The genesis of this guide comes from our experience of talking to a lot of customers who buy custom email lists from us for their lead generation campaigns. On asking them “How are you going to set up your Cold Email outreach?” most of the times reply was -
“We will use MailChimp to send emails”
That got us thinking that it’s high time we laid out the process for sending cold emails based on our personal learning and experience.
At this point you might be wondering why are these guys hating on Mailchimp, well we have nothing against MailChimp. In fact, we love MailChimp and use it ourselves for sending out newsletters and setting up landing pages.
However, a tool is not suited for every application although it might have a certain feature.
You can chew the food on the plate with your teeth, but you can’t possibly be chewing the plate itself, even though you might be capable of it!
First, let us have a look at Why Mailchimp is not the best-suited tool for running cold email outreach and then we dive into the basics of cold emailing and learning how to set up an email outreach campaign to generate leads.
What Mailchimp is suited for?
MailChimp is simple and yet powerful marketing software for -
- Building beautiful landing pages.
- Building your subscriber list via Opt-In pages.
- Running Newsletter and Email marketing campaigns for your subscribers.
- Managing and segmenting your audience.
Why MailChimp is not a good fit for cold email outreach?
Violation of Basic Terms
First of all, MailChimp forbids cold emailing. It clearly states in its TOS that you should have subscribers in your list who have opted in and allowed you to send them marketing emails.
Violating the policy may lead to suspension of your account.
This is one of the most important reasons as to why it’s not a good fit. MailChimp triggers campaign emails from shared servers which means originating IP of your message may be flagged as spam by the recipient's email server if it has received spam messages in past from the same IP, which likely can be the case.
Without sounding too technical what it means for you as an end-user is that your email deliverability is impacted as your emails are more likely to end up in the Spam or Promotions folder.
Additionally, this lowers your open rates and hence the response rates.
No follow-up scheduling
You can’t set up scheduled follow-ups based on replies, which improves open and response rates. You will have to create another campaign and the whole process becomes manual and unscalable. We will explain this in detail, later in the post.
Why Cold Email Outreach?
Cold email outreach is a powerful technique to get in front of the right prospects. People have launched startups, grown blogs and landed their dream clients by sending cold emails.
Now let’s dive into the scenario where you are looking to generate leads for your business.
You have a list of emails and your objective is to reach out to these prospects who yet don’t have any idea about your product or services.
What do you think should be the prime objective if you are looking to generate interest and close a sale?
It should be to get responses from a few of the prospects if not all and jump onto a discovery call to understand their pain points and challenges.
How can you achieve that or what would it require?
You can achieve that by setting a cold email outreach process that works as a growth machine to drive leads.
Now let‘s explore each step one by one.
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1. Targeting and Email list building
Targeting lays the foundation to generate high-quality leads through any channel let alone cold emails. Setting up any lead generation process without getting the targeting right is like building a castle on shifting sand.
Right targeting will drive your outreach in the right direction. So how do you get targeting right?
Start off by researching into the business needs and challenges of the Industries and companies (within those industries) who stand to benefit the most out of your products and services.
Once you have narrowed down, now look at which decision-makers would be the right prospects.
This exercise will help in 4 key areas you will -
- Get to know who your potential customers are and save you tons of hours which otherwise would have gone in trying to reach out to everyone.
- Be able to create your Ideal Customer Profile which will help you in building a targeted contacts list.
- Know customers' pain points, challenges that not only the companies face but also the individuals, which can be used for crafting personalized emails and boost replies.
- Get better at lead scoring and comprehending reasons behind why a particular customer is buying and why not.
Now that your targeting is in place next important thing is to get the email list ready. At this step, you can go in 2 directions -
- Either build the list yourself using Email finder tools or
- Buy a list as per your targeting requirements from data providers like Easyleadz.
Either direction is fine as long as you have weighed in on the following factors -
- How niche or broad is your targeting criteria. (Doing In-house vs Outsourcing)
- Availability of time and Budget.
Learn here about Building a quality B2B email list.
2. Writing personalized email copies
This is the step where people falter the most but the only way to become good at not faltering at this step is by repetition and experimentation. That is how we have become better here at Easyleadz.
As is the case with building any other skill you become better at cold emails as you write more and keep on experimenting with formats and optimize
There are dozens of email templates out there, in fact, we also share templates with our readers but truth be told simply copy-pasting a template won’t get you much success.
Instead of simply copying, make any template your own.
Meaning, understand the structure of communication and add your own personalization based on the understanding of your audience. it's definitely hard work.
Most people skip the hard work and then complain we are not getting responses.
In the beginning, write cold emails from scratch, draft a few different versions and test them. Having said that there are few Cold email best practices that you can always follow -
- Personalize subject lines and test different versions. Short and crisp or long form such as asking a question like Joe, Are you looking to scale lead generation?
- Opening lines should be engaging and warm up the reader to read through the whole email. You can be direct or quirky or clever. Try all different variations and assess what works best in your case.
