Did you know that mastering Cold Email doesn’t have to be complex?
To show you, we’ve interviewed three Cold Email experts to give you their opinion and viewpoint on how to be successful with Cold Email.
From scaling to fine tuning, we hope you enjoy this deep dive.
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When it comes to Cold Email, there are only a few people we turn to for amazing advice that works across the board for different goals.
Whether you’re in SaaS, eCommerce, or lead gen, you’ll be excited to learn that the recipes these experts will share will all help you hit your goals faster.
In Order Of The Guests Below:
Sujan Patel: Co-Founder @ Mailshake
Sujan is a data-driven marketer and entrepreneur. He is a high energy individual fueled by his passion to help people and solve problems. Sujan is the managing partner at Ramp Ventures which are the makers of Mailshake, VoilaNorbert.com, Rightinbox.com and more sales & marketing SaaS companies.
Nuggets Dropped x78
“A pre-written email cadence helps keep cooler leads engaged.”
Max Altschuler – VP of Marketing @ Outreach.io
Day in and day out, Max gets to help salespeople build modern sales processes and ramp up revenue, while also helping millennials and those new to the workforce figure out how to best navigate their careers and hit their goals. He also wrote Career Hacking for Millennials to help young, ambitious, workforce-driven millennials have more success in less time.
Nuggets Dropped x64
“A well-defined audience makes tracking performance easier.”
George Vitko – Sales Executive @ Reply.io
George has been a Sales Executive at Reply.io for over 3 years. Reply.io automates one-to-many communication for you and your team – dramatically scaling your outreach capability, while keeping it 100% personal. He loves working to build relationships with corporate customers and partners which means he has a lot to say about cold email.
Nuggets Dropped x57
“Be human – build rapport before gradually introducing value.”
Cold Email Mastery With Sujan Patel
Johnathan: What’s up my man? How are you?
Sujan: How you doin’? Good!
Johnathan: Yeah, I’m pretty great as well. I am super super thankful and pumped that you’re here with us talking about cold emails. and obviously being the co-founder of Mailshake, I think you have a lot to share.
But I wanted to make a quick introduction to the guests who might not know. The first time I met Sujan was at the Conversion XL conference in Austin, and I think we hit it off pretty great. We haven’t talked since because we’re so busy.
You have eight companies now, but I do remember one thing and that was beating you at Ladder Ball. Do you remember that?
Sujan: Maybe that’s the reason why we haven’t talked. I’m too embarrassed to show my face again.
Johnathan: You’re like, no, I don’t recall, I don’t recall. So, so fun. Well, man, again, I want to talk to you guys about what you guys do at Mailshake, what you can share with us and obviously as you know, we’re super super tactical.
We want to drop some, like we talked about before, some practical nuggets. So, when it comes to Mailshake, I’m seeing on your website right now that you basically can generate leads, build relationships, promote content.
Is there anything from a starting standpoint of where you know that cold emails are a great fit and when they’re not a good fit? I can’t seem to think of anything where it’s not a good fit, but let me know.
Sujan: Yeah, so I think it generally works. I mean, I recruited my co-founder to work on Mailshake with me through a cold email, so I mean like, recruiting I think like sales, marketing. I think there’s a hodgepodge of reasons and ways to use cold emails.
Where it’s not a good fit is like, if you don’t have a good product, or you haven’t figured out your offering, and you’re trying to bet the fact, if you’re trying to validate your product or validate if it’s pre-product market fit or you don’t know if the service is going to be good, don’t ask strangers to give you feedback.
Because it will be, you either hear crickets or brutally honest feedback and you know, without the context it’s not valuable, so figure stuff out, it’s like any other marketing or sales channel and you don’t do PPC ads when you don’t have any idea of what’s happening in your business.
You kind of have to have something, or if you do it, you kinda do it to validate and get good feedback.
Johnathan: Yeah, to speed that up, that makes sense.
Johnathan: Okay, cool. And then, when you go through, let’s take the marketing approach, ’cause obviously this is a marketing podcast. What are some of the frequent uses that you see Mailshake users using for marketing purpose?
Is it sales-related, like sales enablement, or maybe I kind of Venn diagram hopped over that fence, but let me know.
Sujan: Yeah, so I think there’s like, a couple main ways people use Mailshake, and really any cold email or email sequence kind of software, mostly lots of concept promotion or link building, it kinds of puts them in the same bucket, because the angle might be a little different, but the outcome is the same.
You want the person on the other end to be like, “Yeah, I’ll link to you”, or “yeah, we can all share this” or do something for you regarding your website.
There’s a lot of folks that come in like, we’ve got lots of website owners, various industries, who use Mailshake as more of auto-responder, and so like a lead comes in and let’s say, someone shows up, finds this website, they fill out the lead form, it goes into your CRM, it goes to Mailshake and you got a sequence that you can then go use to kinda nurture that person.
And obviously you wanna get them on the phone, and all that stuff, but like, you know, not always does a lead that comes in are they gonna jump on the phone or answer your email, and so, you can write a pre-written cadence.
And then that’s another way, and then you can use it for onboarding, like new users to your software, free trial, any which way you want, as long as you can put people through. The big value of Mailshake or really any cold email tool like us, and there’s 60-something competitors in the space, so very very–
Johnathan: All right.
Sujan: I don’t know if that’s a lot, but it feels like a lot.
Johnathan: Seems decently high, yeah.
Sujan: So anyways, it’s a big number, right? Right, so the big value here is that when you send an email through your marketing software, or whatever, it’s going through some sort of like server, it’s going through a third party, and it ends up with hitting the promotion tab more times than not, or look because it just doesn’t look like a plain text individual email.
Well, the value of Mailshake is that, whether it’s Gmail or whatever your personal email, like Outlook or whatever, it’s gonna be sent through there, directly through there. So Mailshake is not actually sending emails, it’s just a layer on top of it, so–
Sujan: You end up getting a better open rate, and you know, and obviously like setting up the follow ups and triggers, like at our agency, we use it to kind of use like a five to seven email sequence, to kinda get somebody to respond, give us information, and get that conversation started.
And sometimes it takes two or three times before they’re like, oh yeah, like, I forgot I emailed these guys, you know, it’s Adam’s reaching out as their salesperson or whatever, so like, I’d better talk to him, and there’s different angles, or whatever.
So ultimately, that’s kind of the different ways, but every time I talk to customers, I’m surprised at their different ways they’re hacking Mailshake to make it work.
Johnathan: That’s awesome. I’m gonna give you some nuggets for that. Obviously if I kept dropping the nugget sound every single time, we wouldn’t get far in the actual segment here.
One thing that we found worked really well, and this might seem as two like, if we have old leads or old clients that are no longer with us, we have this drip that’s actually a two-year cadence, and it actually sends an email once a month, and it works for us.
Like we’ve gotten conversations started again, we’ve gotten old dormant leads back, or old clients back as well too. And so that sounds like something you can use within Mailshake or, like you said, any cold email outreach tool. That’s super cool.
Sujan: Absolutely, yeah. Yeah and, go ahead.
Johnathan: No, no, you were gonna talk.
Sujan: Yeah, so I think like, think about your email marketing list, right, your opt-in list. Do you send to any of those folks, are you emailing them?
Like for example, let’s say you run a conference, and you’ve got people who bought from you last year. Like, that’s not a marketing lapse if you send the automation tool, that’s one like you wanna try to do as personal as possible, ’cause that’s the highest likelihood you’re gonna get repeat sales, right.
They’ve already bought from you, they’ve attended your conference.
So those types of things you can use Mailshake for, ’cause it’s a very tightly pruned list. So it doesn’t have to always be cold emails. It’s just better deliverability, open rate, again, I’ve tried every which way against this, but plain text emails just work.
Johnathan: I was just gonna ask you.
Sujan: I can’t beat it with any other–
Johnathan: No, I believe you, ’cause it looks like you wrote it and took the time, so for the people listening, when you send out marketing emails, which you still can do if you come out with a new blog post, or any update on anything from a company sort, sure..
