22 Jan How to effectively send a cold email campaign
How to effectively send a cold email campaign
So, what is a cold email – it is quite simply sending marketing emails to people without any prior contact. It’s a pretty divisive topic in business. Some people view it as little more than spam…an irritating intrusion in already crowded inboxes.
Indeed, the bad sort of cold email – shallow, impersonal and irrelevant – can rightly be classed as spam. This ‘throw enough mud and some of it will stick’ approach was common in the early days of email marketing, and has given some people a bad impression of cold email.
But as many marketers know, cold email, done properly, can be an extremely powerful lead-generation tool. It can enhance your reputation, grow your customer base and drive revenue.
After reading this article, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to make cold email an effective part of your marketing strategy.
Important: This article only applies to B2B companies. UK privacy laws only allow you to send unsolicited emails to business addresses when there is a legitimate interest for both parties.
If your business sells directly to consumers, you MUST have express permission to send them marketing emails. We therefore advise B2C companies not to use cold email as you run the risk of breaching GDPR.
If you’re in charge of marketing for a B2C company, why not check out our other content services for now?
If you’re a B2B company, read on…
Setup – the technical stuff
Before you even think about what you’re going to say to your audience, you need to put things in place to ensure your email system functions effectively and your business acts in a legal, ethical and secure manner.
Choose an Email Service Provider with good deliverability
If you’re emailing more than a handful of contacts, you need to be using an email marketing platform. These platforms enable you to send bulk emails to high volumes of contacts. They also have tools to easily design emails, organise your contact lists, set up automations and track your results.
Choose a platform with high deliverability rates, and be aware that although cold email is legal, some platforms do not allow it. Depending on your requirements, you may prefer a platform that has more sophisticated analytics, automation or design tools. We can advise you on the right platform for you.
Domain authentication – DKIM, SPF and DMARC
Explaining how domain authentication works in full would require an article in itself. We’ll give you a brief overview here.
You really need someone with IT expertise to guide you through this process, as getting it all set up correctly is critical. These steps protect the integrity of your domain, ensure your emails are seen as legitimate by recipients’ servers, and protect you from hackers. Skipping them could lead to your email marketing being wiped out very quickly.
DKIM – DomainKeys Identified Mail. A sort of digital signature that the recipient’s email servers can identify using your DNS records.
SPF – Sender Policy Framework. This is like a list of approved senders that are allowed to send emails from your domain. If you’re using a platform to send emails in bulk, it’s essential to include the platform’s domain in your SPF.
DMARC – Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance. This builds upon DKIM and SPF to allow you to set policies for what happens to emails that get rejected. It also allows you to monitor authentication activity on your emails. If hackers are trying to spoof your email, DMARC ensures you’ll know about it.
It sounds complicated (and it is a bit), but you needn’t worry. As your trusted Milton Keynes digital marketing partners, we’ll take care of all this as part of our email marketing service
If your domain is new or has been inactive for a while, it’ll need ‘warming up’ before you can start sending in volume. Trying to send too many emails before warming up can mean you end up in the spam folder and your domain reputation is damaged.
Email warm-up basically involves sending regular emails to a small section of your contacts. Monitor their activity to ensure your emails are working properly and then gradually increase the volume. Again, this is something we’d take care of.
Source proper contact data
It’s impossible to overstate how important high-quality contact data is to the success of your email marketing. Your offer may be irresistible to software developers, but if you send it to a load of accountants, your chances of making sales are zero.
Sourcing contact data is easily accessible from many providers but you must ensure that the data is updated weekly if not daily. It must be cleaned and validated and it must contain direct email addresses rather than info@, admin@, office@ and so on.
Finally its imperative that the data is GDPR compliant and if you wish to call the telephone numbers within the data set then these need to be TPS compliant here in the UK. If you are unsure, you can contact us and we would suggest double opt-in strategies for continued contacting after the initial campaign – this builds trust.
You should try to be as specific as possible when sourcing contacts. Think about your ideal target customers;
- What type of business are they in?
- How big are they?
- What sort of budgets do they work with?
- Where are they located?
- What job role do they have?
Ideally, you want to contact key decision-makers rather than people lower down in the company.
The more aligned your contact list is with your ideal target customer, the more likely your emails will make the right impression (and avoid the spam folder).
Handling people’s data is a big responsibility. You must ensure that you store it securely. Password protection, restricted access and encryption are all effective ways to keep people’s data safe.
You must never use contact data for any purpose other than the specific business reason you’re emailing them about, and you should delete it as soon as you no longer need it. Of course, it is illegal to pass the data on to any third parties.
You must also include a way for contacts to unsubscribe from your emails. The best way to do this is by including an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email. Most email marketing platforms allow you to do this easily, and will remind you to include one if it isn’t there. Most platforms automatically prevent you from sending any more emails to contacts who have unsubscribed, but you should still remove them from your database at the earliest opportunity.
You must also include valid and up-to-date contact details for your business in every email, including a physical address.
What are you hoping to achieve with your cold email?
If you’re a new business or you’re promoting a new product or service, you’ll need to spend more time raising awareness in your emails before you try to ‘sell’ to them.