- Make it about your prospect’s problem and how you have a solution and not about your product features or bouquet of services.
- Always close with a call to action and preferably a single one. It is necessary to direct your reader towards making a decision at the end. Never leave it. You can ask about connecting over a call or seeking their permission to send more information or simply asking them to watch a video or webinar.
- Keep your signature short and crisp with links to social profiles preferably LinkedIn. Don’t stuff it with too much text and company logo.
- Don’t use too many links or images in your email body. It will negatively impact deliverability.
- Don't include attachments as at times google's spam filters route the mail to spam even if its a scanned attachment.
In order to dive deeper into the technicalities of writing cold emails, you can refer to
3. Setting up Email domain - Basic checks
Next thing you need is an email domain to send emails from. It is highly advised to not send emails from your main business domain such as easyleadz.com. Instead, use an alternate but similar sounding domain for e.g. easyleadz.in.
The benefit here is that even if people mark you as spam on rare occasions it will not impact your main business domain.
Once you have your email domain set up, create a personal email account using your name. Don’t plan to send emails from ids like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. It lends credibility to the overall personalization you are trying to achieve with your email body.
You can create your email account either using service from your Domain hosting service provider or use Gmail for Business or Outlook.
We would advise using Gmail since most of the cold email automation tools allow you to quickly connect your official Gmail account in a single step without having to go into technicalities of manually configuring IMAP and SMTP settings.
Irrespective of whether you have a new email account or an existing one if you are using it for the first time to send cold emails at scale, keep in mind these basic checks -
- Check your domain’s email sending reputation. You can use a free tool like Mxtoolbox to look up.
- Set up SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) to protect your domain. Learn how to set it up.
- Warm up your email account before sending large batches of cold emails. Start small with 10-15 emails per day and slowly increase in intervals of 7 days. Don’t jump from 10 to 50 increase in intervals of 15-20 emails.
- Always Verify your email list using tools like Neverbounce. or learn more about how to verify email address in this Saleshandy indepth article.
4. Setting up Email Outreach Tool
Now comes the step where you can automate your outreach process and generate leads at scale. So what is an Email outreach or Cold Email automation tool?
Cold Email outreach tools help you send out personalized cold emails at scale while mimicking human-like sending behavior. You can set a sequence of emails (schedule followup emails in case no replies) for each recipient and the tool automatically send follow-ups based on reply detection on previous emails.
You would be easily able to track open, reply, click rates and optimize the performance of your campaigns.
For e.g. you can easily check which email in the sequence is getting most replies and which one is not and accordingly optimize.
You can set up your campaigns in 2 steps -
- Connect your Email account and upload an email list
- Create Email sequence.
First 2 steps are easy, I am going to focus on the third.
Setting up Email sequence
You might be sending cold emails to 100’s of prospects but if you are not sending follow-ups your open rate is impacted negatively by at least 30-40% and reply rate by at least 10-15%
This campaign had only one email
This campaign had one followup email
Note the difference in open rates and reply rates
In our experience of sending 1000’s if not millions of emails on an average, it takes at least 3-4 touches to get a response.
Here are the basics of setting up followup emails -
- Setup at least 3-4 follow-ups in your campaign, although recommended, is 5-6.
- Keep the flow of communication in followup emails in context to the previous email. You can even take the prospect through an awareness journey wherein the first email your CTA can be as simple as reading an informative post and then in one of the next follow-ups you can ask for a call.
- Wait at least 2 days before sending a followup email. Give your prospects space and time to evaluate what you are offering to them.
Now coming to actual tools you can use, there are many of them with their own unique features and value proposition.
However, there are certain standard features that most of the tools provide -
- Email verification and list cleaning
- Reporting features like Open, Link and Reply tracking
- Personalization tags
- A/B Testing
- Contact Management
- Integrations with Third Party apps.
- Free trials.
We are going to look at 3 of the tools we have tried and loved them -
Easy to use UI even if you are new to using email automation tools. Found it really easy to get started right away without much learning curve involved.
Pricing starts at $40 per month and you can send emails to an unlimited number of prospects. They have 14 days of free trial available.
Reply has been around for almost 5 years and the team has added some exciting features like Direct Calling, Gmail Plugin, and Live Tasks to make the platform more powerful over the years and enterprise adoption worthy. One thing I loved about their email composer is the ability to choose templates right from the composer itself.
Pricing starts at $55 per month with 14 days of a free trial. In higher plans, you get a has a host of team collaboration features
Lemlist is the new kid on the block and they have created quite a buzz with their Image and Video personalization features. Those of you curious to try out images and videos in cold emails Lemlist is your go-to platform.
Pricing starts at $29, in the base plan you can send emails to unlimited prospects with a cap on daily sending limit to 100 emails.
Here is what to do next
1. Tell us which part of cold email outreach you were not paying attention to earlier.
2. Download the PDF Version of this guide