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How to Get Started With Cold Outreach (A Checklist)
March 22nd 2022
Outbound Sales
Cold Outreach
Cold outreach is like the behind-the-scenes hero of every successful deal. It manages everything from the initial touch to qualification, segmentation, value proposition, nurturing, and conversion.

With the increasing expectations from prospects, outbound sales outreach is getting more challenging than ever. The primary reasons being

  • You to initiate a relationship with strangers
  • You need to be mindful of personalization
  • You aren't sure where to start and end the process

We have a 7-step no-nonsense checklist to get your outbound sequence up and running.

Table of Contents

  • Step 1: Create & Warm-up the Domain
  • Step 2: Acquire or Build the Contact List
  • Step 3: Draft a Compelling Subject Line
  • Step 4: Create Email Templates
  • Step 5: Structure your Outbound Outreach Workflow
  • Step 6: Determine a Schedule for the Sequence
  • Step 7: Measure, Analyze, and Improve

Step 1: Create & Warm-up the Domain

Using your primary domain may affect the reputation if used for cold outreach. You need to create new but similar domain and email addresses for outbound campaigns. For example, your primary domain is upscale.ai, but you can use getupscale.ai, upscale.app, upscale.io, etc. You can use the primary domain for inbound leads for trials, demo requests, etc.

New Domain Warm-up

Email warm-up is when you gradually increase the volume of sending emails. It's essential to be considered trustworthy for email service providers. You can do this by sending emails to your known contacts. Start small and increase gradually!

Your email service provider determines a specific daily limit. To use the full potential, you need to build your domain reputation by warming up. The volume of the sent emails and engagement are two essential factors that determine the pace of the warm-up process. Here's what we recommend:

Domain Warm Up

Email Authentication

Every new email account requires authentication. It safeguards your account against spam filters to ensure your emails are delivered to the primary inbox. You can use the following domain authentication records:

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)
  • Domain-Based Message Authentication (DMARC)
  • Custom Domain

Check your Spam Score

After following the above-listed steps, you need to do a deliverability test before your first campaign. You can use MailTester to get the spam score and a detailed report on metrics like SpamAssassin score, domain authentication, blacklists, etc.

Step 2: Acquire or Build the Contact List

Before building your contact list, it's essential to know your ideal customer profile. It is a fictional profile or a hypothetical description of the type of company that will find value from your product or service. Since relevance is the key to successful cold sales, you need to pick your target audience carefully. Make My Persona is a simple tool to build your ICP based on predetermined parameters.

You need to have at least three types of personas that must include:

  • Evaluator — a department director or person that will use the product or service, for example, a sales manager
  • Influencer — the end-user of the product or service, for example, sales reps
  • Decision Maker — a C-level executive who has the power to purchase, for example, VP of sales

📌 Pro tip: Follow the 5/2 rule, i.e. contact 5 people from the same company, 2 of which must be decision-makers with purchasing power.

Research & Verify the Contact Data

When you know who to reach out you can get their contact details through the following ways:

  • Resourced from B2B databases
  • Manual research through LinkedIn and other sources

📌 Pro tip: You can combine both methods. Hand-pick matching prospects through LinkedIn Sales Navigator, find their contact details and enrich the data with database platforms like Clearbit, ZoomInfo, etc.

Maintain Data Hygiene

For consistent outcomes, you need to ensure your contact data is up-to-date. Here's what more you can do:

  • Ensure the email addresses are valid
  • Ensure correct formatting for all fields
  • Verify the First and Last names for spellings and capitalization
  • Double-check company names for stylization and capitalization
  • Avoid extensions like LTD., LLC., etc., for company names and use domain addresses where they are not a part of the company's name (for example, .io, .ai, etc.)

Verifalia or Neverbounce are helpful tools to maintain your data hygiene.

Step 3: Draft a Compelling Subject Line

Subject lines create the first impression for your emails. It provides a sneak-peek into your email, enabling recipients to understand if they should open and read. With the impersonal nature of cold emails, subject lines are essential. You can adopt these best practices to craft compelling subject lines for cold outreach:

  • Write short copies — around 3 to 5 words (or 25-30 characters). This way, it becomes mobile-friendly.
  • Use numbers as since social proof attracts more opens
  • Focus on the primary plan clearly (but don't give too much information)
  • Personalize the subject line, for example, using the first name or company's name etc.
  • Always A/B test before finalizing the subject line
  • Avoid spam terms, marketing talk, and misleading subject lines (for example, starting with RE: or FWD:)

Here are 4 simple subject line formulas to generate high open rates consistently:

Formula for new business/partnership

[Company] <> [Your Company] —> Microsoft <> Upscale

OR

[Company] <> [Your Company] Partnership (for potential partnership, investment, marketing campaign, integration, etc.)

Formula with 3-variables

[Company], [Your Company] and [Technographics] —> Whatfix, Upscale and Salesforce

Formula for personalization

{{FirstName}} + {{Your FirstName}} LinkedIn connection —> Henry + David LinkedIn connection

Must avoid points in your subject line

  • Misleading subject lines that start with "RE:" or "FWD:" may generate more opens but lesser responses. It can also get you flagged for SPAM.
  • Marketing terms like "the best," "leading," etc. You aren't a marketer, and your cold email is not the same as a newsletter.
  • Vague and incomplete subject lines like «Quick question», Quick Favor, etc.
  • Using question and exclamation marks result in fewer opens and responses.

📌 Pro tip: Write CAN-SPAM law friendly subject lines.