But as far as it sounds like engagement or getting people to take action, the plain text emails that look like you just wrote it seems to perform the best, is that true?
Sujan: Exactly, and everything from the plot size, the number of links, all that matters, whether it’s personalized or not. It doesn’t have to be personalized, just projecting a few detailed emails, handed down.
Johnathan: Interesting, okay, cool. Now you mentioned, this is kinda interesting, because this episode can kind of umbrella and branch into so many other things, ’cause we talk about content, we talk about outreach, we talk about backlinks, we talk about sales acceleration, things like that too.
Let’s take one example at a time. So let’s say that you’re trying to promo your content, or you’re trying to get backlinks. Now I get about 10 requests or emails a day where they’re like, hey, we notice blah blah blah, you should take our link and put it in there instead, but there’s no value to me.
Is there anything that you’ve seen that has a higher acceptance rate of people getting the promo to actually work or the backlinks to actually be put in place? Like, is there some kind of incentive or value trade-off? I don’t know if you can even share that information, but I wanted to ask you.
Sujan: Yeah, I can share that. I can’t, you know I can’t tell you how customers are using it, but you know Round Ventures are a company that we do SDO content marketing for ourselves, we generate probably somewhere between 250 to 300 backlinks a month–
Sujan: And I’ve been increasing that number month over month for the last two years. And a very lean team, I’m talking two people that do outreach and are probably responsible for most of those links.
We have some content writers and things on the folks in the backend that can contribute to it, but it’s a fairly small team.
The biggest thing is those angles you describe, or any of the basic link building angles are those angles you would see out there, they still work. They actually work better than ever, but the only difference is you have to frame it differently.
So for example, you get 10 emails a day, I know you get 10 emails day, John, I probably send you one of those, and you probably link to me at some point.
Johnathan: I moved you to spam already.
Sujan: Because it’s the connection, right? So I think it’s like the relationship, the context and getting their attention.
So the first thing you said of why you don’t link to people is because there’s no value for you, right? And so, I don’t think people can make value for you for asking for something, but maybe that’s not first ask, right.
So I would suggest like, optimize that first sentence, because what you just said is you lost them, they lost you at– the subject line or the first sentence, and you just skipped over that email.
Sujan: So that’s the first two things you need to optimize for.
And so instead of saying like the same old pitch that everyone else does, talk about like, how you love.. like the client who was probably I was talking to earlier, it was like, hey, I love how transparent you are. Your blog post on how you reach X revenue, X employees, problems been solved.
That stuff is not just inspirational, tactical, and you know, it’s awesome,
Johnathan: Thank you.
Sujan: It’s like reading Amazon 10K, right, you learn a lot, right? Even if you’ve done it before, whatever, and so, well first of all, kudos for that.
But like, we see that sentence, I can just tell you that I’ve read your post and you’ve made an impact, and then say the same thing I was gonna say anyways, asking for something.
Now you just like buttered somebody up. And it’s like, I had this, let me tell you a story real quick.
I was getting gas for my car, and a homeless lady comes up to me and she’s like, “Wow, that’s an awesome jacket!” I’m like, cool, thank you, I just got it. I just happened to get a new jacket, and then she’s like “Do you have a dollar?” I’m like, okay, fine.
Johnathan: No way!
Sujan: She got me! And it’s just because, how many homeless people come from that view?
Sujan: You know, or it’s, you know, everybody’s gonna ask for a dollar, but you might as well go in, kinda do something different.
And so I think the part of this is like, showing you care, that it’s something that that person did, ’cause you probably put a lot of hard work into your blog post. I mean everybody does, you don’t just snap your fingers and it comes out of thin air.
So it’s showing you did the homework, you read it, you care, it impacted your life, and also what you’re doing here is you’re starting by building the relationship.
And so when we started doing this, we started by optimizing the first part of the email, and then we were like, what if we just take the ask out of it, and we just focus on building connection.
And so now we don’t have to promote our content, because we just share it and people, we’ve helped people, we’ve built relationships, and it just kinda gets shared by itself.
We’ve built this flywheel, and so my whole point is, focus on the long game of building the content promotion, flywheel and the link building through relationship, ’cause that’s gonna help you more than anything else.
Johnathan: That’s so cool. So, really, really interesting point that you just made there. Not only should you have a repertoire of new jackets at all times, ’cause that sounds like it helps.
But in addition to that, you’re buttering up methodology that you just mentioned, so we use something called the breadcrumb technique for landing pages, and the way that it works is that we don’t go straight for the jugular and come with the aggressive ask.
We kinda let the visitor on the landing page take these multiple steps, because the most threatening thing in your world with the gas station example was, getting asked for that dollar, right, or you know, any type of dollar amount, ’cause you know it’s gonna happen.
The other part from a landing page perspective is, the contact information, like name, email and phone number. So what we found is that we put that at the end of the landing page steps, but at the beginning, we ask these questions that are anonymous that it makes the visitor think and feel like they’re getting a custom automated solution as they go through these steps.
And so it’s like, the same thing that you don’t go up to the bar and ask that significant other or potential significant other to marry you right on the spot. You may, if you’re aggressive, but I think your success rate would be pretty low. But you do other things, you court them.
So that sounds like we’re in alignment there, that’s pretty cool.
Sujan: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve actually been to so many of those landing pages where you’re asked to take a quiz, right. Like I just felt it was, I’m a sucker of Instagram ads, and I’m okay with it, like I’ve just bought like the weirdest stuff.
Sujan: Like, just whatever’s advertised to me, eventually if you just like, you go past the seven times of remarketing to me, you get like a 10th time, I’ll buy it, you know.
So some of the best ads on that platform aren’t like, the best landing page don’t ask you for your information up front. They get you to engage, and they get you another question, a softer blow, a little bit more, a little bit more, and then, so awesome.
You gotta put the nugget soundblaster yourself, so–
Johnathan: All right, we’ll do the bigger chicken sound.
Well that’s really cool, ’cause I’ve been doing it completely the wrong way, and there’s even a part where this kind of overlaps with like, even LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which isn’t necessarily cold email, but I hired this other agency to kinda give me the game plan of doing this.
They wrote the content, but it like went straight for hey, I’m the CEO of KlientBoost, we help hundreds of blah blah blah, I’m like, nobody gives a crap.
And so we never came with a buttering up approach first. So that was a huge eye opener that I’m gonna take away and start using and changing right now, that’s amazing, thank you.
Sujan: Yeah, my pleasure. Or just try to get engagement. Like, if you’re doing LinkedIn, think about what that other person on the other end, like are they, what problems are they going through, like get me to nod my head, or like, look that way, right.
It’s like somebody’s yelling at you, but you’ve got your headphones on, what are you gonna do to get that person’s attention? Are you gonna like throw something, or do something or try another angle?
Johnathan: Yeah. No, just even thinking like from a cold outreach perspective for like lead generation, for example, which we can talk about right here now.
I’m even thinking of how to do like a cross effect with like, hey, you’re a CMO, ’cause I’m targeting you by job title, and we created a survey that we’re actually gonna use for our blog post. You know, would you mind filling it out, it takes about five minutes.
Like that could be something that like buttering them up or kind of treating them as a thought leader, and then once you kind of build that rapport, your goal is still to publish that blog post.
But now you actually say, hey, you know, even though they don’t know it, they’re still your target audience for whatever you want to accomplish.
So now the door’s open, and you can start talking, which is pretty interesting too. So many different ideas you gave me.
Sujan: Yeah, absolutely. There’s a couple of agencies I know that have done that really well, with like a very similar demographic.
And they’ve figured out their exact perfect customer, and they just engage with surveys. Marketing first, right? Some form of content, whether it’s a survey or whatever, get them participating, maybe even get ’em on your podcast, and then..
Johnathan: I’m gonna close you later.
Sujan: I know so many folks who use podcasts, yeah. Yeah, you just close it later, right?
Because like, in this podcast, we’re building a stronger relationship. I mean I guess it’s a public one, right, ’cause everyone’s listening or whatever, but at the end you follow up and you can probably close that.
