The first email campaign I sent got 5 replies.

One from my wife (I added her for test) and 4 "not interested". This happened just a few years ago.

Since then I went from "Sending tons of πŸ’© emails that people hated 😑" to "Generating 40+ leads per week with amazing cold email campaigns πŸ€‘".

This article contains all the tricks I've learned on my journey. It will walk you through everything you need to know about cold email outreach, including:

  • How to get more replies
  • Best tactics to stand out and grab attention
  • How to maximize email deliverability
  • How to avoid spam filters and land in primary tab

Cold emails from A to Z, in an easy-to-follow way.

Let's crack on.

Step 1: Prepare your email address for cold email outreach

I'm guessing you don't want your emails to go to SPAM.

Me neither.

Precisely why you should give special attention to the next four tips.

How to choose your email provider?

There are 2 types of email providers you can go with:

  1. Paid (e.g. G-suite)
  2. Free (e.g. Hotmail, Gmail...)

My advice? Choose paid email providers. πŸ‘Œ

Here's why:

  • You can create emails with your corporate domain to gain more trust
  • The deliverability is much better. Because there are a lot of spammers with free accounts, and this leads to a bad reputation of free emails by default ☠️
Cold email guide

My recommendation is to go with G-suite (or Gmail for business).

  • The deliverability is superb
  • There are lots of third party tools that you can easily integrate

How to set up your email profile correctly?

It doesn't matter how good your cold email is, nobody replies to a "John" that has no photo.

It's an easy step that you mustn't skip, so please add:

  1. Your REAL name
  2. Real photo (it's better to smile on it 😁)
  3. Your real information

How to avoid emails going to spam?

SPF, DKIM and DMARC are technical ways in which an email provider checks whether the email is actually coming from you and not somebody else.

There are two ways to set up email authentication: SPF and DKIM.

  • SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is an email validation system designed to prevent spam by verifying the sender’s IP address
  • DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) indicates ownership of the email message by a particular organization

Here is how to check your current SPF and DKIM settings. Go to mailbox check and put your domain.

cold email guide

If you it's in a red zone, here are the guides to set up SPF and DKIM:

How to warm up an email account?

It's super important for an email provider to see that you play by the rules. Especially if you've just created your email!

This is why you should ALWAYS warm up your email account. πŸ₯Ά -> πŸ”₯

A warmed-up email address is the one that has been sending and receiving messages like a real person does.

Don't worry! You don't have to do this manually anymore. Here's a painless recipe we call lemwarm.

  1. Go to lemlist and create an account;
  2. Go to settings -> email warm up
  3. Set up your lemwarm and click "Start" button
lemwarm

As a result, we will automatically warm up your domain, without you lifting a finger.

A word of advice...

IF your email account is young (6 months or less):

  1. Number of warm-up emails per day after ramp-up is 30
  2. Ramp-up increment value per day is 1

IF your email account is old (more than 6 months):

  1. Number of warm-up emails per day after ramp-up is 40
  2. Ramp-up increment value per day is 2

Step 2: Find prospects and their emails

Now I'll show you how to find the right audience and their email addresses.

And before coming to the toolset, let's step back and find out - who is your real client?

How to create an ideal customer profile?

Cold email to everyone is a bad email.

Cold email to a relevant target audience with specific pains is a good email.

cold email guide

Don't message every single person on the planet. 🌎

Instead, figure out who's your ideal client and what are their pain points. Once done, you'll be able to prepare an amazing pitch in your cold email that will resonate in recipients' souls.

πŸ‘‰ Here is how to find your ideal client with a template

How to find email addresses?

There are tons of ways to find emails. Chrome extensions, databases, etc.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what tools or sources you use, as long as you follow these rules:

  1. Don't scrape personal emails (due to GDPR) βš–οΈ
  2. Use trustful sources πŸ‘
  3. Always save results in a CSV file βœ…

For example, here's how you can find an email on LinkedIn:

cold email guide

πŸ‘‰ Here is how to find emails in 10+ easy ways

How to keep your CSV email list clean?

A CSV file needs to be formatted.

  1. Column headers should be clearly labeled
  2. No spaces next to the column names
  3. First and last names should be in different columns
  4. The name of the company should be simple, with no legal info like "LTD" and so on
Cold email guide

πŸ‘‰ Check the CSV example, and use it as a template

How to upload your email list?

