Only 8.5% of outreach emails get replies. Why? Because many use the same approach.
It looks like this:
- Search for templates on Google or email service providers.
- Cut and paste paragraphs from different ones
- Click send and hope for an elusive reply.
I know this approach is easier. But it rarely gets you a reply because everyone uses the same strategy. Worse still, your email could be ignored, deleted, or flagged as spam.
But those who put in the work before crafting and sending their outreach emails, get rewarded with opens, replies, and conversions down the road.
I interviewed outreach email experts, who shared some tips with me.
Below, I’ve curated tips to write cold emails that delights prospects, quashes their fears, and compels them to sign up for your product or service without thinking twice.
We’ll start with defining what an outreach email is.
Let’s do this.
It’s an email sent to convince the reader to take action. It could be signing up for a service, getting on a call, purchasing a product, etc.
They’re also known as cold emails, because — in most cases — the receiver doesn’t know you and is less likely to respond. But you can break through this wall, with the tips outlined later in this article.
The goal of an outreach email is to get a reply from the reader.
After interviewing several experts, I came up with 7 tips you can use to boost reply rates. They are:
Do you know what makes outreach emails difficult? Personalization.
I mean, it’s easier to copy, paste, and automate outreach the entire outreach email campaign, right?
But personalization boosts response rates.
A study shows personalized subject lines and email bodies boost response rates by 30.5 and 32.7 percent respectively. It works, because it:
The inbox of your prospect is always crowded with pitches.
Since few competitors take the time to personalize their cold emails, the way to stand out is to use personalization.
Personalization works, because it:
Why should the prospect open your email?
According to Teemu, founder, and CEO of Market tailor, “good personalization highlights why I need to pay attention to your message”.
Additionally, Katheriin Liibert, head of marketing at Woola makes a major point when she says “effective personalization when done well, helps highlight why your offering is relevant to the recipient”.
If it’s not relevant, your email may remain unopened for eternity. Or get thrashed like the rest.
People only buy from those they know, like, and trust. That’s why relationship building is the foundation of every successful sale.
Personalization helps build a relationship with the recipient. It shows that you are interested in them as individuals and not just as potential customers or clients, which builds trust and rapport essential for any successful relationship.
This is a good example of a bad outreach email (pun intended) I received recently:
As you can see, there’s no indication that it’s meant for me. It’s too generic. And since my name is not even mentioned, it was obviously copied from a template, and sent to many people from an automation tool.
Now, contrast that with this:
This email has personalization written all over. It:
- Has my name
- Starts with a genuine compliment
- Mentions a unique problem I have
- Has a friendly tone.
- Has content that’s relevant to me
I’m more likely to send a reply than the first one.
Here are steps for personalizing cold emails:
Personalization starts with research. You’d get vital data points to use in your email copy.
Examples of such data points include their:
- Company name, First name, Country
- Industry, Competitors
- Technologies used (e.g. Google Analytics, HubSpot)
- LinkedIn data like interests
These data points are available on:
- The socials of your prospect or their company.
- Their company's website
- Relevant Facebook groups
- Your competitors
The data points you need depend on your pre-existing relationship with the prospect, and the industry you’re operating in. This is important, so you don’t sound cringey.
For example, congratulating a prospect about the birthday of their child may sound corny if there’s no pre-existing relationship.
Everyone loves to be appreciated.
If you discovered any recent achievement, you should use the opening of your email to congratulate them on it. It could be:
- A recent article or social media post that they published that you found useful
- Recent company news
- Raising a seed funding round
And many more.
One email won’t cut it. It’s like meeting a stranger once and expecting a favorable response on a huge favor—that’s impossible.
Research shows sending just one follow-up email boosts replies by 65.8 percent.
Also, Woodpecker discovered that response rates rally between 9-16% without a follow-up but increase to 13-27 percent once there’s one.
There’s a reason follow-ups work so well.
On average, a person receives over 100 business emails in a single day. That means your email is competing with at least one hundred others and could get lost in their crowded inbox.
So, if you fail to capture the attention of your prospect, the first follow-up gives you an opportunity to do so. A second follow-up gives you a second opportunity. A third gives you a third opportunity. You get my drift, right?
When should you send a follow-up email? And how many follow-up emails will suffice?
Experts agree that the optimal number of follow-up lies between 2-3, with the maximum being 8. They also suggest leaving a 3-day lag between follow-up emails. This means:
- First email: day 1
- First follow up email: day 4
- Second follow up email: day 7
- Third follow up email: day 10. And so on.
Using this method, your prospects are less likely to delete, ignore, or flag your email as spam.
Follow-ups increase the potential of a reply. True.
But including an extra value in your follow-up email increases response rates even more.
Natalia Brzezińska, Marketing & Outreach Manager at PhotoAiD, tried this out.
After including extra value in the follow-up email, response rates went up to 27.7 percent, 13% higher than the first email.
So, how do you know the extra value to include?
Figure out a problem they have. Then offer to solve it for them. Aside from increased response rates, this will keep your brand top of mind, leading to a purchase down the line.
Take this email by Bizzabo, for example.
Rather than send a simple follow-up, Bizzabo includes an infographic to a report, which they know their prospects – event managers — will find useful.
That’s not all…
They also include links to various articles.
Each report the prospects downloads and each article they read entrenches their brand in the minds of the prospects.
Sending emails on weekends, holidays, vacations, and nights is a bad idea. Your prospects are most likely inactive or busy with other important activities.
According to research by Sendinblue, 85% of the total weekly open volume and nearly 95% of the weekly click volume happen on weekdays. While emails sent during weekends have a 15% and 5% share of weekly open and click volumes respectively.