So I think there’s a lot of different ways to use marketing up front and giving value up front, and just, I think one of the things you said was like you didn’t quite say this but, your example was low friction ask, you know, you’re giving something away.
Like you’re giving a survey and, but you would be even better if you did this every year, until next year you could say like, hey, here’s our survey from last year, so they know you’re legit, so now you have social proof, it’s the same element as you would do on a landing page.
You do the landing page, social proof, you know, low friction ask, or low friction call to action, some form of personalization. But the only difference is, you have no design, or you don’t want design and you can be plain text, and you have a fairly limited amount of attention span, slash, words you can use.
Johnathan: Right, interesting. So this is funny, ’cause on another episode around content marketing, we actually spoke with Andy Crestodina out of Orbit Media, and some of his best performing blog posts are from first party data research.
And so if you’re using the low friction ask or the buttering up, you can use a Google form, link in your outreach if you wanted to, things like that too, but it’s really important that you, like you mentioned, bring value first.
Do not come straight for the jugular when it comes content promotion or backlinking, and at the end of the day, if you can turn that into a relationship so you have this army of people and companies ready to kind of share, then you’ll probably have to do it less and less.
I’m assuming, is that correct?
Sujan: Yeah, I guess you would have less and less to do, but you would probably, everybody wants to reach higher and further, right?
Johnathan: Right, get more and more.
Sujan: So like, you would just be going to more impactful. So like, I want Elon Musk to email me back, right? No email’s gone through to him. So like, you’re just kinda aiming bigger, but you have the bait, and with cross promotion especially.
Once you’ve done this enough, people recognize your brand, you’ve built those relationship, and you do these ever great pieces of content, you have a good base to work off, the traffic that just comes to you as I can consume more content.
Johnathan: And you just kinda hit the nail on the head, too, ’cause you mentioned about how cold email’s not gonna fix your crappy product, right? So it’s not necessarily gonna fix your crappy content either, if you don’t think about the quality of it too.
So it kinda plays and permeates across different types of marketing, but also your own product and service. Is there–
Sujan: Yeah, right, and…
Johnathan: Go ahead.
Sujan: You can’t get to yes, you can’t get to yes or the success, you might get an open rate, you might get a click, you might get a response, but they’re not gonna give it away unless you can back it up with whatever you’re promoting.
Johnathan: Yeah. Is there anything from like a benchmark perspective that you look for from an open rate, a click-through rate, like, you know, you guys probably had those internal metrics.
Should people care about that? Should they not care about that? I don’t know, like, tell us.
Sujan: So the only metric I care about is the reply rate.
Johnathan: Reply rate.
Sujan: I’ve had some of the, reply meaning actually people replying to you, there you go. ‘Cause open rate and click-through rate are really, really misleading.
One of our companies Voila Norbert, we try to do some inside sales, and get people who sign up, we get 20,000 people who come through the door every single month, and so there’s no way we could do sales, and so, again we try to like prune the list and all that stuff, prune the new users and do some form of inside sales to identify the high value ones.
Long story short, we send an email block to like 500 people, and 50-something percent open rate. I’m like, “Yes, this is amazing!” But like four people responded. I’m like, “Oh wow, okay.” And it didn’t generate $50 in revenue for us.
Sujan: And so like that was just a complete waste of time in terms of time to ROI or revenue, but so yeah, I mean there’s a lot of false positives.
And so you can have a good open rate, because you have a good subject line, but if you don’t get the reply, then your email has missed the boat.
And I think there’s a lot of emails out there that are like “Re” or “Forward” or kinda misleading, and those misleading emails always get better open rates, but they’re usually the first to get marked as spam, and if you could see the person’s webcam, you would see them being annoyed.
Right, like you would just see their face. So yeah, I feel this bad, right? And so,
Johnathan: They’re mad.
Sujan: I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been in an emotional state of being angry and I respond positively, or respond at all.
Johnathan: That seems impossible to do.
Sujan: Yeah, it’s improbable, and you might get their attention for glint of a second, but you just don’t have their trust.
Johnathan: And then you miss the chance too, right, ’cause there’s
Sujan: You know again, like–
Johnathan: Like you’re not gonna be able to rectify that or change that with more emails. They’re gonna be like, no, never email me again, like, you’ve lost that opportunity.
Sujan: Exactly. And never forget that in cold emails, not always are you gonna get a response, right. I mean this is kind of a sales rule, it takes like nine to 11 touches to get a sale.
You know marketing has their own, marketing has, you know, you need seven touches, six or seven touches before someone purchases, through your website or whatever, or your brand, but cold email takes 10 days.
You need somewhere between three to 10 followups, so if you lose them on the first or second one, then you’re done.
And I always try to provide value, so I mix my marketing, whether I’m doing sales or marketing, or recruiting, I’ll mix in content from my blog, and try to be as genuine as possible, so like one of my followup emails, my rule for followup emails are, always provide value in some way, shape or form.
So, ways I try to do that is like, one of my emails, even though they’re canned, or pre-written, are gonna be like, hey I was reading this article, that I think you should check out point number three.
And I just try to find articles like, so if again, you have 50 CMOs, is there a piece of content that you think would benefit CMOs if they read? Even if it’s not something you wrote, and then you can just link ’em that specific section that would maybe be helpful.
Now again, if you solve my problem, I’m more likely to open to work with you, but I’m more likely to even just respond, and start that conversation.
Johnathan: That’s super, super good point. I think a lot of people confuse with cold email like batch and blast kinda thing.
Even though they can personalize, quote unquote, and they can also put in different values of like company names, company industry, you know, things like that too, is that if you truly, genuinely care about giving them value, I think the approach and how you look at your cadences now or your sequences of emails, you definitely wanna change them.
I can already tell that I’m going back to our office right now and gonna look at these too, because I think a lot of them are kinda like brute force, and we’re trying to deal with volume, and then, but of course, that’s not our goal.
Our goal is not to get a lot of open rates, and like you said, we wanna get reply rates. Is there any difference–
Johnathan: It sounds like a lot of things you’re saying are kinda universal for cold email. Is there any difference between promo content-related emails with lead generation emails?
Like, I think ones obviously a bigger ask, being trying to generate a lead, but is it the same principles sound like they actually apply, but is there anything different that we should be aware of?
Sujan: Yeah, so the difference of a lead gen or sales-related email would be you have a different call to action, right? It’s pretty clear from a marketing email, a content promotion, link building, what you want, right.
So you don’t have to spell it out always, and sometimes like not spelling it out and getting that response is actually a better thing.
So like, what I’m saying is, no clear call to, call to action is clear or it’s left with no clear call to action is pretty transparent and maybe work in your favor to start that conversation.
Sujan: When you’re doing lead gen, you need a very clear call to action.
Sujan: You can’t just like, and I think people mess that up, right. So it’s like, if they can lend, it’s like cold emails remind me just like landing page optimization.
It’s like, you’ve got your headline, you got your sub-headline, you got your call to action button, right. And then you got graphics, and hopefully, and content, and all the rest of it, so hopefully, kinda convince somebody to kinda go and check you out or try you out.
And I think most people muffle their call to action by adding too much information towards the end. In the end you should just be wrapping it up. You should just be…
And I know it’s a question mark, and I think, or, like people add too many call to action, or they don’t make it really hard, or they make it too easy.
Like for example, if you send the call to action and it’s like, hey use this link to book a time in my calendar, like even though it’s CMOs, it’s like, who is this person, why are they busier than me?
Sujan: You know like, for some people it’s a convenience thing, so to be genuine, you should say something like, hey, are you around next Wednesday at 10 a.m. or 12, if not, here’s a link to my calendar in case it’s easier for you. And you’re like making it easier.
Johnathan: Yeah, it’s funny you say that, because I’ve had people be offended where like, you know, you email them multiple times, like, hey, just click this link so that you can grab a time, but they’re like refusing to do that.
So being aware, and like you said too, it seems like that you push them towards being your assistant or receptionist to find a time, even though, at the end of the day, it can’t be simpler for both parties.
