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How to use cold email for lead generation

Andrej Csizmadia

Andrej Csizmadia

March 20, 2019
Last modified on December 31, 2021 at 4:02 pm

Cold emails are still the best way to generate leads. And in the wise words of Guns N’ Roses, “All we need is just a little patience.”

You’ll just have to wait and see if your efforts are having an impact.
MarketingSherpa’s findings agree: How to Use Cold Email for Lead Generation

You’ve got to give to receive

“Today it’s important to be present, be relevant and add value.” – Nick Besbeas
But your cold email must offer value. Your potential prospect will be looking for what’s in it for them. You can expect more consumer interest when you give a little. HubSpot findings articulated that – Lead nurturing emails generate an 8% CTR compared to general email sends, which generate just a 3% CTR.  

Big bucks and a bonus

One cold email is not going to instantly start earning you big bucks but it can develop relationships that will ultimately lead to a lead. The biggest bonus: you can potentially experience massive success on a small marketing budget.
“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” – Andrew Davis

But aren’t cold emails just spam with a signature?

Nope. Cold emailing is not the spawn of spam. We’re not talking about bulk pharmacy product emails but targeted emails, one-to-one, personalised emails. Just make sure you’re following the FTC’s rules on the matter.

A SilverPop/DemandGen Report says, “Lead nurturing emails get 4-10 times the response rate compared to standalone email blasts.”  

Good SPAM-free behaviour

The LeadFuze list of how not to suck at cold emailing includes: 

  • Don’t misrepresent who you are
  • Don’t use misleading subject lines
  • Identify if the email is an ad
  • Include your business address
  • Give them an opt-out option 
  • Honor opt-outs
  • Know what others do/send on your behalf – Even if you hire a company to handle your email outreach, you are still legally responsible.

Tellwise stats reveal that – An average buyer gets 100+ emails a day, opens just 23%, and clicks on just 2% of them.

email open rate

So you want to make sure you’re in the 23% right?

Compulsive clickers

Cold emailing is less annoying than calling. There are many trigger happy people out there treating emails like the phone –they have to pick it up when it rings, they have to click open when the email arrives.

But they’ll send you to the trash in seconds if the subject lines and story seem like they were created by an autobot. Convince and Convert’s stats show 33% of email recipients open emails based on subject line alone.   

Personalize content creatively

The Aberdeen Group findings state: Personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%.   

You’re looking to start a new, enduring relationship so make a real connection from one human to another. Weave a great short story from subject line to signature. Retention Science says, “Personalized emails including the recipient’s first name in the subject line have higher open rates.”

We all know this to be true. You know what you chose to open today in your inbox and what to trash.

Cold emailing content is an art

Just because you know your product backwards doesn’t mean you can automatically create amazing, attention grabbing, curiosity peaking content to engage your target personas. This takes some skill, testing and research. 

The secret formula for content creation

You need the power of persuasion to keep them reading. Make sure you are using a tried and tested formula on which to build your content castle. There are many out there that have been proven to compel and captivate.

Don’t try and re-invent the wheel – just slap a coat of colourful paint on it and varnish it so it shines! Track down the ideal template for you and repurpose it for your mesmerising needs.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”  Seth Godin

A typical template

You will paint them a picture – from Here to Eternity and the Speed Boat that will get them there. 

Here: Your company’s present situation.
Eternity: The idyllic land of milk, honey and ROI.
The Speed Boat: How you are going to get them there. 

You identify the problem that is extremely relevant to your prospect and supply the solution that will make their problems disappear. You’re the bridge bringing the answer.

positive vibes towards brand

iMedia Connection found that, “68% of consumers feel more positive about a brand after consuming content from it.”

Hitting the pain spot

Another formula is the “Pain, More Pain, Reliever”attack.

Pain: You highlight the prospects problem.
More Pain:You show them the road ahead littered with land mines.
Reliever: You give them the weapon to blast their way through.

You show them how to dodge the danger. Dan Chip Heath claim “After a presentation, 63% of attendees remember stories. Only 5% remember statistics.The same can be said for a great email story.

Free for all?

