In the world of cold email outreach, there's a lot of noise. Since almost any business and entrepreneur uses email as their sales weapon, it kinda opened the gates for a lot of opinions and myths.
The thing with these opinions is that they're subjective. Always remember, what may be true for me doesn't have to be for you. When it comes to email outreach ... there really is so much noise.
Unfortunately for us, lies travel faster than the truth. Today is the day I'd like to address all these myths that are simply far away from the reality of the situation.
Keep in mind though that this article is based on a few simple premises:
- Every business ... every prospect ... every email is different
- To have great results, you have to work ... a lot
- Email is an overcrowded channel, which makes the game even tougher
- There are useful stats and there are opinions
- Being a practitioner tops being a blog reader
So, without further ado, I strongly urge you to never fall victim to any of these email myths, as they are irrelevant to what's truly important when doing email outreach.
Will GDPR affect cold emailing?
One of the hot topics out there at the moment - GDPR email compliance. Are cold emails illegal now? Will GDPR bring us the one-way ticket to spam folder and all kinds of penalties?
No, it won't. It's nonsense.
Let's start with the obvious argument. Here's what GDPR officially states under Recital 47 named "Overriding legitimate interest"
"The processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest."
It's the same logic as with the "knock on the door" sales. You're not doing anything illegal if you think a neighborhood needs air conditioning because it's hot. You knock, you ask and, in case you get rejected, you move on to the next house. Knocking on the same door over and over again, and trying to sell the unsellable is what's illegal.
You're asking. That's legal. If you're a winner, you'll show them the value they're getting and not the other way around.
And on that note, GDPR has a wonderful intent. The problem is that we are the ones who need to make it happen. I'm not sure the majority will respect the spam code when sales pressures, expectations from the top and survival of small businesses come into play.
At the end of the day, GDPR tries to fight spammers. It DOES NOT forbid cold email outreach. And when it comes to it, I don't remember a single spammer who won in the long-term. Spammers lose when the final whistle blows. Hopefully, GDPR will end the game for them before it even takes off.
Oh, one question before we move to myth number 2. Are you looking for a secret email finder?
Do cold emails work?
I personally love this email myth. I've read it so many times. The death of email marketing, cold outreach, SEO, Twitter, Snapchat ... still counting. When you scratch behind the surface to get some context, you get content creators writing catchy headlines to drive traffic and sparkle virality.
Or self-pronounced marketing gurus talking about something they don't know.
The former is perfectly fine. When you create amazing content behind a controversial headline, you usually get a lot of attention, comments, and people lining up to voice an opinion. It's no secret. Controversy draws attention. As long as you have results and valid arguments to back it up, that's cool.
I remember Tim Soulo writing an article a few years ago that On-Page SEO is dead. It grabbed incredible attention, but it was a monster of an article. Today, I think it's under a different name.
Ultimately, things rarely die. They change. You adjust. The current state of email is that it's overcrowded. All of us are sending them all the time. The majority are straightforward sales and asks. Sign up for free, book a demo, share my stuff etc.
Guess what happens when everybody jumps on the bandwagon and starts selling. Quality of the content drops, results become weaker and people's attention moves elsewhere. Their B.S. radar becomes sharper. Go figure!
Now, this doesn't mean email is dead. It's just a tougher game that requires more time investment. There are many folks who say the average open rate is 20% and that you're neglecting 80% of your audience.
I won't disagree with the stat, for some it's true, for others it's not. But even if that were to be true, that's still 20% of the audience. If they're engaged and your content is good, what's the problem? And who's to say you can't improve that?
Sure, some things eventually disappear and stop working, but emails ... are you kidding me? Honestly, do you know one single person or a company that doesn't have an email?
Don't mind the noise, email outreach and email marketing work just fine. Writing cold emails that convert is not easy, but nothing great should be, right? The space is overcrowded and overpriced, so you shouldn't consider it as a Ferrari of your marketing. Think of it as your Ford.
The only question is which channel works best for you! Never stop testing things, new channels, and new platforms. Segment prospects and prioritize according to results and people's attention.
How long should an email be?
There's not a single proof that proves that short emails perform better and that people don't scroll down to read. There just isn't any.
Oh, and it's not true. At least not in my tests and from some of my colleagues. That's for sure!
Furthermore, people analyze all kinds of emails to defend both sides. Shorter works better for some, while others outline how longer copy gets better results.
It's all historical data and who knows what emails they've analyzed in the first place. Or if any got analyzed for that matter.
The truth is simple. Good copy works. If you say precisely what your prospects want to hear, you will win. It doesn't matter if you said it in two sentences or in two paragraphs. As long as your bringing value, you're good.
Avoid shallow statements, being repetitive and baiting people. Focus on content, forget other things.
I will say this though. Relationship selling is a thing these days. In order to write a copy that tells a story, you need some space to maneuver.
You can see this with Backlinko's emails for example. You can see many LinkedIn posts of successful people that are longer and more personal. Facebook Ads now have more copy too.
