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10 Principles of Effective Cold Email Outreach

cold email best practices

Let's Review the Fundamentals

Whether you’re looking to adopt or optimize your sales outreach strategy, it’s important to stay consciously aware of prospecting fundamentals. When it comes to drafting and executing your sales campaigns, or “cold email” outreach, here are 10 core best practices to consider (yes, there are many more):

Principles of Effective Outreach
TL;DR

  1. Stay buyer-centric
  2. Less is more
  3. Direct, active tone
  4. Ask for what you want – a meeting, information, or a referral
  5. Clean data inputs & dynamic info tags
  6. Speak in benefits – don’t “feature dump”
  7. Maintain appropriate spacing between email delivery
  8. Test your emails before sending
  9. Clearly define segmentation and personas to drive personalization
  10. Scroll to the bottom 🙂 

#1 Staying Buyer Centric

Ask yourself how much of your message is about you vs. about your buyer. People want to talk about themselves, not you, so make sure you’re messaging isn’t too pitchy and rather, is more curiosity-driven and based around building solutions. Do your research up front to develop a messaging framework that sounds like, “I noticed on [job board] that {{company}} is expanding the sales team in [area 1] and [area 2].” instead of, “I’m reaching out introduce how we help growing sales teams.”

  • Actionable Tip: When drafting your emails, highlight the buyer-centric messaging in one color and seller-centric in another. Keep shaping your messaging until the weight is shifted towards your prospect. 

#2 Less is More

Want to trigger your prospect to immediately delete your email, discredit your brand, and likely lose all interest in conversations in a few seconds? Send them a nice little essay with a heavy dose of formatting, bullet-points, fancy links and pictures. This will kick off a buyer’s reflex response to hit the “trash” button. 

But I don’t think that’s what you’re going for. So, to make a good impression, make your messages short, to the point, and actionable. 

Actionable Tip: Make sure you can read your email on your phone screen without scrolling. Minimize or eliminate bold, italics and formatting to generate the appearance of a “handwritten” email.

#3 Direct, Active Tone

I can’t stress this enough! Weak, passive messaging that sounds like, “I just kinda wanted to sortof reach out and maybe potentially set a meeting to..”  isn’t going to get you far. In the same way you’d make eye contact with a buyer in person and use a confident verbal tone, “{{first_name}} – I’m reaching out because . . .

This also ensures your messaging will be shorter, more concise, and easy to read. Passively written sentences tend to be longer and more complex. 

#4 Ask for What you Want!

Repeat after me, “I am a salesperson, NOT a marketing robot.” There’s nothing wrong with sending a hand-picked piece of content that maps to your prospect’s buyer journey to show you care, but there’s little to no room for sending a sales email with no clear ask. Before you ask, the exception to the rule can be for building awareness if you’re inviting prospects to an event or webinar – all other principles still apply.  

  • Actionable Tip: Include an ask for a meeting (with a few proposed dates and times), information, or a referral). 

#5 Use Email Verifiers and Clean up Data Inputs

No matter what data or list-building tools you’re using to feed your email outreach, make sure your records are cleaned up so messages display more naturally. Don’t be lazy and send emails with “Initech, Inc” or “Hi JAMES” or “Vice President, Head of Global Sales and Account Expansion.” It’s sloppy and reflects poorly on your individual & company brands. 

Also, be sure to leverage tools to accelerate list-building and make sure emails are likely to deliver before investing time & effort.  

#6 Speak in Benefits; Don't "Feature Dump"

Speaking in terms of features is seller-centric; benefits are buyer-centric. As established, it’s in your best interest to speak your prospect’s language, not rattle of a list of differentiating features, widgets, services, etc. 

I could say, “we help sales teams with our list-building and sales automation stack” or I could say, “we help sales teams generate qualified pipeline and reclaim time lost to inefficient prospecting workflows.” Start with the outcome and work backwards. 

  • Actionable Tip: Ask yourself how your features help and define what positive outcomes they achieve for your clients. 

#7 Appropriate Breathing Room Between Email Delivery

Under no circumstance should you be emailing the same person every day or every two days in cold outreach. You’re sure to get sent to spam, blacklist your email account, and piss off the person you’re trying to meet with. 

Instead of getting a restraining order delivered to your door, AT LEAST give 2 days of spacing on the lower end but no more than 7 if you’re delivering an 8-15 multichannel (email, call, social) campaign over the course of a month. Generally speaking, leave 3-4 days between each email you send. 

And by the way, don’t forget to include an opt-out link and be sure you check out how regulations like GDPR and CASL affect your target prospects & accounts. 

#8 Test your Messaging

“Hey {{first_name}.” Whoops.

Nothing’s worse than a broken dynamic tag, different sizes and types of font, or bad formatting. Test your emails by delivering one to yourself or teammates first and then deliver with confidence to your prospects.

#9 Use Segmentation and Persona Mapping to Drive Personalization

Segmentation, persona-mapping, personalization – each topic is a huge subject in itself that’s a bit outside the scope of a quick blog post. To paraphrase, be sure you’re clearly identify the following before traversing into cold email campaigns:

  1. The segment (industry, company size, function, etc) you’re targeting. Refrain from using the same templates & messages across all segments. More on segmentation from us here.  
  2. Understand the stakeholder profile (persona) you’re reaching out to and adjust your messaging accordingly. More on persona-mapping from us here. 

With these in mind, it’l be easier to create Templates that serve as frameworks for repeatable personalization instead.

For example, let’s say your campaign targets VP’s of Technology at Financial Services companies. You could template something like:

  • “We’ve seen great success helping your peers at organizations like [financial services client 1 & 2] solve obstacles like [challenge 1 or 2] and achieve [positive outcome]. Based on [trigger], I understand you may be at a similar starting point. While I’m not sure if we’re a fit for {{company}}, I’m reaching out to request a 20-minute meeting to identify potential alignment. Are you available at 10am or 1pm next {{0_business_days_from_now}}?” 

#10 Leverage List-Building & Sales Automation to Build a Prospecting Workflow

There’s endless proof that tools for building verified lists and automating personalized cold email outreach is essential for prospecting success. And it’s not just cold email campaigns, these tools can be used for the majority of the sales methodologies & approaches. 

However, while many are great solutions, they’re oftentimes delivered as standalone tools that don’t integrate with one-another directly – or cost excess $ to do so. This can lead to clunky, frustrating process that can hardly serve as an upgrade to doing things manually. Which of course, defeats the purpose and makes prospecting a pain.

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Accelerate research and list-building with DataDen, a repository containing over 60 million verified contacts. Use powerful search filters to locate key prospects which can be easily uploaded to CRM & Pursuit.

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