Once you find emails, create a new campaign and upload your email list.

cold email guide

Name your campaign and upload the CSV file.

cold email guide

There are lots of other different ways to add people to your campaigns, but I'll talk about it a bit later.

Match your column names and eliminate those you don't need.

cold email guide

How to clean your email list?

Never send cold messages to email addresses that don't exist.

Trust me, Google and other email providers will find out super quick.

If you keep on sending to invalid emails, you will keep getting hard bounces. Every time you receive a hard bounce, your sender reputation takes a hit.

Verifying emails will save you all that trouble. Here's how:

  1. Sign up for Bouncer (the email verification tool)
  2. Choose lemlist integration
verify emails

3. Bouncer will ask you for lemlist API key, take it from settings -> integrations

4. Choose a campaign you want to verify and click on "Start". After the verification process you can clean your list of leads in lemlist automatically

verify emails

Bouncer will automatically clean all invalid email addresses in your lemlist campaign. 🧼 (soap emoji)

πŸ”” Important: send emails only to "deliverable", don't even try to use "catch all" and other types of emails

πŸ‘‰ Watch the email verification tutorial

Step 3: Create cold emails that get responses

Sending cold emails that get more replies requires work, but the formula is simple. The problem is that some people prefer shortcuts and end up empty-handed.

This will not be the case with you and I. 😎

How to connect your email account and set sender address?

There are few things you need to before sending cold emails.

  1. Connect email provider

Go to settings/email provider and choose the one you use.

cold email guide

How to set up your cold email signature?

Keep it clean and focus on what matters. For example, I use this one. πŸ‘‡

cold email guide

Yeah, I have a weird name, so need an example on how to pronounce it. πŸ˜…

Why it's important to set up a custom tracking domain?

You need this for two reasons. To track clicks and opens, but also to ramp up your deliverability.

cold email guide

πŸ‘‰ Here is how to do it

How to write the perfect cold email?

Click on "Create your first campaign" and name your campaign:

cold email guide

Once you add people, you can start writing.

If you're using emails, you can opt for one of our many templates in the gallery.

cold email guide

Or start from scratch and create your own.

How to master cold email subject lines?

Subject line is one of the key factors based on which people decide whether to open your email or not.

Mistakes to avoid ⛔️

  1. Never send tricky subject lines!

For example, "very disappointed". And in the email you write "very disappointed that we haven't talked before". You will have 100% open rate and 0% positive reply rate.

2. Β Don't choose overused subject lines!

A few years ago, every 2d email had "Quick question" subject line. In the beginning it worked, but then everyone started using it and boom... now it's a bad subject line.

3. Β No CAPS LOCK

Rules to follow βœ…

  1. Personalize your subject line!

Use person's industry or any other tag that's relevant to the prospect.

2. Be straightforward!

For example, if you're reaching out to a company who's hiring "SEOs", just pick "SEO vacancy ideas".

πŸ‘‰ Here are the list of cold emails with killer subject lines

How to take text personalization to the next level?

This is where the way you've set up your CSV comes in play.

For example, the same way you pull the {{firstName}} tag from your list, you can pull an {{introLine}} or a {{CTA}}. Have unique tags for every prospect.

For instance, Vuk created a strategy he labeled as "Tiramisu", that recently got him a 91% reply rate. Text personalization only.

Pro tip:
Amazing way to personalize text based on the info you have about people. 
For example "Hi {{fistName}}" if the location is the USA and "Bonjour 
{{firstName}}" if location is France. 

Here is a quick video by Vuk on how to set it up πŸ‘‡

How to create personalized images for your cold emails?

lemlist goes far beyond text personalization.

Of course, it's cool to dynamically update text tags, but what is even more insane is to achieve the same outcome with images.

Like thisπŸ‘‡

cold email guide

The possibilities are endless as you can:

  • Customize any text on images
  • Add screenshots of people's websites
  • Add logos of their companies
  • Create personalized video thumbnails

To start, click on the "Add image" button to create your own dynamic image.

lemlist personalized images

For example, I did this:

cold email guide

And this is how my email would look like if I sent it to Tim from Apple:

cold email guide

How to boost your conversions with dynamic landing pages?

You're impressed by personalized images?

I have something even better! Dynamic landing pages.

