What is Cold Email? A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners in 2024 

15
Min
Created On:
January 19, 2024
Updated On:
February 5, 2024
what is cold email

Cold emails are unsolicited email messages, which means every time you send a cold message, to the recipient, it’s an unexpected conversation.

This is where cold emails become such a big challenge. Firstly, the marketers must ensure the “unexpected” email doesn’t turn into an unwanted message. Secondly, pitching a product/service without writing a sales pitch-y email. Thirdly, finding the right person at the right time. And, the list goes on.

Keeping the common concerns of beginner outbound marketers, here’s a detailed cold email guide.  

What is Cold Email

A cold email is an email sent to a recipient with whom you had no prior contact. Cold emails are mostly sent for sales purposes, targeting potential customers. 

Cold emailing includes creating a lead list of potential customers, creating personalized email sequences, and using a cold email tool to push these emails.  

Cold Email v/s Email Marketing

Cold emailing and email marketing share the commonality of using emails as a means of communication, but they differ in their approach and purpose. Here are three major differences between the two:

Audience Familiarity

  • Cold Emailing: This involves reaching out to individuals or businesses with whom you have had no prior contact. The recipients are not necessarily aware of your brand or have not given explicit permission to be contacted.
  • Email Marketing: Targets an audience that has already shown interest in your brand or has subscribed to receive emails from you. The recipients are typically part of your existing customer base or have willingly opted in to receive communication.

Permission and Opt-in

  • Cold Emailing: This often involves sending emails to a purchased or sourced list of contacts who have not specifically agreed to receive communications from your business. This method can raise issues related to spam and may lead to a lower response rate.
  • Email Marketing: This relies on the concept of permission marketing, where recipients have given explicit consent to receive emails from you. This is usually achieved through opt-in processes, such as newsletter sign-ups or account registrations.

Relationship Building

  • Cold Emailing: Primarily focuses on initiating contact and generating leads from individuals or businesses that may not be familiar with your products or services. The goal is often to create awareness and interest from a new audience.
  • Email Marketing: Emphasizes building and nurturing relationships with existing customers or prospects who have shown an interest in your brand. The focus is on delivering relevant and valuable content to maintain engagement, encourage repeat business, and foster brand loyalty.

Goal

  • Cold Emailing: Primarily aims to initiate a new relationship, generate leads, or create awareness among a target audience that may not be familiar with the sender's products/services.
  • Email Marketing: Often focuses on building and nurturing existing relationships, driving customer loyalty, promoting products/services to an engaged audience, and encouraging repeat business.

In summary, while both cold emailing marketing and email marketing involve using emails for communication, the major differences lie in audience familiarity, permission and opt-in practices, and the overall approach to building relationships with recipients. 

Cold emailing is more about initiating contact with new prospects, whereas email marketing is centered around engaging with an existing audience that has willingly opted in.

Why You Should Cold Email | Cold Email Success Stories

A marketer should choose cold emailing for business when seeking to reach a targeted audience and initiate connections with potential prospects. Cold emailing is effective for generating leads, introducing products or services, and fostering business relationships. It is particularly valuable when a marketer is

  • Short in budget
  • Has time constraints for inbound marketing strategies
  • Small team

Cold emailing allows marketers to tailor messages, track responses, and personalize outreach efforts, making it a strategic choice for businesses aiming to expand their reach, establish brand presence, and drive engagement in a cost-efficient and scalable manner.

Five Element, a lead gen agency, booked twenty-plus meetings within the first 900 initial emails. They are a burning example of how outreach emails can bring significant results without spending a fortune. 

Another lead gen agency, Wind Growth, increased a client's potential annual revenue from $800K to $4-5M in just 1.5 months.

If done right, email outreach can take a business to unimaginable heights. 

How to Send Cold Emails? [In 7 Steps]

Sending cold emails requires careful planning and execution to be effective and comply with relevant laws and regulations. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to send cold emails:

Step 1: Purchase Domains

When reaching out to cold prospects through email, it's crucial to have multiple domains in your email infrastructure to minimize the risk of blacklisting and ensure better deliverability. For bulk contacts, it's advisable to limit the number of emails sent per address to fewer than 50. 

To mitigate risks, it's suggested not to exceed 3 email accounts per domain, preventing potential issues if a domain is blacklisted. Therefore, purchasing multiple secondary domains before initiating cold campaigns is a must.

