EF Staff

August 3, 2018

Hey everyone, Greg here!

I want to introduce my good friend, Isaac Marsh, from Conversations. Isaac is a master of helping B2B SaaS entrepreneurs scale their outbound marketing using good ol’ trusty cold emailing. I’ve always been fascinated with cold emails, because dialed in just right, you could have a truly scalable marketing channel on your hands.

A profitable channel.

In this post, Isaac pulls back the curtains and shows you exactly how his agency gets results for their SaaS clients. You will want to take notes on this piece if you’re a budding SaaS entrepreneur looking to test out cold emailing for customer acquisition.

Make sure to check out Conversations as well, since cold emailing is only one of the many interesting solutions Isaac offers his clients.

Alright, let’s dive in. Take it away, Isaac.

Opening ceremonies

Who this guide is for

If you build it, they’ll come. At least that’s what Kevin Costner taught us in Field of Dreams. Unfortunately, too many entrepreneurs believe that this same mentality applies to their businesses.

As anyone who’s been around the block can tell you, that’s just not the case. You may have a great solution, but if you can’t get it into the hands of your target market, you’re not creating true value.

For those running, selling, starting, or buying a B2B SaaS business, it’s really easy to focus on product and vision while forgetting that people have to actually hear about your product before they can use it. This ridiculously long post is for anyone who wants to know how cold email marketing can help scale their SaaS business and pave the way to predictable revenue.

Who this guide is not for

So who is this guide not for? Three kinds of people:

  1. Those looking for a quick win. Writing crappy emails is easy (open your inbox, and I guarantee you’ll see how true that is). Creating outbound messaging that resonates with your target audience takes time, research, and a small pinch of genuine curiosity.
  2. Those in the B2C (business to consumer) space. There are (rightfully so) many laws protecting consumers. For the sake of keeping things streamlined and in our area of expertise, this guide is entirely focused on SaaS businesses in the B2B market.
  3. Those running businesses that primarily sell to other businesses located in the EU or Canada. With the advent of GDPR (i.e., the reason you received a thousand privacy policy updates all at once) in Europe and CASL in Canada, cold outreach has become much more difficult. Please don’t apply the tactics provided in this guide if there’s any possibility you will be retaining EU citizens’ personal information.

Why you should care

Also known as, “Who the heck are you?” Here’s a little background to give you a sense of why this article is seeing the light of day.

Conversations: Business connects B2B companies with their ideal clients. In other (better) words, we provide B2B companies with highly targeted leads. Because our background is in SaaS sales and SaaS marketing, these areas are the ones we’re most comfortable with.

We’ve seen how outbound sales are an effective means of growth for SaaS businesses. We’ve also seen the biggest traps that companies repeatedly fall into. (Hint: Even if your mom told you that your business is the greatest thing since sliced bread, for the love of God, don’t put it in your emails.) By spending our days and nights arguing with clients who want to send 1,000-word emails, we’re here to make sure that you’re not ticking potential customers off before they get to know you.

Think of us as mildly scruffy, grizzled messaging experts, and you’re pretty close to the truth. We love connecting people, and having connected our clients to some of the biggest companies in the world, it’s what we do best.

Understand who you’re selling to

Now that we’ve made it through the opening ceremonies, it’s time to dig into the meat of the matter. The next areas are going to move quickly, so take notes on what you find valuable, what you want to look into more, and what you want to angrily email me about.

You can reach me at isaac(AT)conversations.business

What is your target account (i.e., company)?

Start by looking at who your best customers or clients are; then, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What industries are they in?
  • What do their customers say about them?
  • How many employees do they have?
  • How do they measure success?

The point of asking yourself these questions is to make sure that you realize that your target accounts are going to differ vastly from other SaaS businesses. Many of the successful tactics other teams use might not prove as successful for your company, which is why we frown on searching for email templates on Google. Think of these questions as an opportunity to think critically about your answers and to consider how they might have an impact on your positioning.

We start by looking at target accounts (instead of the title or position of the people you’re reaching out to) because doing this heavily influences who wins and loses from taking part in your solution.

Identifying stakeholders

Once you’ve identified who your target accounts are, it’s time to identify stakeholders. For some, this is pretty basic, however it’s never a bad idea to go over the foundations to make sure that you’re not missing anything.

