The Ultimate Guide to the 6 Most Popular Cold Email Guides
Are you getting nowhere with your cold emails?
No matter how creative your email copy is, you still can’t get your leads to bite?
If so you’re in luck, because in this 3-part series, we’re going to show you:
- The three biggest cold email myths and misconceptions to get a reply.
- The best tips and Do’s and Don’ts for your cold email campaigns.
- What to do when you come across conflicting cold email best practices.
Plus, we’ll also throw in a recap of all the cold email best practices recommended in the various
resources that we’ve looked at.
Truth is, there are so many guides out there to cold emailing. So many different strategies, approaches, and tactics. So why make another guide?
Instead, we took the gems from each guide, and injected what works from our own business, and laid it out for you here.
By the time you reach the end of this guide, you’ll be an unofficial expert on cold email.
Ready? Let’s jump right into part 1!
The 3 Biggest Cold Email Myths & Misconceptions
To get the ball rolling, let’s take a look at three most common cold emails myths and tackle them.
Myth #1: Cold emails don’t work.
One of the biggest myths out there is that cold email is ineffective, plain and simple.
Well, it’s pretty easy to debunk this one:
There are people who manage to get 29% response rates from their cold emails, so that proves that cold emails CAN work.
If you’re wondering what you can do to increase the response rate or conversion rate of your cold email, hang on — we’ll get there in a bit.
For now, credit this one to poor mindset or a limiting belief. Everyone still uses email and it is super effective as you will see below.
Myth #2: Cold email is impersonal.
Okay, we can see why some folks would assume that cold email is impersonal.
After all, cold email involves you emailing someone that you don’t actually know. What on earth could you say to this person that’s not generic and impersonal?
Well, actually, a lot.
Here’s the thing — if you’re cold emailing someone, you’ve probably done some research on them and got their details.
So at the very least, you’ll have their name and company name to use.
What can you do with that? Lots.
First and foremost, you can personalize your email by using their name — not just in the email copy, but in the subject line as well.
On top of that, you can Google the company to learn more about it, or stalk your prospect on LinkedIn.
If you see that your prospect’s company has just acquired another business or merged with a business, start off your email by referencing this.
Congrats on the XYZ acquisition/fundraising/new baby!
It’s exciting news, but I bet you’re up to your eyeballs in work now that you’re bringing XYZ on board.
Hopefully you’re not swamped to the point where you won’t even see this email, though! 😉
And if your prospect states that she’s a “proud mother of three beautiful kids” on her LinkedIn profile, then reference that fact:
My goal is to help you delegate to your team more effectively.
If you ask me, insanely long work weeks should be criminalized… none of us want to look back when we’re 60, and regret not spending more time with our kids.
You get the picture! Make them personal if you think they’re impersonal.
Myth #3: You shouldn’t be too aggressive when it comes to cold email.
Many sales development reps (salespeople who focus on cold calling/emailing, not the actual sales calls) feel as though they shouldn’t follow up with a prospect after sending a cold email.
If this prospect was interested, they’d have replied by now. I don’t want to be too pushy,
especially since I’m reaching out to this person out of the blue in the first place.
What these reps aren’t realizing, though, is that their emails often get ignored because life gets in the way.
Maybe your prospect wants to learn more about your company/product, but they’ve just been putting it off because they’re busy.
Or maybe you didn’t add a call to action at the end, so they weren’t pushed to respond.
I mean, haven’t you ever forgotten to call your mom on Sunday, even though you said you would?
It’s the exact same thing.
The bottom line?
If you’ve sent a prospect a cold email, and they haven’t replied, it’s perfectly fine to send along a second follow up email. And a third. And a fourth.
Just make sure you keep your tone friendly and light, and you’ll be fine.
Now that you’re up to speed on the various cold email myths, let’s take a critical look at some guides.
Breaking Down 6 Of The Internet’s Most Popular Cold Email Guides
In this section, we break down six of the most popular cold email guides out there.
Rather than summarizing the key points of each guide, we also evaluate the guides critically and point out what they bring to the table (or not).
There’s plenty of material out there — but not all of them are high quality, or worth your time. So make sure you learn how to assess the content you find online!
Guide #1: The Complete Guide to Cold Email Outreach and Sales by Propeller.
