7 Tips for Warming Up Your Cold Email Outreach in 2019

leads Feb 19, 2019

Want to send better cold emails? Cold email can be a powerful outreach strategy for your business– when done correctly. In this guide, we'll share 7 cold email outreach best practices for 2019.

Cold emailing is the act of emailing those that you don’t already have some form of relationship with.

When you send a cold email, you're reaching out to strangers who may be able to help you to achieve your business goals. These strangers could be potential clients, customers, or digital influencers who may be interested in a mutually beneficial partnership.

Why Send Cold Emails? The Cold Email Debate

Experts agree that cold email is instrumental in helping to grow your business and increase your online presence.

Cold email expands your reach beyond your existing audience, and connects you with well-known and highly respected authorities in your space.

The benefits are undeniable, but still there are fears associated with it. Cold email is remarkably similar to the now rather outdated marketing method of cold calling, which means that there is certainly quite a bit of debate surrounding this somewhat controversial topic.

It is true that cold email doesn’t always achieve its goals, and we must acknowledge the possibility of damaging valuable relationships before they’ve even been built. However, these situations usually occur in circumstances where there is notably poor technique, where a "hard sell" approach is used, and where the sender has failed to try to achieve any sort of connection with the recipient.

After all, the relationship between sender and recipient is often said to be a key component of any kind of outreach.

As Gary Vaynerchuk put it:

“You know what my email open rate was in 1996 with a 400,000 person list? 89%. Now, you don’t give a shit if they’re offering a million dollar house for a hundred bucks, you’re like ‘click, spam.’”

The bottom line is, cold email outreach is a critical tool to have in your arsenal... but you have to do it the right way!

7 Cold Email Best Practices

Cold email open rates aren’t as good as many of us would like them to be. In fact, it’s reported that just 24% of cold emails are opened on average.

The good news is that you can boost email open rates by following these 7 best practices. Use these tips to "warm up" your cold emails so they are as effective as possible...

1. Use CURVE in Your Subject Line

Perhaps one of the biggest and most common of mistakes when it comes to cold email outreach is focusing efforts on the body of the email while overlooking other important aspects of drafting an effective message.

While the body of the email is, of course, essential, we can’t forget the classic saying: first impressions count. Even more important than the body of the email? The email’s subject line.

The subject line of an email is the first visible aspect that will be seen by the recipient. This is a fantastic opportunity to build up the excitement of your communication, but the problem is that it is a limited forum for doing so; there is only a small space available to type a message that will succeed in encouraging the recipient to click. So, what is the best way to build excitement in a subject line? 

When creating your email subject line, think about the "CURVE". CURVE stands for Curiosity, Urgency, Relevancy, Value, and Emotion, which are said to be the 5 key elements of crafting a subject line

  • Curiosity — Don’t spill everything in the subject line, save the good stuff for the email body
  • Urgency — Play to the recipient’s natural ‘FOMO’; fear of missing out
  • Relevancy — Ensure the recipient knows your email is related to an area of interest
  • Value — Make the recipient feel as though there is a benefit to opening your email
  • Emotion — Spark an emotion with your words: happy, sad, joy, trust, surprise, anticipation…

2. Leverage the Psychological Principle of Reciprocity

Imagine if a stranger approached you while you were out shopping and asked you for a favor. Let's say they asked you to take their kids to school in the morning, to lend them money to pay a bill, or to borrow your favorite coat.

How would that request make you feel?

Weird, right?

It is highly unusual for strangers to ask each other for favors without first building and forming some type of relationship.

These social norms still exist even when we’re interacting with people through digital means, rather than in a face-to-face setting. When crafting a cold email, it is important that you word your message in such a way that it doesn’t presume the recipient would be interested in helping out.

It’s also essential that you don’t make your email all about what you want the recipient to do for you. Instead, show them what you can do for them.

A successful cold email outreach campaign will be based in the very first of Cialdini's 6 Principles of Persuasion: Reciprocity. This principle says that the recipient is psychologically more likely to be motivated to get involved if you are able to show that you can be of some benefit to them. Make this a 2-way street by providing something to the recipient first, in the hopes that they will reciprocate and give something back.

There are many ways that you can show the value of forming a relationship: 

  • Offering the recipient guest posting opportunities to expand their reach to new audiences
  • Publishing relevant, regular content to educate, entertain, inspire, inform, or motivate
  • Generating an opportunity for a freebie; a free demo, download, paper, course etc.

 Most importantly, you need to know what is going to be valuable to your particular recipient. You'll need to do your research to determine what that might be, and really put yourself in their shoes. How can you help them to achieve their goals?

3. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

If you’ve decided to plan a large-scale cold email outreach campaign, you have probably looked into some form of automation. Automation is now a significant part of marketing and outreach, especially for bloggers working from home who are attempting to juggle a busy, hectic lifestyle while simultaneously building their online presence. Automation is the key to managing high volume email generation.

However, in cold email outreach, automation can only do so much. While it’s beneficial in terms of generating and incorporating static information — information about you, about your website or blog, and about your aims, for example — you can’t afford to overlook the importance of personalization. Especially at a time when modern audiences are looking for more customized, tailored experiences.

Research shows that emails with no personalized aspects suffer from very low open rates while including the recipient’s name will typically make your email perform slightly better. However, custom personalization is best.