To identify stakeholders, you need to talk to some people and do some really good research. Are you selling to founders of small-to-medium businesses? Because you better believe they have different priorities than the COO or VP of Marketing at a Fortune 500. The point is that everyone has different priorities. To run an effective campaign, it’s necessary to make sure that whoever you’re reaching out to is someone who can help further your cause.

The key to success when it comes to identifying stakeholders is amplifying your empathy by putting yourself in other people’s shoes. You want to understand what they have to gain and what they have to lose.

A CEO/founder of a team of fewer than 50 people loves things that can either make their team more money or save them from spending too much money; if your solution doesn’t work out, they don’t have a ton to lose. However, a marketing manager at a Fortune 1000 has a lot more to lose if they vouch for a solution that fails. For them, the reward is looking good and possibly getting promoted, while the risk is losing face and political capital . . . and possibly facing termination; obviously, they risk a lot more than a CEO of a small company by championing your solution.

Now don’t get me wrong, things don’t always have to be so black and white. By putting yourself in the shoes of your prospects, you can create compelling narratives that speak to their priorities.

We’ll dive more into messaging a bit later, but it’s important to keep in mind that messaging is fluid. It changes entirely based on who you’re talking to. Knowing which stakeholders are most important in implementing your solution helps you craft a message that actually works.

For outbound SaaS sales and SaaS marketing, understanding your target market is everything.

Developing an ICP

Now that you have an idea of what your target account looks like and who you want to be reaching out to at these accounts, it’s time to give them a name and a face. Developing an ideal customer/client profile/persona (ICP) is how you keep your messages targeted.

Come up with a name for each of your stakeholders: Marketing Mary, Accounting Adam, CEO Chris, CTO Celine, yadda yadda.

Make it cliche, make it eye-roll worthy, and you’re guaranteed to remember it. Hubspot has an excellent tool for this, although the results don’t play too nicely with Drive or Dropbox.

Pro tip: The easiest way to get the information you need is to find 10 people that you’d like to work with on LinkedIn. Look at what they’re saying in their profiles, how they describe their roles, etc. Compare information across the 10 profiles to come up with one that encapsulates all of them. This is what you use for your ICP.

When developing a killer ICP, you want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s their position/title?
  • How is their success measured (e.g., meeting budgets, number of leads generated, or percent of happy customers)?
  • Who is their superior? (Who is judging whether or not they are successful? Who do they answer to?)
  • What is their current solution? (How are they addressing the problem you’re coming in to solve? Make sure to be brutally honest with yourself here: your solution might be better, but it can be tough replacing a tool they use regularly.)
  • What are their priorities (both short term and long term)? Are they financial priorities, career priorities, or personal priorities?)
  • How do they view themselves? (Are they a grunt, a hero, the crux of the rest of their department?)
  • What are their biggest challenges?
  • What specific language do they use to describe their responsibilities?

Fill out all of these questions and any other relevant information you can think of and make sure that everyone who will be in touch with people matching this profile has a say. Keep your ICP close at all times; this is how you position yourself.

The ugly world of data

Data 101

Data is probably the most fascinating part of outbound sales. Before we dive in, let’s shatter any illusions: getting data sucks. There are a number of options, and none of them are particularly appealing. Before we dive into the options though, let’s have a quick look at what data entail.

Data is the information about a prospect you’re looking to contact. Basic fields look something like this:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Job Position/Title
  • Company
  • Email Address (We’ll take a look at how to get email addresses shortly.)

These are the bare minimum fields you need when reaching out to a prospect. As you get more creative with your messaging, you might start toying with other, more advanced, fields, such as:

  • Number of Employees
  • Monthly Ad Spending
  • Products
  • Funding Received
  • Recent Loans

And the list goes on and on. Finding what advanced information is necessary for your target audience is where a lot of research comes in. You want to be reaching out to them with a message that resonates with their exact situation, so it’s important to have this information on hand. For example, here’s our good friend, John Smith, as he might appear in a database:

John Smith / CEO / ABC Industries / [email protected] / 50 employees / etc.

So how do you go about getting this information in the first place?

