Cold emailing is often frowned upon as either too aggressive or completely useless sales technique.

However, our team at Reply has proven those claims wrong many times, having generated tons of amazing opportunities (which turned into some of our most loyal customers) over the last 5 years.

One more misconception that I am happy to dispel is that cold emailing can only be used in sales. In reality, there are multiple ways businesses can benefit from cold outreach, from recruitment and fundraising to marketing.

In this article, I’d like to share our experience with marketing cold outreach, as well as provide actionable guidance for those looking to adopt this strategy. 

So, let’s dive in!

The case for cold outreach in marketing

In a nutshell, cold outreach is a practice for connecting (via phone calls, email, or on social media) with a person who doesn’t know you and has no previous relations with your company for a business purpose.

Originating from old-school telemarketing/sales techniques, cold outreach has given a head start to hundreds of successful businesses out there (including Salesforce that added $100 million in recurring revenue using this strategy).

However, there are dozens of ways cold outreach can help you grow your business other than directly connecting you to potential buyers. It can help founders build a strong network and form strategic partnerships with other business owners, find with mentors, or even attract investors, etc.

It can also become a powerful marketing tool with plenty of use cases, including:

  • market research
  • link building
  • guest posting outreach
  • co-marketing and partnership inquiries
  • event organization (e.g. recruiting speakers)
  • influencer or media outreach

Yet, there’s a fine line between effective cold outreach and aggressive spamming. Which brings us to the second part of this article.

A winning approach to cold outreach 

As with any other marketing or sales strategy, the spray and pray approach to cold outreach will only get you so far. If you’re lucky enough, you simply won’t get any responses. In the worst-case scenario, it can get you blacklisted for SPAM or even hurt your brand.

But if you want email outreach to be effective, you will need to follow certain rules. 

Namely, here are the 3 cornerstones of a successful outreach campaign:

1. Research

First, you need to find the target for your outreach – from the company/website you want to target to the right person within that organization and their contact info.

And while email finders make it relatively easy to get anyone’s contact info, deciding on the best opportunities to connect with might be a little more complicated.

This is where media monitoring comes in handy. Using Mediatoolkit you can:

  • discover the resources who mentioned your company but didn’t link back to you, 
  • reach out to those who did and inquire about further co-marketing opportunities, or 
  • monitor competitor mentions and offer better content to link to instead of their articles.

2. Personalization

Once you pick the companies and contacts to target, take some time to get to know them. A brief background check can give you enough ideas to turn a generic and boring email into an appealing and effective one.

So, instead – or better yet in addition to – using the default {First Name}, {Company}, or {Title} variables to personalize your emails, add a custom snippet to your outreach emails. 

Be it feedback on their website redesign, congratulations on their recent achievements, or comments on their recent content – this small note can make your email stand out from the crowd and, hopefully, win their favor.

3. Value

Yet, it doesn’t matter how well-researched and personal your email is. If it fails to answer one basic question, it is doomed to failure. 

The question I’m talking about is WIIFM What’s In It For Me?

In other words, why should anyone bother inserting a link to your content on their blog (and thus giving away their domain value) if you don’t offer anything in return?

So, make sure to offer tangible value with your email – be it a backlink, clear benefits of your partnership, or stellar content to complement their article.

Of course, there are more best practices for effective outreach – from subject line, email length, and CTA to timing and followups. Yet, research, personalization, and value alone will be enough to get started and slowly but steadily find your way to success.

Now, let’s put this information in context and take a look at how we’re using cold marketing outreach at Reply.

3 templates to kickstart your marketing outreach

If you want to give cold emailing a try but not quite sure how to do that, here are some use case ideas (along with proven email templates) to get you started.

Guest post inquiry

Guest posting is an essential element of our content marketing strategy – it helps you get high-quality links as well as generate targeted traffic from established online resources. 

It is also one of the most common reasons for our marketing outreach. We receive dozens of cold emails offering guest posts every month – and send plenty of such offers too.

