A few outbound marketing strategies have become more vital than ever.
One good example is cold email outreach.
Studies show that the average ROI for cold outreach is $42 for every $1. Plus, it’s affordable and takes less time and effort to launch.
To figure out the trends for cold outreach, we reached out to 34 marketing experts. These are people who’ve been in the industry for decades. They’ve sent thousands of cold emails and launched successful cold outreach campaigns for their brands.
Cold email is the most effective way to generate leads without investing a fortune in your marketing campaigns.
However, according to more statistics, only a few top performers can see the good side of cold email outreach. That’s 18% of businesses that achieve ROI of more than $70 per $1 invested.
The other 82% are left to scramble for the lowest ROI while investing more in their cold campaigns.
This survey aimed to bridge that gap. We reached out to these experts with three critical questions.
- How do they structure their cold email outreaches?
- What’s the secret strategy that leads them to get the highest ROI?
- What shifts do they see in the industry, and how will it affect the future of cold outreach?
If your cold email outreach campaign hasn’t been successful, these are the questions you might have.
Luckily, you’ll get your answers today.
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Write To A Friend, Not a Prospect
Nick Brogden, Organic Marketing Expert (SEO) Earned Media
In my experience, I’ve noticed that the essentials have become more vital. By that, I mean keeping it genuine and natural; one could say even being less professional combined with highly researched customization.
Some of the best advice I ever received about email copywriting was always to write as if you were writing for a friend or at least a person you knew well. My success rates in cold email tend to be higher the more natural my outreach.
This does, of course, vary based on the type of outreach.
For example, if I’m doing link-building outreach, I’ll write in a very open style about what I want. But I’ll focus on first giving them something they want. This way, they will know I know this is not spam, and working with me will benefit them.
Create Authentic and Meaningful Relationships
Eric Sornoso at Mealfan
It’s a lot more work, but the best cold outreach trend is to foster a relationship with your prospect before asking for anything.
Start a genuine conversation with them. It might take two to four emails, but it will work if you want to establish a long-term relationship.
Personalization all the way
Brandon Kim, Head of Marketing at Crystal
Using personality insights about a prospect to craft HIGHLY personalized emails will be critical in differentiating your emails against all of the cold outreach emails already being sent.
Target Prospects Who Know You With What They Need
George Chasiotis, Managing Director at MINUTTIA
People want to connect with other people. What they don’t want is to feel like they’re being sold. That is something people don’t like from people they already know and maybe even trust, let alone complete strangers. How can you beat that?
First, you need to think of WHO you’ll reach out to.
We reach out only to people we’re already connected with on LinkedIn and other channels.
These people know us, have seen and interacted with our content, and have already formed a perception of who we are and what we do.
So it’s only natural then that they’ll get back when they see an email from us (even if they’re not interested).
Second, you must consider WHAT you’ll send to those people.
We reach out to people only when we have something interesting to share, something about them and not about us. So, for example, a webinar we had a few weeks ago, a new study we conducted, or an opportunity we identified for their business. The email is strictly about them and not us.
There are so many good things that can start with a cold email.
But, for that to happen, the outreach needs to have a clear target (WHO) that already knows us, and the email needs to be focused on the prospect (WHAT) and not on us. Do that, and the results you get from your cold email outreach will significantly improve.
Data! Data! Data!
Joy Corkery, Head of Content Operations at Latana
It is possible that your target audience could get anywhere up to 100 cold outreach emails a week. I know I do! I’ve seen people reach out to me in a serious manner, in a funny way, and with very basic copy/paste emails.
More and more of these emails are becoming more personalized but knowing your name, company, and role isn’t enough to get attention.
At Latana, we use data. As a brand tracking company, we have great insights into how consumers perceive a particular brand.
We share some of these insights with them. We show them our product without leaving them guessing. Our reply rates have shot up since we started doing this.
Two words, Pure Value
Ritvars Lauza, Marketing Lead a at Sellfy
I get a lot of cold emails, and I ignore 99% since they are disingenuous.
