Expert's Corner: 5 Counter-Intuitive Cold Email Hacks That Greatly Increase Your Open Rates

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Josh Sloan

This Expert’s Corner Article is brought to you by Justin McGill, Founder of LeadFuze, an automated outbound marketing platform for companies that want to generate more leads.

Yep, it’s another post about cold emails. Most of us have all read our fair share of these 5 tips/hacks/strategies to [insert common cold email problem here] type articles.

But why should you read this one?

I don’t know a lot about a lot, but I do know a decent amount about email outreach. I built a digital marketing agency to 7-figures using this as our primary growth strategy. Then, I started a company that helps other businesses find quality leads and send excellent cold emails all on an automated platform.

This isn’t to pitch you, but to establish the point. I’ve seen tens of thousands of emails go out and not get a response. I’m sure this is where some quote goes, but I’ll spare you (just kidding).

I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work — Thomas Edison

Anyway, I’ve learned tons about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to cold email. Here it is boiled down into five points:

1. Use Fewer, Better Leads

Buying a list of 1000 leads and then blasting them until the end of time no longer works. That era’s effectiveness died out ages ago, but there are some reps who are still holding down that archaic tactic.

Now, it’s all about quality. How do you narrow this down? Here are few buzzwords you’ve heard.

Target Market: Instead of sending out emails to everyone who can use your product, send them to people who are more likely to buy your product.

How do you find this out?

Look at your current clients and find common denominators.

Ideal Clients: Once you find the markets that are more likely to buy, it’s time to find out who’s likely to be a good client. These things could range from revenue and number of employees for B2Bs to demographic data for B2Cs.

Ideal Prospects: Now that you have a list of ideal clients, it’s time to find companies that aren’t customers and put them on your new, concise list of leads. You won’t be able to buy this list, it’ll take some searching on your own.

2. Up the Personalization

Now that you have fewer leads, personalization needs to increase. There are some who won’t be able to do this. For an ecommerce B2C, your number of leads may decrease from 10k to 2k. That’s still tons of leads.

For some B2Bs, it may go from 1,000 down to 100.

Take a few minutes to look up the contacts for those brands. Meaning, if you’re trying to sell to small restaurant chains—find out who’s making the decisions and look at their social accounts, activities, etc..

Look for things like:

  • A favorite sports team
  • Social activities
  • Even the type of content they share

All of this can help you build rapport right from the subject line (and the first sentence).

3. Avoid Common Mistakes

Most emails don’t get answered, not because they’re cold, but because they’re bad. Bad meaning really bad.

Here are examples of the worst mistakes that people make which affects cold email open rate:

Irrelevant Subject Line: There are some tricks (like leaving the subject blank) that sometimes work. That said, you’ll want to keep one rule. What’s in the email is described in the subject line and what’s in the subject line is expounded in the email. Stick with this and you should be good.

Poor First Sentence: Most email platforms allow users to see most of the first sentence of the email. This can be awesome if you know what you’re doing. It’s awful if you start with, “Hi, my name is [name] from [company name]. Get ready for a ride to the spam folder. Use this space to expound on your offer. Write the first sentence again and again until it’s compelling.

No Follow-Up: In the immortal words of William Edward Hickson, “Tis a lesson you should heed: Try, try again.” More on this in point five (it’s that important).

4. Stagger the Sending: This tip is way more recent. Google is in the process of changing the email game. We’ve recently seen things like prominent warnings about emails that come from outsiders and just sending more emails straight to the spam folder. It may be the tip of the cold outreach iceberg, but only time will tell.

The primary way we’ve seen people avoid these issues is to send the emails in smaller batches.

For B2Bs with fewer leads and higher-priced goods/services, this isn’t an issue. You may already send your emails in small batches. It’s those with a large amount of leads that can benefit here.

Tip: Use a product or service that allows you to stagger the sending of your cold emails to no more than 50 at a time. Sending emails over the course of a few hours instead of all at once is a great way to improve deliverability—thus getting those open rates up.

Bonus Tip: An email finder is a great way to quickly and easily search for verified emails for cold emailing. By using an email finder, you can save time by avoiding the need to search through individual email addresses online. Additionally, email finders can help you verify the accuracy of email addresses before you add them to your contact list.

5. Send It Twice

Quick question: Do you have an email sales cadence?

If you answered “No” Get one. Here’s a super-fast way to have one this week.

Pick a number of days: Let’s go with 10 business days (or two calendar weeks).
Write 3-4 different email templates: Your cold email, a slight variation of the cold email, a quick “checking in” email, and a “break-up” email.

Set a schedule: Day one is the cold email, day 3 is the slight variation, day 4 is the “checking in”, day 7 another “check in”, and day 10 is the “break-up”.

If you answered “Yes”

Great. But here are a couple of things that not many (even with a cadence) do.

Send the same email at a different time/day (or a slight variation): Emails get dismissed easier than most other forms of the communique. Send it again to those that didn’t open and you’ll likely see a bump in opens (when combining the two sends).

Send a preliminary “who’s in charge” email to a few different contacts in the same brand: This works. Find a few colleagues in the same company and name drop the others.

Someone will contact you and give you an in, possibly alleviating the need for a cold sales email.
Add a different type of contact (i.e. cold call, voicemail, social, or even direct mail): Send a voicemail letting them know you’ve emailed them, or just shoot over a LinkedIn message. Increase the number of touches, increase the open rate.

The Results are Worth the Effort

Some of you may be thinking, “That sounds like work”. It is, but if making sales or meeting quota is alluding you, it may be due to not putting in a solid effort on the front end.

You can work hard for a little in the sales funnel, or you can put in the time, narrow down those leads, and send them emails in a way that actually gets them interested in talking with you.
The choice is up to you.

Ryan Mattock

Co-Founder of CommissionCrowd... Let's get disruptive!