to email them.  A pre-ticked opt-in checkbox (consent by default), in Australia, Canada and soon, in Europe, does not represent consent.

Other ways of obtaining consent including filling in a form (hard copy), via the telephone, face-to-face and exchange of business cards, providing that the prospect knows that they are giving consent. For example, if somebody gives you a business card, you can’t and should not add them to your monthly newsletter.  In some countries, you might be able to ask for consent as part of your first email of your cold email outreach strategy, providing that your email:

  1. does not directly promote commercial content
  2. is targeted at the person you are sending it too
  3. the person has not already opted-out – see ICO fines Flybe, Honda for breaking data rules

If you do decide to ask for consent as part of your cold email strategy then pay attention to local laws.

To comply with most anti-spam laws, the burden of proof of consent is on you, so you will need to keep proof that the prospect gave you their consent, when and how they consented and what they were told.

In terms of opting-out, typically an unsubscribe link is included at the bottom of marketing emails, especially when sending newsletters or other bulk marketing emails. When cold emailing, prospects aren’t subscribed to a mailing list, but they should be able to opt-out of future emails. Providing clear instructions on how to opt-out is usually sufficient alternative to an unsubscribe link. For example, you can include text in footer, “If you want to opt-out of future emails, then reply to this email with the word “opt-out” in the subject line”.

A point which often causes confusion is bulk email, so I want to explain this. If you are sending email in bulk that means you are sending many emails at once, but the term bulk email is used to describe when sending the exact same email to many people.

Another thing to understand is the difference between personal prospects such as some.user@gmail.com, Business-to-business (B2B) prospects some.user@company.co.uk and generic addresses such as info@company.co.uk.

Anti-Spam Laws

You will need to know where your prospects are based and then depending upon the country, you will want to make sure that you comply with the laws.

From May 25th 2018, The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect into Europe (including the UK), which will harmonise the laws across 28 countries, and this will affect how you process (use) peoples data, however this does not mean this is the end of cold emailing or cold calling, it will still depend upon how each country implements this. There  seems to be a lot of misinformation online on how GDPR will be the end of sales and marketing. A PDF of the agreed text can be found here.

In the UK and Ireland, you can email B2B prospects which have not opted-in, provided that the business is not a sole trader or partnership since these are considered as individuals rather than businesses. A few other countries have laws which don’t cover B2B prospects, such as Finland, Hungry, Norway and Russia.

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR) cover sending marketing emails in the UK.

Emailing generic email addresses should be avoided as part of cold email best practices.

We have included some key points from anti-spam laws to help ensure that your cold email outreach campaigns are legal. Note, you will also need to make sure that your emails are in compliance with the email signature laws in your country.  In Europe, the EU Directive 2003/58/EC states that at the minimum, corporate email signatures should include the company’s registration number, the place of registration and the registered office address, and depending upon the country that you are in, additional information might need to be included.

United States: CAN-Spam Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act)

  • Clearly identify yourself and your business
  • Consent (Opt-In) not required
  • An option or information on how to unsubscribe
  • Your mailing address

Canada: CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Law)

  • Clearly identify yourself and your business
  • Consent required (Opt-In) for commercial emails with an exception, if the prospect is engaged in business activity and the nature of the email is an inquiry or if the email address is public and there is no mention that they do not want to receive marketing emails
  • An option or information on how to unsubscribe
  • Your mailing address

Note that emails containing requests for consent is considered a commercial email in Canada.

UK: PECR / GDPR from May 2018

  • Clearly identify yourself and your business
  • Consent (Opt-In) not required for B2B prospects
  • An option or information on how to unsubscribe
  • Link to privacy policy or disclaimer which includes who processes the data and how it is processed etc

Bottom line is before you start a cold email outreach campaign, make sure you know what the local laws are.

There are other cold email rules as well that you will need to pay attention to, these include:

  • Don’t use false or misleading From, To, Reply-To address and name information
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines – e.g. RE: your missed call, $1,000 for 5 minutes of your time
  • Be truthful in your advertising
  • If a prospect has asked to opt-out of future emails, then don’t email them anymore. In some countries there are laws on how quickly you must process opt-outs and unsubscribes.

Spam filters and deliverability

Whilst so far, we have talked about the anti-spam laws affecting cold emailing, the technical aspect should also be considered, as this will protect your domain reputation in the market, prevent your domain from getting blacklisted and it will also ensure that your cold email campaigns will get better deliverability.

You have probably heard that including words like free, make money or using ALL CAPS in the subject will trigger spam filters and whilst this is correct there many other factors which can trigger anti-spam filters, including sending only html messages, including too many images, an incorrect configured server are just a few that immediately come to mind.

Sending irrelevant emails to people will more than likely make people report your email as spam which can result your domain getting blacklisted, so paying particular attention to your prospect research can help reduce this possibility.

Good cold email outreach practices include:

  • Don’t send cold emails from free email accounts such as Gmail – there is no reason to do this, domains are cheap and from a customer perspective you will just come across as a scammer and spammer and they will not trust you
  • Keep the emails personal and relevant, addressing the email to the right person rather than just hello or dear sir, don’t send an email offering surgical equipment to a recruitment company
  • Don’t send out cold emails relating to personal products to business addresses, e.g. pharmacy products, family holidays etc.
  • Don’t buy email lists which have been harvested from the web, make sure you have first name, last name and other data etc.
  • Don’t send bulk email (sending the exact same email to many people)
  • Be careful when sending email in bulk, if you try to send too many emails at once or too quickly then your ISP could ban you. G-suite limits paid accounts to sending 2,000 emails per day or 500 if it’s a trial account

If you have enjoyed reading this article, or you have found it helpful, then please help spread the word and share it.

Disclaimer: This information in this article is for information purposes only and should not be used as legal advice. Legal advice is something you pay for, this content is provided for free. You should seek advice from a solicitor.