Why Cold Emails Are Just Cold Calls in Disguise

Discover why cold outreach is cold outreach, whether it’s a cold call or a cold email, and learn about a better way to engage your sales prospects.

June 13, 2017

  • in-disguise

Most of us have felt the frustration of getting a cold-call from a sales rep, or worse: a robo-call from an automated machine. Nowadays, it’s rare for businesses to engage in such selling practices, for two main reasons:

1.       They rarely work.

2.       This spammy approach often alienates more potential consumers than it converts to customers.

Cold emailing gets a similar response: Cold outreach is cold outreach. But some companies haven’t been as quick to dispense with their cold email strategies, preferring to lean on email blasts and impersonal copy templates to drive results.

This isn’t just a risky PR play—it’s plain bad sales. Here’s a look at the case against sending cold emails.

Volume is Overrated

In other aspects of sales and marketing, we’ve accepted that quantity is not as valuable as quality. Yet some sales professionals still see email as a tool to reach the masses with a few simple clicks.

There simply isn’t a strong business case to do this anymore. If your sales goals revolve around qualifying leads, filling your pipeline, and closing opportunities, most contacts on your cold email lists aren’t worth your time or effort. You’re better off eschewing volume to focus your efforts on a select group that has displayed signs of being a worthwhile prospect.

With so much inbound activity helping sales teams identify possible leads, why waste time chasing down anonymous contacts through cold emails? Focus your efforts instead on prospects who have qualified themselves as relevant, interested parties. Use available online data to match users to various buyer personas, and target them with a customized approach that includes a much more effective sales messaging strategy.

Actual Personalization Is What Matters

Online users now expect content and experiences to be personalized. When they aren’t—or when that personalization is off-target—it serves as an obvious red flag. This is often the problem with email: It’s easy to identify as cold outreach, often through the sender and subject line alone. This makes it easy for email users to avoid cold outreach altogether by declining to open obviously-cold emails.

A little personalization goes a long way, and it can dramatically improve your email performance metrics, including your cold outreach. As Harvard Business Review points out, one crucial step is to do away with an email template. Craft your own message while leaving room for at least basic personalization.

Even if the entire message isn’t written specifically to each user, it should feature a customized subject line, address the recipient by name, and demonstrate its relevance to that user in the early portion of the email body. To do this, you’ll need to scrutinize your email lists and audience segments—painting with broad brush strokes will lead to irrelevant email outreach and frustrated recipients. As you build these lists, prioritize your audiences so that your resources are devoted first to your most important prospects.

Cold Emails Aren’t Time Savers

Sure, the task of blasting out a cold email to hundreds or thousands of recipients appears to be more efficient than crafting personalized emails to targeted prospects. But it’s important to think about efficient time use as it relates to ROI.

Your cold emails are very likely to drive weak returns. On top of that, you’ll spend more time engaging with middling leads that aren’t as likely to convert as more qualified prospects found through more strategic prospecting and engagement strategies. While cold email starts out as a quick way to reach a large audience, its value fizzles out as the engagement fails to deliver.

Like any form of cold outreach, cold emails can be a necessary evil in certain limited scenarios. But for most salespeople, it’s nothing more than an outmoded means of reaching digital consumers. You’re better off investing time into more thoughtful strategies that focus on a few high-value prospects. It may seem like slower work, but your ROI will make up the difference.

For more digital selling tips, grab a copy of LinkedIn’s eBook, How to Use Social Selling at Every Stage of the Buyer’s Journey.