To determine the required number of secondary domains for a cold email campaign, divide the total number of emails (you want to send) by 50 to get the needed email accounts, and then divide the email accounts by 3 to determine the number of domains.

Consider various factors such as price, registration duration, transfer ease, expiration policies, and additional services when choosing secondary domains. Reliable domain sellers include GoDaddy, Cloudflare, Hostgator, and CrazyDomains.

For convenience, set up 301 Redirects after purchasing secondary domains. Select an Email Service Provider (ESP) to create email accounts/addresses (mailboxes) and purchase domains. Gmail and Outlook are highly recommended ESPs for cold emailing due to their better deliverability. However, it's advised to avoid using Zoho for cold email campaigns.

Step 2: Complete Technical Set-Up

Technical setup is crucial for successful cold email campaigns as it ensures proper email authentication, reducing the risk of emails being marked as spam. MX, SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records enhance deliverability, while email forwarding centralizes responses. A well-configured setup enhances credibility, improves inbox placement, and helps maintain efficient communication throughout the campaign.

To set up the technical aspects for sending cold emails, first, focus on email authentication protocols:

MX (Mail Exchange) Record

MX (Mail Exchange) records specify mail servers responsible for receiving emails on behalf of a domain. They point to the mail server hostname and include a priority value, determining the order of preference if multiple mail servers are listed.

Follow the links below and follow the instructions for MX record setup. 

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) Record

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) records prevent email spoofing by specifying authorized mail servers for a domain. They contain a list of approved IP addresses or hostnames, helping recipients verify the legitimacy of emails sent on behalf of that domain.

Go to the links below and follow the instructions for SPF Record setup. 

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) Record

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) records enhance email authenticity by associating a domain with an email. This involves publishing public keys in DNS, allowing recipients to verify that the email was genuinely sent by the domain owner, and ensuring message integrity and origin authentication.

Go to the links below and follow the instructions for DKIM Record setup. 

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) Record

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) records specify how a recipient's email server should handle messages that fail SPF or DKIM checks. They also provide a reporting mechanism for senders to receive feedback on email authentication failures, enhancing email security and deliverability.

Go to the links below and follow the instructions for DMARC Record setup. Before you do the Gmail DMARC setup, read this

Next, set up email forwarding in Gmail and Outlook to direct all the emails in one place. 

Email Forwarding 

Email forwarding is a process that redirects incoming emails from one email address to another. Cold email marketers redirect email messages from multiple accounts and forward them to specific emails automatically to designated recipients.

Email forwarding is vital for successful cold email campaigns as it centralizes responses, ensuring efficient communication. This setup prevents missed opportunities, delays, and confusion by consolidating all replies and inquiries in one place, streamlining the outreach process, and enhancing campaign effectiveness.

Read How To Automatically Setup Email Forwarding in Gmail, Outlook & Namecheap for step-by-step process. 

Step 3: Connect Email Accounts to a Cold Email Tool

Once you’re done with the technical setup, connect your email accounts with the cold email tool you’ve subscribed for. 

For convenience, subscribe to a cold email software in which you can add bulk email accounts too. 

In Smartlead, you can add bulk email accounts in just a few steps. 

Read Bulk Add Email Account to get the technical steps. 

Step 4: Warm Up the Email Accounts

Warming up email accounts before sending bulk cold emails is crucial to establishing a positive sending reputation. Tools like Smartlead come with an in-built ramp-up feature that gradually increases warm-up email volume, builds trust with ISPs, mitigates the risk of being marked as spam, and improves overall deliverability for successful email campaigns.

Smartlead uses an advanced system that replicates authentic user interactions through actions like sending, opening, saving from spam, and replying. By emulating genuine user behavior, Smartlead’s warming-up feature helps you establish a positive reputation for your email account.

It’s recommended to initiate the warm-up process by sending 5 emails per day per account, gradually increasing with a ramp-up of 5 and aiming for a 30% reply rate. After two weeks, one can escalate the warm-up volume to 40 emails per day per account, targeting a higher 70% reply rate during outreach. 

The maximum recommended warm-up email volume is 50 per day, maintaining a reply rate below 60%.

Here’s a step-by-step process of warming up email accounts. I am using Smartlead to demonstrate the process. 

