All posts by Helvis Smoteks

How to Send Cold Business Introduction Emails [with examples]

business introduction emailsThe first time I sent a cold business introduction emails, it was a complete disaster.

My email didn’t just land in the spam box. It annoyed my contact so much that he emailed back asking me to never bother him again.

Since then, I’ve sent out hundreds of cold emails. Some of these landed in the spam folder. Most didn’t earn any replies. But quite a few of them ended up as leads and eventually, new clients.

This is the cold hard truth about running an agency: you will have to write cold emails to win deals.

I’ll show you everything I’ve learned about writing deal-winning introductory emails in this post.

My Business Introduction Email Process

One of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs make when it comes to cold email is to approach it without a fixed plan or process.

They make a half-baked list of prospects, send out a few emails from a template, then give up when they don’t get any replies.

Truth: every successful cold intro emailing campaign follows a process:

  • Find a suitable niche.
  • Make a high-quality list of prospects.
  • Zero down on your value proposition.
  • Create a handful of kick ass templates.
  • Send a few initial emails from each template to track results.
  • Use the most successful template for the rest of the campaign.
  • Track results and fine-tune template accordingly.

It’s not exactly rocket science, but it does involve some strategic thinking.

I’ll show you how to do all of the above below.

Step 1: Create a List of Prospects

Look:

Cold emailing success is less about what you write in an email.

Instead, it’s more about who you write to.

It’s far easier to target businesses whose needs align with your agency’s expertise.

This is why if I had 10 hours to spend on a cold email campaign, I would spend 8 hours just on building a prospect list.

Here’s how I build my prospect list.

1. Find a Niche and Create Segments

Ask any successful agency CEO about the secret of their success and they’ll say the same thing:

“Specialization.”

As Steve Ayers of Rocket55 says:

“I believe agencies should focus on being the best at something.”

This advice is particularly apt for cold emailing. You need to pick a niche, then divide it further into segments.

Niching down is important since every business has different needs. What works for a $10M/year SaaS business is not the same as that for a new SaaS startup.

By segmenting my list, I can create highly targeted templates that speak to each prospect.

How to Find Your Niche

My “niching down” approach has two steps:

  1. Find an underserved niche where businesses can benefit from your expertise.
  2. Create segments based on the business’ location, revenues, size, an area of focus, location, needs, etc.

For example, my agency targets SaaS businesses looking to turn content into leads and customers.

This would be my “niche” for a cold business introduction email campaign. I would divide this niche further into multiple segments, such as:

  • Established SaaS businesses (5+ years and/or $5M+ in yearly revenues)
  • New SaaS businesses (< 1 year in business)
  • SaaS businesses founded by solopreneurs
  • Funded SaaS businesses
  • Bootstrapped SaaS startups

You can also create segments based on any business need you identify during prospect research.

For instance, if I find that a business does not have a blog, I might create a separate segment for “SaaS businesses without blogs”.

This way, I can send different emails to bootstrapped startups looking to get started vs. established startups looking to scale.

I like to use Google Sheets for managing my prospect lists. I create a single main tab for all prospects, then add separate tabs for each segment. In the main list, I’ll have fields for each segment qualifying criteria.Image_0

I’ll add each prospect I find in the main list as well as any applicable segment.

This helps me keep track of the conversion rates for each segment.

2. Find Target Businesses

Once you’ve zeroed in on a niche and created your segments, it’s time to find businesses and their contact information.

Some ways to do this are:

 

I can’t give you a one-tool-fits-all solution; each niche is different.

Once you have a list of companies, pop them into your spreadsheet. Add them to your main prospect list as well as the segment they fit into.

You might have to create additional segments based on your research (example: you find a number of businesses without blogs).

3. Find Contact Information

Next step: find a decision maker in the business and his/her email address. Look at the business’ about page or dig through LinkedIn.

For larger companies, you want to at least hit someone at the manager level and ask them to direct you to the right contact.

For smaller companies and startups, you can usually email VP/C-level execs directly.

To find email addresses, pick from any one of these tools: Hunter.ioInterseller.ioAnyMailFinderVoilaNorbertDatanyze Insider, and ClearBit.

I typically use Hunter.io if I want to quickly the email pattern used at a company. Just pop in the domain and Hunter.io will show you a list of contacts and the email pattern used:

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If you want more power and accuracy, stick to SellHack, Datanyze or ClearBit.

Pop these emails into your spreadsheet as well.

