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Your red-hot guide to cold outreach campaigns

Updated: 6 days ago

Knocking on someone’s door without being invited is always risky. Even if you look good, dress well, stand at a respectable distance and practice your sales pitch, there’s every chance the door will be slammed in your face after you’ve barely cracked a smile.

That’s the peril of cold outreach — sending an email to contacts that haven’t subscribed.

You’ll often hear that messaging prospects out of the blue is irritating, useless and can do more harm than good for your brand’s reputation.

Really, though, there is a case to be made for cold email outreach. You just have to be extremely aware of what to say and how to approach it.

In fact, a solid strategy can net more results than subscribed contact for your email marketing campaign. It’s fair to say that higher risks lead to greater rewards for outbound sales messages that are captivating, informative and leave that door open for a conversation that might go anywhere.

We’d like to offer some cold email marketing guidance so you have the very best chance of success right off the bat.

Make a strong first impression and improve deliverability, using your time and investments effectively.

This is how to get started.

Why experiment with cold outreach, anyway?

On the surface, cold emailing sounds a lot like cold calling — a perpetual annoyance.

Since the prospect doesn’t know who you are, they may seem more likely to ignore you and do the equivalent of hanging up: deleting the email or flagging you as spam.

Both of these responses will harm your email sender score. It’s easy to spend a lot of time finding cold contacts and crafting a convincing message, only to accidentally squander the opportunity.

However, cold emailing has plenty of advantages. Take a healthy cold open rate, for instance. Sales execution platform Outreach suggests this might be as high as 27%, which is larger than the 21% average quoted in Campaign Monitor’s 2022 Email Benchmarking Report. Provided that email doesn't look like spam, these numbers make sense.

Unexpected messages stoke our curiosity. We want to know why someone thinks we’re worth contacting, and since it’s not a cold call that demands a two-way interaction, we can read an email without any pressure to respond.

Even if recipients don’t reply right away, there’s a reason to keep trying. A Backlinko study reveals that following up with a prospect can double your cold email open rate.

Persistence, relevance and personality might pay off. Just like nurturing a qualified email marketing contact, cold outreach has the potential to nudge someone toward a conversion over several weeks or months.

It doesn't have to be a direct sale, either. Cold email marketing can help build a partner network, offer invitations for networking or event speaker/sponsor slots or simply ask people to share your content to other, more relevant readers.

It’s a huge win if you do manage to take a sales email further toward an actual conversation.


Because you’ve pulled off the incredible task of making someone interested in your business without them necessarily having much or even any awareness of what you do and how your offering can benefit them.

Hot leads might be very interested in a purchase, hire, subscription or follow-up, more so than contacts you’ve spent a long time shepherding through the conversion funnel.

Find the right campaign prospects

The first step to cold email outreach is getting that all-important email list.

These belong to leads you haven’t interacted with before — they haven’t left any details in your web forms or contacted you personally. That means you must find and verify email addresses another way.

Here are some useful tactics:

Buy an outreach email list

This is often the most popular method for filling up your contacts repository.

Numerous B2B services sell email addresses in bulk, sourcing them from many verified databases. You’ll get a rich list of prospects that you can top up whenever you have more cash to spare.

Be careful, though. You can never be quite sure whether the seller acquired these emails legitimately or merely grabbed them with bot crawlers. There’s a fine line separating what’s legally permissible or not for unsolicited emails in the U.S., UK, Australia, Canada, the EU and other territories.

Comb LinkedIn and Twitter

Professional users sometimes leave their email address on social media. You might get lucky by connecting with these individuals online and finding it in their bio.

Conducting research on social platforms also illuminates the potential buyer’s identity, which business they work for and what they might be interested in. Just be wary of contacting a personal email (i.e., not a company domain) by mistake, unless you’re a B2C brand with a killer pitch.

Subscribe to other mailing lists

It’s a savvy way to build a verified list of potential customer addresses, especially those with a relevant, professional service that could use your help.

When that first email arrives, unsubscribe — their contact information is yours. While this approach isn’t the best practice for generic inbound marketing addresses, it’s excellent for capturing information on a sales rep or VP: basically, anyone who communicates one-on-one. Also consider signing up for personal thought leader content to grow your cold email campaign database.

Check out WHOIS

Ever heard of WHOIS? It’s an information repository that sheds light on who registered a web domain. There are several mandatory fields for contact details, including a postcode, phone number and email address.

You won’t find more than one or two prospects here, but they might be useful if you’re targeting small business owners or people who are basically a brand unto themselves, such as industry consultants who have their own website.

Once you’ve got your cold email outreach prospects in a row, it’s worth double checking those addresses for accuracy and validity. After all, some lists might contain typos or expired accounts.

Warming up your inbox with deliverability verification is sure to weed out invalid contacts and prevent a high bounce rate from harming your digital marketing potential.

More on that soon. For now, let’s move onto how your email can grab and retain attention, standing out from suspicious spam.

Personalize every email

Cold email outreach absolutely depends on making the most of every word, sentence and invitation.

Although the comparison isn’t 100% fair, think about cold calling again. Are you more likely to stay on the phone if the caller says your name? Or mentions your job? Or talks about something you did or responded to recently? These touches set up a conversation rather than a blind bid for time and focus.

Simply, then, personalization will do you many favors for getting a foot in the door during cold outreach.

The more you know about potential buyers or partners, the easier you can justify sending them anything at all. They might even appreciate the effort you’ve made to contact them.

So, how do you personalize cold emailing? We have some quick tips:

  • Always use their first name:Hello” or “Hi there” won’t cut it. At the very least, refer to people by their actual names in an outreach campaign.