So, whenever we find a relevant blog with a reasonable domain rating, we would reach out to them with the following message:

Hello {FirstName}

{Intro} + {PersonalizationSnippet}

Just checking in to see if you are currently accepting guest posts at {Blog}. I have a couple of article ideas that could be a good fit for it:

1. {Title1}
2. {Title2}
3. {Title3}

What I’m offering is 100% original content, based on our first-hand experience, so I am pretty sure your audience would find it useful. 

Also, my team has previously contributed to a number of reputable blogs on sales and marketing, including {Resource1Link} and {Resource2Link}, so you’ll be in a good company!

Please, let me know what you think.

Thanks,

{Signature}

There are several things that make this template effective:

  • It offers several title options right away.
  • It clearly defines the benefits of our offer – unique content based on our own experience.
  • It includes social proof, i.e. links to previous articles.

As a result, this kind of email has helped us land guest publications on reputable resources like CXL or jeffbullas.com.

Link building inquiry

Aside from writing complete guest posts for other websites to publish, you can also ask them to add links to your content to their existing articles. That is a common link building practice.

For example, you can pick the articles that link to your competitor’s content and offer a better, more in-depth, or up to date content to link to.

Another typical use case for this strategy is replacing invalid links with valid ones. And that is exactly what we did in one of our recent link building campaigns. 

We’ve researched the articles that list a specific tool (in our case – Rapportive or LinkedIn Sales Navigator extension) which is no longer available, point to an invalid link in their article, and suggest a suitable replacement.

Hi {FirstName},

{Intro}

Just saw your article {ArticleTitle} – what an amazing list! Although, it might need an update: Rapportive extension (#3 in your list) is long gone and the link to it doesn’t work.

In case you want to consider other useful LinkedIn extensions to replace Rapportive with, I’d like to suggest {ToolDescription}.

Is there a chance to get included in your list?

I will be happy to provide any additional information you might need.

Please, let me know!

Best regards,

{Signature}

For those contacts who didn’t respond right away, we used this message to follow up a couple of days later:

Hi {FirstName},

Just a quick question: have you had a chance to think about my offer?

Also, did I mention that we’ll be happy to return the favor and offer several cross-promotion opportunities in exchange for the mention in your article?

I am convinced that this opportunity isn’t the one to pass up so easily so, please, let me know what you think 🙂

Best regards,

{Signature}

So, if the value within the first email (replacing a broken link with a valid one) wasn’t enough, mentioning potential cross-promotion resulted in another bunch of responses.

As a result, the campaign turned out pretty successful. With these two emails alone we saw a ~50% response and ~30% success rate (including mentions on SalesHacker and Hubspot). And some of the successful link swaps even led to a further marketing partnership!

Partnership inquiry

Although it’s better to start small when building co-marketing partnerships, (for example, doing a guest post exchange or a link swap, as mentioned above) there’s no harm in shooting for the moon right away. 

So, if you come across a suitable company, don’t hesitate to reach out with a co-marketing offer like this one: 

Hey (FirstName),

{Intro} + {PersonalizationSnippet}

It seems that we’re targeting the same audience – {Audience} – with our products. Which made me think: would you be open to a co-marketing opportunity?

What’s in it for you:
{Benefit 1}
{Benefit 2}
{Benefit 3}

There are several co-marketing options I would love to discuss with you – e.g. exchanging guest posts, cross-promotion on social media, newsletter features, etc.

Do you have time this week for a short call?

Best,

{Signature}

Using the personalization snippet you can tailor your message – whether both of you are members of the same group on LinkedIn or you both have been featured in the same listing, etc.

You can also pick the benefits that you think will be more relevant to the specific company and specific co-marketing activities you’re open to, e.g. exposing their product to 10,000 (or 100,000) of your newsletter subscribers, website visitors, or active Twitter followers.

Wrapping up

The foundation of a successful cold outreach campaign, be it for sales or marketing purposes, is the right message sent to the right person at the right time.

Hopefully, these tips and templates will give you the foundation to get started and spark your inspiration to come up with other approaches and tactics along the way. After all, what works for us won’t necessarily be as effective for you. 

Find your own voice and tailor your outreach strategy based on the audience you’re targeting and you will be able to get even better results over time.

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