You can customize them with videos, texts, logos, calendly links and pop-ups. 🎯

Everything works automatically, of course! πŸ€–

For example, I recorded a quick video and combined it with lemlist's dynamic landing page feature. This strategy is called personalized video thumbnail and it's superb.

dynamic landing page

This unique feature of lemlist got me a 56% reply rate.

Check the video to find out how to set it up:


How to A/B test your cold emails?

If you're not sure what will work better for your audience, run an A/B test.

For example, if you have two versions of the first email, tell lemlist to split test it. One half of your audience will get version 1, the other version 2.

cold email guide

How to send a follow-up email after no response?

What should be the delay between each?

There is no the right answer, because people are different. However, here's the framework we use:

  • 2-day delay between email 1 and 2
  • 3-day delay between email 2 and 3
  • 4-day delay between email 3 and 4
cold email guide

How many follow-ups to send? It depends on the type of campaign:

  1. If it's a sales oriented campaign - 4 emails
  2. If it's partnership oriented campaign - 2 emails

The reason why we do it like this is because we don't want to be too pushy. The goal is build relationships with clients.

πŸ‘‰ Follow-up email templates

How many cold emails you can send per day?

Let's start with limits.

It's a tricky question! Google and other email providers have their own algorithms and it's hard say something with a 100% guarantee.

Based on our experience, there are rules that you need to follow:

  1. 70-80 emails per day if your email is new (including lemwarm emails)
  2. 100-120 emails per day if your email is old (including lemwarm emails)

You can set it up by going to settings -> email health.

cold email guide

Scheduling cold emails - best practices

The first thing you should do is to schedule campaigns according to your audience's time zone.

When it comes to my schedule, it looks like this.

  1. No weekends
  2. European working hours - since I can handle all the responses
  3. 100 emails / day - I don't want to blast a lot
cold email guide

How to send cold emails?

Never use email marketing tools to send cold emails. The reason why is due to the fact they send blasts. Hundreds and thousands of emails at the same time.

You want your cold email tool to spread emails out, sending them one by one. That way, you're mimicking the human behavior and maximizing your deliverability.

That's one of the best things with lemlist. It connects with your email provider naturally and cold emails are being sent throughout a few hours or the entire day, according to your schedule. No blasts!

πŸ‘‰ Need more info about why optimal sending is important? Read this

Step 4: Understanding cold email metrics

How to analyze whether your cold emails are good or not?

That's where open, click, reply and bounce rates come into play. But, you also want to comprehend the context of what they are telling you.

Let me explain.

  1. Positive metrics

They show how many people opened your emails, clicked on links, replied to you and were interested:

2. Β Negative metrics

They show how many emails were failed when sent, the bounce rate, and the amount of "not interested" leads:

Open rates

It shows the % of people who opened your email.

Your open rate should be 50%+. If it's less, check your deliverability before you spend time worrying about subject lines.

cold email KPIs

Why? Because the problem might be that people are not seeing your emails to begin with.

Click rates

Totally depends on the goal of your campaign. Normally, you should aim at 40%+.

cold email KPIs

πŸ‘‰ Number one strategy to crush your click rate

Reply rates

A good reply rate starts at 8%. If you see lower performance, focus on:

  1. More personalization, less generic templates
  2. Research and targeting the right audience
cold email KPIs

Interested rate

You can manually mark people who replied as "interested" or "not interested".

cold email KPIs

Bounce rate

Make sure your bounce rate is below 5%.

If it's higher, start verifying your emails before sending. Otherwise, you'll ruin your reputation.

cold email KPIs

πŸ‘‰ If you want to have 0 bounce rate, read this deliverability checklist.

Step 5: Get inspired by best-in-class cold email templates

I know that it's hard to send cool cold emails from day one. But, I do really want you to be successful in it, so I'll share a few cold email templates that will inspire you to get some amazing results.

(Please don't copy, adapt it to your audience)

But that's not all.

We've made a HUB where lemlisters share the most successful cold email campaigns they've sent.

cold email templates

Here's my top 3.

Template #1: Personalized video strategy

This is the template by Nadja and it's really cool.

Results:

cold email template

The template itself:

Let's find out why this template worked:

  1. Personalized ice-breaker

Nadja targeted a specific group of people - "growth hackers"... who wrote something on LinkedIn during the last 7 days. It's much better than to say "Let's connect".