In the insightful words of Sting, “Free, free – set them free.”In this approach you will make a clear request of your prospect, but let them know, “they are FREE” to do whatever you wish.

42 psychological studies support this particular persuasion technique. You’re giving them a way out of your “ask” and so miraculously they tend to say “yes” to you.

Increase conversions with our template builder

Take advantage of LiveAgent’s email template builder that enables you to send out hundreds of beautifully formatted cold emails at a time.

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Wordsmith the template

There are loads of effective templates that you can investigate and find the perfect fit for what you want to say.

You have the structure, now you need the magic words. Write Right. This is not the time for an extensive essay or haiku. The words you chose have the power to win new customers and generate more leads.

“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.”– Andrew Davis

A catchy title

Your subject line has to jump out like a best selling James Patterson title at Barnes Noble. Keep it under 50 characters. Three words tops.
The Email Institute (Epsilon) discovered that,“Subject lines that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity can give a 22% higher open rate.”

Who are you talking to?

You’re not Mel Gibson as William Wallace in “Braveheart” addressing thousands with a big speech. People can smell spin a mile away. Everyone can see marketing hullabaloo from the subject line alone. Imagine you’re talking to a co-worker and get real!

“Good marketers see consumers as complete human beings with all the dimension’s real people have.”– Jonah Sachs

A little of that human touch

As Bruce Springsteen sang, “Just a little of that human touch.” Remember real, live people are going to get your email so make sure your tone says you are aware a living, breathing person is on the other side of the message.

You want their buy in. Let them know why you have chosen them specifically and show familiarity with their business. Keep it casual – Sir and Madam are relegated to the “olden days.”

We haven’t got all day

Don’t make me delete you because of a long winded blah blah blah about yourself. Intro’s can go out the window up front. Pitch your best points at the start. Less is more. Keep it short. Make it good. Oh, and don’t use images.

How to write a good email by Dan Munz:

  1. Write your email 
  2. Delete most of it 
  3. Send

How mobile are you?

ContactMonkey’s research found that – 40% of emails are opened on mobile first – where the average mobile screen can only fit 4-7 words max.

This is vital information for how you craft your subject lines, length of sentences and short copy. Genwi discovered that – 86% of B2B buyers access business-related content on mobile devices.

Save the best for last

Craft your signature at the end to subtly include links that you wish your prospect to see. This is the time to let them know a little bit about you. Should you close with a question? Yes. It’s a way to entice your way into a conversation.

Use a P.S. at the end as a clever way to highlight an opt-out requirement in a conversational manner.

Daily mantras

If you’re a good marketing person, you have to be a little crazy. – Jim Metcalf

  • I Follow up, then follow up again
  • I never quit –it will bear fruit in time
  • I test my messages again and again –let me try a new hook.

The three point testing measure

How do you find out the efficacy of your email message?
Measure these 3 things:

  • Open Rate – Are they digging my subject line?
  • Response Rate – Are they reaching out?
  • Sales Generated – Are they buying in?

Don’t get too eager and test early. Only look at readjusting after you have sent around 300 emails. HubSpot findings articulated that – Lead nurturing emails generate an 8% CTR compared to general email sends, which generate just a 3% CTR.

Timing is everything

The best time to email

GetResponse maintains that – The best times to email prospects are 8am and 3pm.
You want to make sure that you are sending your emails at the most optimal time of day to generate the most leads. Experian suggests that – Tuesday emails have the highest open rate compared to other weekdays.

Columbo exit

As Peter Falk used to make his false exit in “Columbo” he would turn around and say,“There’s just one more thing…”

“Email has an ability many channels don’t: creating valuable, personal touches – at scale.” – David Newman

Use it wisely and it will yield big leads.

Justin McGill

Guest Post Author

Justin McGill

Justin is the Founder of LeadFuze, a lead generation software platform for companies that sell business-to-business. Get 50 leads for free as part of an upgraded trial for reading this post!

Andrej Csizmadia

Andrej Csizmadia

Growth Marketer

Andy is Growth Marketer at LiveAgent. Previously, he studied International Relations and Business Diplomacy and was active as a volunteer in the world's largest student run organization, AIESEC. Running, music and reading books are his favourite free-time activities.

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