However, if your product is well-established and your audience is already highly aware, a shorter, more direct sequence of emails outlining an offer may work better.
Selling complex or expensive products purely through email is very difficult, so it may be more realistic to encourage people to book a call with your sales team.
It’s important to manage expectations – open rates of 25-30% are considered good. A database of hundreds of contacts typically only generates a few responses. There are so many factors outside of your control that expecting everyone to respond is unrealistic.
The B2B buyers’ journey is becoming more complex and it takes more interactions before a potential buyer commits. You should send at least four emails to make sure your messages have the best chance of getting through to your target customers.
It’s best to leave a couple of days between each email. You don’t want them to forget about you, but also you don’t want to overwhelm them. They may also need time to consider your message and discuss it with colleagues.
Content that converts
How do you make sure your cold emails don’t get ignored?
The trick is to make it feel as unlike a sales pitch as possible.
Think about it, if you met someone at a networking event or conference, you wouldn’t just walk up to them and launch into selling your stuff. You’d try to build a relationship first. And it’s the same with cold email.
Usually it’s best not to go straight in with an offer. You should first aim to show your credibility and build trust, show you understand your audience’s problems and provide valuable insights. Then you can start to promote your offer.
How to compose your email content?
The most important element of every email is the subject line. If this doesn’t stand out in crowded inboxes and entice people to open your email, everything inside it will go to waste. The best way to ensure your emails get opened is to provoke curiosity and show some sort of benefit to the recipient. Avoid misleading or spammy headlines as these will harm your reputation and credibility.
A personal touch can greatly increase engagement with your emails. If you’ve sourced your data effectively, you’ll have the contact name and company name for each address in your database. Email service providers allow you to insert variables for this data so that the addressee’s name will show up in the email subject line or body copy.
Be aware that up to half of emails will be viewed on mobile devices with small screens, so format them accordingly. Avoid huge chunks of text, limiting paragraphs to 2-3 sentences. Use simple, easy-to-read fonts and include plenty of white space (avoid fancy colourful backgrounds and text). Avoid too many images and graphics as they can take longer to load on some devices, which can harm deliverability.
If you make big claims, make sure they’re accurate, and back them up with evidence and references to reputable research. Case studies and testimonials are also good for credibility.
Ideally, your email content should align with what you’re saying on your other marketing channels such as your website, blogs, and social media. That way, buyers get consistent messages wherever they interact with your business.
Our copywriters work with you to craft messages that resonate with your target audience and fit within your brand voice.
Tracking and Analytics
How do you know whether your cold emails are working?
All email platforms have analytics tools that let you track your email performance. These are some of the key metrics.
- Open rates – How many of the successfully delivered emails were opened? Low open rates can indicate that there are issues with the contact data, emails were sent at the wrong time or the subject lines were not engaging enough.
- Click rates – How many of the successfully delivered emails were clicked? If you have links in your emails, ESPs will automatically track them.
- Click-to-open rates – How many of the opened emails were clicked? Low click-to-open rates indicate that the content of the email may not be working effectively.
- Bounce rate – These are emails that were not successfully delivered. Soft bounces can mean a recipient’s inbox was full or there was a temporary issue. Hard bounces mean the recipient’s email address is invalid or closed. These should be removed from your list as they can cause deliverability issues if left unchecked.
- Conversion rate – How many recipients performed your desired action such as signing up, booking a call or making a purchase? This requires further web analytics and tracking pixels to be linked to your email service provider. For example, if your cold email campaign is aiming to send people through to a landing page where they sign up for a webinar, you need to be able to track which email recipients clicked the link and then filled out the form on the web page.
Testing enables you to constantly improve your emails to get the best results. If you plan to do a lot of cold email campaigns, it’s a good idea to figure out what works best for your audience.
You can achieve this by A/B testing. This essentially means creating two slightly different versions of an email and seeing which gets the best results. Examples include:
- Subject lines – Does a ‘question’ subject line get opened more than a ‘promise’?
- Introduction – Does delving into your audience’s pain points get more responses than simply promising a solution?
- Length – Does your audience respond better to a short, direct email or a longer email with more explanation?
- Call to action – Does a hyperlink anchored within the text get more clicks than a big colourful button?
- Tone of voice – Does your audience prefer a formal and serious tone or a more conversational and light-hearted one?
The possibilities for testing are endless, and by constantly monitoring and iterating, you’ll hone in on a format and style that gets results.
Ready to go?
So, that’s all there is to it. Now, I understand that if you’re a small business, you may not have the in-house expertise to manage all of that. You need people with IT, data and copywriting skills, and employing them may well be beyond your budget.
But that’s why outsourcing email marketing to a Milton Keynes marketing agency, like Big Voice, is a smart move. You can benefit from our expertise and profit from powerful cold email marketing campaigns for a fraction of the cost of employing people to do it.
While there are some costs involved in setting up cold email campaigns – platform fees, data sourcing, copywriting services etc – the potential returns are enormous. Indeed, if you sell high-ticket products and services, just one sale can recoup your investment many times over.
Get in touch today for an honest and open chat about your email marketing requirements.