A Strategic Approach to your Cold Email Outreach
It’s National New Friends Day (or at least it is in the U.S. but why should they have all the fun?)
The bad news: It has become quite obvious to me that, as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic, we now face a serious and lengthy recession.
The good news: If you adopt the right strategy your share of the market can increase.
Therefore, to celebrate National New Friends Day I am going to take a look at what Cold Email Outreach Strategies are working, to create new friends and connections. Afterall, cold email outreach is all about creating new friends/connections, right?
Back in 2003, I remember how simple email was. It was an absolute no-brainer. It was less costly than telesales, faster than postal and you could track who opened your email. I would often see 30% open rates on average and the result would be instant. As a result, the market began to move and as you can imagine, once the market began moving people started receiving more and more emails.
At this point the different email service providers began developing more effective ways of reducing the amount of emails their users received. The strategy that had brought the market about in the first place was now out of date and for many no longer worked.
Some providers moved from a Cost per Thousand model to a Cost Per Lead and then ultimately a Cost Per Sale model. This move exacerbated the problem because these providers started sending higher and higher volumes in order to get the number of leads and/or sales required by a customer.
Finally, in an effort to make a higher margin, many customers began to increase the defining criteria of leads and others only attributed a conversion to the supplier if they converted within 2 days of the email blast, for instance. As a result of these changes, service providers were eventually driven out of the market and the number of companies offering email began to drop. But email still works however…
…other strategies were required.
This makes me think about “smoking” (not that kind of smoking) – during lockdown I found myself browsing second hand Weber BBQ’s because I wanted to try my hand at smoking various different “beef” cuts – let’s face it – lockdown gave us all time to think about and do some of the things we had never previously had the time to do.
If you don’t already know – there are several different strategies to cooking “beef”. A filet can for instance be cooked on a searing heat quickly for just a few moments and can taste amazing whilst a brisket can be cooked in a “smoker” overnight and be so tender and succulent that it literally melts in your mouth.
What you choose to do is based on how long you have and what result you want to try and achieve. It’s not a million miles away from cold email marketing.
In this blog post, I look at 2 principle cold email outreach strategies referred to as “low and slow” and “high heat”. In this article I deep dive in to the “high heat” strategy – please note that there are many different, successful, Cold Email Outreach strategies.
The “Low and Slow” Strategy (60 days)
When running cold email outreach campaigns we often look to generate immediate results which relies mostly on timing. i.e. will the person receiving this email have a requirement for my product/service right now and will that requirement be strong enough for them to react to this email.
This type of strategy relies on volume and speed however it comes with several issues – firstly, when sending to high volumes quickly your email can end up being filtered to the junk folder and secound, high unsubscribes. When sending to a high volume you will naturally see an increase in unsubscribes.
Therefore our “low and slow” strategy relies on a sequence of emails delivered over a period of days, typically around 60 days. That sequence may include 3,4,5 or more emails spread out over a period of days – for instance:
- Day 1 – Email 1
- Day 3 – Email 2
- Day 7 – Email 3
- Day 12 – Email 4
- Day 30 – Email 5
This “low and slow” strategy is entirely reliant on email – all elements of the campaign are completed by email including:
- The introduction + brand awareness
- Building a trusted relationship
- Identifying a requirement
This strategy is wholy reliant on high inbox placement – if the email goes to the junk folder then it fails, slowly. If it hits the inbox then it tends to work so long as the offer is relevant to the target audience but it takes time. At least 60 days…
This is because the IP address related to the sender email goes through a warm up process of 15 emails per day for the first 2 days and then increases each day over a period of 60 days until it reaches a maximium of 500 emails per day. Any more than that and the account is at risk.
The “high heat” strategy below introduces additional tactics that use other platforms to target the same audience, which can speed up the campaign results.
Which strategy to choose?
I suppose it depends on what your cooking however in short, both achieve the same result – the only difference is time.
The “high heat” strategy is below:
The “High Heat” Strategy (14 days)
A proven way of reducing these issues is to reduce the volume of emails you are sending to by increaseing the targeting and reducing the speed of the delivery by staggering the campaign.
The issue with this “low n slow” strategy is that you will need to be patient, the campaign will take time to roll out and if you are running a sequence of messages then you may be looking at several weeks for the campaign to complete.
However, a “high heat”strategy does have a very powerful, positive side affect. Both before during and after the campaign you can run ads on Facebook, Google and LinkedIn to both custom and matched audiences. These ads can be designed to build brand awarnesss amongst your target audience before they receive your introductory offer (HTML email), build trust whilst they receive your 1-2-1 cold email outreach message sequence and drive conversions towards the end of your campaign.