But I do respond to the “pure value” ones. An example is when someone records a Loom video or does research about our company and finds actual issues that we have.
I believe this is where the cold email will go, as it’s the only thing that will work in the long term.
Create “Cold, But Warm Emails.”
Vlad Shvets. Head of Product Growth at Paperform
The best cold emails “feel warm.”
Such emails create an immediate connection with the prospect on a personal level. Plus, it catches their attention and, most importantly — delivers them a particular value (and not just a sales pitch).
Creating such “cold and yet warm” emails is hard work, but it’s possible and certainly worth the effort.
Personalization is Winning Half the Battle
Hunter Branch, Founder at Rank Tree
People care much more about how valuable your pitch is than how personalized it is.
Don’t get me wrong, personalization is critical. But since cold email has become so saturated, more and more people just want to get to the point – how you can help them.
They will reply if you quickly prove that you can be valuable to them. This is how you succeed with outreach for everything from sales to link building today.
Offer Something Valuable In Exchange
Gaby Hernandez, Community Outreach Specialist at Envato
It is critical to leave your cold side behind and focus on how you can create win-win relationships.
However, good content can be enough of a hook to get a mention or a link. Nowadays, we are all in the search to also get something in return.
Once you accept this reality, it is easier to put together a “package” of everything you can offer in exchange, besides the excellent content.
It depends greatly on your capabilities and the product you provide to build your strategy. It can range from offering link exchanges and guest post swaps to offering “x” number of free months of your subscription so that they can even experience what your product offers.
Mentioning these benefits from the beginning of your outreach attempt can make a massive difference in your response rate.
Level up on Automation
Carla Andre-Brown, Content Marketer at Mailbird
The biggest trend is automation. Whether that be for better or worse – it is all about how you handle your inbox.
An email list should always be personalized, so scaling up isn’t necessarily always going to be the best approach.
That said, managing emails without a cold outreach tool is a huge endeavor. Small businesses should ensure they can easily label and separate their emails based on why they reached out so they don’t lose track of important conversations.
AI email Composers are Making Bigger Strides
Vlad Oleksiienko, SDR Team Leader at Reply.io
There are many trends related to the tactics and methods of cold outreach (e.g., personalization as scale and multichannel engagement). But I would like to highlight one tech trend that is shaping the industry now.
It’s the AI email composer. Made possible with the introduction of GPT-3 by OpenAI, these tools help SDRs overcome writer’s block and save hours of their time crafting effective outreach emails.
But I have bad news for you if you think your tried and tested template works just fine.
Those canned, generic scripts with just a few variables are much more likely to be ignored than a unique, relevant, highly customized message.
That said, I see a few ways AI-powered email assistants as a trend are shaping the future of cold emailing:
- They push the automation capabilities related to outreach way forward. This streamlines the tasks that were previously impossible to automate.
- They allow you to make your communication feel personal while creating outreach emails and follow-ups at scale, based on the provided outline, CRM data, or previous messages in the thread.
- They make your outreach more effective by suggesting improvements based on the performance trends and best practices from the past sequences.
I believe there’s a huge potential in this trend. And I can’t wait to see an email assistant smart enough to fully manage sales communications on its own, reading the intent and buyer signals in the incoming messages and tailoring their responses accordingly.
Keep it Personal
Tory Gregory, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Flippa
Personalization in every sense of the word. Know your audience, speak to them directly, and use what you know about them in your communications.
Aim to build a relationship through what you know about them before you start selling.
Contact The Right People
Aleksandar, Dimovski SEO Content Manager at Linkody
I believe personalized email is the biggest trend nowadays regarding cold email outreach. The days of spamming “info@,” “contact@,” and “office@” types of emails are long gone.
People have learned and mastered how to conduct proper contact searches and started communicating directly with key individuals who hold positions in companies.
LinkedIn also plays a crucial role here, as outreach managers can filter the corresponding targeted people’s roles within the company they wish to collaborate with.
However, it isn’t enough to find people’s direct contact emails and enter their names in the subject line.
Outreach managers have learned to use snippets and custom fields, refer to their website or blog, and adequately message the email’s content to the recipient.