Step 4: Create Email Templates

Writing cold emails requires skill, but there is only one rule to follow — don't sell immediately! Here's what you need to do:

  • Write polite emails tactfully.
  • Avoid sales-y and aggressive emails. Instead of asking them to purchase your product or service, you can educate them about their challenges and available solutions. Instead of frequent and desperate follow-ups, you can qualify leads based on the ideal customer profile.
  • Draft emails about the challenges of your prospects and their company. It would help if you used more "you, your company" and less "I, we, our company, etc. "Your emails should focus on your prospects.
  • Structure your email templates.

Here’s a sample email template for reference based on the above points:

Hello {{FirstName}},

[Include personalized snippet]

I'm reaching out to you because I saw your LinkedIn and found that you work with [Company]. Is my assumption that [relevant value] falls in your wheelhouse?

In short, [your company] helps customers like [top customer 1], [top customer 2], among other to [value proposition].

Do you find this solution helpful for your company? If so, I'd be happy to discuss details on a quick call.

  • Personalize using variables like the industry, title, location, etc.
  • Avoid spam words similar to those in subject lines, as mentioned in step 3.
  • Personalize templates based on the targeted buyer persona. Prospects that turn into customers choose you to solve their challenges. But each persona may have different challenges to solve. You can have three categories of email templates — Evaluator, Influencer, and Decision-Maker.

📌 Pro tip: Use "When, I want to, so I can" sentence framework to list their challenges. For example, "When I sell newspapers, I want to ensure punctuality, so I can reach more customers."

  • The opening line is crucial. It should talk about why you are reaching out to the prospect.
  • Include social proof such as customer testimonials, case studies, etc. You can even find mutual connections like customers from their niche, competitors, common friends, companies, etc.
  • Proofread before sending. Grammatical mistakes may convey a negative message. Double-check, or you can even use tools like Grammarly.
  • Before you send, ask yourself, "Would I reply to this email?" Be honest when you answer.
  • Have 3-4 follow-up emails in line. Personalize even these follow-up email cadences.

📌 More Pro Tips

  • Avoid link tracking to increase the deliverability rate.
  • Use unsubscribe link instead of plain text. It may reduce your response rate but ensures your emails are not marked as spam.
  • Share relevant content and resources that correlate with their industry, challenges, etc.

Step 5: Structure your Outbound Outreach Workflow

Sales techniques continue to evolve as buyers spend more time researching tools, products and services. Sales and sales development teams can use a sales engagement platform for multi-channel touchpoints while reaching out to prospective customers. Creating a multi-channel outreach workflow helps you personalize the experience based on your prospect's preferences.

Here are some MUST-HAVE touchpoints in your outbound outreach workflow:

📧 Manual Email (a manually researched and drafted email template that includes personalized snippet).

📩 Automated Email (automated emails with personalization using variables like {{FirstName}}, {{Company}}, etc.)

📞 Phone call (make calls globally, record them, and more)

📲 Voicemail

💬 SMS

📷 Video-based Email

🌐 Social touches on LinkedIn (view profile, follow, connect, like a post, send a message, etc.) or other social networks

✔ Personalized Task (e.g. in-person meeting, blog-post commenting, meeting at events, research specific information about a prospect, etc.)

🎁 Direct mail (e.g. send a letter, your company swag or merchandise, amazon gift card, etc.)

📣 ABS and ABM (e.g. targeting high-value prospects through specific campaigns, ads on LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, etc.)


📌 Here are some common sales sequence frameworks for your reference:

Before sharing the sequences, you MUST remember that the workflows change based on personas, titles, ICPs, industries, countries, etc.

For hypertargeted and well structured prospects

📩 -> 📩 -> 📩 -> 📩 -> 📩 (5 automated emails:1 initial email and 4 follow-ups)


Some more sequences for you

Workflow Sequence Example

The workflow must be unique to your company and sales process. You can customize the suggested sequences to suit what works best for you.

📌 Pro tip: Mix and match the listed touchpoints to create a unique sequence and see what works for you.

Step 6: Determine a Schedule for the Sequence

Creating custom outreach schedules based on your prospect's timezone can drive a better response rate. Including City and Country data fields in your contact lists can automatically identify the timezone to adjust the schedules. Some common findings for your workflows include:

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are considered the best days to send the initial email.
  • The best time to send emails and/or follow-ups is in the morning, from 7 am to 10 am.
  • Follow-up response rate is usually similar from Monday through Thursday or any workday.
  • Sundays (or weekends) might turn out to be better for follow-up emails.

📌 Pro tip: Use the email time optimizer tool to identify the best time for contacting prospects.

Step 7: Measure, Analyze, and Improve

Cold outreach can effectively help you reach prospects and turn them into customers. Measuring and analyzing performance will help you improve the outcomes, savings, and revenue generation. Here's how you can do it:

  • A/B test, always! — subject lines, templates, call-to-actions, ICPs, workflows, schedules, etc.
  • Focus on Interested rate (the ratio between send emails and positive response) and move beyond Open and Reply rates.
  • Open rate is an essential metric because it is lower than 30%, the emails may be landing into the SPAM folder.
  • Maintain the bounce rate as low as 3-5%.
  • Cold outreach doesn't have to be a result of guesswork. Plan and measure outcomes to keep the results consistent.
  • Personalize creatively, but only as much as it looks genuine.

Quick Summary

Cold outreach is a cost-effective outbound sales prospecting technique that can generate quality leads (when done right). You can reach prospective customers, even those who have never had a conversation with you. The purpose is to build a relationship through multi-channel outreach, warm-up prospects who respond and eventually convert them into customers. A simple and effective checklist is above, but your strategy will be unique to your organization. Get started now!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Richa Sharma
Content Marketer
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Richa Sharma
Content Marketer
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