How do you feel about cold outreach? Necessary evil? Great strategy?
What if you could write in a way to get replies to your cold outreach?
Let's step back a second.
Do you remember the old days of cold outreach? I don't know if you ever worked at a place with a fax machine, but I remember working at a place where we'd get random faxes. I thought it was crazy that people would even read them, but sometimes they would go further. They'd actually buy whatever was being pitched in the fax.
Thankfully, we don't have fax machines anymore and those old days of cold outreach have passed.
But people still send cold outreach emails.
And I hate them.
In fact, most of them get sent directly to my inbox trash can.
I don't know if you think they're a necessary evil or a great strategy. But I know that most people do it poorly. And I can't help but think if they did it well, it would work better.
Four Ways to Improve your Cold Outreach
Step One: Pay attention to names & subject lines
The first thing I look at when I get an email is the From line. The second is the Subject line. And the third is how you open your email with a salutation. That's normally where you put my name.
My first name is Christian. I go by Chris. Do you know what I don't go by? Christ. That's not me. So get that right. I get tons – I'm talking about hundreds of emails – that get that simple thing wrong,
And that subject line. I know my friends at OptinMonster have written extensively about subject lines. All of that is great.
Here's my take: make it personal. If you're writing about my blog, the subject line could reference it – “I agree 100% with your post on ‘taking a corner.'” I would open that email because it was clear that you a) visited my site, b) maybe even read a post. That's much better than, “Great opportunity for owner of website”
Step Two: Do some research
I write about WordPress. I write about eCommerce. Membership sites. LMS plugins. And communication (storytelling, public speaking, marketing). It doesn't take more than a few minutes to figure that out.
If you can't figure that out, your email is going straight to the trash can. But if you want to get replies to your cold outreach, do more than sticking a domain name and email into a spreadsheet to output a form email.
When you understand who I write for, you can shape your initial communication to align your efforts with mine.
“It looks like we both are working to help people share what they know with the world via courses.”
“I can tell that you have a passion for eCommerce, which aligns with what we've been doing for the last four years.”
I'm going to open and read an email that looks like you've done some research and connects some dots between us. I'm not going to open or read an email that wants to suggest I backlink to your supplements article.
NOTE: Notice what I didn't say. I didn't say that if you want to get your cold outreach read, you must give me an ego stroke. I don't need faint or fake praise. And I don't like lies.
Step Three: Play chess not checkers: give before you get
A game of chess is complicated. There are multiple moves. Don't try for a one-and-done email. It won't work. And I'm not suggesting you create a series of 4 emails that apply greater and greater pressure on me to reply.
If you want to get replies to your cold outreach, you have to think about this as a multi-step process where eventually you might turn me into a warm lead and then get me to act. But it starts with you doing something for me.
That's where the law of reciprocity starts to work, if you don't mess it up.
You might say, “I see that you write a lot about communication and I thought our list of 250 leadership quotes might help you, so I've attached it.”
In that way, you're giving me something. Something useful. And it's a great way to introduce yourself. As someone who is aligned with what I'm doing and is even offering me something of value.
Step Four: Don't go for the close
You want to get your cold outreach read? Don't end with an ask. Not in that first email. Instead, let them know who you are, and express interest in staying connected.
First, I'd be shocked there wasn't an ask. Second, if you delivered value in that first email, I'd be inclined to read your next email. And third, I might even reply and thank you. Which allows us to shift this to a conversational dynamic.
Let me be clear: I'm not in sales
I'm positive that there are folks who are in sales, and do it for a living, who may tell you that everything I've said is wrong. I'm ok with that because I'm not in sales. But I get a lot of these emails. And I can tell you what will and what won't get replies to your cold outreach.
These four steps will make for a much better email. One I will read, and potentially even reply to.