Summary: In this guide, Propeller walks its readers through how to build a cold email campaign from scratch. The steps they’ve outlined include:
- Identify the right prospects
- Build your list
- Set up your campaign
- Write a great subject line
- Craft a killer pitch
- Craft the follow-up and breakup emails
- Launch the campaign
- Measure and test
Our verdict: This guide is tailored to Propeller CRM users, and it comes with a handy step-by-step breakdown (complete with screenshots) of how to set up a campaign using Propeller. If you’re on this CRM, check out the guide; otherwise, you might want to simply skim through (and skip the bits which are Propeller-specific).
Guide #2: How to Write a Cold Email For Sales Prospecting & Outreach by LeadFuze.
Summary: In this guide, Justin from LeadFuze shares the story of how he was horrible at cold emailing when he first started using it.
Justin says he gradually tweaked his approach, and finally hit a winning strategy that helped him build his first company into a seven-figure marketing agency.
Here are his tips on how to build a successful cold email prospecting campaign:
- Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
- Write like you talk
- Skip the introduction
- Get to the point (ie: focus on your customer, not the offer)
- Keep your email to four sentences or five sentences at the most
- Personalize what you can
- Put your contact information in your signature
- Avoid images
- Include a P.S.
- Close with a question
- Keep following up
- A/B test your emails
- Be consistent (ie: do some level of outreach everyday)
On top of that, Justin also highlights several cold email tips that you can use to increase your response rates:
- Improve your subject line
- Capture attention with your first sentence
- Add a personal touch
- Avoid rambling on when introducing yourself
- State what you want from your recipient (ie: use a Call To Action)
- Ease your recipient’s concerns (ie: demonstrate credibility)
- Suggest methods of communication and make it easy to respond
- Keep your message brief, clear and concise
- Make it easy for people to see the value in your offer
Next, Justin also provides his readers with tips on using referrals to warm up your cold emails:
- When to ask for a referral?
- Within the first 30 days of your relationship with the client.
- How to ask for a referral?
- Don’t ask your client to send an introduction email. Just ask for a name and email, and tell your client that you’d be happy to reach out yourself.
- How to contact the referral?
- Reach out to any referrals as quickly as you can, talk about how your client mentioned them to you, and close with an open-ended question that will help you determine their needs.
Finally, Justin ends off with pointers on how to A/B test cold emails:
- Subject line
- Specific vs vague
- Personalized vs localized (ie: personalizing using a prospect’s name vs
personalizing using their location)
- Your company vs their company (ie: try subject lines that only consist of the
name of your company or the name of their company)
- Questions (ie: ask questions in your subject line, such as, “Do you need SEO?”)
- Oddly specific numbers/percentages (ie: Use random, specific numbers or percentages in the subject line, like “Why He Paid Google $5,129,346.21”)
- Humorous vs straight-laced
- Saying “thanks” (ie: testing out different variations of politeness)
- Short vs long
- Text-based vs images
- Link placement (ie: testing out different areas of placement)
- Time of day
- Day of week
- Follow ups
- Number of times
- Follow up styles (ie: test out different styles, including trying a new subject line,
putting a time constraint on your offer)
Our verdict: Justin’s guide is pretty comprehensive, but it got a tad repetitive at one point, and we also found some of the tips generic and obvious.
We’d say this is a good resource for anyone who’s new to sales, but it might not be the best fit for those who are looking for more advanced strategies.
Guide #3: The Must-Read Guide to Cold Emailing by Reply.io.
Summary: In this guide, Reply.io shares several cold email tips, including:
- Find the best time to cold email (stats referenced: “8am and 3pm are the best times to send cold emails. If you are sending emails from US overseas, 9am EST is said to be the most effective time.”)
- Set the right tone
- Optimize your subject line
- Keep subject lines short (stats referenced: “The email with the longer subject line (eight words) received a 4.9% lower open rate and half as many responses.”)
- Include a clear CTA in your subject line
- Optimize your email body
- Short emails are more effective
- Include a CTA
- Engage the recipient as early on as possible
- Use line breaks to break up the text
- Start tracking your emails
Our verdict: All in all, we found this guide less comprehensive and substantial than the other ones on this list.
