Cold emails . . . most people quiver at the thought of them.
The practice has a bad rap from the grandfathered frustration of receiving cold calls in the middle of dinner. In today's world cold emailing is a common form of introductory conversation, and the majority of marketers don't know how to use it appropriately.
Cold emailing should be looked at like introducing yourself to a stranger on the street--friendly and authentic, with no immediate agenda of getting something from them, except maybe a nice conversation.
If you immediately think "spam" when you think of cold emailing, then you are missing a huge opportunity to build relationships and grow your business.
Justin Christianson, bestselling author of Conversion Fanatic, challenges that misconception with the top lessons he's learned from sending over 50,000 cold emails--from defining his target market to treating people like . . . well, people.
Clearly define your target market
The biggest mistake with cold emailing is not knowing who you should be contacting.
According to Mailchimp, open rates teeter between 14-28% depending on the industry. That variance can be huge when using cold emailing as a main marketing tool. Hours, even days, can be wasted by communicating with unqualified prospects and could easily be avoided by doing market research.
Research your potential prospects and learn if your product or service fits within their business model and if you believe they have the financial capacity to pay for your product or service. Find your sweet-spot prospect before blindly emailing the masses.
Treat prospects like people
It's easy to hide behind a screen and not realize that there is someone just like you on the other end.
When developing email copy, the more genuine you can be, the better response rate you will receive. These prospects are people who have families, interests, jobs, and other priorities. Treat them like people, not a business deal you're trying to land.
Respect their time by keeping emails short, and be conversational in your writing instead of invasive. Don't fall into the old tactic of spewing your sales pitch all over the reader and not treating them like a person.
For more tips on writing cold emails, check out HubSpot's blog post: How to Write a Cold Email That'll Actually Get a Response.
Deep analysis of the company you're prospecting
Conversion Fanatics has a tried and true three-step process for researching and contacting their prospects:
- Research the company as a whole--can you specifically help them?
- Research the individuals within the company--who are the decision makers working within your field of expertise?
- Send emails to more than one person at a time
The deep analysis helps you better understand your prospect, which will lead to you knowing how you can best fit within their company and meet their needs. When it comes time, this detailed information will help you to have a stronger sales pitch.
Contact multiple people
When sending cold emails to a prospect, Conversion Fanatics has found that it's best to send emails to 3-5 people within the company, with slight tweaks to leverage any common connection or interest.
Sending only a single email allows for too many variables. That one person could be having a busy week, the email could've accidentally been marked as read, or they could've just ignored it and had no one else bring it up in conversation. Emailing a small group of people will get them talking amongst themselves and will typically result in a response.
Send email in small batches so you can measure results
Measuring results is key to learning what has the highest response and conversion rates for your target market. The best way to do this is to email in small batches. This allows you to see what's working and what's not, and to make tweaks accordingly.
Conversion Fanatics sends batches of 20-30 leads each week and then reevaluates at the end of the week once they see which tactics were most successful. Watch your metrics for open rate, response rate, and click-through rate of cold emails to discover who's responding to what.
Being agile to the metrics is key to building a credible and effective cold email framework.
Your goal is to get a response, not a sale
The goal of cold emailing isn't to get a sale: it's to start a conversation.
One of the biggest misconceptions about cold emailing, and the reason it gets its bad rap of being "spammy," is that readers think the sender wants something from them right out the gates. Readers think the sender is trying to take them home when they just want to be taken out to dinner first.
When sending cold emails, your #1 goal should be to get a response . . . that's it. The purpose is to start a conversation and build a relationship with the person on the other side of the screen. Don't expect to make a sale by the first email.
Yes, we know the plan is to eventually make a sale, but the strongest way to do that is to start with a relationship. Build trust, find their gaps, and meet their needs.
Cold emailing is like dating: don't come on too strong, take the time to get to know the person, don't have an agenda, and treat the other person well. Just like dating, it can be a complete disaster, or it can lead to a healthy, happy relationship; it just needs to be respected and treated with care.
This post is based on an interview with Justin Christianson, Co-Founder & President of Conversion Fanatics. You can find this interview, and many more, by subscribing to the B2B Growth Show on iTunes.
James Carbary is the founder of Sweet Fish Media, a done-for-you business development service that guarantees new relationships between B2B companies and their ideal clients. James is a contributor for Business Insider & Huffington Post, and he also co-hosts the B2B Growth Show: a podcast dedicated to helping B2B executives achieve explosive growth.