  • Open the cold email software (here, it’s Smartlead) and go to the “Email Accounts” tab from the main menu. 
Warm Up Process at Smartlead
  • Next, click on the email address you want to warm up.
  • Once you’ve opened the email account, go to the warm-up tab.
  • Now fill in the configuration details. Switch on the “email warm enabled”. 
  • Fill in the “total number of warm up emails per day”. If you’re just starting, we recommend starting with 4-8 warm-up emails per day. After two weeks, you can increase the warm-up volume to 20-30 emails per day per account.
  • Next, switch on the “Daily Rampup” button. It will naturally progress the number of emails you send each day. It will prevent jump-scaring the recipients' ESPs with bulk messages. 
  • Next, set the “Randomise number of warm-up emails per day”. It’s the maximum number of emails that could be sent via this email account per day. Start with as small as 4-8 warm-up emails per day and increase gradually. 
  • Set the reply rate for your warm up emails. Start with a target reply rate of 30%. After two weeks, you can increase the warm-up volume to 20-30 emails per day per account, with a higher target reply rate of 70% when engaging in outreach.
  • Last step: set a custom warm-up identifier tag. 

****The warmup tag identifier in Smartlead.ai is a unique 2-word phrase assigned to each mailbox in your account. This identifier helps to filter out warm-up emails effectively.


  • Now, enable the auto-adjust warmup/sending ratio and click on the “Save” button. This is how you can warm up an email account. If you have used the warmup service before, click the “Update” button.

Track the performance of the email warmups from the metrics dashboard to see if there are any deliverability issues. 

In Smartlead, once you click on a Mailbox from the “Email Accounts” Section, click on the Overview tab to see email warmup progress data. 

In this dashboard, you can see how many warmup emails were sent, how many landed in recipients’ inboxes, and how many warmup emails were saved from spam folders. 

For example, in the above image, you can see that  11 warmup emails were sent, out of which 9 warmup emails landed in the inbox and 2 were saved from spam.  

You can also check the Inbox vs. Spam score to understand what percentage of your emails are landing in the primary inbox.

Step 5: Create a Lead List

A lead list for a cold email campaign is a thoughtfully curated compilation of potential recipients aligned with the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). This list comprises contacts targeted for cold emails. Email finding tools are commonly used by marketers to construct and refine these lead lists.

Creating a successful lead list for cold email campaigns requires careful planning and the utilization of various tools and strategies. You can streamline this process by using Smartlead, as it comes with native integrations with a popular email scrapper like Clay. In Addition, Smartlead offers integration with another popular SaaS platform, ListKit, which offers verified B2B lead lists. Finding a tool in which you can both create lead lists and send cold email campaigns will save you time and money. Check out Smartlead to try to build lead lists using the Clay integration and send cold email campaigns. 

Alternatively, databases such as Apollo.io serve as extensive repositories of customer information, including industry details, contact information, company size, locations, and performance metrics. Filtering and searching through databases help identify potential customers aligning with the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Step 6: Craft Email Sequence

Crafting a killer cold email involves using a template, a deep understanding of buyer personas and the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), and adhering to fundamental DOs and DON'Ts of cold email copywriting, like keeping the email body text-based, etc.

Here’s an example:

Hello Vaibhav, 

Aveno Marketing achieved something incredible- 30+ meetings in just 3 weeks!

Here’s how:

- Reached out to tons of leads effortlessly with unlimited emails.

- Efficiently managed all their leads using a unified inbox.

- Saved 20 hours/week by categorizing leads based on their intent using AI.

Curious to know how you can achieve the same?

{Professional Signature}

The purpose is to intrigue the recipient to read it till the end and take the desired action. 

Follow-Ups

Although study shows 80% of sales take place between the 5th and 12th follow-up emails, I recommend limiting to sending only 3 to 4 emails.

Keep a healthy interval between each follow-up email. Refrain from sending too many follow-up emails. At Smartlead, we follow the below routine. 

  • First follow-up - 2 days after sending the cold email
  • Second follow-up - 4 days after sending the cold email
  • Third follow-up - 5 days after sending the cold email
  • Fourth follow-up - 7 days after sending the cold email

Things to keep in mind when crafting a cold email

Short, Plain Text Emails Only: 

Craft concise, plain-text emails under 150 words for initial outreach. Steer clear of images to prevent spam triggers. In follow-ups, consider adding images once the inbox is accustomed to your email address, keeping paragraphs brief for readability.