A possible strategic sequence could be as follows:
- Brand Awareness – Facebook, Google and LinkedIn Ads (Custom/Matched Audiences)
- Value Build – HTML email – (Bulk Email Delivery Platform)
- Trust Building – Facebook, Google and LinkedIn Ads (Custom/Matched Audiences)
- Engagement Piece – 1-2-1 Cold Email Outreach – (Openers and Clickers)
- Conversion – Facebook, Google and LinkedIn Ads (Custom/Matched Audiences)
- Final Offer – HTML email – (Bulk Email Delivery Platform)
In the above campaign sequence, we would look to run ads that drive brand awarness across our target audience before followe up with an introductory offer HTML email. The brand awareness piece is designed to be seen by our target audience and establish our brand presence within the marketplace.
The HTML email is designed to then provide our target audience with value – this does not necessarily mean a 50% discount for instance. That would be too early. Right now we want to build value with a download. in the mind of the receipient, not only have they seen our brand on Facebook, Google and/or LinkedIn but now they have a whitepaper offer in their inbox which is of a high value to them.
Once the HTML email has delivered we can switch our ads to building trust amongst our target audience, testimonials and reviews work well to help build trust.
After our trust piece has been running for a little while we can move on to engagement with a 1-2-1 cold email outreach campaign. This campaign is designed to generate a positive response – this email may reach out to establish a relationship by asking aspecific question or offering a demo for instance.
Once this 1-2-1 cold email outreach caampaign is running we can switch our Facebook, Google and LinkedIn ads to conversion – link to a landing page where people can request a quotation perhaps.
Finally, an HTML email can be sent to the entire audience with a final offer, perhaps a 20% discount.
This blog post will show you step by step how to complete the above campaign strategy.
Step 1 – Choosing Your Target Audience
LIFO – Last In, First Out
Naturally, many businesses have a very specific and niche target audience however in these uncertain times, the market is evolving and as a result changing. To make sure you are keeping up with this change one of the stratgies we follow is LIFO, Last In, First Out. In short, we look at our last customer and analyse why they purchased from us then identify a lookalike audience based on their profile.
This strategy works well during periods of significant change as it helps you keep up with the market without having to guess what is happening or make too many assumptions.
To quickly analyse your last customer, simply take their email address or company name and enter it in to Contact Enhance – www.contactenhance.com. This solution will remove the local part of the email address such as firstname.lastname@ and run a lookup on the corporate domain (does not work on Hotmail or other free email services) for a company name. Once it has identified the company name it will look up other values including the geographical location, business size, tech stack and business description (including SIC code).
Once this information is to hand, you can then see a clear profile of your target audience. For instance email@example.com shows the SIC code 73110, Scarborough, North Yorkshire and less than 11 to 50 employees. You can then look at this profile and remove certain filters such as Scarborough, North Yorkshire. You might remove this because you can deal with any company, across the whole the UK. This then leaves you with companies with SIC code 73110 with 11 to 50 employees. Don’t forget to look at the job title of your customer, for instance marketing manager.
With this profile in mind you can now search for a lookalike target audience.
Step 2 – Find Lookalikes
www.countrunner.com or via an account manager at Emailmovers.
There are many different ways of building up lookalike lists however by far the most cost effective and compliant method is to purchase the data from an established company. Established in 2003, Emailmovers has been delivering B2B contact lists with email to customers for over 17 years. Every email we provide is both verified electronically and notified of our processing in accordance with G.D.P.R. – Emailmovers maintains a database of over 700,000 B2B contacts that can be filtered by the following:
- Job Title
- Geographic Location
- Business Description (SIC code)
- Business Size
As you will see from the fields available we can filter the contacts we want to reach out to by SIC code (we want 73110), by Job Title (we want marketing management) and by Business Size (we want 11 to 50 employees). To do this you can register for an account on our free online count engine, countrunner.com and run the counts yourself (no minimum order value) or call one of our account managers on 08452267181 (minimum order value £350 + VAT) and they will do it for you.
Once you have purchased the list of lookalikes you can then perform a final pre-send validation.
Step 3 – Pre-Send Validation
www.emailcleansing.com or via an account manager at Emailmovers.
With the rate of data decay at an all time high it is crucial we pass the lookalikes list through an email cleansing solution to identify any hard bounces before we send to it. If you purchased the data from Emailmovers then it will have been validated within the last 30 days however there may still be invalid emails on the file as a result of recent redundancies (last 30 days) and these need to be removed.
