5 key points to warm up your cold emails

5 Key Points to Warm Up your Cold Emails

Most people shy away from sending cold emails to strangers because it feels a little spammy, and it can feel awkward at first. This is a crucial component in an outbound program though, and if you learn how to take a cold stranger and turn that relationship into a client, then there really isn’t anything you can’t take on. One challenge we consistently see is getting started with outbound. Whether you’re new to this process or a veteran, we have some key points that will give your cold emails a personal feel.

Crafting an engaging outbound email always starts with understanding who you’re emailing and what value you can bring to them. We’ve drafted thousands of emails for our clients, our sales directors, and for our internal teams, and you’ll never feel like you’re spamming someone if you take the time to understand them first, making the first step in our list of best practices for cold emailing:

  1. Understanding your prospect

Matt Chollet talks about the importance of expanding and segmenting your target audience, and the key takeaway from his article is to realize the size of your prospect list and where you have direct experience (either by vertical/industry or capability). If you’re doing targeted, personalized outreach, a smaller list size (under 500 prospects) makes sense, and you’ll want to employ a niche audience that targets the key decision makers in a personalized way. However, if you’re needing something more efficient yet effective, you’ll want to start with a list size at about 1,000 prospects, including both decision makers and influencers. So when identifying your prospect’s needs it will have to be broad and relevant to multiple people within a company.

These prospects should include companies you have a Right to Win. What business problem do you help your client’s solve? What will happen if they don’t solve this problem? How do I show that I’ve solved this problem for other companies? These questions are crucial to ask before doing any kind of cold prospecting, but once you’ve answered them, you’re ready to craft your first mass email.

The subject line is the first thing prospects will see, but don’t overthink it. What we’ve found is that less sales-y, more “boring” subject lines typically receive higher engagement and responses, and really, people just want to know what you want from them and why they should care to listen. A few high performing examples from Catapult’s vault:

  • Interested in an agency partnership? (30% opens)
  • {firstName} – Quick Call? (36% opens)
  • Re: [name of well known brand and campaign] video (71% opens)

Each subject line above told the recipient what they could expect from opening the email. Bringing us to the next step, writing your email copy.

  1. Begin with the trigger

A majority of high performing emails we’ve drafted have a solid trigger that answered the question what problem or challenge keeps our prospects from hitting their desired results? And then tied this answer back into how their agency can solve this problem, using it as a value proposition statement in an email.

Here is an example of how we did this for a northeastern agency who wanted to find an opportunity to partner with another agency.

  • Audience: Agencies
  • Trigger: Bandwidth to complete a client’s project on time and within budget
  • Subject Line: Interested in an agency partnership? (30% opens)
  • Value Statement: We collaborate with agencies like yours to supplement their team, offer new capabilities for their clients or to just help on one-off projects with a tight turnaround.

Sometimes our clients just have stellar work that can do most of the heavy lifting, so in these cases, we’ll tee up the trigger and back up our value with results rather than a statement. This is an example of an agency that had a compelling case study with a very well known brand that shows results instead of using a value statement.

  • Audience: Consumer Packaged Goods
  • Trigger: The need for engagement from advertising campaigns, not just impressions
  • Subject Line: Re: [name of well known brand and campaign] video (71% opens)
  • Value Statement: I’m with [Agency], and we’ve worked with brands like [brand names] to help bridge the gap between a brand’s story and engagement. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t come down to how many impressions you received, it’s about how many people paid attention. We have some exceptional work we can share with you, including [brand name]. Highlights from this campaign: [show results]
  1. Give them proof to believe in what you’re selling

There are several tactics we can take in an email as long as we know our prospect’s trigger, the value you bring, and lastly, we have proof. This “proof” should demonstrate value, and can take the form of a blog, a whitepaper, case study, or webinar. Basically, it’s content and it should not only provide value at each stage of your prospect’s decision making journey, but show your prospect’s they have a reason to believe in what you’re selling.

Using content in an outbound program is a little different than how we’d use it in an inbound program. This is because we’re using content as a tool to validate what we’re selling. So how do you tee up this content in your email? Something as simple as “You can check out our work here, and when you have a moment, I’d like to find a time to connect” can get you a 5% click through rate.

We see a lot of our clients trip up over these simple phrases because as a marketer we’re used to seeing a CTA button, driving a prospect back to your website and (fingers crossed) completing a form to tell us that they want our solution. In outbound, we want a conversation with you to be the first step in finding their solution, and cut out all the extra steps. You’re the resource, not your website.

  1. Make them want more

Ultimately, these emails are just one touch point along your prospect’s buying journey, and you always need to plan for what happens after you get a response. We’ve used a couple of different tactics in our emails to help lead to that next conversation.

Using a line like this can help position you as a resource vs a salesperson: “I’ve outlined [topic of content], which touches on what we’ve seen companies face over and over, [the trigger]. When you’re ready [to do some of the things I mentioned in my content], I would like the opportunity to share some of our best practices and processes.”

This puts you in a position to talk about how you can help them achieve their results by doing the solution you’ve prescribed, and takes the value from that content one step further, putting you as a resource. Once you’ve offered something of value, then you’re ready for the ask.

  1. The Ask

In an outbound email, the ask is an important line that is relatively simple yet so many emails fall short. You should still find a way in this last line to demonstrate that you’re here to provide value. Sometimes, this can be as simple as asking, “would you find value in having a conversation about [agency capabilities]?”.

At the end of the day, who would want to take time out of their day unless it benefits themselves somehow? A few key takeaways for your ask:

  • Never assume your prospect has time for you “next week,” “on a specific date,” or “tomorrow”. The initial ask for their availability should be a little more open ended. Once you’ve received a response indicating some interest on their end, you can give them a specific time.
  • Always try to let your prospect know what they can expect from talking with you. What will you provide in this meeting that the prospect will find valuable?
  • Don’t be too pushy. This first conversation is an introduction, and not just for your prospect, but for you too. You have no idea who this person is and how their team operates. They might actually turn out to be a bad fit for your agency.
  • But don’t be too shy either. You can absolutely ask pointed questions about their pain points, and offer to have a quick conversation about your solution. Don’t leave your prospect questioning what happens next?

Based on the stats we’ve seen, outbound emails can vastly outperform a marketing, opted-in email any day. According to Mail Chimp the average open rate for opted-in email marketing campaigns are between 20-22%, and click through rates are around 2%.

At Catapult New Business, our team uses a method to break through a crowded inbox and generate conversations with cold prospects. Christian Banach, Catapult’s Group Account Director, discusses how to craft a personalized, cold email in an earlier post. But if you’re like many of our clients, you wear multiple hats, and you don’t have the same amount of time as a dedicated new business director to craft personalized emails for each individual on your prospect list.

There are still effective approaches to sending mass, cold emails that receive engagement and responses from your prospects, saving you time and getting you one step closer to winning new business. We send thousands of emails through multiple marketing and sales automation platforms from SalesLoft to Act-On and HubSpot. If you’d like to add outbound as part of your new business mix, having a partner who understands the nuances of running this program can help you succeed.

Marissa Martin

As Senior Marketing Manager of Catapult New Business, Marissa leads our agencies' proactive marketing efforts by ensuring that they are creating content and processes that drive new business revenue.