The first email campaign I sent got 5 replies.

One from my wife (I added her for the 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€‘".

In this article, I'm going to share all my best tips and tactics that will have you crushing cold emailing in no time. No matter if you're a beginner or an experienced outreach hacker, this article will be useful to EVERYONE.

But first...

What is a cold email?

A cold email is an initial email you send to a prospect to start a conversation with them. To fully grasp what is cold emailing, it's when you reach out to someone you don't know for a particular and legitimate reason. It doesn't have to be related only to sales, as cold emails are used for networking, link building, recruiting, etc.

The key thing to remember here is to message a person if there is a legitimate reason. For example, if you're selling CRM software, you won't be emailing a truck driver or anyone who doesn't need a CRM.

What is cold email marketing?

Cold email marketing simply means using email outreach as a channel to accomplish your objectives on a regular basis. As we went through the cold email meaning a few seconds ago, now we're going past sending just one email and setting up things like follow-up emails, sequences, etc.

We'll go from A to Z in this cold email guide, so no worries. 😎

7 steps to an effective cold email strategy

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:

Plus, a little bonus... a quick guide on cold email metrics and benchmarks you need to hit.

How to use this cold email guide

Feel free to jump between sections if you're already familiar with certain segments of the email outreach game.

This cold email guide will walk you through everything you ever wanted to know about cold emails, from the first setup to a high conversion rate.

How to do cold email marketing (start to finish strategy)

No time to waste, so let's crack on. πŸš€

1. Set up your cold email outreach signature, profile, and provider

Starting with the three basics.

I'm guessing you don't want your emails to go to SPAM. Me neither! Precisely why you should follow these simple three rules prior to doing anything else.

Choosing 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 ☠️
set up your email domain

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 campaign is, nobody replies to a "John" that has no photo.

set up your gmail profile

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

Set up your email signature

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

email signature

No HTML or fancy stuff.


2. Cold email vs spam folders (best practices to avoid getting blacklisted)

When it comes to avoiding spam filters and never being trapped on a blacklist, there are certain rules we need to follow.

These are cold email marketing tips that represent your outbound engine, trust me.

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

To run a quick audit of my SPF and DKIM settings, I'm using the "Test Email" feature in lemlist. Meaning, as soon as I finish writing my email, I click on "Email Preview" and then "Test Email".

Audit SPF and DKIM settings

Here's my report.

Audit SPF and DKIM settings

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


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.

custom tracking domain

Custom tracking domain setup guide


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

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

How to use lemwarm


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.

We've made an experiment with 7 email verification tools, so you can choose the best one.

Verifying emails will save you all that trouble. I'll show you 1 tool to do that easily:

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

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

How to verify whether emails are valid

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

How to check if an email is valid


3. Building a cold email list

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?

A cold email to everyone is a bad email.

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

building a cold email list

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.

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:

How to find email address on LinkedIn

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
CSV file

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.

import email list in lemlist

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.

Retarget your previous leads


4. How to write a cold email that gets 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. 😎

Connect your email account and sender address

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

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

Connect your email provider to lemlist

Tutorial on how to connect your email provider


How to write the perfect cold email?

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

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.

lemlist templates

Or start from scratch and create your own.


How to master cold email subject lines?

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

Mistakes to avoid ⛔️

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • No CAPS LOCK

Rules to follow βœ…

  • Personalize your subject line!

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

  • Be straightforward!

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

How to write the prefect cold email subject line + examples

Intro lines

How you open up your cold email is of critical importance. Quite often, it's based on your intro line that prospects decide whether to keep reading or just delete the email.

This is precisely why you want to have an attention-grabbing subject line. There are a couple of strategies here.

You can leverage common interests, pay your prospect a genuine compliment or specifically target their pain point and use their language to explain it.

How to start an email + examples


How to take text personalization to the next level?

This is where the way you've set up your CSV comes into 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 Anaelle 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.

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

Here's a quick video on how to make any of these tactics happen.


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.

Personalized videos in cold emails

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.

How to A/B test with lemlist

How to use A/B testing in email outreach

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

What should be the delay between each?

There is no 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

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 to build relationships with clients.

Follow-up email templates


5. More of the best cold email prospecting tactics

If you stuck with the article so far, a little surprise for you.

Template #1: Personalized video strategy

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

Results:

Great cold email template

The template itself:

Awesome cold email template

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:

Outbound lead generation results

The template itself:

Outbound lead generation strategy

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.

Exclusive access to 100+ cold email templates


Template #3 - Tiramisu strategy

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

Results:

Lead generation results
Cold email metrics

The template itself:

Cold email template that gets responses

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. {{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

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


6. How to send cold emails in bulk

First of all, you should never send cold emails as a blast, nor too many messages on a daily or weekly basis.

It's very dangerous for your email reputation. But what's too many cold emails and how you should send them?

You're about to find out.

How many cold emails can you 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 to 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 -> limits.

lemlist global limits

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
Scheduling cold emails - best practices

Let's talk about cold email schedules


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 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!

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


7. 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 Zapier

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

Set up lemlist and zapier

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

Slack Zapier

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

Connect cold campaigns with Slack

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:

Calendly lemlist Piperive

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.

Calendly Zapier

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"

calendly lemlist zapier

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
lemlist integrations

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

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

cold email pipedrive

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

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

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

Add leads to Pipedrive from cold lead generation

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


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:

Cold email stats

2. Β Negative metrics

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

Cold email bounce rate

What is a good open rate for cold email?

A good open rate for cold emails is 50%. Anything below that number would mean that you have a problem with email deliverability and, more importantly, that your prospects haven't even seen or read your message to begin with.

What is the average cold email response rate?

The average cold email response rate is around 8%. But, if you're sending targeted and well-researched outbound campaigns, you should aim to achieve a 20% reply rate. Your list shouldn't have more 200 prospects in it, so 40 replies is a good start.

What are good conversion metrics for cold emails?

A good conversion metric for cold emails is to hit 10%. Meaning, if you're in sales, you should be able to book 10 meetings from 100 emails sent. Marketing, recruiting, event promotion... whatever the field you're in, a 10% conversion rate is the goal.

If you're using lemlist as your cold email tool, we highly recommend you to use our Interest Rate metric.

Let's say you get 20 replies, but 15 are positive ones, others negative. You can simply tag these 15 as interested, and have lemlist report it separately. In the end, this is your success metric.

interested rate

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 ❀️