You can upload your list to our online solution emailcleansing.com to identify invalid emails quickly or talk to your account manager at Emailmovers on 08452267181 and they wil be happy to complete this final pre-send validation for you based on a cost per thousand.
Once your contacts are validated you need to run your brand awareness campaign to them on Facebook, Google and/or LinkedInas below.
Step 4 – Build Brand Awareness on Facebook, Google and/or Linkedin with Custom/Matched Audiences
Facebook refers to this specific functionality as custom lists – you can upload a list of emails in to Facebook and run Brand Awareness ads to them easily via their platform or indeed target a list that has been shared with you by a partner.
Brand awareness campaigns in Facebook work like regular campaigns, displaying a specific ad to your custom list as and when they are on the Facebook.com website. However, one of the key metrics measured by Facebook during a brand awareness campaign is the estimated ad recall lift (people) – this key metric estimates the number estimated to recall your brand within a specific period of time.
You can see in the chart below how a brand awareness campaign that I ran achieved a cost per result of £0.07 and a result rate of 12.50% out of 45 people reached in total.
It’s important to note that this specific audience was B2B. However, many people attach their work email to their Facebook account hence how Facebook locates them.
Google allows us to create “Audiences” in the same way and target these contacts via Display Ads across the Google Ad network (which is vast – around 2 million – reaching over 90% of people on the internet)
Google reports on “viewable impressions” which shows the number of times that an ad was viewable. An ad is viewable when at least 50% of it’s area is visible for 1 secound for Display Network ads.
Finally, just like Facebook and Google, LinkedIn allows us to target specific contacts – LinkedIn refer to this feature as “Matched Audiences”. Again, the objective of you LinkedIn ad is on brand awareness. In the chart below you can see that my ad received 820 impressions.
When running a brand awareness campaign in order to prepare a targeted audience, it’s important to create as many different ad variants as possible (especially with Google Ads – I created around 20 for my campaign). You want to be seen and if you have 1 ad you might not be seen.
Step 5 – Build Value with an HTML Email
Build Value with your audience
Now that your list is aware of your brand, you need to build up some value before you look at whow you might be able to help them with a product and/or service.
Sending an HTML email to your entire list will do several things:
- Identify a responsive data set (people opening and clicking through on your email)
- Identify any further hard bounces (for removal)
- Identify any unsubscribes (people not interested)
- Build value in your brand
If what you offer in this email is of value to your target audience then your brand will undergo a transformation in the minds of your target audience from being a distant player in a competitive marketplace to being of direct value in the quest to achieve a goal of some sort. For instance, with emailmovers we compile then sell access to B2B email data and for certain clients run their cold email outreach campaigns for them. However, we don’t start the journey with this message- we prefer to buid awareness first as a thought leader in the industry (afterall we run hundreds of campaign each year so have a lot to share) then target that audience with a free download and/or webinar for instance. We want to identify who amoung our target audience is looking for help, who is interested.
Those that open this email become our responsive data set. They become the focus of our 1-2-1 cold email outreach campaign however next we need to shift the focus on our online ads towards building some trust.
Step 6 – Build Trust with Online Ads
Build Trust with your audience
Building trust with your audience is a crucial step, your target audience need to know you can do what you say you can do before they will consider you as a partner on a project. There are various ways in which you can build trust, some of these are as follows:
- Case Studies
Once your bulk HTML email has been delivered you can change your ads on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google to begin building trust. As above, case studies, testimonials and reviews can help build trust.
Although these ads are designed to generate build trust they do link to a landing page where people can review our testimonials and read through customer reviews. They can also download case studies relevant to their industry.
All the above help to build trust.
Step 7 – Deliver value and develop a 1-2-1 relationship
Give the value away and bring together the different parts of your campaign.
Many of you may be a little worried about giving too much value away in your campaign, infact, you worry that if you tell your prospects too much then they will indeed go off and do it themselves without talking to you about how you might be able to help them.
This is a concern and some of course will however there will also be those that identify the value you offer and lean in for a closer look at how you can help them. The value you give is therefore crucial, it’s the magic glue that pulls all the different parts of the campaign together. If the prospect does not see any value then why would they ask you to help. Trust me, it’s an important part of the process.
Take this article, by now you must be thinking about running a campaign using the strategy Claire and I have detailed on this page, you must be thinking of all the campaigns we have both run in order to have so much knowledge, you must be thinking how valuable that knowledge, the knowledge on this page is and how it could help your business if it was put to work on your products/services each month, month in, month out. Perhaps you have already considered how much revenue you might be able to generate? If so then you may have also considered how much work might be involved?
