Cold email is an email sent to your prospective customer who never had a relationship with your business. It's a great way to generate leads unless you're making one of the 10 mistakes from this article.

It's not an easy job to get people to open your cold email. They don't know you or your company, then why should the bother opening your email?

But you can actually start generating hot leads through cold emails if you do it right. It's all about creating a relationship and providing value.

People who've executed cold emailing campaigns have only 2 opinions. They work or they don't work.

People who say cold emails work are the ones doing it perfectly and people who say they don't work are making one of the 10 mistakes below.

To help people send cold emails correctly, I invited Guillaume, CEO of Lemlist, on my podcast to talk about the 10 mistakes people are making while sending cold emails.

Before we dive into the mistakes, let's hear what Guillaume has to say about cold emails. Do they work? Do they don't work?

Guillaume: So I think that the people who are saying that it's not working are the ones that are doing it wrong and the ones that say it's working really well, they want to keep it as a secret.

To be honest, if you take all the top 500 companies, you know, like HubSpot, Salesforce, and so on. They're growing through cold email outreach. The reason why most companies fail is that lots of people believe that you can put your sales on autopilot and automate them everything. And even though it would be nice to be able to, just to grow your company like that by sending cold email, it doesn't really work that way. You still need to put efforts into it.

Let's dive into these mistakes and start sending better cold emails.


The subject line and focusing on wrong metrics

I think a lot of people you know are in essence to this mistake. I think the main mistake would be to focus on the wrong metric, even though I hundred percent agree with the fact that if people haven't opened your email, it means that it did not exist.

But the truth is, a lot of people are focusing on getting their email open, wherein the end, it is not what matters. In the end, the only metric that matters for you is how many meeting could you get? How many relations could you build, right?

If you start your subject line with something very deceptive, obviously you're going to get high open rates, but no good reply rate. So a lot of people actually work really hard on making the best subject line and putting kind of deceptive subject line. No, it's not deceptive, it is just a trick in the end.

And even if it's deceptive, when a person opens your email will be like, what the hell, the subject line was definitely misleading. Obviously, they're not going to reply. And that I would say is the first mistake I see often people do.

So don't think too much about the subject line. First of all, take all the cold emails you received and learn from them. I think what's something good as you started doing cold email is just like to bookmark all the cold emails you get. Have a folder in your emails, and every time you receive a cold email, good or bad, you put it in that folder.

Then once you want to create your campaign, you can go through all the cold emails you received, look at the ones you've opened and the one that you haven't opened.

Also, be casual. So as if you were working to be friends with me, as something like coffee and catch up kind of thing. If you want to build relationships, you can definitely go for coffee with someone. That's the minimum you can do or actually be like the opposite.

Be very, very specific. So let's say you find a good hook and then afterward, all you have to do is to find something you have in common with the person you're reaching out to. Right, like common interests, or it can be like an event. It can be anything that you both have in common, Just use it in the subject line. This was one of the subject lines that has really worked best for me.

It was before an event that I was going to SaaStr and I think my subject line was "Let's meet at SaaStr Paris and then I added like the first name of the person. So it's like six or seven words. So it's pretty long compared to what people usually advise you and I got a 90% open rate. The reason why it works is that it was very relevant.

No Targeting and No Segmenting

Lots of people are really struggling with targeting. They think that they can either buy lists or just go on LinkedIn, type CEOs and get all the CEOs and spam them. Your message is not going to be relevant to them at all.

You can you can get their job title, company size, B2B or B2C and industry. You need at least four to five different criteria to make sure that your message is going to be relevant to an audience. You need to work in buckets and I think that maybe 1 to 5 percent of people running cold email campaigns are actually working in buckets. If you segment your audience really well, you can actually get the conversion rates much higher and get much more replies.

When you're working in buckets, you're not wasting on leads. And you can actually work on your value proposition for each bucket and see which one is working the best. I think that the size of the good test on the bucket is around 300 to 500 people to start with and then you can obviously scale.

Doing what everyone else is doing

If you take email templates online, I'm sure that the first place you're going to find a template is from Yesware or HubSpot. I think that's relevant to everyone, in general. It's like whenever you're typing something on Google. you will find that the topics, especially in marketing, they are ruled with five or six players. We always go on to the same sites whenever we think about something interesting. Why? It is because those websites are investing so much on SEO, everyone is looking at them. Which means that everyone's using the same templates and they're not working right.

So the goal and also actually why we decided to build them this is just to explain to people that you can be different you know. By being different is when you actually get noticed. If you're sending the same shitty templates from HubSpot, like saying, "Hello, my name is blah, blah, blah, from company x, and my company is doing - value prop one, value prop two, value props," then you're no different than anyone else. If you're targeting is right, you might get some leads out of that. But overall, it's it's pretty shitty.

What you want to do in the end is to build a relationship. So mistake number three is don't try to to do like everyone else. To solve this mistake you to be like a standout.

Improper Call to Actions (CTAs)

So a lot of people really like having an open call to action. For example "When would you be free for a chat?" or "When is a good time to chat?" Or "Let's have a meeting next week." This is not good. The more choice you have, the more difficult it is. I mean getting your calendar is pretty nice because at least you know, the person can choose. So like book a meeting on my calendar is, let's say, is okay.