But that’s super super interesting. Is there anything else I’m missing in regards to cold emails and best practices and nuggets?
Sujan: Yeah, I think one thing we should talk through is personalization, and personalization is not like name or company, I think that’s like information everybody can get, everybody has access to that.
You can get the name from the email address, and you can get the company from the domain, right. So like, from the email address you got both, right? Technically.
Sometimes you can’t right, it’s it’s like Sujan Patel, you wouldn’t know what my first name is, but personalization, I think there’s, people overcomplicate what it needs to be.
Like when you’re emailing CMOs for example, think about, personalization would be the types of CMOs. Are you emailing people in the automotive industry or doctors offices or e-commerce.
The value prop is different. Maybe the size of the team is different, the budget’s different, their goals are different. So you might not need to personalize it for me versus some other CMO or whatever, but you do need a personalization thing by industry.
And so it’s really personalization at scale, just by categories.
And so again, if you’re emailing people in the automobiles industry or accountants, very different scale, right? Accountants, five, 10-person companies. Automobile industry, 5,000 employees at minimum, 6,000, I can’t even, like that’s just in the one factory, right?
Johnathan: Sounds about right. Yeah, yeah.
Sujan: So it’s like, yeah, I don’t know, it’s like there’s a comma or two in there of how many employees there are. Maybe one comma.
But yeah, so like we just have to try to personalize it for that.
And then also, again if you’re emailing Saas founders, like early phase tech companies, let’s say, like you don’t even have to, you can skip the pleasantries, say, here’s my calendar, because everyone will just do it, you don’t have to try to tell them, like, hey I’m trying to save you time.
More like if you email people in the automobile industry, you probably should not even try to get a call, like don’t use your calendar, then, or a calendar link. you need to use good old-fashioned, like hey, look me up with your assistant, and we’ll get something on the book, right?
Johnathan: Interesting, interesting. Just like so many different angles of being able to execute through this, that I would even have no idea of. So that’s super, super cool. Cool. Well, I mean, you’ve answered all my questions.
One thing I know too is that we might have some questions from the audience, and we can send them, we can even do a followup conversation too, and maybe you can even be a guest on other parts of the, other episodes that we’re doing too, since you have eight companies right now. So I don’t even wanna get into that.
But Sujan, thank you so much for your time. Super, super appreciate it. Yeah.
Sujan: Yeah, thanks for having me, sir. Good luck.
Johnathan: Take care.
Cold Email Mastery With Max Altschuler
Max: Hey, hey.
Johnathan: Hey Max, it’s Johnathan over at Boost Sauce. How are you?
Max: Doing great.
Johnathan: Awesome, man, I’m really appreciative of you spending the time with us. For a little quick intro to our listeners, Max and I knew each other back awhile when he was with Sales Hacker. Now you’re Vice President of Marketing at Outreach, which is a really cool brand.
I’m super excited to have you on here. So I wanna talk about cold emails and what your angle and what your thoughts are. Is that okay with you?
Max: Yep, sure.
Johnathan: Cool, cool, I know you guys do a lot more than just that these days, but I wanna start there.
So, if a person is listening, whether they are enterprise, whether they are a smaller company, are there some certain starting points that you, like let’s say I was your friend asking you at the park bench and you were like, telling me, look Johnathan, here’s how you gotta do it and go about it.
Like what are the recipes you would start with?
Max: Oh, man, where to start. Okay, so starting from scratch, the 101 lessons of cold email. So the 101 lesson for me would be to AB test everything. Wherever you start with make that your baseline.
Johnathan: Got it.
Max: There you go. You make that your baseline and you need to have a good subset of people that you’re sending that email to so that you know, you know, whether or not it worked.
If you send it to 10 people I’m not sure that that’s a big enough data point for you to really understand if something worked or not. But if you have a list of 150 people you can send it to I think like that’s a pretty good place to start. You know, 100, 150, 200 people.
So you send the first email out and the subject lines allows you to understand your open rate, so the subject line is working. And your copy will allow you to understand if you’re, say a call to action, your CTA is working. And you should have link tracking available on that.
So if you’re doing this without a sales engagement platform you’re just doing this from your email inbox, you know super basic and free, you can do this math in a spreadsheet and understand your open rates, and your click-thru rates and then you send another email with a different subject line.
And that helps you understand those open rates. And then you can AB test the two of those, eventually run multi-variable tests where you’re running different subject lines.
You also wanna understand your ideal customer profile. So when you’re cold emailing somebody, how can you setup these cold emails in a way where you are not having to personalize the entire thing every time?
But are still finding ways to make it look personalized for your ICP, so they used to call this a 10 80 10, but the first 10% of your email is personalized and the middle 80% was kind of like a template, and the last 10% was personalized.
Max: And that was a kind of middle-weight version of sending a personalized cold email instead of doing the whole thing from scratch.
I think if you do that it’s very important to have three common denominators in your ICP. So VPs of sale, title, from Boston, location, and healthcare, industry.
This way you can somewhat personalize that those two 10%s or you can personalize those two 10%s and then somewhat personalize that middle chunk using those three common denominators.
Max: So other people in this industry have seen this result as a good example of a more personalized version than the completely generic email.
I think your AB testing your also making sure you’re working through your common denominators and finding ways to personalize emails at scale. I think that’s the key right there, Like humanization at scale.
Max: So those are the first two things, but really what you wanna do is be really closely aligned, I mean I’m not sure if this audience is two guys and a dog.
Johnathan: They’ll be across the board.
Max: Yeah, you know early stage start-up, pre-venture funding or bootstraps or if they’re bigger companies, but you wanna find a way to nail that ICP and nail your value props before you start sending emails.
Or at least understand, not just knowing who your contact is but what makes them tick.
Johnathan: What does ICP stand for?
Max: Ideal Customer Profile.
Johnathan: Got it, got it, okay.
Max: So that’s like who you’re selling to. So, what’s a good example of this?
For the example that I used to use when I did presentations on this, when I was doing the speaking circuit at Sales Hacker was there was a girl in San Francisco who was selling Girl Scout Cookies.
She went out, and she realized, okay, she needs to find a place where people are going to be hungry for junk food, the type of junk food that she’s selling which is Girl Scout Cookies.
So, had she went and sat in front of a vegan restaurant, well, those people don’t eat Girl Scout Cookies and they’re also going to be full. Not a good place for her to sit. Not her ideal customer profile.
Instead, she went and sat in front of, placed her table with her Girl Scout Cookies, in front of weed dispensaries in San Francisco.
Johnathan: I felt like that’s where this was going.
Max: And she found people who had the munchies, and knew they were gonna have the munchies and were gonna need junk food, and she broke the record for Girl Scout Cookies boxes sold.
She knew her ideal customer profile. And that’s an example of the ideal customer profile. Who are you selling to?
Johnathan: Got it.
Max: At Outreach we sell sales engagement software, so we sell to Sales Ops, Sales Leadership, at companies that do inside sales. So it’s key to nail that part.
Then, you have to nail your positioning so that you’re making the most out of these emails that you’re getting out there. If you don’t get responses where people open the email, then it’s actually an okay thing.
It’s basically inbox marketing. So you’re at least sending that message to them. You’re at least making them think. They saw your company name, so it’s another type of point.
Max: You know it’s like the law of seven. I think it’s called the law of effective frequency in marketing. It takes somebody seven times to see your brand, or hear a jingle and they’ll recognize it.
So, you know, the McDonald’s arches, you know you saw those McDonald’s arches seven times. And then I showed you a quarter of an arch, you would know what logo that is.
Johnathan: That makes sense.
Max: Or if you heard some kind of jingle on TV, you heard it seven times, if I played five seconds of it the eighth time, you would know the rest of that song.
So when you are sending these outbound emails, it’s kind of like inbox marketing. So, you know, you liked their tweet, and you connected with them on LinkedIn, then you landed in their inbox, and they were cleaning up their inbox, and they opened up their email and deleted it, didn’t get back to you.
