How to Improve Cold Email Outreach Campaign Results

cold email campaigns

Growth Orbit Insights

Using email for B2B marketing campaigns exploded in popularity along with the rapid expansion of the tech industry in the latter half of the 90’s. While the proverbial “.com” bubble eventually burst, the adoption and use of business email has never ceased. Whether sending cold emails makes you happy or cringe, this post intends to provide some guidance on how to get and maintain better results.

by Connor Jordan

Cold Email Outreach is Dead, isn’t it?

Prognosticators have been foretelling the pending death of email for several years. Yet, four billion email users send more than 300 billion emails every single day. Of course, not all those emails are for B2B marketing campaigns. But those emails that are part of campaigns are well worth the investment. According to industry leader Litmus, email marketing is more effective than any other form of digital marketing. With a Return on Investment of $36 for every $1 spent, email marketing is a must-have in your B2B digital marketing strategy.

Cold Email Outreach Results are Better When Your Strategy is Shaped by Your Audience

Just because there is such a high upside, doesn’t mean email marketing is easy. Even though nearly everyone is doing it, and have been for years, most organizations fail to get the results they should. Keeping this in mind, B2B marketing teams should develop a strategy to optimize their cold email campaign outcomes.

white paper about importance of messagingIn today’s world, it seems like the deck is stacked against email marketing. First, you must adhere to government regulations. Then your emails need to stand out amongst the competitive noise. Next, your emails face several technical hurdles that attempt to filter or block emails at every turn. Finally, adding to the challenges and obstacles, is the fact that marketers typically have more than a dozen other ongoing initiatives at any one time. As a result, it’s no wonder cold email outreach campaigns often get lost in the mix.

Take the Guesswork Out of Your Cold Email Outreach Strategy

If you are responsible for lead generation for your company’s sales team, then it’s likely you don’t have a lot of idle time. But since cold email outreach campaigns can have a big impact on your overall marketing results, it would be wise to concentrate on their strategy. So, to help save time and provide guidance, here are some things to know:

a) Know Your Audience Before You Send Emails
b) Know Why People Open Emails
c) Know How People Read Emails
d) Know How to Get People to Take Action

Know Your Audience Before You Send Cold Emails

look closer to know your audience betterFirst, do some market research to understand who is most likely to buy from you. Include data on industry, company size, revenue, and other firmographic data points. Second, define and develop personas. Know the common roles of the people who participate in the buying process. Since purchases are going through a committee with an average of 11 people, you’ll want to know who would benefit most from buying your product. It’s also beneficial to know who handles the finances. And, even though there’s a committee, one person makes the ultimate decision. Additionally, knowing who would be involved in post-purchase implementation is important. Each person has different challenges and different motivations for either saying yes or no to your offer.

Armed with company firmographics and contact persona data you can now determine who should receive your emails and who should not. Next, for those who should get your emails, segment them into appropriate lists. The remaining contacts may need to be added to exclusion lists. With these lists, you can now customize your messaging accordingly and include some personalization.

Know Why People Open Cold Emails

There are plenty of research papers and anecdotal studies covering the topics around email open rates. Although email open rates vary by industry, there are some universal reasons why people open emails. When ranking what is most important, the factor that tops the list is always knowing the sender. That’s right,  if they know you, they are more likely to open an email from you than for any other reason. So, unfortunately, in cold email outreach campaigns, this works against you. Once a contact engages with you, however, this can work to your advantage.

Top four reasons people open an email:

#1 – They know the sender
#2 – The subject line is meaningful to them
#3 – The pre-header text describes what they get if they open it
#4 – The preview pane shows a clear, relevant call-to-action for their benefit

By knowing what motivates contacts to open your emails, you can run some A/B tests. Keep testing subject lines, pre-headers, and copy to incrementally improve your cold email open rates.

Know How People Read Cold Emails

people skip and skim emails

If you successfully entice your recipients to open your email, the next step in the process is to be sure they read it. But they won’t. No, seriously, hardly anyone will actually read your email in its entirety. Eye tracking and heat mapping research indicates that most people give no more than a glance when looking at emails on a computer screen or smartphone. In essence, we all skip and skim before deciding to read, delete, or save an email. Our brains are geared toward this initial assessment and quick decision making. We then look for headlines, sub-headers, bullets points, as well as text cosmetics such as bold or italics. Images or buttons also draw our attention and can be the trigger that encourages people to skip right to the point and make their decision about what to do next; if anything.

Know How to Get People to Take Action

Now that you have put a lot of thought and effort into sending your cold emails to the right people, getting them to open it with a great subject line and capturing their interests as they skip and skim the message, it’s time to encourage them to take the next step. That next step is called the conversion. It could be anything from watching a video, clicking on a link to a blog post, or tapping a button to register for an upcoming webinar. Whatever the conversion is, it’s the real reason you are sending the cold email in the first place.

email call-to-actions encourage next stepsAs with the other things to get right in your cold email outreach there are best practices regarding conversions. Studies show what, why, and how to get email recipients to click through and take action. For example, Whirlpool increased their CTR by 42% by simply reducing the number of calls-to-action from four to one per email. As Franklin Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” book says, start with the end in mind. In cold email outreach the end is that conversion. The click, tap, or reply is your goal. So, work toward that end by leveraging a few best practices.

Best Practices for CTAs in Cold Outreach Emails

Placement.  In cold email outreach your CTA should be in a position that clearly and obviously invites the recipient to do it. You want it to be seen without scrolling.

Color.  The psychology of color also plays a part in increasing cold email conversions. Colors can have effects on feelings, whether positive or negative. If sending text-only emails, the color of the hyperlink matters. It should be the universally accepted light blue with the text being underlined. Suppose your email is in HTML and has some color and imagery. In that case, the CTA button needs to contrast with the overall color scheme to make sure it stands out.

Action-oriented words.  Boring, vague phrases such as “learn more” or “click here” fail to convey any value for a potential conversion. They also might harm your email deliverability rating as these words could be seen as spammy by email servers. Action-oriented words, such as “start your savings now” or “receive exclusive access” give your audience a clear next step that can be taken. They’ll know exactly what they’ll get following a click.

Remember, as with improving cold email open rates, you should do some A/B testing of your CTAs. You will want to figure out the best combination of placement, color, and phrasing for your CTAs.

Cold Email Campaign Results Can Be Improved

Cold email outreach is more effective when you have a strategy based on best practices, the science behind them, and disciplined A/B testing. By knowing your audience and adopting a mindset of continuous improvement through trying and testing variants, your long-term results will improve. Using cold email to connect with prospects allows you to initiate conversations at scale, and it lets salespeople focus on contacts who are in advanced stages of the sales process.