5 things to never do in a cold email
Cold email, when done correctly, is an incredibly powerful marketing tool. Over the last 4 years, I’ve worked on hundreds of cold email campaigns, some of which have been highly successful, and others not so much.
The most successful campaigns I have worked on regularly achieve a 80% open rate, 15% click-through rate and 20% reply rate. Incredible right? The highest reply rate I have ever seen was 45%.
These campaigns have been focussed mainly in the B2B space, however all of the points below are relevant for B2C campaigns.
So many people get things wrong and dismiss cold email as nothing more than a way to ruin your email domain and annoy people. I strongly disagree.
Over the last 4 years, having sent over one million emails, here are the 5 things I’ve learnt you should never do.
1. Send more than 5 lines
Honestly, I don’t think people understand how important this point is. When you send a cold email, you have someones attention for around 2–3 seconds when they open the email. If you’ve sent 10–15 lines of text, you may as-well forget it. No one will read your email, especially as the value you will be bringing to that person with that much text is probably incredibly low.
Keep it short and sweet, and use double spacing — it helps break the text and make it easier to digest. Cut anything that is generic business jargon.
This links with point one a little, as if you can cut the waffle in your email you’ll naturally have a shorter, punchier first touch. What do I mean by waffle? Anything that is a bit ‘wishy washy’. Terms like “digital innovation and transformation”. I’ve never been a fan of business jargon terms — you should be able to understand what someone is saying in plain simple terms. I’ve seen too many sentences that LITERALLY have no meaning. Cut them out.
3. Ask for too much
If you’ve managed to have someone open and read your email, that’s great. Too many campaigns struggle to get results as they are asking the recipient to commit to something they don’t want to. A cold email is the first ever time you’ve reached out to someone. Don’t ask them for a call. Don’t ask them to sign up to your webinar. (Webinars could have their own point — it’s a terrible way to engage someone from a cold email, so in my opinion, you should totally avoid). Unless your outreach is highly targeted, you have no real idea about how high up your offering could be on the recipients priority list. It’s rude to assume they’ll want to jump straight into chatting, so I would avoid.
You want to focus on getting the recipient to reply to you, as this will continue the conversation and you can then slowly begin to introduce your product/service. Asking for a call is fine, once you’ve confirmed the recipient is actually interested in what you’re offering, as you’ve already built a rapport.
4. Not including a lead magnet
Lead magnets are so important for cold email. They are the reason behind some of the best campaigns I have worked on. But what is a lead magnet? A lead magnet is something that makes the person reading your email make your offering a priority. They can’t say no. From a free audit of current processes/efforts, a free trial of your service, or offering free (but high value) information.
The reason a lead magnet is so important is it helps mitigate the effect of timing. We know how hard it is to get around the timing issue in sales. If you are including something in your email that makes your offer irresistible, you’re winning.
5. Send over 3 separate touches
I know that it’s long been said 7/8 touches over cold email is the most effective. I disagree. I don’t like campaigns that have more than 3 touches. In the first email, you should be including your lead magnet, and a succinct overview of what you are offering. Use a second and third touch to simply remind the recipient of what it is you are offering. In the third touch, you can even ask something as simple as “did you receive my previous email?”.
Having 5/6/7 touches, it will only p*** people off. You’re risking your emails being marked as spam, and that will ruin your email deliverability in the long term. Of course, if you can see a prospect has opened each of the emails a couple of times, but not yet replied, you could reach out with a more personal campaign, but avoid throwing lots of touches at everybody.
Using these tips, I’ve been involved in campaigns that have regularly achieved a 1000% return on spend.
Cold email is alive and as strong a marketing channel as ever, it just needs to be done right.