  • Lead in with a fact about their work or recent activity: This depends on what information you have about the right person. For example, you might have read about a recent professional win on social media or a company blog post. Or, maybe they attended a conference, webinar or networking event. Failing that, you can discuss their role and any potential challenges they’re facing.

  • Use a unique subject line: Personalization can involve grabbing someone with the very first thing they see — your email subject line. For instance, MailChimp provides merge tags for names and locations. Calling someone out with their first name and city is a great choice for raising your open rates. However, ensure there’s a reason for doing so. Mentioning Chicago, London or other cities will seem extremely random unless you can tie it back to your messaging.

  • Experiment with a gif or image: Tread carefully here, because some spam filters will mark you down for stuffing an email with images. On the other hand, an eye-catching gif or static picture can make your message more memorable. If you’re managing cold outreach that isn’t 100% professional (i.e., for a sensitive, serious target audience or subject) then using humor isn’t out of the question, either.

  • Name drop their colleague: This only works for previous contact with another person at the same company. Have you emailed them and earned a response? Awesome — talk about what you discussed! It’s a preferred tactic among recruiters and consultants.

With precise personalization, you’re going to forge better relationships and bump up open rates in your cold email campaign strategy.

But remember, that’s just how to come across as a person with something to offer … What about the language that’s going to help cold outreach convert?

Be brief and hone your email CTA

Once more, let’s put ourselves in your prospects’ shoes.

They aren’t expecting your email. They might be in the middle of a busy day. Every second counts when it comes to snaring their attention and motivating them to learn about your skills, service or advice.

Therefore, brevity can’t be underestimated. Hyperise references a Boomerang study that points to 50 to 125 words as the ideal email length for maximum engagement.

You might want to keep every message within this limit — certainly nothing greater than 200 words.

Cold outreach, in particular, should swoop in rapidly and leave an incredible impression before even attempting to prompt someone to reply or explore your website. You can always send longer emails later once your contact has shown an interest in you.

With such crucial, limited space, how should you introduce yourself?

Get straight to the point. Tap into the recipient’s fears, expectations or curiosity. You don’t have to present a solution to a problem right away, but at least demonstrate that you’re aware of their concerns or desires.

Cold email outreach is about building bridges from scratch, not walking a target audience over them.

You might want to take some of these approaches to achieving a sharp, punchy pitch:

Summarize a problem in one sentence

Use everything you know about the prospect to drill down an issue or anxiety into a single line. “I noticed that you’ve been sharing thoughts about X on LinkedIn recently,” “With Y market in turmoil at the moment, I wondered whether you’ve considered how it might impact your hiring strategy,” “Ever since Z, businesses like yours have been scrambling to adapt.

Buyer personas and market research will give you an inroad to issues you can either help fix or clarify.

Position your value

Explain why you’re interested in whatever subject you’re leading with. Perhaps you’ve served many similar clients, attended an event on the topic, written a blog post or whitepaper or retooled a service to meet an emerging demand.

Without heading into the weeds regarding your role and professional qualifications, draw a link between the problem and your unique, experienced perspective on it.

Give recipients something for free

Freebies will encourage the contact to embrace your cold emailing.

After all, they’re getting tips, reports or thought leadership content without paying for them — a bonus for their workday, if the content turns out to be useful and unique. Steer clear of free trial and demo offers, though, because they presume that recipients want to try your service or product immediately.

Lean more toward an asset they can read, watch or listen to in several minutes. Clicks suggest they’re interested, even if they don’t reply to your initial message.

We also suggest chipping your CTA into shape. This is the decisive action you want the reader to take, and it should spur them on with a few, well-placed words. Good CTAs often:

  • Start with a verb, e.g., “see,” “watch,” “download,” “learn,” “explore.”

  • Contain no more than three or four words.

  • Underscore their importance in a bold font or hyperlinked button.

  • Use split testing to grade and tweak clickable prompts.

Cold emailing templates can save your team the time and effort necessary to craft a new, personalized introduction for dozens or hundreds of prospects.

You can still modify them with one-of-a-kind information such as a first name, topic, problem and solution, but the copy surrounding those variables is ripe for repetition.

Check your highest-performing emails and think about the key points you want to include for every target audience.

Warm up your emails to stay out of spam

We discussed spam earlier, and while there are plenty of messaging choices to avoid being labeled or blacklisted, you’re never guaranteed to reach people without warming your emails up first.

Remember, cold email marketing is a dangerous game. Unsolicited contact and communication already have to leap over hurdles that subscriptions are less likely to contend with.

On top of that, your sender reputation — a score assessed by countless email service providers (ESPs) — can impact whether your messages land in an inbox or straight in the spam folder, or are blocked entirely.

By warming up your outreach email marketing, you’re basically increasing the trust that ESPs require and improving deliverability. Your sender score rises with every opened email that doesn’t trip a spam trigger.

There’s more to a healthy reputation, of course, but using a steady, continuous service for clicking those emails and marking them as “important” puts you in a much stronger position to be seen and verified as a legitimate sender.

So, how do you do it? Easy — Warmup Inbox.

We’ll send your cold emailing outreach emails to over 20,000 real inboxes, manually opening and responding to them. If any messages are flagged as spam, we’ll remove them from your campaign.

We’ll also report on technical details such as DMARC, DKN and SPF settings that aid deliverability. As the weeks go by, you’ll prepare a cold outreach campaign that will enjoy a good reply rate from the get go.

Learn more about our innovative platform, or sign up today for free! We want to make your cold intros so much warmer.

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