2. Personalized video βœ…

Personalization is key if you want to grab attention. When you see that Nadja prepared a video specifically for you, you feel appreciated and that's a huge reason to watch it.

Template #2 - Coffee meeting strategy

The story of how Heather McMillan increased her reply rate using lemlist's coffee cup email template.

Results:

cold email template

The template itself:

cold email template

Let's find out why this template worked:

1. Genuine compliments instead of fake flattery

If you want to build genuine relationships, give genuine compliments that are unique to each person on your list.

2. It's always a good idea to be funny and kind
‍
Relying on a more friendly approach in sales brings superb results in the long run. What's more, humor was always a great ice breaker that makes the conversation more casual.

3. The power of coffee cold email template
‍
Coffee template grabs people's attention and first names are dynamically updated. Helen adjusted it to her own needs and for her step 1 email, you can see it's all about her prospects and not her product.

Template #3 - Tiramisu strategy

This the Tiramisu template by our Head of Growth - Vuk.

Results:

Tiramisu cold email
Tiramisu cold email

The template itself:

Let's find out why this template worked:

  1. {{Tiramisu}} - a genuine compliment for that person

In most cases, it consisted of 1-3 sentences where he'd comment on their recent work and add another sentence on why G and Vuk admire that person

2. Β {{Tiramisu2}} - unique topic proposal

In other words, each guest had a dedicated, well-researched episode.

3. Show what's in it for them

4. For credibility purposes

5. Simple call-to-action so that prospects don't have to think too much

This campaign lets us make cool webinars with people like Tim Soulo, Aaron Ross, Rand Fishkin and others...

That you can see in our closed community - The Sales Automation Family

πŸ‘‰ If you want to know how to write Tiramisu emails, check this guide

Step 6: Building advanced sales workflows

I'll talk here about three cool lemlist integrations:

  1. Google Sheet
  2. Slack
  3. CRM (the example will be with Pipedrive)

Google Sheet <> lemlist integration

Lots of people use Google Sheets. And I'm 90% sure you do too.

You can create a campaign in lemlist and automatically send emails to new people from a Google spreadsheet.

Here is a quick video by Vuk:


Instant reaction on every lead with Slack integration

Every time we get a new reply from a sales campaign, we get an instant Slack notification.

We use Zapier to make it work and the whole workflow will look like this:

To set this up, sign up to Zapier and create a trigger - "New email activity" in lemlist.

lemlist integrations

Choose the campaign you want to keep an eye on and "Email replied" as a trigger.

lemlist integrations

Choose an action "Send a channel message" in Slack.

lemlist integrations

Choose the channel and add the information that bots will send to the channel.

lemlist integrations

Save and run this integration.

The smartest way to handle your clients with CRM integration

Ok, you made an amazing cold email sequence.

You got dozens of replies.

Now you need to connect it with your CRM.

I'll show you an advanced example of it:

  1. You sent a campaign with Calendly link in it
  2. Add people who picked a time in Calendly to your CRM (I prefer Pipedrive)
  3. Stop sending next emails in lemlist

The Zap will look like this:

Pipedrive lemlist hacks

Here's how to set it up:

1. Go to Zapier and choose a trigger "Invitee created in Calendly",

This means Zapier will work for those who picked a slot on your Calendly link.

Pipedrive lemlist hacks

2. Stop a campaign for this specific person (so he/she won't receive follow-ups since they booked a time). Just pick lemlist and "Stop emailing a Buddy-to-be in a campaign"

Pipedrive lemlist hacks

3. Define the fields "email" and "campaign" to exclude people.

It's super easy to do:

  1. Choose the email that came from Calendly
  2. Select the name of your lemlist campaign
Pipedrive lemlist hacks

3. Β Create a new person & new deal in Pipedrive.

Pick "Pipedrive" as an app and the new action "Create Person".

4. Choose custom variables that will be added to your Pipedrive record.

  1. Name (from Calendly)
  2. Email (from Calendly as well)
Pipedrive lemlist hacks

5. Create a deal in Pipedrive with the person you created on the previous step

Pipedrive lemlist hacks

Everyone who books a call with you will be added to Pipedrive automatically (and don't worry, they won't get any wrong emails).

Bottom line


Now you know everything to start generating lots of leads with your cold emails.

If you liked this article, please share it with your friends and colleagues ❀️