How to Setup and Launch a Successful Cold Email Campaign

This is a guest post from my buddy Justin over at Leadfuze which is an outbound sales and marketing tool that automates sales prospecting and outreach. Justin and his business partner Damian (who was on my previous podcast) are building killer software I’m happy to use and promote – enjoy!

I have known Richard Patey for years now. When we discussed the idea of helping his audience have success with cold email, we thought it would make sense if we actually did this in a blog post. This way, I can break down best practices, share screenshots, etc.

This is that post. 🙂

You saw “cold email” and probably thought to yourself, “Is that spam?” Or maybe, “Does that actually work?”

So let’s knock out those answers right away. No, cold email is not spam. At least, not to the U.S. market. If your targeting people in Europe, Canada, and a few other countries – then what I talk about in this post is not for you.

Now, for the second question, “Does cold email actually work?”

Of course it does or you wouldn’t keep hearing about it. Simply put, if a marketing channel doesn’t work, it goes away.

Simply put, if a marketing channel doesn’t work, it goes away. Click To Tweet
Let me tell you there are companies making millions of dollars off cold email.

The real statement should be, “I haven’t figured out how to make cold email work, for me!”

This post aims to help you on your path to cold email success.

Cold email is a direct path to getting in front of your ideal potential customers.

However, most people get one of two things wrong.

Firstly, they don’t have their ideal customer persona nailed.

Secondly, they don’t know or don’t have a good offer or compelling reason for them to even care.

So, let’s break these two issues down.

Identifying Who You Should Be Contacting

The best place to start for this is by thinking of your favorite customer.

What industry are they in?

What role do they have?

Obviously, if they are your favorite customer, you naturally want more customers like them, right?

Well, let’s find them by firing up LeadFuze and putting together a search!

What industries are they in?

Let’s use Richard’s Funnel Engine business as an example for the rest of this post.

One vertical of potential customers would be marketing agencies. This is because they not only could use help, but they probably also have clients that could use help.

For this exampe, I added “Media” and “Business Services” the industries as well. In a bit, I’ll show you how to filter that into agencies more specifically.

What is their role in the company?

In Richard’s case, I went ahead and used people in “Marketing”. When you select that role in LeadFuze, it populates all the relevant titles for you. Of course, you can also add your own titles as well.

In Richard’s case, I chose “Marketing” since those are the people in the trenches and would have a deeper understanding of the value being provided.

That said, the “Owner” role also makes a great choice here because they’re looking at the bigger picture and if you can get buy-in at that level, then it’s an automatic. Add both!

Since this is just an example, I ran with the Marketing role.

Aside from adding more roles, you can also exclude roles. This is done by putting a negative “-” sign in front of it.

For Richard, say he wanted the Owner role. That includes the title “President”. However, it would also mean you’ll be adding “Vice President” since “President” is a part of that title. To prevent this, simply add “-vice” (without quotes) to the role field. This will skip anyone with “Vice” in their title.

Other Traits of Your Ideal Customer

I left Employee Size blank, which will bring me back more results, but might not work for everyone.

For example, people always tell me… “I need 500 employees and up.” Then I would say, “So if they have 400 employees and were interested, would you turn them away? 350? 300?”

At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if you’d turn away customers at a given employee size and if you eventually get to a “yes, I would turn them away” then that’s where you stop.

Some people like to think of “size” in terms of “Estimated Revenue.” Luckily, there’s a pretty easy way to calculate this based on the employee range.

A general rule of thumb is roughly $150,000 in revenue for every employee. More broadly, it can be between $100,000 and $200,000. However, there are certain industries like Oil & Gas which are closer to $2 million in revenue for each employee.

So for example, if you’re looking for companies over $10 million in revenue, then that equates to about 66 employees. So you’d want to start your search with the 50+ employees options in LeadFuze.

Then again, you have to ask yourself – if someone came to you that was making $5 million in revenue, would you say no? If not, then go ahead and include the 11 to 50 range as well.

Based on our criteria, we have a little over 17,000 leads to work with. These people have gone through a double verification process to ensure low single digit bounce rates. Industry norm is anywhere from 20% to 40%.

This is important, because it can impact your email sender score and harm future deliverability rates.

The cool thing with LeadFuze is though, your job of prospecting is officially done at this stage. Fuzebot can be assigned to this list and he’ll keep adding leads that match this criteria to your list automatically.

Now you just need a great offer to get in front of them!

Creating Your Offer

If half the the battle is knowing who to target, the second half is giving them a compelling reason to engage with you.

This is done through an offer.

An “offer” doesn’t necessarily mean your “offering” or your services/solution.

Well over 90% of cold emails are so self-promotional it’s almost as if they copied and pasted an entire sales page into their email.

Sales pages work great, but with cold email it’s important to know that YOU went to THEM. They didn’t come to you and they have no idea who you are.

So, how are you going to deliver value to them? Enough that it warrants a response so that you can start a conversation.

The goal of cold email is to help you get that conversation started. Not close them.

This is the second and final key component to having success with your first cold email campaign.

Your “offer”, should not necessarily be confused with your “offering”.

The good news is, we give you access to over 20 different sequence templates to help you.

This gives you an idea for some different “offers” you can use.

