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Make Your Cold Prospecting Emails Feel a Little Less Cold

Email marketing is often praised as one of the most effective marketing channels, and for good reason: you’re reaching out to people who have already expressed interest in what you’re doing.

But sometimes, especially in the realm of B2B, there’s a case for reaching out cold…

cold-prospecting-email-call-me-maybe-650
I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number, so call me maybe?

I’m talking about cold prospecting emails: reaching out to someone you don’t have a direct relationship with and starting a conversation.

Now, this isn’t about blasting them with info about your business. It’s about providing immediate value and serving up an irresistible next step.

It’s worth noting that there’s a fine line between cold prospecting and spam, so please read up on laws for your country. But when done right, reaching out cold can be an easy way to pull in highly qualified prospects — especially when you’re A/B testing to perfect your strategy.

And that’s exactly what this post is about.

Here are five recommendations for improving your cold prospecting email copy and subject lines — pulled from real-life testing data.

Let’s dig in.

1. Get up close and personalize

If you don’t have a relationship with the person you’re reaching out to, you can at least demonstrate that you’ve done your research.

Mentioning the prospect’s name and demonstrating familiarity with their business can help in easing that initial friction… in some cases.

Have a look at this A/B test we ran for a social media SaaS tool:

Subject A: If you chat with only one social media firm this year, make it {COMPANY}

Subject B: {PROSPECT} + {COMPANY}: let’s work together

Subject B was the winner with a 38% lift in open rates (statistically significant) and more clicks. I found this somewhat surprising result because A, unlike B, mentions the subject matter — showing that the company has done their research.

However, I’ve found the combination of mentioning the prospect and client names in conjunction tends to beat many worthy subject line opponents.

Pro tip: Some of the most effective personalization comes before you send your first email — by getting your targeting right. Here are some key targeting elements to you get started:

  • Geography
  • Title
  • Industry and company size
  • Age, gender and other demographic criteria

Filtering by these factors will help you create and test hyper-targeted messages that prospects will be much more likely to find relatable.

The bottom line here? You can’t send relevant messages before knowing who your prospect is.

Do your research and target your emails — the more personal, the better. (For extra credit, check out great Quora thread on why segmentation, targeting and positioning are important in your marketing efforts.)

Want more help writing emails that convert?

Check out our Smart Guide to Email Marketing Conversion for more pointers.
By submitting your email you’ll receive more Unbounce conversion marketing content, like ebooks and webinars.

2. Prove your pudding!

There’s a big difference between saying you improved something and demonstrating it.

When introducing your company to a prospect, get into the details of how you’ve helped other others. In particular, provide before-and-after statistics, usage numbers and any other data that demonstrate the impact your involvement had.

Take these two approaches to email body copy, for example, which we wrote for social media image recognition tool Ditto Labs:

ditto-labs-email-a-b-test

The version on the left was the control that focused on concisely summarizing who uses the product and core benefits. Although well written and concise, it lacked any proof through hard numbers.

Our hypothesis was to sacrifice brevity for working in meaningful statistics and specifics around how the technology works.

The result?

The version on the right won… by a lot. It had a 61% higher CTR and 119% higher conversion to scheduled meetings.

What do I think contributed to the success of the challenger? A few things.

  • The value proposition is super clear and encapsulated in five words: “Visual search for social media.”
  • The second paragraph jumps right into what differentiates this technology from competitors.
  • The third paragraph gets super specific about where Ditto gets it data.
  • The fourth paragraph drives home the technology’s value through hard numbers and data.

But most importantly, the second to last paragraph makes the next step crystal clear, which brings us to…

3. Sell the next step with a clear call to action

Forget about closing the deal in one email.

Focus instead on asking for a next meeting and getting in-depth on how it will be of huge benefit for your client, regardless of any future next steps.

Getting back to the Ditto body copy A/B test, take a look at the call to action from either variation:

Are you open to learning more?

In the losing version, the CTA feels abrupt and vague:

ditto-email-example-1

In the winning body copy, the same call to action is much more contextualized and therefore more actionable:

ditto-labs-email-excerpt-2

We make it clear that the way in which you’ll learn more is via a 20-minute call. There’s no guesswork — it’s ”Yes” or “No” to a 20-minute call.

Here are some other questions and calls to action you can borrow to be even more direct in your cold email prospecting call to action:

  • “What are a few times that work best for you over the next few days for a call?”
  • “Please reply to this email with whether you’re willing to talk further.”
  • “When works for you tomorrow to jump on a quick call?”