The worst would be "When can we have a chat?" I think the best is just giving two very specific options. So the person feels that they have to choose between these two dates, right? That's usually much more powerful and you can actually get the higher conversion rates. CTAs are the one thing which you should always include in your email and they should be closed-ended.

No Follow-ups

A lot of people are afraid to stop too early. Like, I wrote an email sequence and I have like, four to five follow-ups in total. The money's in the follow-ups literally. I had people getting back to me after my fifth or sixth email. So don't be afraid.

Following up is actually a way to leverage, just like adding more value giving a different angle on what you want to bring. It should be seen as an opportunity and not making noise. Lots of people don't have any ideas because they're like, send them maybe like two to three messages and then stop. Often people like stopping way too early, when they could actually get a lot more replies. I think if you have between 5 to 7 follow-ups, it's nice, but don't be too pushy.

No A/B Testing

We have amazing tools and most of them have the ability to run tests. I see a lot of people that are just creating templates, not testing anything and just sending it through. To me, each step you're should be tested, whether it's a subject line, whether it's the content of the email. You have the ability to check what's working best for your audience. And that's why it is so important to work in buckets so your results would be relevant and repeatable. It means that when you're A/B testing if you find something that's working, that if you actually like, you can redo it on the same type of audience, and you'll get the exact same results.

While A/B testing, the two things you can actually do is have two very different emails. Usually, whenever you're testing the scientific approach would be to change only one parameter. But if you're a startup and you have limited resources or capacity, I would suggest to do a bit more and be more engaging. Which is basically you change the subject line, and then you also change the text of the email. First, you'll be able to compare open rates to see what's working best, and then reply rates, which often is linked to the content. So you can obviously take different aspects of the email based on different metrics. For example, the subject will be based on open rates and content will be based on replies or clicks.

Not using images

A lot of people have been saying that images were decreasing the deliverability of emails. Deliverability is the ability of your email to end up in the inbox of your prospects. So a lot of people have been saying that without actually testing. It might have been the case like maybe like 10 or 15 years ago which was the very beginning of email marketing and some email platforms were not displaying images. But now, it's very different, and it doesn't have any impact.

Go with the testing images. Because if you start testing things, you will see what's working for me might be very different for you. What is really working well for me, in your case might not work at all. So in the end, the only answer being successful when doing email outreach is really about like testing, right? The more you test, the more you get the answers.

Not being human

Whenever you go on a website, you see the perfect copy, you see everything kind of perfect. If you look at all emails that you receive, whether it's marketing, or the newsletters or sales email, you'll see the way it's framed, like the way people are talking, it feels like it's very sales-y. You wouldn't actually write or send an email like that to a friend of yours. We really want people to understand that perfection in a sales pitch is being human and building relationships.

I think people making a mistake by wanting to be too perfect. You will build a relationship much easier if you treat the person you're reaching out to as a human being.

Keeping it about you

It's a common mistake that some people think that they all need to talk about is information about themselves, where they are, what they do, and why their product service is so great, and how they're going to change work. This doesn't work at all.

Instead, the first part of the message can be like, "I've read your blog post about blah, blah, blah, I really liked blah, blah, blah,...", trying to find a hook. It can be, "I saw that you like this post on LinkedIn", or "I saw that you wrote this article", or "I saw your last interview on a podcast" and so on. This feels personalized because these little things will make you stand out from robots.

Automation is really good when you're doing follow-ups, when you want to do things at scale, and so on. But really, personalization will never stop at adding first name and company name, and then you're going to start getting tons of leads and everything is going to be on autopilot. That's absolutely not true.

Send out emails where you're talking about the person because this is your hook. This is what will get the interest of your prospect. So even if a person is not interested, at least is going to say, "Okay, this guy is spending some time by sending me a very personalized message.  I need to answer at least."

Spamming

A lot of people just send a blast of emails, which I really don't advise. It's literally like the worst way to send emails and the best way to get banned and get your domain blacklisted. Always use G-Suite accounts that have the DKIM and SPF setup, and use a custom tracking domain. That way, you're able to track links, and it goes through your domain so everything is under your control. Use verified email addresses so your bounce rates are low. Even if a person is putting you in spam the internet service providers will see that you've done things by the rules.

It takes some efforts to set everything up. But once you've done it, you'll see the results skyrocket and you will know everything is safe. You'll be able to test a lot of different things and yeah then start like getting new customers.


TL;DR

  1. Use relevant subject lines and focus on right metrics
  2. Use proper targeting and segment your list
  3. Be different
  4. Use specific CTAs
  5. Follow up 6-7 times
  6. A/B test your campaigns and different aspects of your email
  7. Use images
  8. Be human. Frame your email like a conversation.
  9. Keep it about them
  10. Follow email rules

Do you have any best practices that you follow while sending cold emails? Leave them below for others and help everyone send better cold email campaigns.

Thank you Guillaume (Left) for doing this podcast.

You can connect with Guillaume on LinkedIn or check his awesome cold emailing tool, Lemlist.