Cody Carnes Interview: Achieving $20,000+ Monthly Recurring Revenue

Created On:
June 24, 2023
Updated On:
March 7, 2024
Cody Carnes' Cold Emailing Blueprint

Whether you are a cold email marketer, a startup founder, or a job seeker, finding out the right information about impactful cold emails is very difficult.

We get a lot of questions about the right metrics to target, personalization fields, automation, and so on. To help you step up your cold emailing skills, Cody Cranes, the legendary cold email marketer, shares his secrets to +$20,000 in MRR Using Cold Emailing to Vaibhav, the founder, and director of

You will find actionable tips on how to leverage cold emails to drive up revenue and industry insights. Let's dive in.

Watch the full interview with Cody Cranes where he opens the curtains into how he's built a money printer with his cold email agency. Watch Now!

Q1: Why do people pay you?

Cody: "I think in terms of the target market and the problems that we solve in terms of cold emails–solving problems for businesses in the acquisition process, helping them acquire more clients, building the infrastructure inside of their business. I guess that's like the main reason people pay us is basically, you know, solving those problems, helping them bring on more clients, acquire high ticket clients, and then helping them build the system as well."

Q2: What are your thoughts there? Would you take on someone starting fresh, or is that a no-no for you?

Cody: "So usually what we do is like, in terms of partnerships with companies, we need to make sure that they're at least above 30K MRR or even 50K. For example, if a company is at around 3K, 5K, or even 10K MRR, instead of working directly with them, we usually down-sell. So, that's some coaching, consulting, or sometimes it's just giving them the systems and SOPs. But in terms of done-for-you services or partnerships, we like at least 30K or above."

Q3: You personally are very bullish on personalization, and I think you do personalization at scale extremely well. So, I would love to see if you can uncover some of that for us and give us secrets about how you do it.

Cody: "I can definitely share a couple of bits of sauce. I found the new software. If you want to personalize at scale with written text, I like to use or"

Cody Carnes further explained it with an example, "I just talked to the client, and he was setting it up where we wanted to make sure that we're either leveraging AI or very specific job titles. He actually wanted to target employee size 20 - 35 and then another variation of 50 - 100. He knows exact pain points, goals, and desires. So, that's a very easy way to personalize at scale. So you set one specific employee side set on one campaign and then on the other one, the founders."

Indeed, personalization can change your cold email game forever. In fact, a study shows that emails with personalized subject lines see 50% higher email open rates than non-personalized ones.

Just like Cody mentioned, you can personalize your cold emails with multiple personalization points such as first name, job role, company, pain points, etc. Here are a few examples of personalized cold email subject lines:

  • Hey {first name}
  • {Prospect's company} + {Your Company}
  • {First name}, nice to meet you at {event}

If you are looking for cold email subject lines to increase response rates, check out this post.

While talking about AI personalization, Cody mentioned an amazing AI tool,, that can be used for crafting follow-up emails to ensure better deliverability.

Q4: What are your top three cold emailing tools in your stack right now?

Cody: "I would say Smartlead is number one, then, and for the third spot, I would say"

On that note, here's what Smartlead offers for your cold outreach:

  • Unlimited sender accounts
  • Unlimited email warmups
  • Unibox or master inbox
  • A/B testing
  • Dynamic IP Addresses
  • Omnichannel outreach (LinkedIn, Facebook, Email, Twitter, etc.)
  • Custom conditional email-sending triggers
  • Full Whitelabel experience

Q5: Everyone wants to find out what's a good way to send emails–gaps, structures, number of mailboxes per domain, etc. What have you seen work extremely well for you and your clients?

Cody added, "So in terms of the domains and inboxes, one domain and then two inboxes slowly rounding up the volume usually around two weeks, letting it warm up and 40-60% reply rates."

Q6: When you send emails from that domain or that mailbox, do you send them every 5 minutes/every 10 minutes? How do you approach that? Have you done any beta testing to see if this works better than the other?

Cody: "I don't really do a lot of testing on things like that. I usually just set probably 7 to 8 minutes between emails."

