Cold Email Campaigns | Send personalised emails at scale

Cold Email Campaign. Email is often ignored and always under-appreciated. At the start of my career, I considered email to be the plain rice cracker of the marketing world. Never, I reasoned, would I click on a cold email, or hastily assembled newsletter, and make a purchase. A few years on, I've recognised the error of my ways.

On average: for every $1 you spend, email marketing generates $38 for your business. With this awesome ROI in mind, it's easy to see why emails have provided the backbone of online marketing for well over a decade.

The history of email is surprisingly convoluted, with both the US military and a republican hopeful claiming it as their own from the 1960s and 70s. Regardless of its past, email has established itself as our primary medium of digital communication, and the Radicati group estimates that a staggering 205 billion emails are sent daily worldwide.

So how can you harness this awesome marketing channel to grow your business?

Understanding the power of cold email campaigns

A cold email is any email which is sent with commercial intent to someone with whom you do not have a pre-existing relationship.

This typically makes cold emailing harder than most communication for two reasons. You have no relationship with your audience yet, and the feedback you receive is often poor.

On the other hand, cold emails allow you to open up a conversation with someone who may not have heard of your product or service otherwise. Additionally, the recipients ability to ask questions establishes trust and understanding, which often generates a higher conversion rate than a generically optimised landing page.

So what are the core parts of a cold email campaign and how do you execute them as well as possible?

Step 1 - Finding a reliable CRM for your leads

The success of your cold email campaign is closely tied to the volume of emails you send. No matter what you're trying to sell, sending 30 cold emails will likely return zero results. Instead, you need to think of this channel at a much larger scale.

Why is that? To understand why quantity is so important, let's look at typical stats for cold email campaigns.

  • Delivery rate: 70%
  • Open rate: 40%
  • Click-through-rate: 5%
  • Conversion rate: 13%

So if you were to send a cold email campaign to 1,000 contacts you could expect:

  • 700 leads receive your cold email
  • 280 leads open your cold email
  • 14 leads click on your call to action
  • ~2 leads convert to customers

To use cold emails effectively therefore you will need to send tens of thousands of emails. As a result, you will require a CRM to store, order and update all your contact information. Within this CRM, you will also need to create a Pipeline. This Pipeline consists of 4-5 stages in the sales funnel.

These may be: 1. Positive response 2. Sign up 3. Purchase 4. Positive review

When a lead gets back to you for example, saying that they are not interested in your product, you need to update that persons information to ensure you do not contact them again. Similarly, if a lead goes on to make a purchase, their status in the pipeline must be updated, as it reflects badly on you if you were to send them another cold email in the future.

To begin with, you might be tempted to simply use Spreadsheets. This works fine as long as you are a one man operation with relatively few contacts, but the moment you have several people accessing this information, it's important to use a reliable CRM tool.

What CRM's are most relevant to you?

Pipedrive is my favourite CRM, offering a slick and intuitive user experience while being reasonably priced at 25 € per user per month. Additionally, Pipedrive offers responsive customer support and is API-ready, allowing for easy communication between your application and your CRM.

A good free alternative is Hubspot's CRM. It comes with an easily digestible dashboard, giving you a great overview of all your deals, and stages in the Pipeline.

Step 2 - Generating contact information

By definition, your cold emails will be reaching people who have no pre-existing relationship with you. This means that you will have to acquire their contact information in order to send a cold email campaign.

The difficulty of this step will depend on what kind of people you want to reach. Getting the contact information of professional individuals is surprisingly easy. Simply head over to Upwork or PeoplePerHour and type in a phrase like "Find LinkedIn contacts". You will now receive a curated list of freelancers offering exactly this service for a very reasonable price.

If you want to find contact information for more traditional brick and mortar companies, you're best bet is to contact data collection companies like Bisnode. There are many others out there, but the pricing is pretty standard at 1-1.20 € per contact. This usually includes the full name of the decision maker, the address, the email address and the phone number. Extra information like vertical, and age of business can often be added for an extra fee.

In case you are looking for smaller online businesses, a good option is BuiltWith. They have created a directory of the internet which is searchable via "technology", "tld", "Location" and more. This means that you can easily find and download a list of all WooCommerce sellers located in the UK for example.

One downside of this approach is the often incomplete data. So although you will always get the domain name and email address, the full name is often missing, making the customisation of cold emails difficult.

The last option I'm going to mention here is simply checking Google. Head over to the search engine and enter "YOUR NICHE lead acquisition". This typically provides useful results, such as this Quora question.

With these options in mind, I want to briefly discuss what kind of information you need to set your cold email campaign up for success. Besides the name and email address, I would advise having 3 more pieces of information per contact. These allow you to personalise your cold email in such a way as to not seem spammy.

If you were to contact WooCommerce sellers for example, you would want the name of their store, the name of the contact, the types of products they sell, and perhaps the average price of their product. Including this detailed, personalised information in the cold email will do wonders for your conversion rate.

Step 3 - Crafting a great cold email

Once you have picked a CRM tool and acquired the contact information of targeted leads, the next step is to craft your cold email.

I would recommend checking out Yesware's 9 Cold Email Formulas That Just Plain Work for a detailed discussion.