Step 2: Develop Your Value Proposition

Unless you’re Steve Jobs with a side of Billy Mays, you’re going to have a hard time selling your services to businesses that don’t want them.

This is why the next step should be to develop a value proposition for each segment.

I truly believe this is more important than fine-tuning your email templates. Persuasive language can’t overcome a weak offer.

Start by researching a few businesses in each segment.

Look for:

  • Technical shortcomings that you can help with.
  • Missed marketing opportunities such as no social media presence, lack of on-site content, etc. (if you’re a marketing firm).
  • “80% done” problems: Businesses that are trying to do something you specialize in, but aren’t able to do a fully professional job of it – i.e. they are only “80% done”. For example, a business that blogs often, but doesn’t have a good copy, titles, cover images, etc.
  • Fundamental issues based on the business’ current size and product.

 

For example, if I have a segment for “recently funded SaaS businesses”, I know that these businesses a) need explosive growth, b) have budgets to scale and c) have internal marketing teams.

Based on this, I might offer them a solution that uses Facebook advertising with a scalable growth hacking tactic.

For bootstrapped SaaS businesses, I might offer an affordable “hands-off” marketing solution that respects bootstrapped businesses’ lack of time and budgets.

I like to develop multiple value propositions for each segment. This way, I can test out different offers and see what works.

You can add separate columns for each segment in your spreadsheet and note down your value proposition(s).

Step 3: Create Your Templates

There are three ways you can approach cold emailing:

  • Personalized approach, where you send highly personalized emails to each prospect.
  • Templatized approach, where you use a standard template with minimal personalization.
  • A hybrid approach, where you personalize parts of a template.

 

I prefer to prioritize my prospects based on their value and likelihood of conversion. For high-value prospects, I use a heavily personalized approach. For low-value targets, I send a simple templatized mail.

For the majority of prospects, however, I use a hybrid approach. This usually means personalizing a single line in the template to make it feel more authentic.

I’ll show you how to create and personalize templates below.

Write a Compelling Subject Line

Subject lines serve just one purpose:

To get your email opened.

Everything else is meaningless. You could write the most poetic subject line in history but if it doesn’t get opened, it’s a failure.

Which is to say: focus your subject lines exclusively on getting clicked and opened.

Here are three of my personal favorite tactics:

1. Be Straightforward

Surprisingly, being clear and upfront works better for subject lines than packing in a heap of copywriting tricks.

You don’t have to take my word for it – MailChimp’s research found the same (the new link is down, but here’s an archived copy).

Straightforward emails work because they pack in essential information into the subject line itself. Recipients don’t have to read the body copy to decide whether they want to go further or not.

This approach works particularly well for emailing busy people (think founders, C-level folks, etc.).

The downside is that if your value proposition isn’t strong enough, your target might delete the email without reading it.

To use this subject line, describe your value proposition or core idea in as few words as possible.

Something like:

“I’ll help you turn blog readers into customers”

“Capture more leads from your blog”

“Marketing manager email?”

2. Personalize the Subject Line

Personalization is one of the most important things you can do to improve open rates. One study found that effective personalization can improve open rates by as much as 42%.

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You can personalize by mentioning the target’s name, his company’s name or his website address.

My best results are from using the website address without the .com (think “Linkody” instead of “Linkody.com”). I reckon this has to do with the fact that addresses with the .com make your email appear auto-generated.

Usually, I’ll take a straightforward subject line and add some personalization to it, like:

“Help turning Linkody’s readers into customers”

“Capture more leads from Linkody’s blog”

“Linkody marketing manager email?”

3. Evoke Curiosity

With this approach, you share incomplete information in the subject line to evoke the target’s curiosity.

Something like this:

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Just kidding!

If you’re going to use this approach, be subtle about it.

Try something like this:

“Quick question”

“Quick suggestion”

“A quick favor?”

“Short ask – will take under 30 seconds” (this one got me a lot of replies when I was emailing some very busy people for feedback about an idea. I mixed in a specific number as well – “will take just 17.1 seconds”).

This subject line format doesn’t tell the reader much, which is precisely why it works. If it piqued your interest, you’ll have no option but to actually read the email.

Don’t add personalization with this approach. It can backfire. For some reason, personalized curiosity-evoking subject lines feel like something a spammer would send (“quick question, Puranjay”).

As with everything else related to cold email, experiment. Try out different ideas to see what sticks. Every niche, every industry, every prospect list is different. There is no one-subject-line-fits-all solution.