In addition to the templates, customers on the “Automate” plan actually receive on-demand feedback from our team regarding your entire email sequence.

In Richard’s case, we’ll keep it straight forward and just go with a “Consult” offer.

This is what most people use, and honestly is probably one of the least effective. People that don’t know you aren’t that excited about hopping on a call with a stranger, but hey… let’s keep it simple.

Cold Email Copywriting

I mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating, your goal with cold email is to:


Had to yell (caps lock) that for emphasis. 🙂

“Cold to closed,” is not the goal.

A common mistake that newcomers make is rambling and trying to get ALL their value points across in the email.

Short emails > long emails.

Spread out your key points across multiple emails. Having more follow-up emails and less copy tends to see the best results.

The best way to start a conversation is to start with a question. So, for Richard’s FunnelEngine example I would start off with something like this:

You’ll notice a few things here:

    • It’s short.
    • It ends with s a question (makes it easy to respond to)
    • Semi-personalized with first name and company tokens
    • Physical address placeholder to comply with CAN-SPAM address requirement
    • The P.S. asks for another contact if needed, but gives opt-out option (also CAN-SPAM)
    • The subject line relates to the message
    • Subject line is three words (2-4 work best)
  • Subject line isn’t capitalized (can go either way, test it!)

The very first sentence of an email is often what people see in their email preview and what they see first on their mobile device.

Often times people feel a need to introduce themselves. They don’t know you… they don’t care who you are. Introducing yourself is a precious waste of that valuable real estate.

Again, the idea is to start a conversation.

Don’t Forget the Follow-Up!

The LeadFuze system does all of the emailing and follow-ups for you, so now you have no reason NOT to follow-up.

With your follow-up emails, you can expand on your value prop. So Richard’s next email might go something like this:

So this email lets them know you are targeting agencies (people like them) and that you know a pain point they are most likely experiencing.

Again, the email closes with a question to start a conversation. A call is often times too big of an ask at this stage.

As long as you include your first email (LeadFuze can include previous emails automatically) which had the P.S. giving them a way to opt-out, then you don’t need to talk about it again. Technically, there’s an opt-out within the email (your first email’s P.S.).

Try to keep your emails in the two to four sentence range.

From here, you can follow-up with a case study, or a different spin on your value prop, or a link to book a call, a relevant blog post, etc. Really, each of those should be a part of your overall email sequence.

Just keep one main call-to-action for each email.

Now you have a system that is doing all your prospecting. It’s finding your ideal list of leads, and verifying contact details. Then, the system is doing all of the outreach on your behalf so you don’t have to.

Create your email sending schedule and you’re good to go!

Improving Your Cold Email Results

Once you have the campaign running for a few days, you’ll start to accumulate some meaningful data.

Your initial goal is to find a winning subject line. By winning, I mean a subject line that has at LEAST a 30% open rate.

That will take some more time and email sends though. What I recommend doing is going to your reporting page and looking at the Daily Breakdown.

This gives you insight into who is opening and clicking on your emails (not just responding!).

Remember, the first couple emails in our example campaign didn’t have a link. So you aren’t going to see clicks, but you could easily add a link as a call-to-action in your first follow-up email to have another metric to monitor to gauge interest level.

That said, people that are opening your email at least means they’ve seen your message. Remember, these are people in your target market.

People that open and click are people you want spend time on.

They deserve you going and hyper-personalizing those messages.

Some ways you can quickly hyper-personalize the message would be:

    • Referencing another decision maker at the company by name
    • Rescheduling out of office replies for when they are back and talking about their time off
    • Talk about clients they’re working with (by seeing logos from their website)
    • Something about their work history
  • Recent social media updates

The ideas are endless.

Test Everything

After 300 to 500 email sends, you’ll start to have data you can make some decisions based on.

Here are the key performance indicators that we look at:

    1. Your open rate is above above 30%
    1. Clicks in the 2% to 5% range
  1. Responses in the 2% to 5% range

Our more successful customers typically all follow these KPI’s.

I know we aim for 40% opens, and 5% clicks and responses.

These are leading indicators that things are working. If your open rates are less than 20%, your subject line needs to be improved. If no one is clicking through or responding positively, your message is off.

In Richard’s case, if we’re using “Your sales funnel” as the subject line, and if it were only getting a 20% open rate, the first thing I’d do is change the subject line. We might want to test something like, “How Agencies Can Fix Sales Funnels” or something like that.

We actually tested something similar to this for LeadFuze and it was a dramatic improvement.

Our original subject line we were using was “More Leads for {{.CompanyName}}”. We then changed it to “How Agencies Automate Their Lead Generation” and we saw open rates jump from 29% to 41%.

Go figure.

If clicks and response rates are low then your message is not resonating with your target market. So you need to either try a new market, a new offer, or at least re-write the email messages to be more appealing.

We recently came up with over 50 different things to split test for your cold emails.


As with any marketing channel, it all comes down to knowing your target market, and then having a solid offer that appeals to that market.

Once you have those two things, then it’s all about getting in front of them and scaling out the campaign from there!

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About the Author

Justin McGill is the Founder of LeadFuze. An outbound sales and marketing tool that automates sales prospecting and outreach.