Q7: And what have you seen to be the ideal number of emails to send that get some heat as a result of sending these emails? Like a break-even point at which you can call emailing works because I've passed a certain threshold.

Cody: "In terms of a multi-level, I usually do it in two-week intervals. It's like the first two weeks, let's say campaign launches. Usually, the first couple of weeks is a little bit slower than after a couple of months of ramping. After two weeks, once they send like 5 to 7 thousand, we can see which campaigns are working."

He further said, "But you could actually see results if you're sending, like, let's say the first month is like 10,000 emails total. I usually write that up into four campaigns. Maybe at that point, you can either turn off the campaigns that are not really seeing results or test the ones that are seeing results by just adding any sort of unique mechanism, maybe test different calls-to-action, different angles. Don't mess with the one that's working."

Q8: When you're sending out these call emails, you obviously have a follow-up infrastructure. Can you tell me what exactly your follow-up infrastructure is? How many emails do you send up in your follow-ups? What exactly is in the follow-up emails as well?

Cody: "I mean, there are so many different ways to test this. A couple of things that you can emulate are the reason you reached out, some sort of case study, a value proposition, a short video, or I've got into recently to create a free in-depth training. Write that in the cold email like 'I've put together a free training program and how you can achieve XYZ goals in Z days. Mind if I share it with you?' With this, you are giving them a lot of value, it builds trust, and you get their responses as well. Also, there are call-to-actions there."

Further explaining, Cody added, "And if you do give them a ridiculous amount of value, they're ten times more inclined to trust you as an expert. And then if they have that problem and they're looking to solve it, they're not going to go looking for somebody else. They're going to work directly with you. Yeah, I think that's a very good follow-up strategy."

You might be thinking, how many follow-ups do I need to get a response? An interesting study shows that 4-7 follow-up emails generate 3x responses.

You may not get a response after the initial email, but that shouldn't discourage you. Consistent follow-ups and value addition to your cold prospects can generate higher reply rates for your campaigns.

Here are few different types of follow-up emails you can schedule in a cold email sequence:

  • 1st follow-up: first follow-up message
  • 2nd follow-up: send in a new thread with value-addition (as Cody suggested)
  • 3rd follow up: rephrase your CTA
  • 4th follow-up: ask permission to further emails
  • 5th follow up: value-addition for the second time
  • 6th follow-up: final follow-up/breakup email

Smartlead lets you create the entire follow-up sequence beforehand and set custom conditional emails sending triggers to get back to your prospects at earliest.

Following up on his insights on follow-up emails, Cody Carnes also added, "Written text works. It always has worked. But maybe you want to test a small image, A/B test pitch line or videos as follow ups, not the main message. I mean, usually for the first time, I like to just make sure that we land in the inbox pretty, pretty heavily, you know, spin, text, no links, no no videos, no images, nothing like that."

Q9: Do you track your email opens? Yes/No? Why?

Cody: "So, it really just depends. If I'm doing my own campaigns, I like to do no tracking. But I do it with clients at least for the first couple of weeks. Like they like to see the numbers, right? Of course they like to see the open rates, but it's like a mental thing. So usually I have to sell them on that. But usually after the first couple of weeks I always have open tracking to make sure that we're seeing progress. Then I say to stop looking at the metric altogether."

Q10: What are some absolute copywriting no-nos?

Cody: "In terms of copywriting, don't make it too long. I would say everybody talks about it as short and straight to the point. Usually, if it's for a client, like some sort of very in-depth onboarding form, you can test the angle of going straight into their pain points depending on the specific offer. You definitely need to have some sort of market research in play."

Adding further to it, Cody explained, "You don't have to. I've honestly seen results without that, but it just helps in terms of knowing the specific audience. Usually, just keep it short, straight to the point, add a couple of personalization touch points, whether that's relevant to their specifics–job title, employee size, market pain points, niche, etc."

Cody mentioned that you can also check the spam keywords you are using on Smartlead and edit them to maintain high-deliverability. He also emphasized on A/B testing different CTAs, first lines, case studies, etc. Just don't make it super long, don't sound super salesy, and then just make the email as easy as possible for them to respond to it.