While the tips mentioned in the guide do make sense, they’re pretty generic. The guide also fails to go into detail where it matters; for instance, for their point on tracking emails, they simply state “Include relevant links to your website and sign offs, and track them by adding UTM codes to your URLs”, without elaborating on how exactly one might do this.
Guide #4: The Definitive Guide to Getting Clients with Cold Email By Hubstaff
Summary: In this guide, Hubstaff shares cold email advice that they’ve curated from Josh Denning of AuthorityFactory.net’s podcast.
Josh’s team sends out 3,000 cold emails each day and generates 300 leads every month; they reportedly get so many leads that their sales team complains about “not knowing what to do with all of them”.
The best practices that Hubstaff outlines in this guide includes:
- Getting the perfect copy for your emails (by hiring a copywriter, or honing your craft)
- Finding your best prospects (by coming up with customer personas and performing manual research)
- Focusing on product benefits instead of features
- Keeping your email brief and succinct
- Following up multiple times
- A/B testing (then C/D/E testing)
- Saving time using automation
Our verdict: Hubstaff’s guide is a great resource that neatly ties in various cold email best practices; they’ve also linked to more tools and resources with each step for further research or reading.
While some suggestions might not be feasible for small business owners or marketers on a tight budget, Hubstaff does suggest alternatives that are more feasible and cost-effective.
Guide #5: The Ultimate Cold Email Guide: Best Practices And Tools by MixBloom.
Summary: In this guide, MixBloom details 10 cold email best practices, plus their favorite email tools that readers can use to streamline their email process. The best practices they discuss here include:
- Contact the right person
- Don’t send the same email to everyone
- Write an awesome subject line (stats referenced: “Automated emails which include personalization have a 75% higher open rate than those that don’t.”)
- Show your personality
- Finish off with a Call To Action
- Make your email signature more informative
- Proofread your email
- Make your email different from the rest (ie: tell them a story)
- Be persistent (ie: follow up)
- Keep track of your performance
Tools that they recommend include:
- Propsect.io to find and verify the email addresses and job titles of your prospects
- NeverBounce to verify prospects’ emails in real-time
- ContactOut to identify prospects’ contact information
- Voila Norbert to find corporate email addresses
- FindThatLead to validate email addresses
- Boomerang to schedule emails to send at optimal times
- Outreach.io for inbox upgrades, email templates, and open/click tracking
- Mailshake to schedule follow-ups
- Bluetick.io to follow up with prospects
- HubSpot CRM to organize, track, and nurture your leads
- Followupthen to schedule an email reminder to yourself
- Rebump to automate follow-ups within Gmail
(Our tool ScopeLeads does pretty much all of these in one.)
Our verdict: We find this guide by Mixbloom trying to fit a bit too much in one article but overall good. The key takeaway is simple yet great as we are all about taking action.
Guide #6: The 10-Minute Guide to Cold Email Campaigns for Marketers by Single Grain
Summary: In this guide, Single Grain walks its readers through how to set up a cold email campaign that’s effective. Here are their tips:
- Start with an email address on a different domain (so that you don’t risk ruining the reputation of your company/domain when you experiment with your cold emails)
- Set up SPF and DKIM records
- Warm up your new email address
- Collect quality leads
- Verify your prospects’ email addresses
- Segment your list of prospects
- Personalize your emails
- Choose your words carefully
- Limit the number of images and html
- Know your email provider’s sending limits
- Follow up (stats referenced: “44% of marketers give up after only one follow-up, but 80% of sales require 5 follow-ups.”)
Our verdict: This is an excellent guide that brings you through some of the finer points of cold email, including what you can do to reduce the likelihood that your cold email will be get caught by spam filters.
While the guide does get pretty technical at some points, it explains all the jargon it references (SPF, DKIM, etc) in a way that’s simple and easy to understand. We recommend bookmarking this one, and revisiting it as and when you need to.
Must-Know Tips From 4 Additional Guides
Although we got the most popular guides out of the way, we decided to add in an additional 4 we though had unique takeaways.
Unlike the guides we’ve just covered, these 4 guides don’t walk you through the process of how to create a cold email campaign.
But they deal with other interesting aspects of cold email (eg: cold emailing VIPs), and they’re worth a read.