Option 1: Buy access to a database

Buying access to a database is where most people start. It’s easy, it’s cheap, and . . . it gives the same mediocre results to each and every person who pays for access.

Here’s a single sentence that should be enough to turn anyone away from many popular databases: you’re not the first person to buy access. That means that the people in that database are being hammered constantly and are likely to have turned their spam filters to maximum.

Throw in honeypots, which are fake emails submitted to databases to trigger spam alerts for an entire domain, and this is not the path you want to go down. One other worrying factor is that databases for certain industries decay at a rate of about 4.5% per month (that’s a whopping 54% a year), and expected bounce rates from popular databases are between 15% and 20%.

People get new jobs or positions regularly, and it seriously affects your positioning. If you’re reaching out to the VP of Marketing and referring to them as a marketing manager (because that’s what the out-of-date-database told you was their job title), you’ve marked yourself and your brand as behind the curve.

Option 2: Build your own list

This option is both good . . . and really bad. Building your own list to get a better sense of who you’re reaching out to (and reaffirming what you put in the ICP) can have some major upsides. However, it also takes an incredible amount of time.

You’re going to need someone who can objectively decide whether a prospect is a good fit or not and that takes time.

If you’re building your own list, you can use tools like Hunter (very popular) or GetProspect to find email addresses for business contacts. The whole process is quite manual, but it goes something like this:

  • Find a target account.
  • Find a stakeholder at a company (usually on LinkedIn).
  • Copy down their information into a CRM or spreadsheet.
  • Use a tool to find their email address.
  • Verify the email address using a checker (like NeverBounce or EmailHippo).
  • Send an email.

Expected bounce rates: 5–10%

Option 3: Automate everything

These days, automation tools (IFTTT or Zapier) to automate the living daylights out of data collection are becoming more and more popular.

Many companies use scraping tools to grab contact information from LinkedIn, automatically port it into a spreadsheet, and upload it into their sending software. The upside of this method is that very little manual effort is needed and it can be more up-to-date than most databases because data is often real time. The biggest downside is that you get a lot of irrelevant data along with the good stuff (and lots of good fits might slip through the cracks because their email is not immediately available and verified by automation tools).

We’re talking some real diamond-in-the-rough prospecting here. While some teams have been able to make automation work reasonably well, current tools are far from ideal.

Expected bounce rate: 10–20% (strongly dependent on how strict your criteria is for verification)

Option 4: Hire someone to do it for you

The reason you hire someone to collect data for you is because getting a hold of quality data is a major pain. However, when you hire someone to do it for you, you’re likely going to pay a high price.

For simple criteria (e.g., a list of CTOs in Colorado), you’re likely paying $.50-$1 per contact. For more complex criteria. such as companies using specific technologies, particular languages, recent funding received, or blogs with a certain number of posts, prices can be as high as $100 per contact.

Or, you could always hire a VA or someone overseas to build you a list. While this is definitely a much more economical option, you’re going to be doing a lot of handholding. While most VAs can do solid objective research if you have a clear process, subjective decisions (i.e., eye-testing websites to check for fit) can be difficult for them to make.

If you choose to go down this road, the most important thing to remember is to lay out super clear instructions. Tell whoever is building your list of contacts exactly what you’re looking for. Take the time to sit down with them and show them who you see as a good fit for your business.

Then do it again. And again.

Then five more times.

Trust me, it will save you from receiving a list that doesn’t match your expectations at all. Expect to pay $.25 to $.50 for contacts that have very simple criteria, like our list of CTOs in Colorado.

Expected bounce rate (professional service): 1–2%

Expected bounce rate (VA or outsourcing): 3–5%

What goes in must come out

To hammer home that quality data are the starting point for successful outbound sales efforts, my team has come up with the following formula. (Be warned, it’s very advanced!)

bad data = bad results

Even if you have the best messaging in the world, bad data will cause your campaign to fall flat on its face.

Developing internal messaging

K.I.S.S. (a.k.a. value props)

This is where things start to get fun.

When it comes to messaging, the biggest mistake most companies make is thinking that everyone else understands the world like they do. That’s why the golden rule of cold outbound SaaS sales and marketing is as follows:

Keep it simple stupid.