It is worth taking the time to customize a section of each email, making it personal to that specific recipient. There are many ways to include personalized aspects, such as:

  • Referring to a blog post or social media post made by the recipient
  • Drawing familiarities between your blog and a post by the recipient
  • Politely providing an alternative view to a recipient’s in a bid to spark healthy debate
  • Highlighting areas where your interests are similar, and where they differ
  • Mentioning any guest posts or other online channels featuring the recipient

...or anything that shows that you actually did some research on the recipient as opposed to simply filling in a generic cold email template! 

4. Do Your Research 

Continuing with this idea of personalization, how can we decide which form of personalization would be most effective? Which post should we refer to? Which similarities should we highlight?

Personalization can be one of the most challenging aspects of creating an effective cold email, but it becomes much simpler when you conduct a little bit of research into each of your email recipients. 

A good starting point is to consider where each of your recipients fits into your plan. Spend some time thinking about why you’ve chosen to contact this particular person; why you feel they are in a unique position to help you as you continue to strengthen your online presence and work towards achieving your goals.

Use this information in your email. Explain exactly why you’ve chosen to get in touch with them and show why they are "qualified." According to a report by the Harvard Business Review, being "uniquely qualified" to help someone is one of the best motivators to encourage someone to take action. 

Here are some great sources to research your recipient:

  • Their own blog or website
  • Guest posts they have made through alternative channels
  • Social media, both lifestyle networks (e.g. Facebook) and professional networks (e.g. LinkedIn)
  • Research papers published digitally
  • Online groups/forums/platforms relevant to the recipient’s area of interest
  • Articles, videos, or speeches generated in relation to an event or conference 

5. Be Prepared

Research isn’t just an important consideration on your side of the equation– it’s a vital part of cold email outreach on the recipient’s side of things, too.

If you’re reaching out to influencers, then something to know about them is that they’re savvy. These online personalities haven’t reached influencer status by being lax about who they work with, and who they form relationships with. Instead, they’ve made conscious, informed decisions to respond to outreach emails sent by bloggers who are the "right fit."

If a recipient has even the smallest amount of interest in taking action, they will likely want to conduct their own research first to learn more about you. This will enable them to discover more than just that information that’s included within your outreach email, and also helps to build a level of trust between sender and recipient, providing them with peace of mind that you are who you say you are, you do share a similar interest or relevant area of expertise, and that they are well placed to help you to succeed.

Make yourself accessible. Here are some ways you can help recipients conduct their own research: 

  • Include important information — blog name, URL, and contact details — within your email
  • Work to create some form of online presence (eg. a social profile) before sending emails
  • Ensure that the email address you send from is connected to your online profiles
  • Use the same name in your email as you’ve used for any guest posts/blog commenting

6. Keep it Short & Sweet

Cold emails can end up being quite a lengthy type of communication. That’s because this initial contact must be everything: it must introduce, it must describe, it must market, it must engage, it must motivate, it must encourage. In many cases, a cold email will be a one-time opportunity to attract and resonate with the right people, at the right time, so there’s a lot of information to be included. 

The problem with this, however, is that a very long email is one of the biggest pet peeves of cold email recipients, coming second only to poor grammar.

Despite a large amount of information you need to include in your email, it is perhaps more essential to focus on creating a message that is short and snappy enough for the recipient to actually read without increasing the risk of boredom and scanning.

Always assume that the person you are emailing is extremely busy, and will only scan your email for a few seconds before deciding whether or not to trash it.

When drafting your email, be sure to note down valuable points and then work to connect all these points together in the clearest and most concise way possible.

Read and reread your email, removing any words or phrases that do not provide any direct value to the message. Any secondary information — details that you feel are important but are not directly associated with the aim of the cold email outreach campaign — is often best left for any subsequent communications.

7. Get the Response with a Clear Call to Action

One of the biggest uncertainties with a cold email is whether it’s considered to be a personal email or a marketing email. The truth is that it’s neither, although it does fall somewhere in the middle of the two.

This means that a good cold email will typically incorporate general aspects from both types of email, although for those who haven’t come from a marketing background, getting this side of the email perfect can be somewhat of a challenge, especially as it’s very easy to overlook one very important factor: CTA.

CTA stands for "Call to Action", and it refers to an instructional aspect of an email (CTAs are important in blog posts, too).

Imagine you ask a friend for help with a project, but you don’t actually tell them how they can assist you… it’s not particularly beneficial. The same is true for a cold email without a CTA. We’ve discussed the importance of not presuming that they will be willing to help, but it is still vital that they understand what the next step is.

If a recipient is left feeling confused about where they fit in, or why you’ve reached out to them, they will be less motivated to take action, even if your email has resonated with them. Quite simply, that’s because they don’t know what action they should take.

Be clear about how the recipient can get involved if they choose to: by responding to your email, checking out your blog, or pitching ideas, for example.

If At First You Don't Succeed...

While cold email outreach is somewhat of a controversial area, it has also been labeled as a "best business practice," particularly for entrepreneurs looking to expand their online presence.

There’s no denying that cold email outreach is a technique that can be difficult to get right. The good news, however, is that it’s worth taking the time to hone your cold email skills.

All you need to do to get started is send a single cold email using the 7 best practices above as a guide. Then, just keep on practicing.

You aren't going to get a positive result from every single cold email you send. That's OK– it's par for the course. But if you never send any cold emails, you could be missing out on enormous opportunities to grow your business.

As the saying goes, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained!"


Nikola Banicek is an internet marketing specialist at Point Visible content marketing agency. He’s a laid-back guy with experience in PPC, copywriting, and project planning. When he’s not working, he’s either gaming or watching anime.

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