What I would like to mention here, is that you need to adjust your call to action in accordance with your product. This is the most important part of writing a high converting cold email.

Don't send people to a landing page for a 5,000 € product and don't offer them a one-on-one consultation for a bouquet of flowers. Instead, put yourself into your audience's shoes and think of what would need to happen for you to buy the product.

Your vertical plays a big part in the messaging as well. Higher ticket products for example, often require a person to person conversation in the sales funnel. Simply sending a cold email will not do the trick here. Instead, make your CTA a link to a scheduling page, using software like Calendly. Here the lead can book a free phone call with one of your sales representatives. If the email is personlised and targeted correctly, you should see a CTA of 5-10%.

A great cold email works for several reasons:

  1. The subject line addresses a pain point and promises to remove it, ie. generating more clients for the business.
  2. Addresses me by my name
  3. Addresses the pain point again in the opening line. This is important because it keeps my attention. When writing your cold emails, try to address the recipients pain point in the opening line.
  4. The cold email refers to the sector in which the business is active. Identifying it as a Fintech company in Germany shows me that he knows who we are and believes us to be relevant.
  5. The second paragraph details exactly how my pain point will be removed, adding further credibility to the senders cold email.
  6. The email closes with a demo opportunity. This makes sense because the service being offered here, is enterprise level with a very high price. In these cases, always offer demo's or consultations in order to showcase the products value, before getting into the price points. By not including a scheduling link however, a reply from me is required which adds friction and increases the drop-off rate.

Keep these points in mind when crafting your cold email campaign and you will be off to a great start.

How to launch your first cold email campaign?

You should now have a targeted contact list, stored in a CRM, and an email template ready to be sent. The next step, is finding the right email service provider to send out your campaign.

The easy way to send out emails in bulk, is by using providers like Mailjet or Sendgrid. I would advise against this approach however. The main reason to avoid these for cold email campaigns, is the markup they give your emails.

The unsubscribe link is a clear giveaway that the recipient is receiving a mass-email. Ideally however, our cold email campaigns should appear as unique and personal as possible.

Besides the unsubscribe link, emails sent this way also tend to arrive in the promotions folder. This substantially reduces your open rates.

To solve these issues, we can use a gmail add-on called Yesware. This awesome little tool allows you to send personalised cold emails that land in your lead's inbox and do not require an unsubscribe link. You can use it straight from your Gmail account giving it a particularly pleasant learning curve.

On top of that, Yesware has the capability of sending multiple, automated follow up emails to your contact lists. To do this, head over to your Gmail inbox, activate the add-on and click on Mail Merge. Now create a new Template and add a second and third stage. These often prove far more successful than the initial email, because they typically contain no commercial content and simply reference the first email. This approach avoids spammy keywords in the message and enjoys much higher open rates as a result.

To maximise your open rates, make the subject line of each follow up: Re: SUBJECT LINE OF YOUR PREVIOUS EMAIL

Yesware operates on a simple CSV premise, asking you to upload your contact information in this format. You can include as many variables as you like, by adding the column in your CSV and creating a mail merge field in your template. This typically looks like this: {!Example}. To pull this personalised information into your template, you just need to include the column "Example" in your CSV. This feature makes it possible to pull unique information about each lead automatically.

Simple, yet powerful.

Yesware is not perfect however. Being a Gmail add-on, it abides by the same daily sending limit that all Gmail accounts are beholden to. This means you can only send 2,000 emails per day. To start off with, this should not be a hindrance.

Furthermore, campaigns are split up into lists of 200 recipients. This means that in order to send 1,000 emails you need to launch 5 campaigns. Using the template function, this is relatively painless, but still not as sleek as the service provided by Mailjet and others.

Finally, Yesware offers a 30 day free trial, allowing you to send out some test campaigns, and experience it for yourself.

Tips and tricks around cold email campaigns

We have now covered the basic steps involved in sending a successful cold email campaign. There are one or two other factors which may impact your results but vary from niche to niche.

Should your leads be scattered around the world for example, make sure to address them in their mother tongue. Sending English emails to an individual living in Germany, or France will pay no dividends.

Furthermore, try to target your contact lists as much as possible. You can of course follow the spray and pray method, but it is much more rewarding to filter your contacts and send smaller, more targeted campaigns. The more targeted, and personalised your cold email, the higher your conversion rate will be.

Finally, make sure to update your CRM continually. Maintaining up-to-date records of all your contacts is vital in the long run. How easy this is, will depend on the CRM you choose. Pipedrive and Yesware can be integrated using Zapier, but this incurs a cost.

A more light-weight integration can be achieved by simply bcc-ing your Pipedrive email address for every cold email campaign you send. This can be set as a default in the Yesware settings.

A more comprehensive integration exists between Yesware and Salesforce. Here, contacts and emails can be automatically synced, making your job a lot easier.

Conclusion | Cold email campaigns

So that pretty much sums up everything I wanted to say on the matter. Above, we've covered why cold emails are powerful, and provided a step by step breakdown of how you can get started.

Follow the tips mentioned in this blog post to avoid many of the easy mistakes I made at the beginning.

Ultimately, you will need to test, test, and test again to get the data you need to understand how valuable cold email campaigns can be to your business. Hopefully this blog post has persuaded you to give it a try.