If you have to explain yourself, you’ve already lost the battle. Nobody cares how your new features are the greatest thing that’s happened since the Squatty Potty came into our lives. Instead, they care about what value those features bring them.

People care about a lot of things, but we’ve boiled workplace priorities down to the following:

  • Money
  • Time
  • Freedom (so you can freely spend your money and time)

For your positioning, people just want to know how you’re going to make their life better. Either make them richer or give them time and they’ll listen. Take the following for example:

We offer unparalleled and agile pipeline acceleration solutions

or

Our CRM helps sales teams close 3x more deals

One is a vanity line and the other tells you exactly how it’s going to help you. It’s simple, it’s clear, and it doesn’t leave you rolling your eyes. You’re going to close more deals, which means you’ll be making more money.

Simple.

For your messaging, keep it stupidly simple. Focus on value. Tell people exactly how you’re going to make their life better.

It’s not you, it’s me

All of the messaging you create for outbound SaaS sales and marketing needs to be about your prospects. Messages are not the place for you to flaunt your features or laud your achievements. Those things aren’t bad to bring in, but only if they support a simple narrative: you’re interested in the prospect and how you can make their life better.

Any message that starts off with “I want to tell you a bit about myself” has earned its place in the spam folder.

For cold outreach, people don’t know you from Adam. This means that they don’t care about you, what you’ve done, or why you’ve come knocking. It’s up to you to convince them that you understand them and can turn that understanding into a positive impact on their life.

Pro tip: Comb through your emails for any details about you or your products and services that don’t directly connect to your prospect’s quality of life. Awards, experience, the founder’s journey, etc., are all good as long as they support an overarching value.

Putting data + messaging to use

Intro to cold emails

What makes an email “cold”?

Simply put, cold emailing is sending emails to people that don’t know you. You may have common interests, networks, etc., but there’s never been an introduction to bring about warmth between you and them. Hence, cold emailing.

“Cold email is spam!” Just Google it, and you’ll find a million people writing this or something like it.

And by golly are they right . . . sometimes. Punching in your credit card to get access to a database, grabbing all the contacts you can, and sending them a message about how you’re awesome and they need to buy your product is a surefire way to have all of your emails hit the spam filter.

Or, you can approach cold emailing as a simple way to make a connection. Much as you might strike up a conversation with a stranger at a coffee shop who is reading a book you love, cold emails can provide an incredibly targeted way for you to get in front of the people that can benefit most from your service.

Taking the time to figure out who you’re writing to and what they’re interested in, and not coming across like a sales pitch, is where most people fail in cold email approach. By coupling emails with other channels (both new and sexy and the dinosaur kind), SaaS sales and marketing that make good use of cold emails can lead to predictable growth and revenue.

Why do companies rely on email?

Companies use cold emailing for a few different reasons. It provides excellent ROI, allows you to take immediate action, enables you to scale your outbound sales and marketing, and gives you a predictable model for driving revenue.

Perhaps the greatest benefit cold emailing has over other forms of outbound sales is the ability to scale. Once you have good targeting, messaging, and a way to source quality data, you can automate all of your initial qualifications. You only need to respond to people who signal interest in your offer. You can either free up your time or you can use that time to pair email outreach with other channels.

Companies rely on cold emailing as a major part of their outbound efforts because it creates a reliable method of outreach. After emailing a few thousand prospects over a few months, you can get to the point where you know:

  • How many people you have to email to get a sale
  • What language your target market is responding to
  • The positions/titles of the folks that find your emails interesting
  • What they don’t respond to

While a lot of this information is similar to what you would find for inbound SaaS sales and marketing, there’s a stronger feeling of ownership. Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., can change their algorithms or approaches to marketing and leave you high and dry. With email, there’s a lesser degree of control and business-driven regulation (with the exception of CAN-SPAM laws).

Who is it good for?

Cold emailing works incredibly well for businesses that meet the following criteria:

  • Those that have a value proposition that is a) clearly valuable and b) easily understandable. (We discussed this briefly, but will go into more depth when we get to email copy.)
  • Those in the discovery phase because email is a much better way to start conversations and open doors than it is a way to make sales.
  • Those that expect a customer lifetime value of at least $3,000.
  • Those targeting individuals who personally benefit from their offer (e.g., a founder being contacted about a software that raises his revenue or a marketing manager about a service that automates their most frustrating tasks).
  • Those that have the resources (whether time or money) to develop a plan of attack and a way to source quality contact data.