After all, personalizing a message is all about the prospect. No one wants to read solely about what the other party is looking for and what they can get from the collaboration.
Personalized, 1-1 outreach
Mike Nesselbeck, Search Engine Optimization Specialist at 7shifts
Gone are the days of loading up to 1000 emails into a batch email client and sending those, hoping for responses and interest.
Personalizing 1-1 outreach allows you to make recipients feel like you took the time and care to craft that email.
Going further than using the person’s name. For example, if I was reaching out to a marketing department with a cold email, I may find a piece of their recent work on LinkedIn and provide positive feedback or engage with their most recent Instagram post, making the experience more personal to the reader.
Create Attention-Grabbing Headlines and Personalized Attachments
Jason Martinez, Brand Marketing Manager at Redefine Marketing Group
One of the biggest trends I’ve noticed in cold email outreach for 2022 is attention-grabbing subject lines and personalized attachments.
First, attention-grabbing subject lines have always been a critical piece of email outreach but what seems different in 2022 is that people are using more edgy, head-turning subject lines to grab a prospect’s attention right from the start.
For a while, it seemed that emojis were a successful tactic for this; however, as emojis have become more commonplace, their usage has seemed to decline, and eyebrow-raising subject lines have taken over again.
Additionally, I’ve noticed that many cold emails that interest me contain some personalized attachments.
The first method I’ve seen used most often is an introduction video that starts by mentioning your name or your business name. The second method is a random image with your name on it.
Within the last few months, I received an email from a content software company that leverages AI. This email contained both of the trends I’ve described above.
Its subject line began with “Jason – you’re in my fridge,” and I immediately thought, “Wow, this is a bit creepy, but what does that mean??” After opening the email, there was an attachment with a to-do list on a fridge that said, “Email Jason Martinez.”
The subject line quickly caught my attention, and the personalized image attachment made the email memorable.
Invest in The Quality of Your Contacts (Not Quantity)
Roxana Motoc, Head Of Marketing at Social Bee
Forcing the limits when sending emails will not benefit you in the long run. Even if you’d get in front of more people by emailing lots of addresses, your email and sending domain can be damaged and marked as spam.
Instead, focus on researching and cleaning your lists before you upload them in your cold emailing tool. Not only you’re protecting your reputation, but also, better research comes. Better open rates and response rates.
Don’t Over Rely on Automation
Nick Persico, Director of Sales & Marketing at Close
The salespeople that seem to get the best results (and replies from me) are the ones that personally craft the opening email to a prospect and include specific anecdotes from their research. They also send them at odd times, like on Sunday or late afternoon.
Offer More Than “Free Articles” when Pitching for Guest Posts
Ron Stefanski, Entrepreneur at OneHourProffessor
I think the biggest trend in cold email outreach is people asking to write a guest post without offering anything of value. Offering a guest post with sub-par content to get a link is no longer effective.
When pitching a site, ask yourself what you can offer them besides a “free guest post.” There are so many poorly written guest posts out there that editors are rarely excited by this.
Personalized Templates for Better Engagement
Alok Londhe, SEO Manager at Scalefusion MDM
The biggest trend in cold email outreach is personalization. Gone are the days of sending a form letter to a hundred people and hoping for a few bites.
Personalized cold emails stand out in an inbox and increase the chances that the recipient will actually read your message.
To personalize your email, you need to know something about the person you’re targeting. This could mean researching their company, their blog, or LinkedIn profile.
Once you have some information, you can include it in your email to show that you took the time to learn about them.
Another trend is using templates as a starting point but personalizing each message individually. This takes a little more time, but it’s worth it because recipients will see that you put thought into your message.
Double up your Chances with Robust Follow-Ups
Julia Blake, Email Marketing at Template Monster
Online customers are getting more and more emails in their inbox daily as the number of online businesses grows.
That is why it’s getting more difficult to get an email opened and turn a potential customer into a real one.
One of the ways to double chances in email opening is follow-up. I recommend sending a follow-up email at least once and even twice.