But, okay, it’s a touch point. So you’re optimizing for that touch point. You wanna make sure that message is on target. You’re optimizing for them reading it, getting intrigued, so the subject line’s important.
But then, the CTA’s the next step. The entire sales process is a funnel. You’re not trying… You don’t need to necessarily close the deal with that email.
Max: Unless, you’re deal prize is five bucks.
Johnathan: Might be easier.
Max: You know then you’ve got bigger problems, you probably shouldn’t be doing an outbound whatsoever.
But, yeah, this is something you need to think about as a long sale thing. Like how do I get this person’s sister to know who I am? Then to read my stuff, then to respond to me. It’s step by step. You’re setting that up over time.
Johnathan: So, I’m not sure if Outreach does this too, but those touch points that you mentioned, whether you tweet at them, connect with them on LinkedIn, then send them an email, there might be three touch points out of the seven that you mentioned, right?
Some people are part of the camp where they say, “Oh this outbound, cold email effort “is gonna take us like three to six months “to really see the full fruition of it.” Where as other ones are like, “No, I can at least get ’em “to raise their hand within the first couple emails, “and then get ’em in.”
And then maybe it’s not even cold emails that does it anymore, maybe it’s our regular sales process. Are there any different levels where you see that these are almost laws that you can’t refute them?
Or are there ways to go about getting quicker, like short cutting, like every marketer wants to do?
Max: I wouldn’t say there’s any laws, but I would say that people need to reset their expectations, and thinking about this kind of stuff.
I advise a lot of different start ups to move up like 50-something now, either through advisory or as an investor. And they’re all, at least when I got in, pre seed, seed. I’d say the latest would be like 38.
And I remember advising this one company on their outbound strategy, and he was hitting the ground running. He was doing a lot of spray and pray stuff.
They had just closed their funding, and he was like, “All right, “now how do I amp up basically “the spray and pray stuff?” I was like, “You don’t.” He was like, “What do you mean? “I gotta grow faster now. “I gotta grow faster, now.”
You locked in the catch, now’s the time to really take in a beat, and perfect it. And I actually think that you should do that before you go and get traction.
Max: One step back, two steps forward. You know, the Abraham Lincoln expression where he’s like, “If you give me six hours “to chop down a tree, “you spend the first five hours chopping it.” Yeah.
Johnathan: Right. I like that.
Max: So in this case, instead of just going out and blasting a bunch of shit out there trying, just, I don’t know– spray and pray.
Do your work up front, and get to the point in which you have a pretty good baseline to start testing things, so that when you start AB tests, you’re already at a point where you know you’re directionally correct.
So that means, you understand your ICP, you understand your customer’s pain points, and issues, and you understand complementary products, and you understand the competitive landscape, you know, what other people are currently using, and everything else.
And this way, when you start crafting your message and you start selecting the accounts you’re gonna go after, you’re selecting accounts that are low hanging fruit, so you already know that they are your most ideal buyer.
And then, you’re selecting the messaging that you know is gonna resonate well with that list.
Max: And then you can start optimizing from there. But if you don’t do any of that work up front, you just go out there and start spraying and praying to everyone and anyone
Max: That’s not the way to do it. You’re gonna set yourself back. You’re gonna burn a bunch of relationships and first touches, and yeah, I think you’re just gonna put yourself in a position to fail. So, most people don’t wanna hear that. Most people just wanna go, go, go, go, go.
Johnathan: I’m one of them.
Max: My buddy had the luxury of starting a very successful company before that one, but had nothing to do with the sales side. So I think he got that funding on his resume, and not necessarily the traction that they got.
And he was able to take that time then and reset. And he followed the directions that I gave him. I think it worked out for him in the long run on the second company.
But most people don’t have that luxury, and yeah I get it, but I promise you that the week or two of hard work it’s gonna take to set yourself up in a better position
Max: Is worth it than just going out there and trying to move mountains
Max: when you haven’t done any of your research up front.
Johnathan: Makes sense. And I like that quote from Abraham Lincoln, too. I mean, I am so the Yosemite Sam coming into a room, just guns blazing, and seeing you know, my thing is spray and pray is sowing spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks over here sometimes.
Johnathan: So I have a question on one important factor. Cause you’re mentioning, which was awesome, obvious AB split testing your subject lines, your copy or if you’re tracking any links within the copy itself, too.
When it comes to the call to action, and this is what we’re seeing on our end, right now. Is if we go straight for the jugular and we do those three common denominators, make the middle part not specific to them, but we can talk about like how we’ve gotten results for comparable company in the industry, for example.
And we ask them to talk to us, what we’ve found is if we change that up, because they know what we’re coming for and we basically say, “Hey, I saw some potential “pitfalls or holes in your marketing execution, “and I made a quick video about it, “are you the right person to send it to?”
We get a lot more people saying, “Yes.” to that, versus like going straight for the jugular of like our call to action. Even though they both had the same end goal, what are your thoughts on like warming them up with a smaller ask first, versus going straight for it as a CTA?
Max: Oh yeah, that is exactly something I would AB test. You know, that’s just one, three common denominators and 10 80 10, is just one way to do it.
There’s a value add, one, which is just here’s this. “Hey, here’s a think I thought you might like “based on what you just tweeted.” or something like that.
Max: “Based on a recent Twitter post, “I thought you might like this article “from Harvard Potential Beat.” or something like that. That’s a much more personalized version, but you should definitely AB test those.
There’s a conversation starter, which is, just ask them a simple, quick question.
Max: That’s another option. There’s the embedded video that you can use. That’s another option. There’s inviting them to an event, or on the podcast, or something else that you can use to get them in the funnel. It depends on your deal size.
Max: And it depends on the amount of reps that you have for the amount of target accounts.
Max: And how fast you need to move. So if you need to move extremely fast, and you don’t have a lot of reps, and you’re just trying to get off the ground, you’re probably gonna be in the more kind of spray and pray bucket.
If you’re a bigger company and you’ve got reps and territories, and you’re deal size is fairly large, you’re gonna have to personalize things to a much greater degree. So it really does depend on your situation.
Johnathan: Got it. That was actually an important nugget right there. I like that in regards to the deal size and how much you have to personalize.
Are there any, either from your own days at Sales Hacker, or even what you do now at Outreach, are there certain types of campaigns that you’ve found like, Hey, this doesn’t really, just doing cold email by itself without the conversation starter on the Twitter side or the other touch points that it just doesn’t make sense.
Are there examples of that? Or campaigns that you’ve launched recently or seen that worked extremely well?
Max: So, I was at Udomy, we were trying to get instructors to sign up and create courses. It was a very heavy weight activity, and a heavy lift.
Max: It required us, usually sending them an email and getting them on the phone. And I would follow them on Twitter, like their stuff, like trying different face time there. Use a little bit of LinkedIn, but for the most part, it was a lot more of the spray and pray bucket.
We needed traction, it wasn’t something that people had to pay anything for, it was just a little bit of effort on their side, you know, selling software, selling sass, okay, now you’re doing 20K deals, you need to put in a lot more.
And that was just one individual before, this is like now mapping out accounts. So, you not only need to know who your ideal customer profile is as a company, but you need to know who your ideal customer profile is as the employee at that company.
The job title, the function, that is gonna be involved in the decision to buy your product, your software, your services, or whatever it is. And then you’re gonna need to know how to appeal to what’s important to that person inside the organization.
And everybody has three layers. The first layer is the individual employee. So what does that person care about?
Then, you know in the case of Outreach, we’re selling to someone in Sales Ops, maybe they want to streamline their sales process, so their sales people actually do the right things every time. Okay, so that’s what that employee cares about. As an individual employee.
Then, what does the company care about? Well they care about predictability and making sure they hit their revenue number. Okay, great.
But what about the individual as a person? That’s the third thing. What does that person care about? Oh they wanna be a hero. They wanna get a raise or a promotion. You know, because they made this decision. So, how do you appeal to that?
So you have to like, as the deal sizes get bigger, now you’re mapping out accounts, you’re appealing to multiple different levels of the people that you’re selling to, and the company that you’re selling to.
