Cold Email Outreach – Is The Technique Sleazy or Super Effective?
What is cold email outreach? Is it a necessary technique or a spammy annoyance? And how do you even do it? Let's talk about the ins and outs of cold outreach emails. Are they really as icy as people think? Not if you do it right…
So let's find out!
SOME EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS: (0:23) Join our FREE Facebook Group. (4:28) Check out our sponsor ZeroBounce. (6:17) A chilly introduction - what is cold email outreach? (7:55) Is cold email outreach the same as spam? (8:54) Why cold email outreach isn't as 'frosty' as you think. (11:29) Why do cold emails sometimes feel sleazy? (13:43) Cold outreach done wrong. (16:08) Using social proof in your cold outreach emails. (17:44) What's the difference between inbound marketing and cold outreach? (19:38) Running cold outreach to a lead magnet. (23:51) Subject line of the week.
A chilly introduction – what is cold email outreach?
A lot of people ask us about cold email outreach. And the truth is that this technique isn't really email marketing. With cold outreach, people aren't joining your list – you're emailing them out of the blue (i.e. cold). It's a type of prospecting and email lead generation. It’s about finding people you want to work with or who will buy from you.
We believe that this practice only fits a certain type of business – certainly, we wouldn’t use cold outreach to try and sell a $37 course about how to send daily emails! However, we would use it (and have used it) for something specific – like being invited to speak on a podcast.
Is cold email outreach the same as spam?
Spam refers to unsolicited emails sent out by some sort of automation programme to people who were not expecting or wanted your email. And to be fair, the practice of cold outreach seems to fit all those parameters! Because effectively, you're taking a bunch of people, dropping them into some sort of automation system (doing it manually sounds like a lot of work and effort), and then sending them a series of emails (let's say 3-7) that they weren't expecting.
And to make matters worse, there's probably no ‘unsubscribe' link at the bottom because this isn't an email list they joined. If people aren’t interested in what you have to sell, you simply ask them to hit reply and let you know so you can take them out of the automation. So that's how cold email outreach works.
Why cold email outreach isn't as ‘frosty' as you think
Despite all this, cold outreach isn’t as big of a problem as you may think. It doesn’t have to be as ‘frosty' as receiving a DM from someone offering help with something that’s completely irrelevant to you!
And while we’re not cold email outreach experts, we have used this technique in a specific way in order to get booked on podcasts and do training in other people’s communities. Otherwise, we use referral introductions and our network of friends and contacts we've made from being part of various groups and masterminds.
It's also worth pointing out that, when we do cold outreach, we don't use our existing email marketing platform – we use a specific cold outreach email automation tool. Why? Because email marketing platforms are opt-in systems. That means that if you start loading a bunch of email addresses and send emails to people out of the blue, you'll definitely hurt your own email deliverability. So we use a specialist outreach tool and then ask people to opt into our list.
Effectively, we think of outreach as another ads channel – it’s the same methodology as running Facebook or YouTube ads, for example. It's just a different type of ad that lands in people’s email inboxes. And if people want more information, then they can take a step into our world and opt-in to receive our email marketing.
Why do cold emails sometimes feel sleazy?
The reason why a lot of cold outreach sucks is that it’s devoid of any personality – it’s robotic and sounds like ChatGPT! So whenever we do cold outreach, we drip it in personality. Even if what we’re talking about is of no interest to the person we're reaching out to, we still want to elicit replies and give people emotional value. We want to get some sort of reaction – whether that’s to say we’re fun, crazy, or even a bit extra! We are ourselves “plus 5” in those emails – amped up. And that's because we want to grab people’s attention and make our audience feel like they can’t ignore us.
And yes, we do get a handful of complaints. But that’s still good because it means our emails are so full of personality that it's only natural some people won't like them. If everyone liked us or felt indifferent to our content, it'd mean our emails are too bland and don't have enough personality. Not everyone likes our style, and if people are offended by it, that's okay – people are offended for different reasons.
Cold outreach done wrong
So why is the cold outreach most people send out terrible? Because it uses personalisation in the wrong way. If you’re sending someone an email to say you liked their latest piece of content (and you simply copy and paste the title of that piece of content) most of the time, the email will just come across as bland and uninteresting.
In our podcast outreach emails, we're quite far into the emails before we talk about the topic we teach. And that's because we want a whole chunk of the email opening to be about getting people to pay attention and care.