It's the story that ties all these together. And story needs a few paragraphs, so it might not be a bad idea to focus on that more.
Is there such a thing as the best time and days to send emails?
An email myth filled with subjective opinions.
"Don't send on Mondays, people hate Mondays" ... "People don't read emails on weekends" ... "14h is the perfect time for a blast" ...
Let me be clear, I am not dissing anybody. If you found out that your audience likes engaging with your emails at 15:45 on a Wednesday, I'm happy for you. Keep crushing it!
But just because it works for you it doesn't mean it will work for me.
While we're on this subject, I think this is another detail that doesn't matter that much. I've been sending all kinds of emails for 3 years now, and I've never spotted a clear correlation between best time to send and its impact on results.
On the other hand, I don't doubt that my Mondays are not the same as your Mondays. I'm just saying don't read articles with opinions like these.
Go test for yourself and see what works for you. Instead of wasting time relying on somebody's historical data, spend it on sending more emails and analyzing your stats.
Will I get better results if I send more emails?
One of the most berzerk email myths. There's no correlation between these two either.
Now, of course, you want to reach out to as many prospects as you can. That's totally understandable. But it's not the number of people whose inbox you'll get into, it's the quality of your prospects and your outreach.
Not everyone is your ideal client. Figure out your audience first, instead of giving your time to email frequency statistics. Segment them. Understand what they need and then craft your pitch.
We all work with lists from 500 to 5,000 emails. I'm not against having big lists. I'm against emailing everyone the same crap.
For example, let's say that you sent 50 emails and got 7 replies. On the other hand, if you've sent 100 emails instead, you might have received more replies, like 19. Maybe, maybe not!
But if 30 out of those 50 people you emailed opened the email, that means your message wasn't interesting to 23 of them.
Yes, some of them might not need you, others might be working with your competitors, but an X amount of these 30 are still your prospects, you just have to try with a different approach. If all 30 are my ideal clients and they haven't unsubscribed, the game is still on.
What's my point? Size matters, but nowhere near as your skill. :)
The right audience and the right message is THE SKILL. There are always market conditions you can't anticipate, but that's how it is.
Do I need to keep my subject line short?
Another long vs. short debate ... And again, still irrelevant.
Subject line for cold emails is important, but my $0.02 here is this isn't a Google Ad where you have to obey the character limit. The important variable is to make your subject line interesting to you prospect and set the expectation straight before the rest of the email pops up.
There are two factors that are more interesting to me personally.
First is the "From To" field. I think it's 10x more important than the subject line. Whenever I get mail from Ryan Stewart, Brian Dean, Invision, Gary Vee or Buffer, I almost always open it. Without even looking at the subject.
That's the power of a brand. Regardless if we're talking about the company or a person, it's what the brand does.
The second factor is psychology. Are they opening your email on their phone or on a laptop? Screen sizes are different and I think it's a different behaviour. Also, are you sending emails to their personal or work email? My bet is that this plays a role in how important the subject line really is.
In most cases, especially if you're sending your first email to that person, it's quite important. But the length doesn't matter as long as it's good and interesting to the prospect. It may make more sense to focus more on the beginning of the subject as it's the first thing we see, and deprioritize the length talk.
Are spam words really out there?
I admit it. I've fallen into this trap before. I've read some blogs, taught it made sense and avoided so-called "spam words" as if my life depended on not using them.
You know what? It's baloney!
It's not the word that will push your email to spam. It's your complaint rate, using invalid emails, misleading your audience and not authenticating your email and domain.
Everything else affects your engagement. Period, end of story.
I've been doing email outreach as well as email marketing for some of the most controversial products and e-commerce businesses. Been sending messages to so many people who never asked for it in the first place. I've even witnessed my friend write a subject line that Donald Trump shaved his head and then had a hilarious prank copy promoting his cosmetic products.
There's no such thing as a spam word. There are just spam emails.
Be a practitioner, not a blog reader
People are influenced by people. Always were, always will be.
Me personally, I love having mentors. I'm consistently paying attention to what my mentors do and I try to imitate what's good. Kinda like how Kobe Bryant emulated MJ's moves.
You can't beat what you copy though, so it's never a bad idea to add some personal twist here and there. Google did it. Instagram did it. Facebook did it. They all did it.
It's the same logic as my Kobe-MJ analogy. MJ's fadeaway is deadly ... Kobe then said - "Oh, I need to be able to do that."
To cut the long story short, it's crucial to be a practitioner and not a blog reader. Go, test, see how different tactics perform. Understand what works for you.
But just because somebody says long subject lines don't work, that doesn't have to be the case, no matter what stats that person is showing.
I will take my own mistake over somebody else's stat any day of the year.
Being a practitioner means understanding what works and what doesn't by trying it yourself. Keeping an open mind and testing everything. Embracing failures and using them as lessons to win the game.
Listening to people who got actual results in something is never a bad idea, but testing is better. Testing smart that is!