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7 Ideas for a More Effective Cold Email Campaign

Is email still an effective form of outreach? Many of us have overflowing inboxes and if you are anything like me, many will be deleted without so much as a glance. Are customers doing the same thing? Should we be switching to social media instead and giving up email campaigns as a thing of the past?


According to a study done by CDN, email marketing is still generating as much as $38 per every dollar invested in the strategy. The sheer power versus budget is insane and shows that email is just as viable today as it was before, perhaps even more so.

In fact, a roundup of statistics done by HubSpot showed that an astonishing 73 percent of millennial users actually prefer email to any other business communication. Sure, that doesn’t account for the younger generations. But it is the demographic with the highest buying power and their tastes are unlikely to change as they age.

Now that we are aware of just how mighty the email still is in today’s marketing world, let’s look at some effective email outreach techniques for cold email campaigns.

1. Keep It Quick and Concise

No one is going to read a lengthy email. Think of it this way: you are catching them in a free moment, usually with a few seconds to spare to check out when you sent. The longer and more wordy it is, the less likely they will be to get to the actual point of the email. Much less use it to follow through to an outside link, make a purchase or engage.

Keep your email quick, concise and easy to glance through. Ideally, it should look something like this:

  • LINE 1: Introductory sentence of a few words letting them know who your brand is
  • LINE 2: Offer or request, including sales, coupons, links to the website, etc.
  • LINE 3: Outro and social media buttons.

Include a border and banner, but don’t rely on them. Most email programs are going to block them from being seen unless the user requests the images to be shown. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a branded template, regardless.

a graphic showing a good way to organize your emails

Did you notice my quick trick? I always start with a question. If I cannot come up with one, I’ll use Text Optimizer, my favorite semantic analysis and question research tool out there:

text optimizer questions to use in your email campaign content

2. Don’t Overlook Your Branding

Lifewire reports that the total number of emails sent and received per day exceeded 293 billion in 2019. This is a lot of emails!

One of the most effective ways to get your emails opened, read, and acted upon is to be remembered. This is why creating a memorable branding experience is so important.

Your email should speak of your brand in style, colors and visual elements. One way is to pick an email template (here’s a good selection) and stick to it from email to email to build recognizability. Make sure to test your template on both desktop and mobile before choosing it.

Creating a consistent email signature is another good idea. This way you don’t have to worry about branding every time, as your signature will be doing the job for you. Here’s an easy online email signature creator to create a well-branded memorable email footer:

creating a signature for your email campaigns

3. Play with Emojis In the Subject Line

A funny article was posted by Campaign Monitor back in 2017. They reported that more than 55% of businesses that used an emoji in their subject line saw an increase in their open rate. You read that right, more than half of all businesses are seeing an improvement in the results of their email campaigns, both warm and cold, if they put graphic in the subject.

emojis in your email campaign subject lines

Who knew it was so easy?

I would experiment with this, personally. Some industries might not see the same results, particularly B2B, but then that depends on the tone of your brand. The heart eye emoji is probably the safest to use for a tester email. Try sending one with heart eyes to a group and one without to another. Then see which has the greater engagement.

4. Include a Video

It has long been a well-known trick: A word [Video] in the email subject prompts more subscribers to open it. In fact, according to various studies the word brings in up to 20% (sometimes 65%) increase in the open rate.

By all means, this is something to experiment with, especially these days when creating a video is actually no brainer. Tools like inVideo allow you to put together a professional video in minutes (seconds when you get used to the tool).

in video tool

Pick a template, edit it and your email marketing video asset is good to go!

5. Segmentation is a Powerhouse

Everyone should be using segmentation in their email marketing campaigns. Campaign Monitor found that people that used proper segmenting techniques when sending out their campaigns saw as much as a 760% profit increase than those who worked off of a single list.

How should you be segmenting your lists? By demographic, geographical location, buying history… anything that you find valuable in targeting your content. If you assume you will be spending around three emails per week, you can have customers on multiple lists that allow them to receive specific content tailored to them each time.

Luckily, nearly every email marketing tool out there makes segmentation easy these days. All of these services offer a lot of options as to how you can segment your list, so pick on based on your budget.

6. Optimize for Mobile Viewing

Estimations done back in 2018 by Litmus claims that about 46% of emails were being opened on mobile devices, mostly smartphones but sometimes tablets. That number will have only grown today and should continue to do so as we rely more and more on mobile and less on traditional computers.

Forbes email campaign
Forbes email on mobile: Loads fast, goes right to the point, has enough branding and offers a link in the above-the-fold area

Mobile devices are here to stay and yet not every company has been optimizing their emails for adaptable screens. That is a big no-no… the worst thing you can do is send something out that will look jumbled, or even just ugly, when someone opens it in an email app.

7. Know What You Are Aiming For

When you are writing a cold email campaign, it can be easy to get off track. In a warm campaign you are pretty clear from the beginning about what you are wanting. You have been given the email address, they gave it to you for a purpose, you fulfill that purpose. So what about when there is no direction and you have to start from scratch?

Each email should serve one function and one function only. Maybe that is to get them to make a purchase by sending out a coupon. It could be to get them to engage with you on social media. Maybe you are sending a cold open for a pitch to a website or trying to connect with an influencer.

Whatever the case, know what that one single function is and then keep your email based entirely around it. Other than providing some anchored links (such as to social media accounts), they shouldn’t have a secondary purpose. It muddles it and makes them far less likely to respond or to open future emails.

Remember: There Is a Fine Line Between Helpful Emails and Spam

Finally, keep in mind that with cold emails you are always taking a risk. Since they didn’t necessarily ask to be contacted, you have to make up for it by getting their attention right away. If you aren’t offering them something worth their while, you are sure to be mistaken as spam and reported. No one wants that.

Take extra care in these campaigns to be of high value. The name of the game is engagement, not marketing. Because even though you see the marketing benefits, all they see is a brand that they will either connect with or not.

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is the Brand manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas as well as the founder of Viral Content Bee. Ann has been into Internet Marketing for over a decade, she is the former Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal and contributor to prominent search and social blogs including Small Biz Trends and Mashable. Ann is also the frequent speaker at Pubcon and the host of a weekly Twitter chat #vcbuzz.

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