Cold email is not dead. The latest statistics show that it is still one of the best ways to reach your audience. Building an audience on social media is a good strategy, but over the years the organic reach on these channels has declined signficantly.
Email outreach gets a bad reputation because it is often done terribly. Many companies just buy a list, personalize some minor detail like the recipients first name and company and blast to hope for the best. While this approach might work and land a few responses, and even lead to some deals. It’s more often due to sheer luck and the volume, rather than due to a solid strategy. This approach is difficult to scale, unpredictable and runs the risk of damaging your brand (and domain!) reputation with badly targeted emails.
So, how do you do better? Let’s take a look at a proven formula that we use to build a b2b sales outreach process. In a way that is scalable, predictable and that leads to real ROI.
Define your prospects
Before beginning any email outreach campaign, you need to tightly define who you’re reaching out to. If you haven’t already, run some exercises to determine your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
Get very detailed when creating these personas. Map out their age, location, job title, years of experience. Think about what kind of publications they read.
And importantly, map at least 2-3 pain points they are experiencing in their current job. For B2B sales outreach, the aim is to make our prospects job easier.
Once you’ve come up with some pain points, write out in simple sentences how your product or service can address and solve these pain points.
Now we’re getting somewhere.
If you already have a tightly-defined ICP or customer persona. Consider using some of the approaches below to question your assumptions and come up with new targeting ideas.
Look at past customers
If you have a CRM database (and if you don’t, why not!), export the emails of your top customers. Then upload to a tool like Clearbit for enrichment.
Clearbit is an awesome tool that will then match these email addresses with rich data like job title, location, company size etc. You can use this data to find trends and figure out which of your customers have the highest lifetime value.
Once you’ve figured this out, you’ll have a better understanding of who to target with your outreach efforts. For example you may think that large Fortune 500 companies with 5000+ employees are your best customers, but in reality mid-market firms could be your greatest source of revenue growth.
Give it a shot, Clearbit is relatively inexpensive and there are free credits avaiable to test it out. You might find some interesting insights.
Use a survey tool
Consider using a survey tool to better understand your customers. Platforms like Lucid connect businesses with potential customers that can answer questions. Conducting a survey will help you better understand what messages resonate best.
This is a sneaky, but effective tactic that’s particularly effective if you’re a SaaS business.
It’s common practice for SaaS companies to showcase their client’s logos on their website. It’s a great way to build social proof and trust with your prospects.
It’s also a a great way to gather prospects to target for your outbound email outreach. All you have to do is see who they showcase as customers, then find their contact details and position your product or service as a superior solution.
Find their emails
Building out a well-defined audience isn’t going to help much if you can’t find contact details.
Luckily for you, there are lots of tools that facilitate this process.
- Formerly known as Email Hunter. This tool gives you to find both email addresses from a company using a domain, the specific email address of a professional and allows you to verify existing emails to improve your delivery rate. It comes as a chrome extension, google sheet add-on and also has a bulk upload feature. Making it an ideal fit for many workflows.
- This features pretty much the same feature-set as Hunter. But the free tier is a little more generous, allowing you to request 150 email addresses per month.
- One of our favourite tools, Clearbit offers both email enrichment and a rich data set. It’s ideal for B2B marketing activities, as it can provide detailed demographic and firmographic info, such as job title, company size and revenue metrics.
Any of the above tools can be used as part of your outbound strategy. They all offer free trials and different levels of integration. We recommend trying each and seeing how it fits into your marketing approach and technology stack.
Gone are the days when personalizing with someone’s name and company was impressive. Your prospects are savvy, and they know how merge fields work!
People are fatigued with cold email. To improve your replay rates and positive responses, you need to truly make each email feel personalized. While this sounds like something difficult to scale, there are some simple systems you can use.
First of all, once you have your list of contact details from step 2, import them into a spreadsheet and create 1 or 2 additional columns. These will be your custom fields.
Custom fields are supported by most email marketing tools. These fields are where we will add personalizations that make it look like we’ve written a unique each email for each prospect.
Some good personalizations to try are around your prospects industry and pain points.
For example, if you have a list of contacts with people in the financial services, healthcare and education industries you could write a short snippet explaining how your product or service solves specific pain points encountered in these industries.
See an example of what this spreadsheet might look like below:
This is just an idea to get started, you can create all kinds of custom fields to personalize outreach at scale. You might even consider hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA) to help you to scale this approach once you figure out what works.
Test and optimize
Ok so you’ve found your ideal target audience, you have their contact details, and some super-personalized to send them. You run campaigns and you see some initial success, some good responses and some potential deals in the pipeline. Or your campaign is a disaster with no responses.
What should you do next in either scenario? Exactly the same thing: test and optimize.
Always test your subject lines, email copy and targeting vectors. Record all of your data and see what works. Use A/B testing calculators to check for stastistical significance, then move on to your next test.
Remember: If you always test, and always optimize, you will always improve your outreach process. There is no silver bullet for success, to get results you need to experiment, iterate and incrementally improve your results. Track key performance indicators like delivery rates, open rates, reply rates and # interested responses to understand where and how to improve.