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Best Practices for Cold Email Outreach

Cold email outreach can be highly effective in sales, either by helping you connect with viable and valuable prospects or by removing bad leads from your prospect list so you don’t waste time on them. And research shows that 8 out of 10 prospects prefer to talk with a sales rep via email over any other medium, giving you all the more incentive to perfect your cold email outreach skills.

Using cold email effectively is both an art and a science, and you need the right balance to improve your chances of making strong connections. These 5 best practices take out the guesswork so you can get the most from every email you send.

1. Use Verification Tools for Greater Success

Most of us tend to focus our efforts on an email’s content; but remember, no matter how great you are at writing, all that work is useless if your message never reaches the recipient.

When emails cannot be delivered successfully, they bounce. And every bounced email will affect your sender score. If that score sinks too low, your emails may end up going straight to spam folders or get you blacklisted altogether.

So before you start writing and sending emails, it’s important to consider the validity of your email list to give you the best chances of making that first connection. Use an email verification tool to decrease your bounce rate and even find details you may be missing, such as company name or job title.

The higher the integrity of your email list, the more you stand to gain from every email.


2. Use Automation to Maximize Your Outreach

Emailing a long list of leads might seem daunting, but email automation tools make it quick and painless. Sales reps can spend less time writing individual emails and guessing at the next steps by using templates and scheduling emails without having to reinvent the wheel each time.

Plus, you’ll always know exactly where your prospects are in your email sequence, what content they’ve engaged with, or whether or not the email has even been opened. Automation tools track engagement for you and give you data-driven insights into your campaign’s effectiveness, so use those insights to tweak and refine your email outreach strategy.


3. Make It Obvious What You Want the Recipient to Do

No matter how helpful you think you’re being, you ultimately want something from your prospect. If you want them to comply, you have two responsibilities: make it obvious what you want, and make it easy for them to give it to you.

Every email should have a call to action, whether it’s to reply with a certain response, click a link, or schedule a phone call. Be clear about what you want them to do next, and limit their choices to avoid confusion or decision paralysis.

One study found that cold emails with just one CTA saw a 42% boost in click-through rate compared to the original email that had four CTAs. Another study discovered that displaying the CTA as a button compared to plain text improved the click-through rate by 28%.

If you’re considering more than one CTA and can’t decide which one to use, you can always A/B test them to see which gives you the best response.


4. Don’t Forget to Follow Up

It usually takes more than one email to get a response from your prospects, yet about 70% of salespeople give up if they don’t hear back after the first email.

Follow-up emails tend to get a better response rate than the initial email, so don’t think that silence always means disinterest. Things like timing, subject line, or the call to action might not resonate the first time.

If you haven’t already, start making it a habit to send multiple emails before giving up on a prospect altogether. But more importantly, continue to deliver value in every follow-up. Emails that are “just checking in” or asking if they got your last email are essentially worthless and won’t help you move your prospect any closer to the next step.


5. Send a Test Email to Yourself

The way your email looks in the recipient’s inbox is an important part of the process, not just an afterthought. If your email doesn’t look professional, trustworthy, and well-branded, you may not get the response you were hoping for.

Fix it fast by sending yourself a test email, then asking yourself the following questions:

  • Would you want to open it?
  • Did it end up in your spam folder?
  • How does the content look on the page?
  • Is it clear what action the recipient should take after reading it?

Use this test to find and fix minor issues that could have a major impact on your results. You may even want to send it to a coworker to get a second set of eyes on it and ask for their feedback.


Final Thoughts

The whole purpose of sending a cold email is to warm up your prospect, not go straight for the sale. You want them to be open to hearing what you can do for them, so save the sales pitch for later in the relationship, and focus on building recognition and making connections. When you prioritize the relationship first, sales will naturally follow.


What cold email outreach best practices have you found to be the most effective? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Sujan Patel is a partner at Ramp Ventures and has over 14 years of marketing experience. He has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.

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