Cold emailing is an art. Just like martial arts it takes a lot of practice, a lot of grinding, and a lot of trial and error.
Cold emailing receives a lot of bad rep, but it’s still the most efficient and cost-effective way for accomplishing anything in life.
You can use it to follow up with job offers. You can use it to gain early traction for your business and you can use it for networking. Your options are endless.
Cold emailing isn’t the most “fun” thing to do, but it works. Most people still check their emails on a day to day basis and it’s the most efficient way of contacting a lead.
The thing is that most people aren’t cold emailing correctly. The worst part is that 85% of the people that are cold emailing are using long sales templates and screwing up poorly crafted mail merges.
With that said, this article will showcase some of the WORST cold emails I’ve ever received.
Bad cold email #1
Why is it bad???
This email starts good. It addressed me by name with proper capitalization.
Now that we covered everything this email did right let’s jump into it:
Things wrong with this email:
• Email address is from a masked domain – check out that notice on the top near the email address section. Sending through a mass mailer is an easy way to get your domain globally marked as spam.
• Opens with a standard “I hope you are doing well” with no personalization.
• The email has a complex chart in it, not something a person would add to a manual email that makes me think this is spam, and ignore it immediately.
• The background is grey meaning they used HTML to send this out which breaks in a lot of mailing clients and is also unnecessary. Stick to the default backgrounds.
Bad Email #2
Following up is great practice when sending emails. This is not how you follow up. Things wrong in this email:
• It’s the same message copied twice word for word. No indication that this is a reply.
• Sent via a masked domain which is why it ended up in spam.
• The call to action on this email is “let me know when you’re free for a few minutes this week” no question mark or reason for the reader to respond.
Bad Email #3
Got this one in my LinkedIn inbox and promptly ignored it. On the surface this seems like a good email – she’s got a solid pitch and is offering (what seems like) value.
The main issue is personalization.
She could have gone over to my profile, which she had to glance at to send this message – and easily be able to infer some goals or people to introduce me to, rather than sending that general opener. All she needs to do in the future is spend an extra 30-45 seconds per message to customize that first sentence and she’ll get a much higher response rate.
Bad email #4
This email does a few things right: it uses my correct information and has what seems like a solid pitch.
So why did this email end up in the spam box? It’s being sent through spammy mail servers again (gibasbc.onmicrosoft.com).
Gmail is getting great at filtering out emails when they’re seen in multiple email addresses. This email has no personalization and so it got flagged.
The worst part about this email is the grammar and spelling. Normally I wouldn’t hound on them for it but, if you’re going to be sending out a spammy template to what I’m assuming is thousands of people, at least take a few minutes and make sure the template is in readable english.
Bad Email #5
I barely want to write a review of this one because having this email on my screen to critique is hurting my eyes. Here’s what this message gets wrong, starting from the top:
• Subject line “App Developers Contact List” is super general, and tells very little about what’s going to be in the email.
• Starts with “Hello” with no name – clearly, this is a spam message.
• The first sentence of the email calls out the fact that we do “UX and Web Developers” – not only is this poor grammar, these bullets were pulled directly from a database. Not good for a company hoping to sell leads.
The email is in BOLD ITALICS – that’s never a good idea and a big reason why this email ended up in spam.
Reasons for bad cold emails:
When it comes to outbound sales and cold emailing, you want to first ensure that you have high quality leads. If you aren’t emailing the correct person, then your emails won’t work no matter how great they are.
Let’s say you know that you do have high quality leads and that they fit your product really well, but you’re still not receiving any response, then you know there is something wrong with your cold emails.
A great way is to keep track of your open rates to see if people are even opening your email to start with. Think outside the box and narrow down the issue. Is it the subject line?
Is it the quality of leads? Is it bad timing.
After you’ve narrowed it down, you can focus on improving your cold emails and testing different context to ensure that you are writing the best emails ever.
I’m just using sales as an example, of course the same concepts can be applied to whatever purpose you’re using the cold emails for.
Here are some more reasons for bad emails:
1. Too long – No one wants to read a mini ebook in an email.
2. Too many ideas – Although the company had an amazing product, they were highlighting too many value props in their emails, which confused readers.
3.Too much about themselves – Their emails talked way too much about why they were awesome, and listed their company’s features instead of putting it in terms of value for the customer.
4. Your Questions Are Hard To Answer – If they don’t know you, people aren’t going to give you much mental energy. They won’t bother answering “too open-ended” questions like “What are your key marketing challenges this year?”
Why should they?
The easier you make questions to answer (“How many salespeople do you have?”)
More reasons why your cold emails are bad
Bad subject lines – If you have a misleading subject line or subject line that is too generic and not relevant to the lead, then the cold email will go straight to the trash. It’s a harsh thing to say, but that’s the way it goes.
Your Emails Are Confusing – Don’t list more than one or two features / offers / benefits / ways you can help. Avoid jargon – how SIMPLE can you make your language? Try for 3rd grade reading comprehension.
Timing is off – Don’t email someone at 2am in the middle of the night (unless that’s when they usually check). You want to catch them first thing when they check their email. Use tools to keep track of their open patterns
Your Calls To Action Are Vague – ”Let me know if I can help.” Don’t beat around the bush. Be clear & direct about what you’re asking for. Instead of “I’d love your feedback,” ask “When’s a good day this week for a 15min call to discuss…?” And no more than one question or call to action!
Mail Merge gone wrong – This is a funny one because one of our customers came to us with the need to improve his emails. When I looked into it, I realize that the list that they were using mail merge on was all wrong. The names didn’t match the people at the company, so instead of saying “Hey Wilson”, it said “Hey John”. There’s nobody named John in that company, so obviously you’re not going to get a good response with an incorrect canned email like that. Lesson learned, make sure you double check your information.
To sum it up
Cold email is a craft. I love and breathe it, but it takes A TON of practice. Make sure you ask yourself after you send out a cold email, “What can I do better next time?” Make sure you write it down and improve it in your next email.
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