And it just becomes a lot more to do, but at that point, you need to really build the relationship. You need to do more. Omnichannel outreach.
Max: So setting it up in a way where you can go on Twitter, get to know people, comment, like, share, whatever it is. Go on LinkedIn, do the same thing.
Max: Access them there. Email, phone, personalized video, direct mail campaigns with the support from marketing. What else? You know, you have chat box, making sure you have that part surrounded. You have your Demand Gen team, that is targeting these accounts.
You’re surrounding the entire account and the individual within that account.
Johnathan: Overwhelming. So, that was actually–
Max: Yeah, inviting them to events. Et cetera, et cetera.
Johnathan: So I was gonna ask real quick: so, like a nugget I thought was amazing right there, lets say that you basically try to go straight to the decision maker.
That was like how you used to do cold email, and I’m just speaking hypothetically, from anybody listening, because you know that going to the VP of Marketing, is the best. Or Director of Marketing, but lets say that you have also Digital Marketing Manager as a job title, that is obviously lower on the totem pole.
What you basically were saying, and correct me if I’m wrong, was that you can come at that person with the lower totem pole seat that he has, and go for a thing of value like, “Hey, I can help you get a promotion.”
Whereas the VP of Marketing, the copy could be more like, “I can help you hit your numbers, “or have that predictability.” ‘Cause that person’s closely more aligned to what the business goals.
Is that the correct assumption?
Max: Well, I think there’s, I think everybody wants to do three things. Like, appeal to three personas inside of every person no matter what role they are at the company.
Max: They all have to care about what’s best for the company. They all have to care about what’s best for themselves as a person, and what’s best for them as an employee.
So, here’s what aligns to your goals at your job function is appealing to the employee, and here’s what aligns to you as a person in your career, is what implies the individual, personally.
Johnathan: Got it.
Max: But the Sales Ops person, they’re responsible for making sure the tech stack is streamlined, and smooth, and built out and they’re selecting the best technology and they’re not having to pull their hair out because some triggers broke and now things aren’t getting synced in the sales force.
Max: And that’s just the employee. Everybody’s on the same company goal. They need to hit their quarter, and they need the four quarters up now.
But everybody has, different at the employee level and different at the personal level. You know, what does that person want?
If you’re trying to sell something to an individual Sales Rep, what do they want? Well they wanna hit their numbers so they can take their family to Disneyland. Or they put their kid through college. Or go to Coachella, for the second weekend, or something like that. Like whatever it is.
Max: You’re talkin’ to like a 26 year old guy from LA, he wants to go to Coachella. Or you’re talkin’ to a 46 year old guy from Utah, he wants to fly his family out to Disneyland.
Johnathan: I know what appeals to you now. Now I know how to hit you up.
Max: Yeah. Well, I’m in between those two things. So neither of those are gonna work.
Johnathan: Awh, dang.
Max: But, yeah, everybody’s got their own reasons to appeal to. I think for your point, though.
Everybody wants to go straight to the decision maker. Sometimes it’s too high.
Sometimes you think, “I’m gonna go straight to the CMO on this.” Whoa, the CMO doesn’t care about this problem. This isn’t actually like uh, this is actually very, very small on the CMO’s list.
But it’s very, very big on the Head of the Management’s list. So maybe you go to the Head of the Management, and you make that person your champion.
Like, “Hey, this could really help you do your job better and then it’s gonna hit your numbers and you’re gonna look like a hero internally cause you did this amazing job.”
Like, oh now they wanna bring you onto their team, they’ll help you sell the CMO into unlocking that budget.
But if you go in straight for the CMO, and you try to say like, “Hey this is a big problem for you.” They’ll be like, “Actually, no it’s not.” “I’m in executive leadership meetings right now, and we’re trying an IPO.” We’re trying to do something, and whatever it is, I’m sure they have bigger problems.
And they’re not getting their hands dirty or in the weeds on your solution that’s gonna help the Management Team find look-alike data. Cause the CMO doesn’t care about that. They leave that up to the Head of the Management to figure out. And the Head of the Management brings something to them when they’ve made an evaluation.
Max: So, it’s okay to go lower and build champions internally that help you sell up. You just have to make sure that you focus and spend time on enabling them the right way.
Johnathan: Right, that makes sense. So to summarize the many nuggets that you’ve dropped already is: Split testing not just the subject line, or the copy, but also the audiences of course.
Also, the call to actions of what you’re trying to do, but think of it more so that it doesn’t just live within the email world. If you wanna be able to have a ripple effect and go faster, in regards to results, you need to think outside of that and all the other touch points, too.
Is there anything else that you wanna leave our listeners with, or did we cover all bases?
Max: I go into detail on this, quite a bit, in both books that I wrote. One called “Hacking Sales” you can find on Amazon, one called “Sales Engagement” that you can also find on Amazon.
I’d say “Hacking Sales” is kind of around this, but also around your tech stack, and more kind of for start ups.
And “Sales Engagement” is for everyone and very, very deep into this as a topic. Not just email, but omnichannel, engaging with your customers’ process.
Johnathan: Yeah that’s awesome. We will make sure to but that in the actual show notes, in the transcripts. Max, thank you so much for your time, man. Super, super appreciative. Know you’re a busy guy, so, yeah, appreciate it.
Max: Any time, thanks for having me.
Johnathan: All right, thanks man, bye.
Max: See ya.
Cold Email Mastery With George Vitko
Johnathan: Well everyone, super excited to have you for this next guest. Another set of perspectives coming at you. We have George Vitko, who is a sales executive over at Reply.io. How are you doing George?
George: I’m good.
Johnathan: Good, good. Cool, thank you for spending some time with us. We’re gonna be talking about cold email. I’ve actually perused your blog quite a bit too, and saw a lot of posts in regards to a lot of meaty examples from reply rates, response rates, and things like that too.
So, let’s… let’s back up a little bit ’cause a lot of people listening might not even do outbound, or even cold email today. Before they even start about, like think about starting, like what should they be mindful of from, like, a foundational perspective?
George: Actually that’s a very good question. What I usually like to talk about with my customers when talking about cold email, because I do this on a daily basis, is I usually like to take one or two steps back and talk about the more general picture.
George: What they’re looking to accomplish and what their main goal of running a cold email campaign. And by the way, Reply.io is a tool for coding a campaign and code outreach in general, so it’s not only email.
George: since recently.
George: So in that conversation, we like to talk about, like you said, the foundation. What’s the purpose?
Johnathan: Mhm, yeah.
George: Are you looking to sell? Are you looking to engage with maybe your existing customers?
George: Or some of the people you reached out to in the past? And that kind of dictates what tools you’re gonna be using and approaches you’re going to take.
George: So it’s, it’s yeah.
Johnathan: Okay, awesome. So, like, defining your goals… I mean, very similar to like a lot of marketing things in general, right? Like, even if you’re starting… like your paid ads venture.
Johnathan: Like, what are your goals? What are you trying to accomplish? It’s cool to see open rates. It’s cool to see reply rates, click through rates. Same thing with a lot of metrics that might not matter as much on other platforms. So, that’s a solid start.
Let’s say, let’s let’s take a practical example like, you talk to a lot of prospects that are using Reply.io today, on a daily basis, what’s a common example of a business-use case that we can say is a great fit for Reply.io right now?
George: Oh, that’s a very kind of… That’s a good question. The application of a system like Reply.io is very broad.
Johnathan: Yeah, I can imagine.
George: But the thing with Reply is whenever you have a large quantity of people you want to reach out to, and if your main goal is to remain personal and send personalized emails, that look and feel as if you really just sat down and wrote that email to those people, that’s where it can be used.
It can be used, obviously, for things like sales, for co-sales, warm sales. A lot of times marketing, sometimes recruiting. We have one of the bigger markets we have is recruiter–
George: customer success people, and the first thing I usually try to understand is how familiar people are with the distinction itself between marketing on making a sales automation or sales engagement because that’s, again, that’s gonna dictate the tools that you’re gonna select-–
George: and the email that you’re gonna be sending. So, if the goal is to, you know, maybe inform people and just send them some information about your product, but not necessarily wait for them to respond because you just want to kind of bait on the line.