Q11: On that note, do you do hard CTAs or what's your approach for that?

Cody: "For call-to-actions, I always like to test with low friction versus direct call-to-actions. In terms of low friction, whether that's a video of mine, if I share more information or if I share free training, or even like a five minute zoom call, something like that. And for the direct CTAs, you know, a phone call or a zoom call."

Q12: Last question: what is your lead generation process?

Cody: "It just depends. It's either, you know, databases like top of the funnel would essentially be either Apollo or LinkedIn Sales Navigator or if they want to target, you know, guys that are already above 30-50K MRR, is a good one."

"That's because those companies on Clutch, are spending three to five months advertising on this specific clutch platform. So they already make a decent amount of money and they already have a marketing budget to spend just on this specific offer. Apollo, LinkenIn Sales Navigator, and Uplead are very good ones in terms of finding email addresses, NeverBounce to verify them, and Scrubby for catch-alls. That's kind of like, scraping the databases, verifying and cleaning as well. That's kind of what that system looks like, what we usually do."

Q13: If you want to give away some parting advice for people who are getting into the space, what would be that one thing you tell them?

Cody: "I would say if you're in the cold email space, leverage the cold email infrastructure, find ways to personalize at scale, using high performance scripts. And also, use the right software like Smartlead. Leverage placing a warm caller or a cold caller whether that's your business or your client's business to essentially call all leads that respond to the cold email or even open the email. That's a key thing that I think a lot of people can implement and then also leverage free training."


Throughout this insightful interview, Cody has repeatedly stressed on personalization and A.B testing several times. And we can't agree more. A/B testing is the single most effective method of figuring out the best variation of your email and it lets you personalize at scale.

Smartlead helps you perform split tests to segmented audience lists and send unlimited cold emails with unlimited sender accounts. Make sure you follow the tips from Cody Cranes and upscale your cold emailing skill.

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Author’s Details

Sattwik Das

Sattwik is a Digital Marketing professional at Smartlead. He is a dedicated content writer who focuses on juggling words to bring out meaningful content. He is experienced in well-researched and SEO-optimized content creation, content editing, and copywriting for various businesses throughout the globe. His expertise in SEO, SMM, and SMO with a touch of creativity helps businesses grow and maximize their credibility and sales.


Edited by:

Charu Mitra Dubey


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Frequently asked questions

General Questions

What is Smartlead's cold email outreach software?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Smartlead's cold email outreach tool helps businesses scale their outreach efforts seamlessly. With unlimited mailboxes, fully automated email warmup functionality, a multi-channel infrastructure, and a user-friendly unibox, it empowers users to manage their entire revenue cycle in one place. Whether you're looking to streamline cold email campaigns with automated email warmups, personalization fields, automated mailbox rotation, easy integrations, and spintax, improve productivity, or enhance scalability with subsequences based on lead’s intentions, automated replies, and full white-label experience, our cold email tool implifies it in a single solution.

How does the "unlimited mailboxes" feature benefit me?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Our "unlimited mailboxes" feature allows you to expand your email communications without restrictions imposed by a mailbox limit. This means you won't be constrained by artificial caps on the number of mailboxes you can connect and use. This feature makes Smartlead the best cold email software and empowers you to reach a wider audience, engage with more potential customers, and manage diverse email campaigns effectively.

What do you mean by "unibox to handle your entire revenue cycle"?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

The "unibox" is one of the unique features of Smartlead cold email outreach tool, and it's a game-changer when it comes to managing your revenue cycle. The master inbox or the unibox consolidates all your outreach channels, responses, sales follow-ups, and conversions into one centralized, user-friendly mailbox.

With the "unibox," you gain the ability to:
1. Focus on closing deals: You can now say goodbye to the hassle of logging into multiple mailboxes to search for replies. The "unibox" streamlines your sales communication, allowing you to focus on what matters most—closing deals.

