2020 and COVID-19 pushed a lot more people to digitize and adapt to a new world of digital sales. Trade shows, meet-ups, networking events — they are all on hard pause with little idea how or if they will continue. Now, more companies than ever are trying email outreach for the first time to acquire clients and raise brand awareness. Put simply: email outreach is here to stay.
Five to ten years ago, if your sales email template contained some information about your company, at least a few people would respond, curious to learn more about it. Nowadays, don’t even try talking about yourself when writing outreach email. Everyone is getting desensitized by a flood of sales email templates. So how do you stand out in a sea full of sharks? Short answer: by writing conversational, honest sales emails with genuine personalization. Of course, putting that concept into practice is a whole other beast — but we’ll show you how we tame it below.
Step 1 — Understand the Process
Create Template; Test; Fail; Learn; Fail Better; Succeed
Uhuru provides services with a holistic approach to sales and marketing. Unfortunately, this is a rare approach in our industry — but we practice what we preach. It means we don’t just optimize other sales and marketing organizations; we apply our concepts to our own business.
We have tested our techniques in a range of industries, from SaaS to healthcare. The general rules of writing good cold email templates hold true, with only slight variations. Now to be completely honest, we don’t always know how successful we’ll be when we’re writing for a new industry or niche. That’s why we run tests, optimize our approach using client insights, and after a few tries at outreach, we find the right mix to pull in high response rates and qualified leads.
We take an almost scientific approach in testing out what works best, and most importantly — we constantly optimize. Markets change, offer timing is constantly evolving, and follow-up must never stop.
Step 2 — How To Set Yourself Up for Success
Understanding Your Targeted Buyer Persona
In order to set up yourself for successful business emails and effective cold outreach, you need to understand your audience. That is the single most important thing you need to understand — I can’t highlight it enough.
That means you should have already created a targeted buyer persona. If this is something you haven’t tackled yet, we’ve got you covered. Check out this guide for creating buyer personas for your business, it will save you a lot of time and research.
For a high-level overview of how to do that on your own start by answering these questions:
- What is the company size you are targeting?
- Where are they located?
- What position would make a decision about purchasing your product?
- What position would mostly be using your product/service?
- What is their industry?
- Who is their ideal customer?
- Who are their biggest competitors?
- What is the biggest challenge they are trying to solve?
- What language and vocabulary are commonly used in the industry?
Some of the surface-level questions are easy to answer, while others require more work and investigation — but those are the ones that yield the best results when writing outreach emails.
Step 3 — Do Everything You Can To Increase Your Open Rate
Catch Attention With the Subject, Hold It With the Body
My personal favorite tactic to get people to open sales emails is to start with a provocative, relatable sentence and add an ellipsis (…) — the rest of the email follows after that.
In cold outbound emails, you should avoid friction as much as possible — that means not asking anything from the prospect this early in the sales process. You should take all of the work off their shoulders and make it as easy-to-read and natural as you can.
Here are some additional tips to help you write great subject lines for your email outreach templates:
- Be short and sweet
- Be clear
- Generate curiosity
- Make it seem like everyday communication, like something they would actually receive and respond to
- Use numbers
- Ask a question
- Leverage timing — is there a special event or time of the year for the business?
- Personalize by using the company or person’s name
Pro tip: Mention their competitor or a relevant topic in the subject line. For example, Amazon is a relevant subject to an e-commerce business.
To achieve the best results with your cold outreach, it is important to A/B test your subject lines, not just the body of the outreach email. Finally, try to avoid writing in all caps or using exclamation marks — it can come across as sales-y or unprofessional.
Step 4 — Lead the Reader Down a Frictionless Path
Make Your Sales Email Template Flow
I probably shouldn’t start with what you shouldn’t do — but don’t write overly dense emails when writing outreach emails. The best sales emails maintain a conversational tone while staying professional.
You can make your email much easier to read by paying attention to the format — that goes for all writing, not just outreach emails. Many users will open emails on their phones, so you should make sure the whole body fits the average-sized phone screen. So how do we do that?
One of the best tactics for sales pitch emails is to think of them as short essays. It should have an introduction, development, turn, and conclusion.
The introduction is where you explain your trigger event. Why did you reach out to them? What made you think of the company?
I noticed Business.io in a New York Times article, so I did a little bit of research.
Development is where you explain how that trigger event helped you identify some possible challenges they are facing.
While I was checking out your website, it seemed like you’ve had an open position for an Executive Sales Rep for over a year. That is usually a sign that your talent search is facing some challenges.
The turn is when you show that your solutions could be a good fit for their challenges.
I’d love to show you a process we implemented that shortens the hiring time of executives to two months and standardizes onboarding to ensure your new hire has everything they need to be operational as soon as possible.
The conclusion is the CTA — invite them to take a specific action like reviewing your deck, having a call, seeing a demo, visiting a page, reading a blog, or subscribing to your newsletter.
Would you spend two minutes reviewing a short summary of that system? I believe it will help you get that position filled in no time.
And there you have it, an outreach email that converts — piece of cake, right?
Step 5 — Decide on the Purpose of Your Email Campaign
Is Your Goal To Inform? Spark Interest? Connect?
In most sales and marketing funnels, there are three stages of offers:
Top of the Funnel (TOFU) — This is where you inform a prospect about your product or service.
A good call to action (CTA) for this stage is inviting them to a complimentary webinar. The webinar should not be about your product (not even a demo), but rather an up-front value offer that resonates with your prospects as useful to their goals and business. This helps prospects identify you as a trusted advisor and build brand awareness and authority.
Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) — In middle-of-the-funnel offers, you presume the prospect is already aware of your solution or similar solutions on the market.
A good CTA for cold sales email outreach at this stage is inviting them to download a resource or check out a page.
The purpose is to start building brand loyalty, even though they haven’t purchased yet. Do you own the newest Tesla car? Or the newest iPhone? Maybe not, but you can at least imagine yourself purchasing it since you understand the value those brands present.
Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) — Bottom-of-the-funnel offers are the trickiest. They get the smallest clickthrough rates since not everyone is ready for such a commitment.
Typically, you shouldn’t send BOFU offers to people who know nothing about you or similar solutions on the market. If they’ve never heard of your revolutionary product (like a hat with a wifi emitter), prospects will just get confused.
When you use BOFU offers in sales pitch emails, common CTAs are consultations, demos, price calculators, and analyses.
Now ask yourself: what can I offer to prospects in the market that will create interest and engagement through an outreach email? What is my unique selling proposition — the one that sets me apart from the rest of the competition?
Use that and all of the steps above to create your first cold sales email.
Step 6 — The Cadence and Follow-Up
Decide Touch Points and Action Items
You’ve written your first sales email with a plan and structure. Congratulations! The fun part starts now, as most responses in cold outreach come in after you follow up.
How many follow-up email templates should you write? It depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
For example — if this is completely cold outreach, and no one from your company has ever spoken with the prospect, a general rule is to avoid sending more than two sales emails in one week.
Here are some cadence and follow-up guidelines:
- Never send outreach emails (especially the initial one) on Friday, or a day or two before a big holiday like New Year’s Eve.
- Ideal follow-up sequences should include three to six outreach emails — with an initial sales email template and the rest as follow-up email templates.
- Always tie into the same trigger event.
- Connect your outreach emails by topics — remember, it should be frictionless. If you’re offering a demo in your initial cold sales email template about switching to a new CRM, you cannot just skip talking about executive support, even though you provide both services. You don’t want to confuse the prospect.
- Use different CTAs and offers in different follow-up emails (they should still tie into each other).
For example, you can offer a call in the first outreach email and do the same in the first follow-up email. Then, you can include a video recording of your analysis in the second follow-up. In the third follow-up, you can include a slide deck.
Some people are more auditory, some people more visual. Some might not deem you worthy of a call, but might check out a short pdf — so why risk the guess? Make sure the odds are on your side by giving them at least two options to choose from, but no more than three. You don’t want to induce a paralysis of choice.
If you haven’t heard of “paralysis of choice,” I’ll briefly explain: when the human brain gets too overwhelmed at all of the opportunities in front of it, it sometimes decides to do nothing, since it’s the easiest option.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re writing outreach emails:
- Add tasks for human interaction — personalized videos, voicemail, calls — every sequence should be composed of at least 30% human activity.
- Have a CTA in every outreach email.
- Provide value in every email. This is the toughest part when writing outreach email copy. You need to stick to the theme you selected in the initial cold email, but add information without sounding like a follow-up robot. Mention something new, something about them, or some unique selling point.
Here is a calendar showing how an outreach email sequence should flow:
Step 7 — Measure To Improve
Track All of the Sent Emails, Responses, and Outcomes
As a HubSpot Partner, we get incredible insights like how many times someone opened an email and when they did so. We can see if it was someone from their organization or someone outside. In HubSpot, you can do the same with the docs you upload and share, so you can see how many times they viewed your video or pdf.
Our tests across multiple industries showed that in overall market performance, the best cold outreach campaigns get about a 30% response rate with 10% interested. That is the ideal target — when you’ve hit the subject line, body, cadence, offers, and language for a frictionless advantage.
A decent campaign might still get a 15–20% response rate and a 6–9% interest rate.
Anything 5% or lower means you need to optimize your initial cold email and follow-up email templates. Now, 5% might seem exciting to you — and true, it’s better than nothing — but that means you haven’t optimized your performance to the fullest.
Step 8 — Don’t End Up in Spam
All of Your Work Will Be for Nothing if Your Emails End Up in Spam
Here are all of our pro tips to avoid spam filters when you’re doing cold email outreach:
- Personalize — no one will mark you as spam if they believe you actually wrote them an email yourself, without any automation tools.
- Don’t use links — links tend to get flagged by email clients.
- Use an email address you regularly use — or at least type in a human way if you’re using a new email for cold outreach. Exchange emails with coworkers and create an account or two.
- Don’t send more than 300 emails a week. Ideally, you should schedule them apart or use an AI that can mimic the way a human sends emails. In the beginning, if you haven’t done any outreach, you shouldn’t send more than 100 for at least a month.
- Don’t mention the word unsubscribe, as they are not subscribed to a marketing newsletter, and a lot of people use it as a filter in their inboxes.
You do, however, need to give a clear way for the prospect to communicate that they don’t want to receive any more emails from you. A more conversational version of “unsubscribe” could be: “Just email me if you’d like me to stop reaching out.”
- Be polite.
- Do not email companies once they have expressed a clear wish to be removed from your list.
- Have a functional signature.
Pathway to Success: Find an Outreach Pro Who’s Done It Before
Still don’t think you have everything you need to thrive? We know how challenging all of this can be — we’ve learned the hard way. But you don’t have to do it alone and from scratch. We’ve helped many clients double their sales by optimizing their sales cycles, lead inflow, email copy, and outreach strategy. We explain how we do that here.
If you like what you see, you can apply for a complimentary consultation with our team that has helped transform sales organizations in different industries and at various stages of growth. We promise to save you plenty of time and sweat that would otherwise be spent on testing, research, trial and error, and automation.