How I consistently get over 75% cold email open rates
I'm not a professional sales person, and cold outreach isn’t my core competency. I'm a SaaS content strategy consultant, but I use cold emails to grow my business. If you're looking to get more clients and start building a high-value network in your industry, my experiences will be of value to you!
So, are you scared of sending cold emails? Is this fear for a lack of results?
Well, you should hear the words of George Addair:
Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.
I took those words to heart and gave cold emails a taste. It was so sumptuous that now, it drives every segment of my SaaS consulting business.
And even without high-level connections giving me intros, everything I’ve used them for beat publicized industry benchmarks.
But, when I started with cold emails, I also had my doubts and asked:
Do cold emails work?
To answer that question, I won’t bore you with another round of statistics, proving the potency of cold emails.
Instead, from my experience sending hundreds of these emails, I’ll show you the science behind how I consistently get over 75% cold email open rates (with proof):
But I won’t stop at showing you how I structure my cold email templates to achieve these results. This article will also walk you through how to attain (or better my results), using Close’s all-in-one CRM.
First, let’s address that burning question, probably keeping you from this proven, customer-acquiring tactic.
Do cold emails work?
Yes, they do.
But, like everything in life, some principles make cold emails work. Take me, for example. I receive tens of them every week, too.
And they vary from people seeking to guest post on my site, work with/for me, or get backlinks from my top-ranking articles:
Do I open, engage, or reply to all?
To be frank, I don’t.
In short, I don’t just ignore the poorly-executed cold emails I receive. I take the extra effort to mark them as spam, so I never get another of their emails.
So, cold emails could either get you blacklisted, which ends up hurting future deliverability. Or, they could work and help fill your sales pipelines (when done well).
Talking about sales pipelines, you can use Close to keep an eagle, birds-eye view on all your organization’s deal flows:
As you see in the image above, Close helps you (and your entire team) follow-up with deals generated from all your cold email outreach in real-time.
So, on this bright side of cold emails, like other professionals, I open, engage, and reply to a handful of them.
At Close, the CRM thousands companies use to send and monitor the effectiveness of their cold emails at a breeze, they love cold emails.
Hence, it’s understandable that the company’s CEO, Steli Efti, receives dozens of them daily.
Yet, despite his tight schedule, he still finds time to reply and acknowledge excellent ones:
So, what do best-performing cold emails do to get high opens, replies, and help close deals? Can you emulate them and get the same results?
Again, yes, you can.
After I walk you through how I do it, you’ll leave with actionable insights to do even better.
But why should you even listen to me?
Well, I’ve applied the processes I’m about to expose to you (with live examples) and achieved excellent results on even bulk sends:
And from those bulk sends, I’ve even gotten replies from the busiest executives, such as one of the world’s famous digital marketers, Neil Patel:
Ready to dive into my process that yields over 75% cold emails open rates?
My solid, 5-step cold email sending process
Often, when a cold email performs well and gets shared online, many templatize it without thoughtful adjustments.
And as it goes viral, it gets overused, causing recipients to skim past them. You know why?
It’s because nobody likes to receive generic, templated cold emails.
Hence, a word of caution as you proceed. It’s okay to go ahead and templatize the examples I’ll share in this walkthrough of my process.
Just ensure to personalize and make them unique to your business and recipients. And doing this (like I do) brings us to step one:
1. Research and identify your recipients
To create this piece, I examined over 11 articles, revealing the science behind effective cold emails. Guess what all attributed success to?
However, going by the ill-targeted cold emails I receive, it’s clear most salespeople and marketers still ignore proven expert advice.
Well, I don’t.
And it’s why I owe the consistent above-average open rates I score to… research.
Great salespeople, I mean the top 1% of them, don’t take pride in selling ice to an Eskimo.
Because they know from experience that with some digging, they’ll always find an abundance of people whose lives depended on ice. And not Eskimos, who do not need ice.
Be like great salespeople.
Do some digging to identify not only who needs your product/service, but who needs to receive your cold email.
- If you have an excellent content marketing strategy in place, start by giving your strategy document and content writing execution a look.
- Doing this will give you insights into your target audience and ICPs.
- From there, you’ll glean demographic and psychographic info such as what type of organizations they run, their job titles, what problems they want to solve, and how they go about solving them.
As a SaaS content strategist, I'm always handy with this data. What I spend the most time researching is who needs to receive my cold email.
And for this, two questions that start my research, which you should also always ask are:
- Is the person who needs my product/service the decision-maker?
- Is there someone higher up in the organization who makes purchasing decisions for my product/service?
