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7
min read
August 21, 2019

Cold Email: The Surprisingly Warm Way to Win New Business

Geoff Whiting

Geoff Whiting

A contributor to Invisible, Geoff is experienced and writes on enterprise tech, B2B SaaS, supply chain, and e-commerce best practices
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When a prospect is looking for your solution, “content is king.” But when you’re sending a cold email to a prospect, “context is king.” That’s why the new cold email is all about understanding people before you start typing.

People do want to get emails — 72% of consumers prefer email for marketing — but they get a flood of them every day. Break through the noise by writing cold emails with context and demonstrate it in the subject line and body. From researching names and job titles to work functions and relevant product positioning, you’ve got many options to get it right.

So, if you’re one of the many businesses looking at email to reach new people and qualify more leads, you’ve got a lot of competition. To succeed, you’re going to need to know your customers much better and be able to demonstrate this while also being a great conversationalist.

That sounds like a big order, but it’s easy when you get the process right. So, let’s dive into how to set up that process with a few tips to help you craft emails your new customers will love.

How to cold email right

Cold email is a research-heavy endeavor. Learning about your market is the best place to start. There are a variety of tools that can help you scour LinkedIn and local listings to see who might be using your products or is working with one of your competitors. Digging into their leadership and purchasing teams will help you understand the personality and preferences of your prospects too.

cold email
Businesses are switching to cold emails to avoid triggering this feeling.

Research can help you find out what their biggest fears and worries are or where they tend to spend too much and need help. Their goals, business needs, and even KPIs can point you in the right direction. You’ll also start seeing personal elements that are important too — something as simple as how your industry addresses each other in emails or the level of slang and acronyms they use in casual conversation.

If you’re targeting a specific industry, look at publications and events where there’s a lot of emails and related marketing. These will help you start — plus an attendees list can be a perfect start to a marketing list.

Demonstrate that you know a person and their business. That’s how the cold email starts to thaw, and you reach the people you want.

3 tips for writing successful cold emails

Cold emails work when they don’t feel cold. The closer they are to a conversation you’ll have in real-life, the better. And typically, we get some kind of an introduction or connection to people we speak with, whether that’s a person doing the introducing or something as simple as attending the same conference.

When you lean on the information you have on a lead, it’ll help you get that warm feeling. Here are three top ways to warm things up, starting from the very first email.

1. Tell them the big-picture benefit

When you open up a cold email, how much of it do you read when you can tell that you’re not the right fit? Do you stop as soon as you know there’s nothing in this for me? Many of us do. 

It’s especially true at work where there never seems to be enough time to do everything on our lists.

If you want to keep busy people engaged and reading, point out the clear benefit to them, and avoid talking solely about your company or products. The advantage isn’t the product or service they pay; it’s the results and how those results make them feel.

how to cold email
Learning how to cold email is a very valuable skill.

You’ve done your research on your buyers and personas. Turn these into direct talking points and use them. Address the pain point, the reason behind it, and what that issue causes. For someone selling workforce software, you could write something along the lines of:

Manually tracking labor costs with outdated software makes it hard to spot exceptions and enforce pay rules, costing management time and the company money. Automation can reduce those risks, and I can help you look for other savings with it too.

Focusing on the problem allows you to discuss the concept of the solution and further the conversation. By suggesting the next step, like looking for additional savings together, they see you as being part of the big-picture solution, not as someone selling anything specific.

2. Avoid formal and impersonal

This is probably not the best script to use if you want conversions:

Dear sir or madam,    Your best leads get tons of cold emails each day. Most of them are terrible, especially the intro. They’re unlikely to read past that “Dear sir” or another generic greeting because no one speaks like that.

Writing like a formal robot instead of a person is just as bad as saying anything that helps the reader understand that you know them. When you gather lead intelligence, whether it’s through technology or smart outsourcing to people, you should get a little idea around their likes, personality, and preferred name.

Use that because it engages your audience on a personal level.

Are you struggling to understand how to strike a casual tone that resonates with your audience? Record sales calls and listen to one that was successful. Write the way your sales team spoke. That way, it’ll feel familiar when they’re on the call and maintain the conversation, even if your email and call units are separate.

Finalize it by peppering in just one or two items that show how you’re connected or that you’ve done your research. If you’ve got a CRM, tag this info here too, so your sales team is ready after the marketing hand-off. A few of the many personalization options include:

  • Mention how you’re connected — people, organizations, hobbies, or a recommendation
  • What you like about their work — products, specific services, blogs, videos, etc.
  • What they use — usually specific pieces of software or other products
  • Current events — in B2B this is usually industry-related and mentioning a topic early can be a safe way to transition someone to a recent company blog or report
sending cold emails
Sending cold emails should follow your normal marketing plans too.