One message may not be enough for a cold user, so don’t hesitate to make a quick reminder like: “hi, have you missed my previous email?” 2 – 4 days after the first email.
If nothing happens and the email is still not opened, try to change the subject and write a new email to create a new thread in the customer’s inbox.
Manoj Rupareliya, Sr. Digital Marketing Executive at Elluminati inc
Keep an intention of building a relationship instead of making just a deal. Cold emails should be more for building B2B relations.
Just try to convince them of the call or further step of the process with basic information that it would require. It’s not important to add all the details about the deal.
Personalized Short Emails
Deepika Karva, Team Lead SDR at Demodesk
The most significant trend in cold email is personalized emails. Short emails that are easy to read. Adding gifs and making it more human and not machine-typed.
Keep it Concise and Fun
Claron Kinny, SEO Outreach Specialist at Beaconstac
Though one of the oldest forms of marketing, emails can accomplish wonders.
And these wonders can be effortlessly achieved through two things. First, a well-written email copy that’s straightforward and has some kind of reciprocation. Second, maintaining a genial disposition throughout the email.
The genial disposition could be in the form of a gif or just a one-liner. For instance, with the hopes of starting a partnership with the receiver, I remember opening with the line, “We can’t imagine a McDonald’s burger without a Coca-cola drink, can we?”.
I believe people are often surrounded by formal “salesy” emails, and a slightly cheerful approach will definitely get them to hit the reply button.
Make your Message Clear
Spela Mlekuz, Content Marketing Coordinator at Databox
Adding value to the recipient upfront plus sharing clear steps on what they should do next is a baseline for each cold email.
If you only need an answer, maybe a more thorough one, start the conversation by asking simple, straightforward questions that are not necessarily connected to our primary topic of interest.
Lastly, it always helps to reach out to the right person. For instance, reaching out to an SEO professional at a company will help speed up the process compared to reaching out to a Content Marketer from the same company.
Email Sequencing is Better Than Templates
Adam Hempenstall, Founder & CEO at Better Proposals
I think the biggest trend in cold email outreach is email sequencing. It took us a long time to realize that templated, canned emails aren’t good for engagement.
And writing each email to a list of 10,000 prospects will take months to do it right. So given a choice between sending the same email to everyone vs. sending unique emails, we took the middle ground.
We separated the customers into categories and created a unique email sequence focusing on their pain points and buying reasons.
While it can take more than sending a generic blast, it will definitely get you closer to achieving the legendary $42 of ROI for each dollar spent on emails.
Alex Selwitz, Director of SEO at Red Stag Fulfillment
You have to get beyond generic templates and fill-in-the-blank-style emails. Personalization is more than just the hook.
It’s important to match the value you are offering to the target. This is because everyone is not after the same thing.
Two times Follow-up Works Like Charm
Natasha Rei, Digital Marketing Manager at Explainerd
Some people don’t reply to a message the first time they receive it. Oftentimes, they miss the initial email and move on with the latest one they get in their inbox.
This is why follow-up is crucial in any email marketing campaign. While the first follow-up may get ignored because people think lightly about the offer, the second almost gets everyone to pay attention to the message.
Two follow-up emails indicate that the sender is highly enthusiastic with their messages. It tells people that they are being serious about it.
That’s why it’s recommended to send two follow-up emails within a period of time. Just make sure not to send both emails too quickly from the initial as they may seem a bit pushy to the recipients.
Audience Segmentation is The New Personalization
Luke Craig, Partnerships Specialist at Galactic Fed
Matthew Don, an SEO manager from Galactic Fed, believes that many things go into making your campaign successful.
For example, you must ensure that you have the right target market, an irresistible offer, and a great email copy.
But one of the most important factors that remain essential is marketing segmentation. Without proper segmentation, your outreach email may target the wrong prospects or send them irrelevant offers.
Marketing segmentation is the process of dividing a target market into smaller groups based on shared characteristics.
This helps you to understand your audience better and identify the best way to reach them.
There are a few different ways that you can segment your market.
- Demographics – are the most basic form of segmentation. You can segment your market by age, gender, income, location, and education.