2. Centralized lead management: All your leads are managed from one central location, simplifying lead tracking and response management. This ensures you take advantage of every opportunity and efficiently engage with your prospects.

3. Maintain context: The "unibox" provides a 360-degree view of all your customer messages, allowing you to maintain context and deliver more personalized and effective responses.

How does Smartlead ensure my emails don't land in the spam folder?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Smartlead, the best cold email marketing tool, ensures your emails reach the intended recipients' primary inbox rather than the spam folder. 

Here's how it works:
1. Our "unlimited warmups" feature is designed to build and maintain a healthy sending reputation for your cold email outreach. Instead of sending a large volume of emails all at once, which can trigger spam filters, we gradually ramp up your sending volume. This gradual approach, combined with positive email interactions, helps boost your email deliverability rates.

2. We deploy high-deliverability IP servers specific to each campaign. 

3. The ‘Warmup’ feature replicates humanized email sending patterns, spintax, and smart replies.
4. By establishing a positive sender reputation and gradually increasing the number of sent emails, Smartlead minimizes the risk of your emails being flagged as spam. This way, you can be confident that your messages will consistently land in the primary inbox, increasing the likelihood of engagement and successful communication with your recipients.

Can I integrate Smartlead with other tools I'm using?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Certainly, Smartlead is designed for seamless integration with a wide range of tools and platforms. Smartlead offers integration with HubSpot, Salesforce, Pipedrive, Clay, Listkit, and more. You can leverage webhooks and APIs to integrate the tools you use. Try Now!

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What type of businesses sees the most success with Smartlead?

No, there are no limitations on the number of channels you can utilize with Smartlead. Our multi-channel infrastructure is designed to be limitless, allowing you to reach potential customers through multiple avenues without constraints.

This flexibility empowers you to diversify your cold email outreach efforts, connect with your audience through various communication channels, and increase your chances of conversion. Whether email, social media, SMS, or other communication methods, Smartlead's multi-channel capabilities ensure you can choose the channels that best align with your outreach strategy and business goals. This way, you can engage with your prospects effectively and maximize the impact of your email outreach.

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Do you provide me with lead sources?

Smartlead distinguishes itself from other cold email outreach software by focusing on limitless scalability and seamless integration. While many similar tools restrict your outreach capabilities, Smartlead offers a different approach.

Here's what makes us uniquely the best cold email software:

1. Unlimited Mailboxes: In contrast to platforms that limit mailbox usage, Smartlead provides unlimited mailboxes. This means you can expand your outreach without any arbitrary constraints.

2. Unique IP Servers: Smartlead offers unique IP servers for every campaign it sends out. 

3. Sender Reputation Protection: Smartlead protects your sender reputation by auto-moving emails from spam folders to the primary inbox. This tool uses unique identifiers to cloak all warmup emails from being recognized by automation parsers. 

4. Automated Warmup: Smartlead’s warmup functionality enhances your sender reputation and improves email deliverability by maintaining humanized email sending patterns and ramping up the sending volume. 

5. Multi-Channel Emphasis: Smartlead places a strong emphasis on multi-channel outreach. You can reach your prospects where they are with the LinkedIn outreach feature.   With Smartlead’s cold email automation software, you're always one step ahead in your outreach efforts, enjoying the freedom to scale your initiatives and seamlessly integrate with other tools—all while maintaining a focus on maximizing the impact of your outreach.

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How secure is my data with Smartlead?

Ensuring the security of your data is Smartlead's utmost priority. We implement robust encryption methods and stringent security measures to guarantee the continuous protection of your information. Your data's safety is paramount to us, and we are always dedicated to upholding the highest standards of security.

How can I get started with Smartlead?

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Getting started with Smartlead is straightforward! Just head over to our sign-up page and follow our easy step-by-step guide. If you ever have any questions or need assistance, our round-the-clock support team is ready to help, standing by to provide you with any assistance you may require. Sign Up Now!

How can I reach the Smartlead team?

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We're here to assist you! You can easily get in touch with our dedicated support team on chat. We strive to provide a response within 24 hours to address any inquiries or concerns you may have.

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