Personalizing the introduction and your big-picture benefit helps ensure your audience reads to the end where you’ve got a critical item waiting for them.

3. Ask for just one thing

Complexity kills initial interactions, especially cold ones. Even if your system is intricate and requires significant steps to move through its process, try to find a single action that someone can take to keep the conversation going, then ask for it.

And only ask for that one item.

A short message gets people to read it, and you want to capitalize on that small success. Be clear and concise, focusing on whatever the must-do is. Whenever possible, automate as much of the step as possible:

  • If you ask them to speak with you, link to an online calendar so they can book a preferred time directly.
  • If you work best on email and want them to reply, give them a simple question to respond to (“What’s your biggest issue right now?”) and limit response options by removing Skype, phone numbers, and other info from your signature line.
  • If you want them to watch a video, demo, or other read a website, link to it a couple of times and provide the full URL so they can copy-paste it.
  • Or, if you’re going big with a limited time offer, provide the specific time and date the offer ends so that it doesn’t feel like a generic email with a fake deadline.
cold email templates
Creating well thought out cold email templates allow your audience to respond accordingly.

Some leading cold email brands have found that asking for a reply is one of the best first actions because your main mission is breaking the ice and getting the conversation started. Do whichever option you think has the lowest barrier to entry for your audience.

A note on cold email subject lines

Subject-line suggestions for cold email are all over the place, no matter what guide you’re reading. Some suggest using brief questions while others recommend including personal details like the person’s or company’s name. Now, many also include a recommendation for adding emojis. A few include apologizing for “messing up”— which can really backfire if it feels like a generic email and there was no real mistake.

You’re going to need to test multiple options to find what works best for your audience.

In many B2B spaces, it’s good to personalize at least one of your cold email’s subject lines. We like noting how you’re connected to the lead. It’s fine if this is a second-degree connection, alumni group, or a shared experience. When you make this connection in the subject line, come back in the body of the email to expand on these goals, needs, and concerns.

If they have a public-facing role, it’s perfectly okay to mention a recent social post, presentation, or LinkedIn comment.

cold email subject line
The cold email subject line might be the only thing they see, so make it good.

Personalizing early emails in your sequence allows you to be much more informal in follow-ups as well. It won’t come off as strange when your third email subject line is:

“You okay, Jake?”

Getting help to maximize your cold emails

Crafting the right email template takes a long time and a lot of practice. But, getting the data to customize that template for every lead in your pipeline takes even longer — and that’s probably time you don’t have. Look for support.

Invisible scours the Internet for context about the people and companies in your pipeline, allowing you to speed up the process of sending your emails — plus you can get help with lead qualification before you even send an email. So, you have the context you need to transform a cold email into a warm lead.

Turning your sales pipeline over to another company can be a little concerning, so it’s essential to find a partner that is focused on delivering for your company. A few things that make Invisible a next-gen outsourcing option are:

  • All of our agents go through an extensive curriculum and are certified on web research before they work with any client
  • They use a sophisticated stack of third-party tools designed to find out the who and what you need fast
  • Our supporting technology partners track all emails and open rates, and can even automate and manage follow-up emails until you get a response.

That’s just the start of what our expert agents can do to automate sales prospecting and boost your sales numbers. See it all in action by contacting us today to understand how we integrate into your existing workflow to minimize disruption and increase lead quality.

Remember your conversation skills

how to write a cold email
Free up your teams to focus on the sale and leadership to build a stable path forward for growth.

The final thing to think about for cold emails is that its rise has coincided with a big shift of marketing funnels. Customers and leads are doing more research and might be looking for you before the outreach starts. Or, at the very least, they likely know about the problem they have that you’re able to solve.

There’s some foundation there, so you don’t need to lay the complete framework before, and you shouldn’t try. A cold email is the start of a discussion, and you don’t introduce yourself by launching into a full history of your life.

Keep those initial emails short and sweet to try and strike up a conversation. Give your opener and ask questions — people love to talk about themselves more than just about anything else.

And then respond to their answers.

Our technology stack automatically notifies customers when their emails get a response and send all the info we have because the next touch needs to be personal. The interaction is no longer cold, so warm up, dive in, and have that conversation. And, if you need a little help to get to that point, ask us how Invisible can help you find the right tools, tactics, and leads to keep your business healthy.

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