As always, other than summarizing the key points of each guide, we evaluate the guides critically and point out where they’re useful (or where they’re lacking).
Ready? Let’s jump right in!
Guide #1: 4 Eye-Opening Cold Email Stats for 2018 [Based on 3M + Emails] by Prospect.io
Summary: Based on all the campaigns that Prospect.io has sent out on behalf of their users, they’ve compiled a list of cold email stats to help readers optimize their cold emails.
Here are their findings:
- Best cold email send times are 5am to 6am (37% open rate, 8% response rate) and 7pm to 9pm (48% open rate, 8% response rate)
- Best subject lines lengths are 3-12 characters (44% open rate), 81-86 characters (43% open rate), and 98-111 characters (54% open rate)
- Best content lengths are 200-400 characters (3.5% response rate), 900-1000 characters (7.5% response rate), and 1400 – 1500 characters (8% response rate)
- Campaign steps: the more, the merrier. On average, a 1-step campaign only converts 0.74% of subscribers, but a 4-step (followup) campaign converts 1% of subscribers
Our verdict: This guide basically just lists a bunch of stats, so if you’re looking for additional insights that guide you on how to improve your cold emails, you’ll have to dig into the numbers and test your own approaches based on their findings.
That said, it’s pretty interesting to note that where both subject lines and email content is concerned, the trick seems to be to either go super short, or very long.
While it’s good to keep these stats in mind, never take stats blindly, and definitely do some experimenting to figure out what works best for you and your industry. Different strokes for different folks!
Guide #2: How to cold email a VIP (and actually get a response) by I Will Teach You To Be Rich
Summary: In his blog post, Ramit Sethi talks about how to make your email stand out when you’re emailing a VIP (who gets loads of unsolicited emails everyday). Here are his tips:
- Focus on what’s in it for them
- Make them care (use the Briefcase Technique)
- Make saying yes a no-brainer (by anticipating and eliminating any objections they may have)
Our verdict: The steps seem simple when laid out above, but there’s a lot to unpack here, and Ramit goes into great detail with each step.
Ramit also references an email that he received from a reader (one that he says made him call up this reader within 60 seconds of reading it), and walks you through his thought process and his reaction to each section of the email.
The bottom line? This is a great source for anyone who’s trying to get ahold of a VIP, and needs to understand their psyche.
Guide #4: The Complete, Step-by-Step Guide: How to Find (Almost) Anyone’s Email Address by Propeller
Summary: This isn’t a guide on cold emails, per se, but it deals with an important part of cold emails — finding those email addresses! — so we thought we’d include it anyway. Reminds me a lot of the post I wrote on my other blog with a similar title.
Here are Propeller’s 5 tips for marketers or sales reps who are trying to get in touch with a lead:
- Check the obvious places
- Twitter bio
- LinkedIn “Contact” section
- Personal website
- Company website
- Guess the lead’s email. Common formats include…
- [first name]@[domain]
- [first name][last name]@[domain]
- [first name].[last name]@[domain]
- [first name]-[last name]@[domain]
- [first initial][last name]@[domain]
- [first initial][last initial]@[domain]
- Check the not-so-obvious places
- Facebook fanpage
- Tweet history (use: AllMyTweets)
- Start Googling
- [first name] + [last name] + @[domain]
- [first name] + [last name] + @[domain] + email
- [first name] + [last name] + email
- Use online tools
Our verdict: We love this guide. For one thing, it’s well-written and highly detailed; also, the strategies brought up here are relatively unique, and haven’t been rehashed a million times in other guides.
The fact that the guide is highly actionable is also a huge plus; even if you’re completely new to marketing and cold emails, you’ll still be able to follow along and execute each step accordingly.
So you’ve made it all the way to the end of the first post in our cold email series… awesome stuff!
Now, I know you have tons of information to digest, so take some time to internalize everything you’ve read so far.
The best advice I can give you is to simply test. Craft your first few emails as templates based on the takeaways, tactics, and data outlined above. Then test, test, test until you’re able to write your own guide!
You’re well on your way to becoming a cold email ninja. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and we’ll see you in part 2 soon!
P.S – make sure to subscribe to the blog using the form below so you don’t miss out on Part 2 and other helpful guides being released soon!