George: There’s going to be marketing automation where, if the goal is to engage with people– to get them on a call, to start a conversation to ultimately close them into being a customer–
George: that’s sales automation and that’s what we’re designed to do here at Reply.
Johnathan: Okay, good, ’cause I wanna talk about how do we make money for the people listening and it was really interesting. We’ve, we’ve kind of ventured out into our own journey with outbound and cold email ourselves.
And we got a prospect on the phone today in Israel, actually, so I was up at 7:30 in the morning talking to this person, kinda like mid-workout, and I was kind of, you know, apologizing for the loud grunting in the background or, or music blasting.
But he was really nice, and telling me, like, “Hey, we get about a hundred pitches a week, and I actually reply to every single one of them, because I’ve gotten, like, free stuff like longer trials when, like, that person who tried to get a hold of me went to another job, or whatever.”
And he said, like, half of them are using video in their outreach right now. So, what I’ve learned so far, and I want to hear your thoughts too, is I actually saw your bot on your website had a little good teaser question that actually, like, prompted me to click on it and open it up and it was, like, I forgot what it even said.
When it comes to copyrighting, and it comes to, you are asking somebody, and the goal is to get a sale, right? How many times have you seen that not coming straight for the jugular, and coming with your ask actually works, or teasing them into something of, like, small steps first?
George: Right, so, the main thing about sales and sales automation in general, and that’s not just talking about live chat.
George: And by the way, also have a nice thing there on your website. I was looking at your website just before this call.
Johnathan: Oh, cool. Thank you.
George: And you, you were saying, “Hey, you know, you’re from Canada and we’ve been in C– We’ve been in Canada; we love Canada.
George: You know, so that’s, that’s a personalization aspect. And by the way, the very thing that you did when you talked to your prospect in Israel, that’s actually, you may not realize it, but it worked in your favor.
The fact that you’re kind of, you’re looking more human to the prospect by, you’re saying, “Hey, I’m in a gym.” You know? These are the sounds, like, I’m a I’m a real human, which is why–
And this is, it is kinda my theory, but I always like to get in a vehicle with people.
George: And that’s the reason why so many more people are using video tools, and, by the way, there’s a video tool in our platform as well, where you can record everything.
Johnathan: Oh, no way?
George: Yeah, we have with a, with a partner called VidYard.
George: Are you guys familiar?
Johnathan: That’s what we use, yeah.
George: So, right, so you can include your bigger videos regardless of whether you’re a free customer.
George: They have free tools and a paid edition, so you can include your personalized video there and hold up a sign that says, you know, “Hey, my first name, whatever it is.”
Johnathan: Yeah, yeah.
George: But the point is, in any outreach whether it’s the live sketch or cold email, the goal is to appear human.
George: That’s first and foremost. You don’t wanna go for the sale– that’s the, the first thing you wanna do is build rapport, you wanna kinda talk to the human, you want to be honest, and kinda respective of their time.
George: Explain the conduct while you’re actually reaching out to them.
George: But also be, be transparent about, you know, here’s, here’s who we are, we think that we might bring value to your business–
George: in, in such and such a way, and, and then you, you know, gradually start building up that value. You don’t want to go for the sale, even in the second or the third email.
George: You’re still kinda building up on that value proposition, you’re giving them that value without asking so, people kinda very easily understand when we’re going for the sale–
George: especially in the first email. And part of my job here, well, applies to kind of explain to people that maybe come with a more kind of marketing, automation background/mindset where they, they wanna talk about themselves, right?
George: From the start, they wanna talk about you know, how great we are, “Here’s our bullet point list of the great things that we do for our great company, this is why you should notice us.”
George: Whereas, in, in our kind of philosophy, we try to explain that it’s not about you, the seller, it’s not about you, the company, but it’s about you, the prospect. Whoever you’re talking to, it’s how you are going to benefit from working with us.
Well, you know, from using our products–
George: from using our service, and this is how you can benefit. And if the, if the time is right, if that’s the right kinda point in time in their, in their day where they’ll notice that—
George: they will kinda acknowledge and ask you, “Do you have that kind of thing for it?” And we might not even reply to you right away–
George: We might not reply through the whole campaign itself, we might be sending a campaign of 10 to 15 steps–
George: But then, you will kind of be at the back of their mind, whenever the time comes, and that’s happened almost on a daily basis with us, with my personal outreach–
George: Here’re our replies, I constantly hear from people that say, “Hey, you know, you reached out to us before; you provided some good information, some, some… some helpful–“
Johnathan: Something of value.
George: “articles from the website, yes, you provided value, so…”
“And, and now we want to launch our cold outreach campaign. We want to start processing, we want to start, you know, sending emails to physical contacts–“
George: “How do you do that?” And that’s, and that’s basically how it works. It’s a long-term process–
George: But it’s, it’s, it totally pays, yeah.
Johnathan: And, and to your point too, a lot of times when we get anybody on the hook, it’s, a lot of times it’s timing, like, being lucky that they, you know, us being an agency and also having our software, but right now we’re testing it just for our agency.
It’s, like, well, they might be under contract with another agency, or, you know, things are just out. But no matter, even if our pitch was great, and they actually find value from it, and it’s different, and they’re more excited about us, we still have to wait.
But, that just gives our sales people a great reminder to follow up with them when that contract is over. So, as many, you know, future– calendar reminders that we can set, we see that as a win. And to your point, it’s a long-term game.
One thing I wanted to ask you, too. So, you know, one thing that I have recently been a fan of is going more so all-in on things that you decide to do, because, if there’s a chance it can work, holding back or, you know, going half-way-in or things like that will kinda put you off and find that might not work.
So what we decided to do is, with VidYard, a teaser that we basically say is, “Hey, we made you a super short video about some things that we found that could help you guys out a ton. You know, “are you the right person to send it to?”
And, so, we haven’t made the video yet because we want to make sure they’ll actually give us a reply first, ’cause it would take very, very long to make a lot of videos, even if they were just, you know, three to five minutes long.
And then, in addition to that, we’re basically saying that if they’re open to having a conversation with us after they see the video, we will give them a hundred dollar gift card.
Now, we’ve gotten the feedback from other, I guess, my marketing friends, saying, you know, “Be careful of that, because people might just want to be there for the gift card, and not really care what you have to say.” So far, so good, for our sake.
And, also, knowing how many people, or companies, also try to go cold outreach or pitch, we wanna be different, we wanna stand out from the crowd. So, we’re thinking, you know, “What more can we do?”
So, what are some really, really, like, I guess, aggressive examples? Not aggressive– but, you know, resources were there to make outbound or cold email work.
What have you found to be some great incentives to move people along?
George: Incentive, you mean incentive for people, for prospects to start replying to that email?
Johnathan: Yeah, replying to that email, because we’re waving our, you know, hundred dollar gift card as, like, a carrot too, and that might be a little bit unfair–
Johnathan: And take away the focus of what we’re actually talking about. But, I’m wondering if– if you’ve seen anything like that.
George: Well, it really depends. If it, it is a, a it is something that depends on, on a lot of variables–
George: that we have no control over, but, you know, for, for certain companies it could be just the value proposition. Again, like, like–
Johnathan: That’s enough.
George: If, if it’s the right time, offering a value, I– Speaking of, speaking of your of your videos that you’re sending–
George: One trick that I’ve seen was one of our customers that was very funny, so you– He was testing for, like, a picture, the thumbnail that represents the video that doesn’t even exist.
George: So he would do that, and people noticed the video, maybe, you know, again, that’s maybe a picture with the name of their company or something–
George: that’s very specific to their company. But the video’s not clickable, it’s just a picture.
Johnathan: Ahh, brilliant.
George: And they would respond saying that, “Hey, you know what, your video doesn’t work. We’re interested.” But that’s, that’s only to the point of like–
Johnathan: I’m, I’m stealing– I’m stealing that. That’s actually really amazing. Because, we’ve had people who reply to us on, like, the third email and saying, “Yeah, you haven’t sent the video yet.” And like, our questions was, “Are you the right person to send it to?”