No Links: Avoid including links in cold emails, as prospects often view them as suspicious. Refrain from adding any URLs to enhance trust and encourage engagement without triggering spam filters.

Add Unsubscription Text, Not Link: Include unsubscription text at the bottom, such as "Please respond with 'not interested' if this isn't for you." While GDPR compliance may require an unsubscribe link, encouraging leads to reply directly can boost response rates and improve deliverability without relying on a link.

Avoid Spam Trigger Keywords: Steer clear of spam trigger keywords and all caps in both the subject line and email body. Opt for a conversational tone to align with Natural Language Processing algorithms. Use Smartlead's "spam checker" to identify potential issues and refine the email copy accordingly.

Step 7: Launch the Cold Email Campaign

A cold email campaign typically consists of a targeted list of prospects and an email sequence. It also includes personalized content, segmentation based on recipient characteristics, and analytics for tracking performance and optimizing outreach efforts.

Tips for Launching a Successful Campaign

  • Limit sending to 36-50 messages daily per email address. 
  • Establish only three mailboxes per domain and maintain 5 to 10 domains per workspace/tenant. Monthly mailbox rotation is essential; for instance, use domains A, B, C one month and D, E, F the next. 
  • Move unsubscribed leads to a global DNC to halt future messages. 
  • Ensure a bounce rate below 3%. 
  • Track only 1/10th of sent emails, and include the unsubscribe link in header tags, even if present in the email body. 
  • Avoid sending cold emails to personal Gmail accounts.

How to Launch a Cold Campaign

To launch a campaign, it’s a must to use cold email software. Here’s a step-by-step process to do it. I am using Smartlead to show this process:

  • Upload the Lead List in CSV Format: Log in to the cold email tool you’re using, and click on “Email Campaign” from the main menu. Next, go to the “Add Campaign” option. 
  • Upload the lead list directly in CSV format or import it from the CRM if you’re using any. 
  • Write the Email Sequence: In this step, you write the email body and subject line, and set the follow-ups for your cold email campaign. 
  • On Smartlead, there’s a “spam checker” that displays the words or terms that are likely to alert spam filters.
  • Do A/B Testing: A/B testing allows you to test different subject lines, different email copy, different opening lines, or calls to action analytically to see which combination of the subject line + body + offer gives you the best positive reply rate. To A/B test in Smartlead, one can click on the “add variant”.

 

  • Set Follow-Ups: Even though you’re sending bulk messages, it’s important to follow up to get the best results. On Smartlead, click on the “Add step” option as shown below to set follow-up emails. 
  • Choose Sender Accounts & Set Campaign Settings: Once done creating the email sequence, choose the email accounts you want to send from and set the campaign settings. Divide the total number of emails by 50 to get the approximate number of email accounts you need. 

 

  • Track the Metric: After launching the campaign, track the metrics. 

Here are a few metrics that you must track in a cold email outreach campaign:

  • Open Rates: You can monitor the percentage of recipients who open your cold emails. A high open rate indicates effective subject lines and initial engagement with your content. 
  • Click-Through Rates (CTR): Track the percentage of recipients who click on links within your emails. CTR reflects the level of interest and engagement with your call-to-action or linked content.
  • Reply Rates: Measure the percentage of recipients who respond to your cold emails. A higher reply rate indicates successful communication and interest in further interaction.
  • Bounce Rates: Monitor the percentage of emails that were not successfully delivered to recipients. A low bounce rate is essential for maintaining the sender reputation and ensuring emails reach the intended audience.
  • Spam Rates: Keep an eye on the percentage of emails marked as spam by recipients. A low spam rate is crucial for maintaining a positive sender reputation and avoiding deliverability issues.

It’s recommended to not track or rely on track on open rates outreach emails. 

Conclusion

Cold emailing is the quickest channel to generate new leads, close deals, and 5x your ROI. All you need to do is have a clear idea of your buyer personas, cold email infrastructure, and strong outreach software.

Try buying a software like Smartlead that lets you send 10000 emails at once or more without affecting deliverability. 

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

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Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

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Author’s Details

Rajnish Das

Rajnish Das is an in-house writer at SmartWriter and SmartLead. She writes product-oriented, data-driven content for B2B SaaS audiences and educates them on marketing and sales topics. Her expertise includes outbound marketing techniques like cold emailing and LinkedIn outreach.

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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!

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

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.

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

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.

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

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?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

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?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

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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