The wording should fit your writing style and sales process, but be sure your call to action achieves three things:

  1. Give context and specifics around the next step
  2. Make the next step low pressure
  3. Convey that the next step will be of value to your prospects, regardless of whether or not they become customers

At the end of the day, you’re starting a conversation.

So be real ask to continue the conversation in a meaningful way.

4. Get the subject line right

The subject line sets the tone for your future relationship with your prospect — which should carry from the email to the landing page to the conversion and beyond.

If this sounds like a tall order, it’s because it is. And there’s no “hack” or “cheat” to get it right.

Ultimately, you need to test subject lines that feel and read true to you and your value proposition.

I’m about to show you a couple of subject line tests. The takeaways here are meant to serve as inspiration more than firm guidelines. Just because you see A/B testing data here or elsewhere does not mean it will apply to your business.

With that in mind, let’s dig in.

Subject line test 1 for an anonymous company:

Subject A: You’ve got to see the new {product name}

Subject B: If you demo one {type} tool, make it {product name}

Subject C: Take 20 minutes to demo {product name}. It’s worth it.

Winner? Subject C with a 44% higher CTR than A and 21% higher CTA than B.

Notice this is the only subject line of the three that talks about the length (20 minutes) of the demo. Also notice that it starts with a verb: “Take.” This subject line was probably the most successful because it’s an upfront and specific call to action to take a 20-minute demo.

Subject line test 2 for another anonymous company:

Subject A: Save {prospect} significant time & money.

Subject B: This is the *one* {type} tool you must demo in {year}

Subject C: {Type} software that’s 10% faster and actually pleasant to use.

Winner? Subject line B with 62% higher open rate than C and 18% higher than A.

What’s my two cents? “10% faster” isn’t that exciting in email copy, and “significant time & money” is pretty vague. Subject B skips the unimpressive stats and vague promises for a direct and upfront call to action.

So what’s the point of sharing all this testing data?

To show that the words you use in prospecting email really matter. What message is going to encourage prospects to click and take the leap to set up a conversation with a stranger?

Choose your words carefully or get really wild — only a test will reveal what resonates best with prospects.

5. Keep the momentum going

You’ve tested for the most clickable subject line, and you’ve crafted a compelling CTA.

So what happens when prospects decide that they want to take you up on your “next step”?

Will you let them navigate to your website themselves and scramble for your contact information? Well, you could… but that’s likely to kill the momentum you worked hard to build.

Instead, link to a dedicated landing page that continues the conversation you started in your subject line and email body copy. Reassure prospects that they’re in the right place and that they’re closer to receiving the value you promised them.

And if really want to get that landing page experience right, check out Unbounce’s Landing Page Conversion Course.

Cold prospecting emails don’t have to feel cold

Cold prospecting emails shouldn’t feel cold.

It’s the beginning of the relationship with your future prospects, so talk to them as you would your favorite client. And test all the things to be sure you’re doin’ it right.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

Check Also

10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild

Hey, friend, have you heard the good news about podcasts? 

Given the most recent stats, it’s highly likely you have. Over half of all Americans over 12 years of age have listened to at least one. Podcasts have well and truly hit the mainstream. In other words, the gold rush is on for brands looking to connect with a highly-engaged, long-attention-span audience.

However, getting a podcast up and running isn’t as simple as publishing a blog. We recently published an entire B2B podcasting webinar to walk you through the entire process, from conception to publication. This post will zero in on the choices you need to make and the steps you need to take to release your podcast into the wild.

B2B Podcasting Launch Checklist: 10 Steps

Sure, you could just upload your audio to your web server, add an RSS feed, and call it good. But if you want people to actually find and listen to your podcast, there are a few extra steps you should take. This checklist will help your podcast find an audience and start building a subscriber base.

via GIPHY

#1: Choose Your Hosting Platform

A podcast syndication platform makes it easy to publish your podcast and get listed in directories. Think of it like WordPress is for your blog — it hosts the files, makes them look pretty, and makes it so people can find them.

Most platforms will also give you embed codes for embedding episodes in blog posts or on a landing page. You’ll also get stats on how many people are downloading episodes, and on what program they’re listening.

We prefer Libsyn as our hosting platform. Podbean, buzzsprout, and Blubrry are also solid options. They all have a free tier of hosting, but you’ll want to pay a few bucks a month for bandwidth and analytics.

#2: Upload Your First Three Episodes

Podcasting is all about establishing a regular cadence (more on that later). But for launch, you’ll want to have at least three episodes ready to go. There are a few reasons for publishing multiple episodes for your debut:

  1. One episode may not be enough to convince people to subscribe. 
  2. Multiple episodes show you’re committed to keeping the content coming.
  3. Most importantly, Apple podcasts requires at least three episodes to qualify for their “New and Noteworthy” section. 