At this point, most people will make a very simple decision – “Could these guys do all this for me, faster and less expensive than I could do it for myself?”
This simple question means that they have already bought in to the idea, the value has been delivered and the only thing that remains is for them to decide on how to realise the value in their own business – how do they put it to work? The value has created the opportunity. No value = no opportunity.
The next best step is to develop an actual relationship with the prospect so that they can ask questions and find out what they need to in order to make the all important decision – “Do I do this or do I ask them to do this?”
A 1-2-1 Cold Email Outreach campaign to your engaged users over a period of 2 weeks is deisgned to create this dialogue – we call them positive replies.
At Emailmovers we use emailmover.com – a tool designed specifically to send a sequence of 1-2-1 text emails to engaged prospects with the goal of creating a positive dialogue. We want of audience to ask use the call to action in this email sequence to email us back, call us and/or connect with us on Social Media in order to have a dialogue.
A typical 1-2-1 sequence we use is as follows:
- 1-2-1 Introductory email – Hi, my name is *** – I can see that you are based in Leeds and wondered if you had considered… …let me know your thoughts? perhaps we can chat later this week if you have time?
- Just wondering if you got my email a couple of days ago, are you free for a call this afternoon?
- I can see you are busy so I won’t bother you again right now however if I can help just let me know.
The above sequence will automatically stop if a person replies, if when a person replies they are indeed looking to get more information then that reply can be marked as positive.
At this point, when a reply is marked as positive we use Zapier to automate our alerts – i.e create a lead score for the prospect based on company size, industry etc, grab a copy of the their positive reply, drop a new lead in to the clients CRM and send a quick email alert to let them know they have a reponse waiting for them with details including the all important copy of the positive reply.
Step 8 – Conversion ads
Give prospects an easy way to buy
From this moment onwards we move more towards sealing the deal. We have created brand awarness, delivered value to create an opportunity, built trust and reached out 1-2-1 to show prospects our experts are only an email away should they need more help.
Now, we need to move our efforts towards conversion. Our Google, Facebook and LinkedIn ads should now focus on promoting a webinar or requesting a callback, proposal or other type of warm engagement. Something prospects can register for, it is important they are able to register for this asset/aaction. When a person registers for something they know full well they are going to be followed up, in fact they expect to be followed up. If they are ignored it is almost cheeky and can indeed damage the relationship.
Webinars are a good way of converting prospects because you can offer a close at the end of the webinar. For instance, you may use a webinar to walk your prospects through the value you can deliver, step by step then at the end, signal to your audience that you will be running an offer. For those wanting to go ahead with the offer, simply ask them to email you a secret code or something similar.
There will always be those that read every email, download every checklist, watch every webinar and stick around for every offer but never buy. These prospects are typically gathering as much information as they can so that they can do it themselves. Don’t ignore them and don’t be upset with them. They could become your best ambassadors. If they do what you have suggested they do and it works then they will tell everyone. These individuals are highly valuable.
Step 9 – One Last Thing “The final offer”…
Giving people a last chance
Many prospects need that last push before they commit, for one reason or another they simply can’t decide how to proceed or they might even start to do it themselves then give up when things don’t go to plan or when they see how much work is involved.
By sending a final HTML offer to your target audience you give these people a last chance to realise that value in their company. I have seen emails come in literally 2 minutes before the end of a 24 hour offer. It is important restrict your time limited offer to those that have open your emails but not clicked through and those that have clicked through but not registered and those that have registered but not bought. You don’t want to confuse those prospects that have purchased with an offer that might be 20% less than what they paid.
However, that said – you can only run an offer based on the resources you have. Those that pay full price will naturally be the first in the queue, those that get an offer you may have to turn away as you are too busy. Indeed, in many situations you may not have enough reesources to satisfy everyone and not run the offer at all.
If this is the case, it’s important to close the campaign with a final communication. Perhaps you could link to a video for instance explaining that your campaign has now completed and they won’t receive any further communications from you but that they can subscribe to your newsletter.
This is a great way of driving engaged newsletter subscribers.
Upon completion of your campaign, it is critical you review the results from all channels and understand what can be improved.
This means that metrics will be important so remember to use something like Google Analytics to help you track conversions including source and medium. The campaigns feature of Google Analytics is especially helpful.
In short, the success of your campaign will be dependant on the following 3 main elements:
- Was the strategy correct?
- Was the targeting correct?
- Was the offer correct?
If the campaigns fails to find you any new customers, bank the learnings by setting the campaign metrics as a benchmark or test control and go again but be sure to only test one change at a time so that you can truly bank the learnings and make the necessary improvements.