I wish I could provide you with a one-size-fits-all answer to those questions.
Unfortunately, I can’t.
Your answers will depend on whether you sell a self-serve product/service. Or, one requiring complex buy-in from enterprise executives.
What I can show you, however, is how I identify a list of possible recipients (names, emails, and titles) from an organization I want to cold email.
- I visit their website and examine their contact and team pages. For some companies, you’ll find the bio and email addresses of their executives here.
- Most times, you won’t find emails from my first step. So, I install the Chrome extension of email finder tools (currently, I use Hunter.io):
And once you find all publicly available emails from an organization you want to cold email, what’s next?
For me, I apply common sense (by looking again at my target audience & ICPs) to determine who exactly should receive my cold emails.
Do this, and you’re ready for the second step in my air-tight process:
2. Find something that will interest your recipients
Finding the names, emails, and job titles (from step one) of your cold email recipients is only half the battle.
To win the war and crush your cold email campaigns, you must personalize each message from top to bottom.
And what’s the best way to personalize a message for someone who doesn’t know you from Adam?
You use what will interest them. What keeps them up at night. What they can’t stop talking about. What they can’t hear enough of. The list goes on.
In the words of Close’s CEO, Steli Efti, who's been working on cold email campaigns that have generated millions of dollars, when you do this:
...it shows the prospect you’ve done your homework.
I’ll let in on my high cold email open rates (and replies) secret. I spend A LOT of time finding what my recipients are interested in, and until I do, I NEVER press send.
For instance, look at the cold email I sent Neil pictured above (that got replied). It started with what he’s publicly interested in and promotes massively: UberSuggest.
Another example is when I cold-emailed Wes Bush for a chance to guest post on Product Led Institute (FYI: he doesn’t accept guest posts).
My research showed he is profoundly interested in everything Product-Led Growth. And that’s precisely what I started my cold email with:
Was this cold email successful?
It helped me to publish what Wes considered an “excellent” article: Beyond MQLs: How to Generate Product Users Directly from SaaS Content.
So, how do I find what will interest my cold email recipients?
- I visit their blog to see topics they’ve been writing on or projects they’re working on.
- I Google their names to find recent guest posts by them.
- I spend hours scrolling through their social media profiles (LinkedIn and Twitter).
- I wear my magnifying glasses as I go through the steps above. Why? I look out for any typo or other helpful suggestions on their website, article, or post. Another thing I keep an eye for is a mutual connection. And if I find any of these, I’m definitely using it to hook them (and this works EVERY TIME!).
- Finally, I open a Google doc, copy, and paste any interesting thing I find about them.
Again, if you apply common sense here, you’ll automatically generate content for your cold email.
Need more proof?
When I cold-emailed a top marketing director to feature my article in his newsletter, I leveraged the two things I found he was interested in.
His newsletter (see 1st paragraph) and his Chrome extension (see the P.S. section):
But, successful cold emails, especially those sent to tech executives, shine more brightly when they adhere to SaaS copywriting principles.
Hence, let’s explore how I crush the copy of my cold emails to get over 75% open rates.
3. Your copy must align recipients’ goals with yours
Alignment. Relevance. Context.
Call it whatever you like, but for your cold email to be successful, your copy must be mutually beneficial to your recipient and you.
Your cold email recipients need to solve a problem, which from your research, you’ve identified they have.
You’re messaging them out of the blue to help them solve that problem.
You’re an angel (only angels are so lovely to help people even before they ask), and so should your cold email appear.
I see many “experts” suggest you need to make your cold email humorous. I don’t even try to; instead, here’s how I align the copy for recipients:
- First, I capture their attention (use an excellent subject line and intro paragraph(s)).
- I jump straight to why I cold-emailed them. Here, length doesn’t matter to me, as I’ve sent cold emails of about 600 words. If your headline and intro are spot on and your copywriting skills are on point, you can use as many words as necessary.
- I introduce myself a bit and include a call to action.
The steps above are the exact ones I used to secure a content marketing gig, using the cold email below:
Once you’ve managed to contextually align your cold email copy with you and your recipients’ goals, what next?
4. Go with an irresistible offer
I have this ideology that even if you sell life, some people would die rather than buy it from you.
Let’s face it.
If the recipients of your cold emails needed your product/service so badly, they would’ve come to you, right?
But they didn’t. So, it’s your responsibility to offer them something that’s irresistible.
How to do that?
To help you, I asked a cold email sniper (and my mentor on this front), Matthew Hunt, that question. What follows was his advice to you:
“The most important thing to acknowledge when doing cold outreach on any platform is that you are essentially a stranger.