Also, the two best times in the day to send an email are:
- Around 10 in the morning because the first hour at work is usually spent checking emails, before moving on to other tasks.
- Between 3-4 in the afternoon when people are eating lunch or about to leave for the day.
This ties in with what Paige Arnoff-fenn, Founder and CEO of Maven and Moguls, says. She also adds “emails sent during the first hour of work have a higher chance of visibility. In addition, sending an email during their transit period places your email at the top of their inbox. And emails sent late at night or early in the morning may be buried/missed.”
The correct day and time to send an outreach email aren’t definite. It depends on the industry, your audience, and many other factors.
Here’s how you can decide the time and day that’s perfect for your audience:
Research your audience. Know their occupation, working hours, demographics, etc. Then use the information you gather to develop personas.
The day and time that’s perfect for Bob, a founder at a startup, will be different for Alice, a CMO at a unicorn.
The perfect day and time are not set in stone.
So, develop a hypothesis, then test it out. Continue, until you find the optimal correlation between sending times and engagement.
Every industry has a different engagement rate that’s considered okay.
So, consult research reports (like this one by Hubspot to figure out the accepted standard for your industry. Then compare it with the results from A/B tests.
By utilizing subscriber data from email service providers, personalized emails can incorporate unique images for each recipient. This personalized image driven approach has the potential to enhance retention rates as images have the ability to convey emotions more effectively than plain text. They make an immediate impact on recipients even before they begin reading the email content.
Group buying is the norm in most B2b organizations. It takes more than one person, countless meetings, and numerous consultations before a product is bought.
The common tactic is to target one person (usually the core decision maker) in the company. But it’s more effective to target the primary decision maker, and others involved in the purchase process.
For instance, if you’re selling a marketing tool, you could send emails to the head of the marketing team (your primary target), the CFO, COO, and the head of the sales team.
This way, you’d earn mind share within the organization. Your name will come up in staff meetings, and budgeting and strategy sessions, which will further persuade your primary target to respond.
Hold on now.
There’s a cap to the number of secondary targets you can cold pitch. The law of diminishing returns sets in beyond five contacts, according to a recent study.
Every company adopts a different structure. The exact role in two companies can have different titles. So, it’s not advisable to make assumptions about who your primary and secondary targets are.
Rather, research the company.
- How many employees do they have?
- What’s their revenue like?
- What’s their geographical reach?
Once the numbers are in, locate a company with similar figures, and compare them with yours. In most cases, their organizational structure would be similar.
What if you can’t decide who the primary and secondary decision makers are?
You can include a note at the end saying something like: should you not be responsible for this, please direct me to someone who is.
As your prospects read your email, they’ll likely have objections like it’s too costly, I already have a tool doing the work for me, etc. Your outreach email will have no sting if you don’t address these objections.
You can know customer objections from inspecting interactions customers have had with customer-facing members of your organization. Pay close attention to recurrent objections and answer them in your outreach email. They are probably representative of your other prospects.
Also, you can ask your current customers what made them delay their purchase. Or ask your sales representative the questions that customers who are considering buying always ask.
You may spend hours crafting the perfect email copy. But you’ll lose the opportunity to nudge the reader to take the desired action with a poor CTA.
The CTA should tell them the next logical step to take. It could be scheduling a meeting, downloading a research report, etc.
Using numerous CTAs confuses the reader and delays the decision-making process.
It’s best to limit the number of CTAs to just 1 per email, or use a maximum of 3 for outreach sequences of more than 4-5 emails, according to Ruben Camerlynck.
Your CTA is not a time to be clever. It should clearly communicate to the reader what they stand to gain by clicking.
Take this for example:
This CTA very clearly tells the reader the value on the other side of the button — a whitepaper.
Make your CTA specific.
If the next step is setting up a meeting, mention a specific time and day. The prospect becomes obligated to respond by either accepting the time given, canceling, or rescheduling to another time.
According to Mohd Faizim, Content Marketing Manager at Breeze.io, they’ve used this tip to boost their outreach email reply rates. Below is an example:
Another way to be specific, is to use AMP mail, to include calendars in emails, for your prospects to choose a day or time.
This boosts reply rates, since prospects will be able to choose a time comfortable for them.
It’s possible you might not get the CTA right on the first try.
So, A/B test various CTA formats. Vary the wording, button size, and placement. Measure your results. Then choose one that works.
Putting social links in email signatures boosts response rates by 9.8%, according to Brian Dean. That’s for one reason: it engenders trust.
Prospects believe an email is from a real person, once there’s a social link. And people are drawn to interact with real people.
Your prospect might lose trust if they visit your social media and find nothing. No recent posts nor anything remotely related to what you do.
So, build your social media page before you use your social links in your email signature. You can repurpose articles into social media posts, posts about recent updates in your company, etc.
I once received an outreach email with a social link. I clicked it, and sadly, it wasn’t working.
It’s not enough to include a social link. Test it out to make sure it’s working before you send out your emails.
Outreach emails are a great channel for generating leads and conversions for your business. But it must be done rightly, for you to enjoy its results.
So, spend the extra time to research your audience and personalize your email, send follow-ups, craft your email copy to acknowledge objections, craft an attention-grabbing CTA, and insert social proof in your email signatures.
The extra work will pay off in the end.
Akachukwu Obialor | LinkedIn
Akachukwu Obialor is a B2B SaaS writer for health tech, Martech, eCommerce, and web3 companies. When he’s not writing, he’s developing strategies for B2B SaaS brands.
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