Who is it not good for?

Cold emailing is not the right solution for everyone. There are some industries that make cold emailing very difficult and some values that simply don’t translate well. For these, we would recommend trying a campaign, but the approach is going to be slightly different. The following criteria make it difficult for businesses to employ email as an effective messaging channel:

  • Offers for software targeting healthcare or financial services (due to strict regulations and email filters), companies that have just received funding (as everyone is already after them), and markets that already have clear front-running solutions (e.g., it’s hard to replace Salesforce when a team is already using it).
  • Low-value sales (If your approach depends on a quick sale and your customer value is less than $3,000, emailing is unlikely to be a good use of your time).
  • Anyone who can’t stand being rejected. You’re going to get lots of colorful responses in addition to the positive ones. Not everyone likes being emailed about something they didn’t sign up for, even if your offer is related to their job activity.

How To

Data

Now that we’ve stumbled our way through all the surface-level information about using email as a tool for your SaaS sales and marketing, it’s time to dive into the nitty-gritty.

Starting with data.

Quality data depend on the following factors: relevance, accuracy, and deliverability. These remain the same no matter how you are sourcing your data. Whether through a database, a team member, or automation tools or by hiring a professional service, the best results are going to come from adhering to these standards of quality.

Relevance means that you are reaching out to the right people at the right companies. If you’re emailing the CEO of a car wash about software designed for marketers, you know you’ve gone in the wrong direction. There are a few different ways to check for relevance.

Check each of the websites to make sure that the contact works in a related industry. You can use tools for this, such as:

  • Open Multiple URLs, a chrome extension that lets you paste in your links and opens them in your browser. (Be warned, this tool uses a large portion of your computer’s CPU and may cause it to slow to a crawl.)
  • AccountFinder.io, a tool we developed to help our team quickly sift through accounts to check for relevance. You paste in your URLs, see snapshots of each website, select the ones you want to keep, and get detailed information.
  • Check the company’s LinkedIn profile and read their description. A quick Google search of “LinkedIn {CompanyName}” should show your target account in the first few results.

Once you’re sure that you’re reaching out to someone with a relevant offer, it’s time to focus on accuracy. This means verifying that the information you receive is correct. For example, you don’t want to be calling “Dave,” your dream client, “Deve.”

Some examples of painful inaccuracy we’ve seen from lists our clients have brought us are listed below.

  • Contacts who left their companies more than 10 years prior
  • Gertrude (a high-ranking exec at a robotics company) somehow having her name put down as Gabe.

If you’re emailing these people with this information, you won’t receive responses because your emails will be marked as spam. And, if you do receive a response back, they’re likely to be downright angry. (And who could blame them; you didn’t do your research!)

With databases decaying (i.e., people changing companies, jobs, or responsibilities) at a rate of 54% per year, it’s important to verify all of the information you receive from them. If you are buying lists, do a random sample of the contacts to make sure that you’re receiving a quality product.

Pro tip: Run contacts through a quality control process. For example, our team runs through each contact to familiarize themselves with all of their information. This includes simplifying company names (e.g., changing Coca Cola Industries, Ltd. Co. to “Coca Cola” or “Coke”) and titles (e.g., changing John Smith’s title from “Founder and CEO, Head of Marketing and Marketing-Driven Designs” to just a simple “CEO” or “Founder”). Make sure that your outreach sounds as if a human did the research instead of a scraping program.

Finally, deliverability comes into play.

Deliverability consists of three major factors. First, judge the accuracy of the email addresses you’ve found, whether you’re using a tool like Hunter.io or GetProspect or pulling from a database. We recommend running emails through a deliverability checker, like NeverBounce or EmailHippo. Both will make sure that your bounce rates stay reasonable.

Second, make sure that the domain that you’re sending emails from hasn’t been put on a blacklist because of so many people marking the emails as spam. You can check your status on MXToolBox.