So before you publish, have at least three episodes completed, and be ready to follow up with more at your promised publishing cadence.

#3:  Register with Podcast Directories

Podcasts are peculiar in terms of content delivery. Your hosting platform makes the files available, but most people will listen to your podcast on their chosen podcast app. Each app maintains its own directory — think of it as a search engine for podcasts. 

Your podcast needs to be listed in their directory, or people won’t be able to find you. I recommend registering with at least these six:

  1. Apple Podcasts
  2. Google Podcasts
  3. Stitcher
  4. Podbean
  5. Spotify
  6. TuneIn

Each of these sites will ask for the RSS feed of your podcast, which your hosting platform will generate for you.

I created a podcast tracker to keep track of all these directories — sign up for the webinar and you can download it for free.

B2B Podcast Tracker

#4: Promote Internally

Gaining visibility on a podcast directory is tricky business. Apple and Google are where the majority of your listeners will be, and each employs an algorithm to promote podcasts in search results and feature pages.

How do you get an algorithm’s attention? Engagement! Start by promoting your podcast to all of your employees. Encourage them to subscribe on Apple or Google, give a rating, and write a brief (and honest) review. What’s more, draft some social messages and encourage everyone to promote the podcast to their networks, too.

That base level of initial engagement will help your podcast start finding its audience.

#5: Activate Your Influencers

Most podcasts are Q&A-style interviews with influential guests. If your podcast includes influencers in your industry, make sure they know as soon as their episode goes live. Give them the tools to promote the podcast easily:

  • Sample social messages
  • Social media images in the correct sizes
  • Embed codes

If your podcast doesn’t feature influencers, it’s worth re-evaluating your strategy for your next season. Influencer content not only is more valuable to your audience, it’s an indispensable channel for promotion.

#6: Publish Blog Posts

The one downside of audio content: It’s not super crawlable for SEO purposes. Granted, Google has started to auto-transcribe episodes and add them to search results, but the technology is still in the early stages.

To truly get some SEO juice from your podcast, we recommend embedding each podcast in a blog post. This example from the Tech Unknown Podcast by SAP* shows how simple it can be. All you need is an introduction, a few pull quotes, some key takeaways, and a transcript.

#7: Add Paid Promotion

As with any content, you want to use every tactic available to make sure it gets seen by your target audience. That’s especially true with podcasts, since podcast search engines are incredibly competitive.

Targeted, paid social promotion can help establish your subscriber base and get your new podcast some much-needed visibility.

It’s also worth considering cross-promotion on other podcasts. Consider both paid advertising and trading guest spots with a podcast that shares your target audience. 

#8: Solicit Listener Feedback

Ratings and reviews are essential to your podcast’s success. They’ll help provide social proof for new listeners and boost your search visibility in podcast directories. 

The best way to get ratings and reviews? Ask for them. Make it part of each episode’s sign-off. You can even encourage thoughtful reviews by reading the best ones on future episodes. You will engage your listeners and solicit more reviews at the same time.

#9: Keep Up Your Cadence

As with blog content, there’s no single “right” frequency to publish a podcast. Some of my favorite podcasts publish weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. The best cadence for your podcast is “However frequently you can reliably, regularly publish quality content.”

Choose your cadence with an eye to long-term sustainability, and tell your listeners explicitly how frequently you’ll publish. Whether it’s “See you next week,” or “PodcastTitle is a monthly podcast that…” listeners will find it easier to make your podcast a habit if you stick to a schedule.

#10: Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose

In my last post on the content marketing benefits of B2B podcasting, I mentioned that podcasts are a content machine, and I’ll say it again. It’s easy to finish an episode, publish it, then forget it and move on to the next thing. But don’t do that! 

Pull snippets of audio content for social media. Turn them into short videos, too: Add a still image or a simple looping GIF for visual interest.

Use your transcriptions as fodder for future blog posts, quotes for influencer marketing, or even a stand-alone asset. 

Any way you can reuse that content can help bring more listeners to your podcast. What’s more, putting the content in a different medium can reach an audience who might not be into podcasts (yet). 

Check, Check, One Two

Launching a podcast is a little trickier than launching a new blog, especially if you’re new to the format. But if you follow this checklist, you can make sure your podcast is available on all the right channels and is ready to start attracting an audience.

Need more podcasting help? Check out our B2B Podcasting Webinar. In addition to learning the Four P’s of podcasting success, you’ll see me make this face:

B2B Podcasting Face

*Disclosure: SAP is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post 10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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