Email is almost 40 times more effective than social media in securing new customers. Yet less than 25% of cold emails are ever opened.
A sales team that puts the right best practices in place is more likely to see a measurable impact from their email outreach campaigns.
This blog explores 12 tips for creating an effective email outreach campaign with higher open rates and responses.
12 Email Outreach Campaign Tips for Sales Teams
1. Zero in on your subject line
For subject lines, keep them short and sweet.
According to a study, subject lines with 3-12 characters have an open rate of 44%. On the other hand, emails with subject lines measuring 29-45 characters have an open rate of only 33%.
Successful subject lines create urgency or curiosity. Creativity comes into play since advertising a limited-time offer in 12 characters or less isn’t easy. But no matter what you put in the subject line, ensure it’s accurate. A misleading subject line may get more opens but also more unsubscriptions from annoyed recipients.
Your subject lines should be influential, but also not misleading. Get to the point quickly, be succinct, and use language that drives the reader to act.
2. Get personal
The most effective subject lines are personalized. For example, using someone’s first name in an email’s subject line can boost a campaign’s open rates by over 25%.
But don’t stop there. Keep the personalization going throughout the body of the email too. Mention the prospect’s name at the message’s conclusion or a nod to their industry or job role. If it’s common knowledge via their professional profile or website, mention a shared admiration for a sports team or hobby.
Personalization lets the recipient know the message was written with them in mind, boosting the chance of a response.
3. Set up email systems to ensure deliverability
If previous email campaigns have experienced terrible bounce rates, focus on improving your deliverability rate. Tactics include:
- Maintaining a healthy email list
- Abiding by the CAN-SPAM law
- Monitoring metrics affecting your email reputation (e.g., complaint rates, spam trap hits)
Remember to make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe. It may seem counterintuitive, but locking uninterested recipients into your campaign can raise the spam flag. Don’t bury your unsubscribe links or make people go through several steps to unsubscribe. Make the process as simple as you’d want it to be if you were the one unsubscribing.
Email verification tools can also ensure you’re using a clean email list, whether you need to clean up an old list or verify newly collected emails.
4. Segment your email list
Even with personalized subject lines, it’s rare every person on an email list for an outreach campaign will respond positively to the same approach. Research shows that over half of people who unsubscribe from a list do so because the content isn’t relevant. By breaking down your email list into smaller groups of people, it becomes easier to create timely and relevant content.
There are multiple email segmenting strategies to try. Some of the most common include:
- Survey or quiz results
- Time since the last purchase
- Email engagement
- Geographic area
- Past purchase
- Position in the sales funnel
5. Make proper and professional introductions
An intro email is the digital equivalent of a first impression, so you want to make it good. But some cold email campaigns include improper or awkward introductions that can immediately turn off a recipient.
The greeting sets the tone for the entire email. Whether you choose casual or formal depends on who the recipient is, your industry, and why you’re sending the email. Whatever the appropriate tone, it’s essential to remain consistent throughout the message.
When in doubt, go the formal route. Keep your intro short (just a sentence or two), yet be specific in why you’re reaching out. If email response rates are low, research how to introduce yourself in an email to see where you can improve.
6. Timing matters
When you send an email can have a significant impact on whether it’s opened or receives a reply. For example, emails sent on Fridays get the lowest reply rates. However, data has shown that the best times to send emails based on reply rates are 1 PM and 11 AM.
Regarding the days of the week, Monday and Tuesday are the best. So if you’re sending emails out at 4 PM on Fridays and receiving little to no traction, switch up your delivery schedule to Mondays at 11 AM and see what happens.
Remember that best times can vary by industry (for example, small businesses or restaurants are often closed on Mondays), and you may need to adjust your schedule to accommodate different time zones.
7. Avoid triggering spam filters
An email subject alone can cause your email to land in your intended recipient’s spam folder so watch out for these common mistakes.
- Skip the ALL CAPS approach. Email filters look for subject lines written in this manner and instantly flag them.
- Avoid using too many punctuation marks. For example, a subject line ending in ??!!?! is another easy way to flag an email filter.
- Be aware of spam trigger words, including “free,” “bonus,” “lifetime,” “click here,” and “please read.”
8. Show them the numbers
Numbers are an easy way to get someone’s attention. Emails with subject lines mentioning a number get 113% higher open rates. There are several ways to incorporate a number into a subject line without it being blatantly obvious or ineffective.
Some suggestions include the following:
- X steps to reaching (insert goal here)
- Want XX% more (insert something desirable here)
- X minutes to relieve (insert pain point here)
9. Follow up, follow up, follow up
Without a response from an outreach email, it may feel appropriate to follow up with a potential prospect. In some cases, a follow-up may not change the outcome. But the truth is not following up often enough is one of the most common mistakes in email campaigns.
A common recommendation is the 2-5-1 rule. If you didn’t receive a reply, you should send a follow-up email two business days later. Then, send the second follow-up email five days after the last; if there is still no reply, you should send a final email one month later.
10. A/B test email subject lines and bodies
Without properly testing your emails, it can be challenging to know if they’re receiving the best open and response rates. Since there’s almost always room for improvement, skipping this marketing tactic can be costly.
The good news is that A/B testing for emails is easy. There are four main components of emails that you should test in every campaign, including:
- Subject lines
- Email copy
Try cutting the character count or adding an emoji to your subject lines. Add additional personalization to the email copy or try a different tone. Visuals can be a powerful marketing tactic and should be A/B tested as well. Try different images, GIFs, or no visuals at all.
Finally, test your CTA by using different colors, larger click buttons, or wording to see what brings the best results.
11. Value first, sales second
Providing value within an email outreach campaign should be a top priority. When the main goal is to make sales or close deals, prospects can often sniff out the desperation and quickly unsubscribe. But when the focus shifts away from sales and towards the prospect and their needs, it makes it easier for leads to see why they should do business with you.
Value could include educational content such as a video, eBook, product guide, or FAQ. You can also segment value into different categories within your email list for maximum impact.
Value-based content lays the foundation for a successful email campaign, including content intended to drive sales.
12. Have a strong CTA
While an outreach email should have a professional sign-off, it should also include a clear call to action. Even if a prospect is impressed by your message, the prospect may not move the conversation forward without understanding what they should do next.
Data shows that emails with a single CTA receive over 370% more clicks.
You don’t always have to link the CTA to a sale. Try “watch now” for an informative video or “download the ebook” for a value-packed freebie. For service-based businesses, CTAs like “book your next appointment” or “schedule a demo” can work well.
Grow your social media presence with a “follow us” CTA in a campaign.
The possibilities are nearly endless regarding email outreach campaigns and CTAs.
Just make sure to include one.
Slow and Steady Wins the Campaign
Getting cold prospects to open and respond to emails takes a concentrated effort. Even if the product or service you’re trying to get in front of a lead is the perfect solution to their needs, you’ll never move them forward in the sales funnel if they don’t open and respond to an email.
From personalizing email subject lines to boosting deliverability rates, there’s plenty a sales team can do to deepen the impact of an email campaign.
Start by implementing one or two tips, monitoring the results, and then continue to modify and improve until you achieve your desired results!
Author bio: John is an experienced digital marketing professional with Stampli. He spends most of his time testing different strategies and in his spare time, argues his findings with his dog. Zeus. You can follow him @J_PMarquez