A lot of outreach emails feel sleazy because they’re not talking about the person or their interests. In our emails, we’re very tongue-in-cheek about it. We're quite open about the fact that what we're sending is blatantly an outreach email. And we know the person on the receiving end knows that too! So just by talking about it in our email, we make it a lot more genuine.
We always talk about selling through honesty, and so we’re honest about the fact we feel terrible reaching out in this way. But we’re doing it anyway because we really want to ask something of this person. If a cold outreach email feels sleazy is because it's disingenuous.
Using social proof in your cold outreach emails
The job of a genuine outreach email isn't to tell people how excellent you are and how much experience you have. Because everyone does that! No one would purposefully turn up in someone’s inbox and tell them they’re terrible at what they do, right? So the only way you can stand out is through personality.
And with regards to using social proof, make sure you only do that when you have the person’s attention. Think about an email sales campaign or a sales page – social proof comes way down the line. So if you start a cold outreach email with social proof, people don’t care!
What’s the difference between inbound marketing and cold outreach?
As we said earlier, cold outreach is prospecting. You’re reaching out to someone because you’ve identified them as a person who might find what you teach valuable, useful, and insightful. Something that helps their growth. But it’s still cold prospecting. So it’s great for things like getting booked on podcasts, stages, or events.
Email marketing, on the other hand, is conversion. It’s the next stage from the initial prospecting. So depending on what you sell, you’re going to want to have them both. If you sell a $37 eBook, doing outreach is probably going to be a waste of your time. But if you currently have a business model that’s entirely outreach-driven, then you’d be missing a trick if you stopped doing it. If your clients have an average lifetime value of thousands of dollars, it's a technique worth testing out.
Running cold outreach to a lead magnet
You can also build a permission-based list where you have content you put out on the Internet or ads that drive people to a lead magnet and get them to opt into your email list. This is cold outreach to a lead magnet. So you get a list of prospects, you send them a cold outreach sequence of 4 or 5 emails, and let them know that the emails are going to stop unless people tell you they’re interested in hearing more.
If they don’t, you don't get back in touch with them. But if they opt into your lead magnet and move onto your email list, then you start sending them emails through your email marketing platform. And then you turn those people into customers.
So you could have a business model where you use cold outreach to attract people into your world by offering a free resource that helps with something they're struggling with, and then you use email marketing as a conversion mechanism. If you don’t do this already, test it out and let us know how it goes!
Subject line of the week
This week’s subject line is “STOP it with the passive income.” This email was about the fact that having a course or a membership isn’t really passive income, as such. The reason why the subject line works is that, first of all, it has “STOP” in it, and the subconscious response it elicits in people is for them to stop scrolling and pay attention – it’s an embedded command.
But the idea is also a contradiction to what most people think. Why would they stop doing passive income, which is something that's really sought after and a lot of people want to do? So the subject line drives curiosity. Check it out!
Useful Episode Resources
FREE list to improve your email marketing
If you want to write better emails, come up with better content, and move your readers to click and buy, here's how. We put together this list of our Top 10 most highly recommended books that will improve all areas of your email marketing (including some underground treasures that we happened upon, which have been game-changing for us). Grab your FREE list here.
Join our FREE Facebook group
If you want to chat about how you can maximise the value of your email list and make more money from every subscriber, we can help! We know your business is different, so come and hang out in our FREE Facebook group, the Email Marketing Show Community for Course Creators and Coaches. We share a lot of training and resources, and you can talk about what you're up to.
Try ResponseSuite for $1
This week's episode is sponsored by ResponseSuite.com, the survey quiz and application form tool that we created specifically for small businesses like you to integrate with your marketing systems to segment your subscribers and make more sales. Try it out for 14 days for just $1.
Join The League Membership
Not sick of us yet? Every day we hang out in our amazing community of Email Marketing Heroes. We share all of our training and campaigns and a whole bunch of other stuff. If you're looking to learn how to use psychology-driven marketing to level up your email campaigns, come and check out The League Membership. It's the number one place to hang out and grow your email marketing. Best news yet? You can apply everything we talk about in this show.
Subscribe and review The Email Marketing Show podcast
Thanks so much for tuning into the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode (all about cold email outreach and how we do it) and love the show, we'd really appreciate you subscribing and leaving us a review of the show on your favourite podcast player.
Not only does it let us know you're out there listening, but your feedback helps us to keep creating the most useful episodes so more awesome people like you can discover the podcast.
And please do tell us! If you don't spend time on email marketing, what do you really fill your working days with? We'd love to know!