Pro tip: Set up a second email domain for your outbound email outreach. Use a variation of your domain name and silo it off for outbound use only (e.g., apple.co for Apple). Not only does this make it easier to know which leads are coming from where, but it also ensures a safety net around your primary domain in case you run into trouble with sending (i.e., if you blast out 5,000+ emails a month to an untargeted list, in which many recipients mark your emails as spam). For this new domain, send emails to friends and coworkers for a few weeks to get it “warmed up.” This basically shows your email provider that it’s a real account and should not be treated with any restrictions.

Finally, messaging is the final step in proper deliverability. One popular tool is Mail Tester, which lets you check how inboxes are likely to treat your email.

Copy

Copy is the second most important part of running an email campaign. First is making sure that your contact information is accurate. If you’re not emailing the right person, then your copy goes out the window. But, if you’re sure that you have the right person at the right company, then it’s time to create some compelling copy.

Good copy is short. Good copy is valuable. Good copy makes it easy to respond.

Here’s an email I received from a media production company:

 

Subject: We’d love to stop by next week

Hi there,

Our co-founder, {His Name}, asked me to reach out as he is going to be in St. Cloud on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week and would love to connect. What time works best to grab a coffee or for {His Name} to stop by your office?

{Company Name} specializes in video production and marketing and we work with a lot of agencies so would love to talk with your business about a potential partnership.

Let me know what time works best, and I will make it happen!

Thanks and look forward to hearing from you! :)

 

Now this email was bad for a number of reasons. First, there was no information on me and they sent it to my personal email address. They didn’t even get my first name. Not only that, but I’ve never even been to St. Cloud. Next, they didn’t address me at all. Why would I care about video production? You work with agencies, whoop-dee-doo! Why should I give up my valuable time to grab coffee with the co-founder?

If it was me, I would send something like this (getting rid of the obvious lie that their co-founder was in town):

 

Subject: Are you using video @ Conversations?

Hi Isaac,

It’s hard getting people’s attention these days. From speaking with other agency owners, they’ve mentioned video being an invaluable tool for raising conversion rates.

As Conversations checks a lot of the same boxes as other agencies we’ve worked with, I’d love to see if there’s room for us to increase your conversion rate by up to 110% with our video production and marketing experts (like we’ve done for ABC Group).

Do you have 15 minutes to see if we can do the same for Conversations?

Thanks for your time,
Me

 

What constitutes a good email:

  • It’s short (no more than five sentences
  • It’s about your prospect
  • It clearly tells them what they’re going to get
  • It has a clear call to action (CTA)
  • It shows them how you’re going to help them achieve their vision

We could spend hours breaking down the difference between a good and a bad email, but there are much better resources out there for that. Instead, I want to focus on just a few things that you can do to make your emails better today.

  1. Take out the words “I” or “we.” Unless it’s absolutely necessary to the email, the focus shouldn’t be on you.
  2. Think about how you’re going to help the contact support their vision. If you’re not telling a story of “you’re understood and your vision is supported by our tool,” try again.
  3. Write a better CTA. Every CTA should follow this formula:

value of offer >= action required

If you’re asking for an hour-long software demo without effectively showing how this demo will change things for the better, you’re not respecting the contact’s time. And that’s just insulting.

Examples of some solid CTAs:

  • Do you have 15 minutes to discuss how we can help lower {Company}’s average shipment costs by 70%?
  • Would your sales team be able to handle 15 more warm leads per week?
  • If you have 30 minutes this week (or next), let’s demo how your team can save 30 hours a week on first-step video editing.

Timelines

Send follow up emails. Just because someone doesn’t respond to your first email doesn’t mean they don’t want your solution. They might have been sick, you might have caught them on a busy day, they might not have enough information to respond, and the list goes on and on. Our team at Conversations has settled on 5-part email cadences (this means we send 5 emails to a contact before we move on). Other industry experts suggest as many as 8-12.

Software automation makes it easy to automatically send follow up emails. There are more than a few to consider. MailShake, Reply, Woodpecker, Outreach, etc., all perform very similar functions: they send emails as part of a campaign and give you valid information to make changes.

Pro tip: MailChimp has specific rules against emailing people without having some sort of opt-in. Don’t use them (or other newsletter services) for your cold email outreach.