- Psychographics – segment your market based on things like interests, values, and lifestyle.
- Behaviors – include things such as purchase history, web browsing behavior, and email engagement.
Once you have a good understanding of your target market, you can start to create your email copy.
Invest Time in Communities Before You Start Your Cold Outreach
Denise Langenegger, Search Engine Optimization Team Lead at Instasize
Starting with community engagement first before sending out cold emails is proven effective.
Interest-specific forums and even Facebook groups are great places to start Community Engagement. Immerse yourself in these spaces first and create connections.
Through these connections, you discover what kind of language or voice your target demographic uses.
Community Engagement also lets you know their perspectives and expectations on issues, concerns, and information about what you are trying to sell or promote. Spend a reasonable amount of time in these communities, and you’ll be able to understand your market’s behavior fully.
After spending some time in these communities, take what you’ve learned about your prospects and write those emails. Given all your information, you can now create various versions of your email based on the profiles you encountered in these communities.
Personalization! Personalization! Personalization!
Andre Oentoro, Founder at Breadnbeyond
Gone are the days of generic, one-size-fits-all emails.
Today’s consumers are savvy and can spot a form email from a mile away. Your cold emails must be personalized to the recipient to stand out and get results.
That means taking the time to research and segment your list so that you’re sending highly targeted messages. It also means using data to decide what content to include in each email.
The good news is that personalization isn’t as difficult as it may sound. With the right tools and approach, you can see better results from your cold email outreach in no time.
Target your Real ICP
Uwe Dreissigacker, Founder & CEO at InvoiceBerry
One of the biggest trends we have always tried to abide by is investing in the quality of contacts, not the quantity of emails.
You’ll get a better reply rate by addressing those who perfectly match your ideal customer profile. We found hundreds of personalized messages made a huge difference instead of one thousand emails randomly.
There are two reasons for this.
Firstly, clients are more likely to respond to a personalized message that will make them feel important.
This is amazing news for your business! For example, client one showed interest in our business plan, so now we can create a personalized cold email offering them business advice.
On the other hand, we also have customer two, who was searching for an accounting course which means he’ll be added to our accounting cold email list.
Secondly, sending a thousand emails randomly may cause your email address to be added to an anti-spam blacklist.
This will mean that none of the emails sent from your domain will be delivered to their recipients.
Send Personalized Emails That Aligns with Your Target Prospect
Monique Danao, Freelance Contributor at Forbes Advisor
Rather than sending the same cold email to thousands of prospects, focus on sending personalized emails to a select number of prospects.
Make sure your message aligns with your target customer’s profile. For example, if you’re looking to promote B2B software, do some research on their company beforehand.
Why would they need your solution in particular? In what situations would your solution be useful? While this may take time and effort, research has shown that targeted email campaigns get average response rates of 15% to 25%.
Maintain Healthy Relationships With Future Prospects
Ebnu Sudarso, Creative Director Milkwhale
The biggest trend I think is here to stay would be quality lists and building relationships with the recipients. When you have a credible list, you’ll be able to have a better success rate.
In addition to having a great list, you should also work on maintaining relationships with your prospects.
Storytelling and (Real) Data
Axelle Dervaux, Marketing Manager at ClicData
If you have a good story and data to back up your story, you’re sure to get responses (you’ll probably get mine anyway).
Storytelling will strengthen the connection between your prospects and your brand. Cold emails are not meant to get replies or bookings. You need to reassure your audience by showing you provide nothing but excellence, even on cold outreach emails.
Data is there to make them take action – reply, download your asset, or book a call.
To me, that’s the only way to stand out from the noise and the basic “we have a solution for you” type of email.
Most of these experts mentioned three similar trends over and over again.
That’s personalization, building relations, and understanding your target customer.
They aren’t new trends, but there’s a reason why they’re the most effective strategies year over year. The markets have shifted, and customers have more power.
They are more informed and want to see what’s it for them in your cold email.
If you don’t take the time to understand your prospect, then you don’t stand a chance against your competitors that do so.