They might not have even been paying attention to that portion, but I imagine the reply rate going up quite a bit with having the static image that you mentioned.
George: Right. And, obviously you want to be careful with messages like that.
George: What I, what I usually kind of preach is try to imagine that you’re writing an email, try to imagine that you’re reaching out to… to a person that you know.
Let’s say somebody, like, a friend of a friend or something, and you’re writing that whole sequence, even even though you might have hundreds or thousands of people on your list–
George: each, each and every one of them should should feel like it’s some, somebody spending their time–
George: first learning who they are, because you’re, you’re incorporating a lot of personalization, kind of, pouring into the email in the form of variables–
George: But also, the nature of the email will and people feel that, they’re very , especially in the world. People very easily identify an email that was automated.
George: You know, you might be saying something like, and you, you have seen those emails I’m pretty sure, like, on a daily basis, “Hey, you know, I read your article right here” and they’re linking your article as if you don’t know where your website is.
George: Like, over an article, and, and they will say, “I read it and here’s the proof that I read it because I’m improving on it.”
George: So back on automated emails–
George: Everybody knows that, but those people still keep doing that.
George: So what I do is try to imagine you’re writing an email to a friend, or a friend of a friend, the content will then kind of come together itself.
Like, you could be saying, in the next, in the next follow up, you could be saying, “Hey, you know what, I just forgot. I forgot to include this piece of information in my initial email.”
For instance, for us, we’ll reply, and one such phrase could be, “Hey, you know what, I just forgot we also have the integrations to the CRM and go for those leads that we know you have certainty around–“
George: We will include their name there–
Johnathan: Yeah, that’s smart.
George: And, yeah we can with it.
Johnathan: That’s– Yeah.
George: Those kind of tricks where it bleeds, kind of naturally, that conversation flows. Even though you might be the only person talking so far,
George: with the follow-up, it kind of feels natural where people might… The whole point is to get them to feel that reciprocity, kind of, you wanna credibly use reciprocity principles but you want to return the favor–
George: And they want to get back to you.
George: They might not even be the right person, but again, if you caught their attention, prove to them that you are, like, human, and you prove that you spent some time learning who they are, then they will want to get back and say, “Hey, thanks for the outreach, appreciate it, I’m not the right person.” Or maybe, “I am the right person.”
George: Or “Here is the right person from my company–
George: “Why don’t you talk to them.” Because this happens all the time for us.
Johnathan: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. No, it’s super cool. As you were talking, I was thinking of another example that I’ve received that I had to take my hat off, because I thought it was pretty brilliant.
It was, it was the, the template of the email was written as if it was an internal forwarded email from one employee to another, so the employee that received that internal email was that one who’s sending it to the prospect.
So, the way they did it was, they basically had, like… Is it called tokens in emails? Like, where you can replace that with, like, the data portion, at like you can put in the day of the week, or things like that, too. Is that what it’s called?
George: Well, in our case, there are multiple terms, but we call them variables.
Johnathan: Variables. That makes more sense, actually. I’d rather call them that. Let’s call them variables.
So, so basically, what they did was they had these emails generated looked like it was a forwarded message.
So when the person would be receiving, like the prospect at the end would be receiving that e-mail, it looked like an internal forwarded email that said “Hey, we found some things that were looking, like, not too great for Company XYZ, do you want to reach out to them? Do you want me to reach out to them?”
And then, basically, he it was just like, one email, but it wasn’t actually a forwarded email, but it looked like one. And then he would send that email to somebody else.
So there was like, internal social proof strengthening of two, you know, sets of eyeballs seeing this problem, that they then reached out to that prospect, and then, instead of a video, the offer was, like, a PDF.
And so, what I then learned later was that they actually had a virtual assistant update the PDFs, like, that that are pretty pre-templatized, like a little bit of customization, depending on the company replying, that they could see, the VA could see, when that positive reply came through, and within 24 hours the VA would have that PDF done.
So, then they could then send to the prospect, and they actually closed some pretty big names doing this. So, that was an interesting, creative way of thinking about being different, too.
George: Hey, I’m I’m gonna be stealing that as well– because that’s pretty cool.
Johnathan: Well, you give me ideas, I’ll give you ideas. It’s awesome. Yeah.
George: Well, the thing with the with the cold outreach being approached is become very common over time.
Johnathan: Exactly, yeah.
George: It’s kinda like the fashion. You know, certain things become very common and then people start realizing that this is one of those places, this person is doing that.
George: Like, in the case of VidYard, when it first started, it was an effective approach, but then everybody started realizing that it’s not– a natural sign that that has my name on it.
George: Although, people still will reply to much more than just a fillable outreach email.
Johnathan: Exactly, exactly. But it becomes the norm, like with everything, too. You couldn’t talk about fashion for myself, nor Stone, that’s in this room right now, our video guy, but just with flip-flops and basketball shorts so… We’re not, we’re not part of that category.
But, like, like we talked about earlier, too, it’s like how, how are you… It’s really hard because you can’t see what your competitors are doing from a cold outreach, because you’re not the one receiving those emails.
So, you can’t really compare, and like, how do you one-up that? How do you become more effective? I think, in the future, there’s another company we looked at called T-H-N-K-S, it’s like thanks, but without the a.
And it’s a portal that basically allows you to send little gifts, it could either be a digital Starbucks gift card, it can actually be physical things, too, that you can just have set up through that portal.
And, you know, like they charge you a little bit extra for the cost and that’s how they make their money.
But, I’m wondering, like, as these things become more and more normal, and as things become more saturated and more flooded, do you think, like, cold email and cold mail like, has a combo, like a ripple effect that’s smart?
Or what, what’re your thoughts on that?
George: Well, I definitely see the, the… the push towards the physical side of things.
George: Like, people spend more incentive. We’re not in that world, so I can’t really comment, we’re–
George: We’re still trying to focus on what we can do for the customer. And answering your question, it is really hard to keep track of what everyone else is doing.
Yeah. But, instead of doing that, because you could very quickly go insane. But, we try to focus on what we can do for the customer–
George: And we’re trying to kind of grow our expertise and our field of knowledge.
George: And, here I’ll reply what we do is we don’t just sell software, but we sell software for our expertise, or software for our service.
George: And we can bundle, kind of, educational elements—
Johnathan: Oh, awesome.
George: to go with it. So, it’s not just enough, and this is my main point, in each and every conversation with my customer, it’s not just enough to have a system like this in an organization for it to be successful, you have to, you know, employ a lot of those best practices.
How do you stay out of trouble– how do you not get into spam over time because you might be doing certain things today that might lead you into getting sent to spam two months down the road–
George: So, how do you do that? So we, we kind of work with each customer and specifically tailor to their situation and their business, where as… If you, if you do follow, and that also includes copyrighting, that, what kind of email–
Johnathan: Oh, that’s smart. That’s super smart.
George: is worth sending it out. And there are general… And we could talk about those today on a higher level.
George: Like, for instance, obviously things like the length of the email, the content. The length, I think, are the best practice today. Like, having up to four sentences.
George: And the call to action– You should have a very clear call to action at the bottom of the email that people don’t have to scroll down to, you know, to see, because if they’re opening it on a phone–
George: People will never scroll down a cold email if they see that it’s a cold email. So, and, and there’s a lot of, like, tips and tricks around the content. And, again, our main point is to help people understand that an email that looks and feels personal–
George: That’s the email that will drive results.
George: Not the kind of long and sales-y list of features that you offer.
Johnathan: A hundred percent, a hundred percent. Well, this is super cool, George.
I know we’re catching up here on the end of time, so I wanna thank you so much, and if we ever have a follow-up with more you know, in-depth questions, we’ll look at it, too. But, I’m glad we could share some ideas together.
George: Sounds good, thanks for having me. It’s been fun.
Johnathan: All right, thanks George. Talk soon. Bye.
George: Okay, bye-bye.