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Cold Hard Tips: 5 Strategies for Cold Emailing


Whether you’re a fledgling eCommerce company looking to make your first sale or an optimized B2B juggernaut, email marketing is something you will have to be intimately familiar with if you hope to ascend to new heights.

Everybody knows how to write an email, but writing a ‘cold-email’ is a different beast especially if you aim is to sell something. This guide will focus on five tried and tested criteria against which you should check your own communication to ensure that it is positioning you and your company in the best way possible to your prospects.

Tip #1: Test the Subject Line

People judge books by covers, people based on appearances, and emails by subject lines. It isn’t fair… but it is true. Your subject line has to dazzle your reader, or at least interest them enough to open an email from an unfamiliar sender.

The perfect subject line depends on your product or service, your prospect, and your message. There simply is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all guideline or template. One thing that will be extremely helpful, however, will be software that tracks open rate. This way, you can use A/B testing to send the exact same email with two different subject lines to two similar lists of prospects. If there is a noticeably higher open rate with a certain subject line, consider making that the subject line for the entire campaign and, if possible, try to understand why that particular subject line was successful, since this knowledge can help guide your strategy going forward.

Tip #2: Make it “Too Short”

Your prospect is likely a very busy person. As thrilling as novels can be to read, nobody wants to slog through a five-page email. In fact, in this age of ephemeral messages and instantly digestible tweets, even a five-paragraph email might strike some of your readers as being overly long.

Pare everything down to the bare essentials. And then, once you think you’ve pared it down as much as you can, try to slash the word count by 20%. This is a useful technique employed by professional writers, and the end result is an email that, to someone intimately familiar with your company’s offerings (e.g. you), might seem too short.

One example of a company that has honed and refined its email marketing campaigns utilizing these techniques is ShipMonk. They have an unofficial rule that your first three emails can be no longer than three sentences each.

ShipMonk has a unofficial rule that your first three emails can be no longer than three sentences each. This way the salesperson is focused on one core aspect of the business to get across. They say last thing they want to do is cast a net so broad and try to cover all their fulfillment services that they end up missing the mark altogether.

Remember, the first outbound cold email is (ideally) not the only interaction you will have with your prospect. Do everything you can to ensure that it is digestible.

Tip #3: It’s Not Me, It’s You

The focus of this cold email is about your prospect. The entire email should be about them on some level. A personalized outreach will be very helpful, as will an explanation of why you are reaching out to them. But the crux of your argument should focus not necessarily on what you can do for them with your product or service solution, but what they can do with it.

Excessive reliance on the first-person can seem a bit aggressive and even presumptuous. Nobody is more intimately familiar with your prospects’ needs than they are – so feel free to hypothesize on how your offerings can help them, but make sure that they are in the driver’s seat. Your cold email is, in some ways, analogous to a test drive: you can talk about the engine, the turbo, and the heated leather seats from the passenger seat, but you have to let your prospect sit behind the wheel and hold the keys.

Tip #4: Be Useful

One problem with many cold emailing campaigns is that the outreaches themselves have very little actual value. They are occasionally witty, oftentimes promotional, but rarely do they offer practical, useful information.

Practical information transcends promotional plugs for your company. For example, uninsured drivers might want to read about car insurance, since you know that car insurance is important. However, your job isn’t to tell them to care about having car insurance – your job is to help them discover for themselves that they need car insurance, and then to draw their own conclusions that the only logical step for them will be to follow-up with you.

You need to be useful. Add value, whether that be through statistics, lessons, or even acknowledgement and reinforcement of the prospect’s inherent problems – problems which you will be aiming to solve.

Tip #5: Check Yourself

Checking yourself transcends simple proofreading, which you absolutely must do regardless. One often ignored step of an email, and perhaps the most important step immediately prior to hitting the “send” button, is to try to distance yourself from the material and approach it from the perspective of your reader.

You might consider going on a quick walk, stepping away until morning, or if time is of the essence just meandering over to the water cooler. But the act of disengaging, no matter how small, will impact your approach and reframe your perspective when you read the email again.

When you re-read the email, re-read it in its entirety from the perspective of the prospect. Ask yourself “would I open this email?” Then ask yourself, as you scan through the email, “will I actually want to read this?” And finally, and most importantly, “would I follow-up because of this email?” Try to be as objective as possible. After all, if there is a shred of doubt from you as to the email’s efficacy, then you will need to do some restructuring.

There is much more that goes into the art of cold emailing than these five strategies, but by implementing these techniques, you will be positioning yourself in a way that will optimize your message which should lead to higher open rates and – most importantly – engagement with your product or service. Good luck out there!