Once you have all of your emails written (including follow ups), it’s time to start sending. We always recommend that you follow a timeline to get the best possible results. Our standard timeline looks like this:

Weeks 1–2
Setup campaign and a warm domain, if necessary.

Weeks 3–4
Test subjects to optimize for opens.

Week 5
Review data to date, and make any necessary changes.

Weeks 6–7
Continue sending, and begin testing value props.

Week 8
Review data gathered on value propositions, and make changes if necessary.

Weeks 9-10
Begin testing CTAs.

Weeks 11–12
Evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign to date.

By following a timeline, you can make sure that you’re hitting all of your sending goals and giving your campaign the best possible chance at succeeding.

Testing and Optimizing

Testing boils down to one simple truth: sometimes weird things work.

We suggest that for the initial campaign you run, you do 50/50 split tests. This means that you give half the emails you send one subject line and the other half a different one. Then, when you see which one gets you better opens, move forward with the winner.

The same can be done for the body copy of the email, the CTAs, the name you give as the sender, what times of day you send emails, and to determine whether men or women respond more positively to your message. The more trends you can uncover, the better your targeting will be when it comes to scaling.

After you decide which variation to move forward with, start experimenting. Use the winning trend in 80% of the emails, and test 20% with something different (don’t be afraid to go a little wild). If the 20% starts receiving better rates, bump it up to 40%. If this trend continues, make it your new champion, and start over again.

Have fun with your outreach; try things (even if they seem weird), make notes of what works and what falls flat, and constantly keep improving!

Spam Compliance

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of solution. Or, in the case of sending cold B2B emails that don’t meet regulation standards in the United States, that could be worth $10,000+ of solution.

There’s some good news and some bad news; we’ll start with the bad.

Even though your solution might be the perfect fit for your target customers’ pain points, you’re still required to follow proper procedures when reaching out to them. Just like laws that keep door-to-door salespeople from knocking down doors with a battering ram, there are regulations that need to be followed when sending cold emails.

Now for the good news, if you comply with some easy-to-follow rules, you can cover yourself, present yourself in a more professional light, and make sure that you don’t break out into an unsightly sweat when someone threatens you with legal action.

Quick disclaimer: please note that none of the following should be considered legal advice. All of the information provided can be found freely at the appropriate links.

Here’s a link to the regulations themselves: CAN-SPAM.

Broken down simply, a compliant email does the following:

  1. Discloses advertising intent: Don’t be coy, and don’t try to trick anyone. Be straightforward with who you are, what you do, and what you want.
  2. Includes an opt-out option: Make sure that you give people a way to opt-out. Whether including a blurb that says “please let me know if you’re not interested” or a simple opt-out link, respect your prospect’s wishes and remove them from your outreach if they ask.
  3. Sends from a real person: Each email that you send has to come from a real person at your company. If there’s no “John Smith” at your company, then he better not be reaching out to anyone.
  4. Doesn’t email personal accounts: If it’s a personal email account, it’s a better idea to avoid the email. While it’s not written in stone that you can’t, it’s generally frowned upon. In this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry and focus on emailing work addresses only.
  5. Has your business’ legal name and physical address in your signature: Not only does this establish your position as a real business (and not someone who is phishing), but it is also required under CAN-SPAM regulations.

Scaling

Now that you have everything in place, including all of the data necessary to uncover trends, and know your champion variants, it’s time to start scaling.

Put simply, start sending more emails to more people. Don’t go full throttle right away as this can trigger some red flags for your email provider (for instance, we don’t recommend sending more than 400 emails a day). Build your way up slowly (20 > 50 > 100 > 200 > 400), and keep making note of trends to use for continuous optimization.

 

Closing ceremonies

Email is only one part of cold outreach. By combining it with other tactics (LinkedIn outreach, direct mail, cold calling, etc.), you can get even better results. Take things slow when it comes to cold email. It’s much better to spend the time doing things right than going with a Hail Mary email blast.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me, my email is isaac(AT)conversations.business, or to my team, hello(AT)conversations.business.

You can also check us out at our website.

We’re always happy to talk shop and provide feedback on your email templates or data collection process.


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