Create the Email Body

The email body is less important than you think.

Sure, you can’t ramble on for 10 paragraphs. But if you’ve done your prospecting right and zoomed in on your value proposition, you can get away with a subpar email template.

Plenty of people have covered this topic in detail before – Pipetop and CriminallyProlific are my two favorite resources – so I won’t go in-depth here.

My best advice for cold business introduction emails is to:

  • Keep it short: Anything beyond 5-6 paragraphs is too long. I try to wrap everything within 5-6 sentences. The busier your target, the shorter your email should be.
  • Talk about your solution/results, not yourself: Unless you’ve won a Nobel prize, don’t talk much about who you are.
  • Make the email easy to reply to: Try to close with yes/no type questions.

Most of my emails follow this structure:

Hi [First Name]

[Personalized leading statement – optional. Use this only if you’re taking the personalized route. I prefer it since it exponentially increases the chance of getting a response]

[Your introduction. Make this relevant to the recipient. Don’t talk about how you help Fortune 500 companies when you’re emailing bootstrapped startups.]

[Your core value proposition. This should essentially be your 1-sentence pitch.]

[Social proof/results – if any. Works best if the results are from a company they might have heard of]

[Call to action. For your first email, keep the ask to a minimum. Don’t push a sale, just try to get a reply]

[Your name]

Thus, I might have something like this:

Hi Rob,

Saw your comment on Tim’s blog. Totally agree that startups need to focus on scalable growth instead of one-off tactics.

I run GrowthPub where I work with companies like Acme Inc. turn their blog readers into customers.

I noticed that while you have a blog, you don’t have any lead magnets or opt-in forms to turn readers into customers.

I recently worked with MegaCorp to create a set of lead magnets that helped them capture 204% more leads.

I’ve got some great ideas that can help Acme Inc. get similar results.

Is this something you’d be interested in?

Warmest Regards,

Puranjay

I’ve highlighted the personalized bits above. Except for the opening statement, you can personalize the rest of the email quite easily.

Most people would at least reply back that they’re interested in hearing more.

The good part is that you can personalize this template at scale.

Step 4: Personalize the Template and Track Results

The final step is to personalize the template and track the results.

You need two things to do this:

  • A mail merge tool
  • A way to track emails

 

There are plenty of email tools around but my favorite is MixMax. It bundles in both mail merge and email tracking. Although the tool is paid (there is a limited free version), it doesn’t cost too much for a single user.

To personalize with mail merge, you first need to have an Excel/Google Sheets doc with all your data.

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The header for each column will act as a variable. MixMax takes the first column as the email field by default (though you can change this).

Save this sheet as a CSV file.

Next, log into MixMax and go to ‘Sequences’. Click on “New Sequence”.

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On the next screen, import your CSV.

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Next, you’ll go to the compose window. You should see all your column headers here.

To use data from these columns, you simply need to include the variable in your template.

That is, if you have a column named “First Name”, you can include data from each row by using this variable in your email – {{First Name}}.

Do this for all the personalized information. You’ll have a template like this:

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You can then choose to send a test email to yourself before activating the sequence.

Once activated, MixMax will send out a personalized email to every contact in the list.

The good part about MixMax is that:

  • You can personalize each email in the sequence before it goes out. This is incredibly powerful if you want to use the personalized approach.
  • MixMax tracks opens/clicks for each email automatically.

Mail merge + personalization acts almost like a superpower. You can send out hundreds of emails in a few hours and have each email still feel personalized.

Do this with a solid list of prospects and your pipeline will never be short of leads.

Your Key Takeaways

There’s a lot to digest in this post. While not foolproof, this email writing process is both effective and scalable.

Here’s what you should take away from this post:

  • Make prospecting your no. 1 priority. A good list of prospects is worth 10x than any copywriting tricks for the email body.
  • Write down your core value proposition and 1-sentence pitch before you start emailing.
  • Use a straightforward subject line that emphasizes your value proposition.
  • Keep emails short – 5-8 sentences at most. Focus on the benefits and results, not yourself.
  • Add a personalized line before each email to dramatically increase response rates.
  • Use mail merge to create hundreds of personalized emails quickly.

Feel free to share what was your biggest cold email fail?

 


profileThis post was created by Puranjay. He runs GrowthPub, a content-focused growth marketing agency. Moreover, he blogs about CRO, content marketing and growth hacking at GrowthSimple. When not nerding out over marketing, he likes to fiddle around with Ableton and his guitar.