Stranger = danger.
Hence, there are 3 simple things you can do to help move you from the stranger zone to the friend zone.
So you either need to:
- Make a safe offer, so they can get to know you, like you and trust you. Like a community offer. Everyone loves belonging to a private community. Birds of a feather flock together.
- Make an offer that is super useful and WOWs them (this is usually something that is done). Send them a report of all their competitor's data and then ask for the call to show them more (requires work). And it must deliver something that fast tracks their business and something they care about.
- Make an offer to interview for a spotlight series. This gets you free content + builds rapport, so they can get to know-like-and-trust you. It's called 'EGO bait,' but works most of the time. An interview is really a super great discovery call. You can be killing two birds with one stone often. However, don't go into this with the intention of it being a sales call; it just happens naturally. If you do that, that's bait and switch. Don't be that guy. We can all smell your commission breath. Instead, lead with adding value by promoting someone and building that relationship.
All three (above) are designed to get you out of the stranger zone.
People ONLY buy from people they know-like-and-trust. You can't sell anything until you have trust.
So the goal is to go from stranger to friend.
From a friend to a trusted strategic partner. From strategic partner to sales and referrals.
It works in that order, but people try to short-cut it or fast track it, and that’s why they can't get cold email outreach to work.
This is also why so many people hate cold outreach.
But if we just follow the steps and take the time to do it right, we discover that it's an organic and fun way to expand your influence and network.”
Should you listen to Matt’s advice?
Yes. As long as cold emails are concerned, those words have their worth in gold.
But, most importantly, Matt walks his talk.
He applies this same advice to help clients at AutomationWolf get above 80% cold email open rates effortlessly.
In short, about when I was writing this article, I applied this same advice and wrote a VERY long cold email (about 600 words):
But, because my offer adhered to everything Matt advised, see the results for yourself:
Everyone has time for what’s valuable to them. It’s your job to find it and use it in your cold emails.
And guess what?
As you’ve seen from my example above, the length of your cold email isn’t a problem as long as it’s valuable.
That brings us to the final step...
5. Send your cold email
Many companies and experts have published studies on the best times to send cold emails.
I haven’t; neither do I adhere to what they found to be the most effective times to send out cold emails.
So, in this regard, I’m different. I send out my cold emails whenever my gut feeling gives me the nod.
This isn’t to say that taking times backed by data to send cold emails is a waste of time. All I’m saying is that you apply caution and hit send based on what you found when researching your recipients.
In order words, I avoid groupthink (even if it’s data-backed), go deep into research, and apply common sense based on my findings.
Do you want to know what I’m more concerned about when sending cold emails?
First, it’s how they performed.
And for this Close is excellent because, in real-time, it gives you deep insights into how cold emails sent by you and your entire organization performs:
And even if you want more granular info specific to a particular sales rep, Close got you covered:
Also, it doesn’t matter how many email clients you use to send out your cold emails.
You can connect all to Close so that once you identify a high-performing cold email, you save it without any back and forth:
Do you hate excessive data entry? Do you want to stop jumping from one software to another (like I do most times), trying to follow up on your sent cold emails? Do you want to want to concentrate on closing deals from your sent cold emails?
Then, give Close a trial (it’s free for 14 days).
Conal Maguire, Head of Business Operations at TalentPool, took Close for a spin and had this say:
The email sequences on Close have been invaluable. They have enabled us to streamline and more efficiently manage our workflows, and have personally allowed me to improve my productivity by at least 50%.
Cold emails work.
As I’ve shown you, I consistently get over 75% open rates, and I use it to grow my SaaS content marketing consulting business.
The examples I showed is proof that they work.
In short, I’ve used cold emails to get clients, promote/feature my content, get backlinks, and guest post on prominent websites.
For example, I secured my first OpenView Partners’ guest post slot, What Is Product-Led Storytelling and How It Drives User Acquisition, via a cold email.
So, if you decide to augment your processes with mine, here they are:
- Research & identify your recipients.
- Find something that will interest them.
- Align your copy with your recipients’ goals (and yours).
- Go with an irresistible offer, and
- Send your cold emails at your defined best times.
Do you want to take things further, ensuring that your cold email efforts lead to closed deals?
Then, join Garret Tichy, Founder & Owner of Hygge (and thousands of customers around the world), using Close to do just that:
We use Close to do a lot of follow up with our leads, and often this translates into new business. We get responses like ‘Thanks for the follow-up, please send me a link to sign up.'
All the tools you need to monitor and close deals from cold emails faster (without the annoying data entry headaches).
14 days, full access free trial. No credit card required.