Marketing / Email Marketing

How to Build a Cold Email Campaign from Scratch

Keap Blog

Oct 14, 2021 · 9 min read

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cold email campaign

Don’t lose hard-earned leads to inactivity. This blog will provide you with a quick guide on how to effectively build cold email sales campaigns to re-engage contacts without wasting time and money. You’ll get email templates, a send schedule, tips on tagging and segmenting using CRM data, as well as ideas on how to use automation to optimize your re-engagement results.

How to Write a Cold Email for Sales

Leads that have lost interest (gone “cold”) aren’t gone forever. It’s just going to take some attention to detail, and you’ll see a positive return-on-investment (ROI) on existing contacts instead of paying big bucks for new ones. These leads wanted your help once. It’s time to make them remember the good old days.

When it comes to contact ROI, remember the words of one of America’s greatest poets “You don’t know what you got, til’ it’s gone.” (Cinderella, Long Cold Winter, 1988).

Cold sales email campaigns need to take big swings on personalization, targeting, subject lines, pre-headers, and copy. Ensure you’re using any customer data at your disposal to make maximum impact. Get their attention, and keep it.

Let's start with a few examples of cold emails to a potential client from Keap’s content team.

Day 181: Exclusive Content Offer

This example begins the day after a user has been unengaged for 180 days (6 months). You will send 4 emails, with each new message sent every 3 days.

To get your contacts’ attention, you need to put the most enticing offers front and center in your cold email introduction. Offer access to targeted content and resources. Using CRM data, you can easily segment contacts by interest, thereby achieving as much as 100.95% higher open rates than non-segmented campaigns.

Subject line: Exclusive early access
Pre-header: The ultimate guide to business growth through personalization

Copy:

Hi [first name/there],

Based on your past interests, we thought you would love to get exclusive access to our upcoming course: The ultimate guide to business growth through personalization.

Learn to grow revenue using customer data and automation to personalize your messaging!

[CTA Link] Click here to sign up

We look forward to growing with you,
[Company signature]

Re-engagement messaging shouldn’t be complicated. Curate the content and use CRM data to target and personalize their content. Did you know 52% of customers expect offers to always be personalized — up from 49% in 2019? So if your re-engagement campaigns are one-size-fits-all, you’re just wasting time, energy, and money. Remember, you’re looking to make a big impact on a small target. When you try to please everyone, you delight no one.

Day 184: New Features, Plans, and Products

After months of being cold, your contacts may have missed some exciting changes in your company. Lead with your most exciting release, and tease a few updates from the last six months. But ensure you’re optimizing interest from their first glance at your subject line.

Let your audience know immediately if you’ve launched new products, upgraded features, or fixed some big bugs. Be clear in your cold email introduction that there are big things on offer.

Subject line: ALL-NEW RELEASES FOR FALL!
Pre-header: Here’s what you missed in [enter relevant month]

Copy:
Hi [first name/there],

If you haven’t heard from us in the last few months, we’ve got great news! We’ve made considerable updates to our product line. Check out [Product landing page link] to learn more about our latest updates.

Watch the demo to see for yourself.

[CTA Button] See demo now

Thanks, and enjoy!
[Company signature]

Remember that even great campaigns only see a 20.94% open rate, so non-targeted email blasts are rarely worth your time. Send multiple targeted emails in quick succession (2-3 days apart) for best results.

Day 187: Top Picks and Fan Favorites

Best-of compilations are always a hit (even Bowie had Changesone.) So if your audience isn’t excited by your monthly blogs, maybe all your top content in place will do the trick. A collection of your highest performing content is a high-value offer. When you remove the pain point of searching for relevant content, you increase the likelihood of engagement bigtime!

Subject line : Our top 5 [or whatever number you like] blogs of 2021
Pre-header: Our most popular selections, all in one place

Copy:

Hi [first name/there],

Get the entire year in a single digest! Our top tips, editor picks, and fan favorites are all in this email. Just follow the links below to get the best of the best from 2021:

  1. [blog/resource link]
  2. [blog/resource link]
  3. [blog/resource link]
  4. [blog/resource link]
  5. [blog/resource link]

Not seeing what you need? [link] Head to our main page to get the latest releases and search for detailed content.

Thanks, and enjoy!
[Company signature]

Best-of lists perform well, but making a single generic list vastly limits your results. Using CRM data on contacts can target customers by their interests and even dynamically populate the individual selections. This means you can send hyper-specific resources to each cold contact and optimize the likelihood of re-engagement.

Day 190: Sorry to See You Go (Last Chance)

You’ve reached the end of the road. At some point, contacts simply aren’t coming back. Your best bet at this point is to separate on good terms and have faith that you’ll reconnect when your offerings are a better fit for the client.

Subject line: Bye-bye. We’ll see you later!
Pre-header: Bye-bye, friend.

Copy:

Hi [first name/there],

We get the hint. You don’t need our help right now, and that’s totally cool. We don’t want to clutter up your inbox.

If you ever want to start things up again, just head to [companyaddress.com] and sign back in. Click here to unsubscribe [unsubscribe link].

We thank you for all your time, and we wish you luck!

Hope we see you again,
[Company signature]

Some entrepreneurs will continue to flog cold leads over and over. The thought process is; as long as they haven’t unsubscribed, keep selling. But if you irritate a cold contact, they may report you as spam or even leave negative reviews. Be kind to your contacts (even as they leave), so they always feel welcome to return.

This campaign template is an excellent baseline for any business. We recommend looking over your contact lists, creating segments based on user data, and building multiple (3-5 is plenty) targeted campaigns for best results.

Knowing the Reasons Your Contacts Have Gone Cold

If a lead isn’t clicking your CTAs or even opening your emails, they’ve gone cold. It will take more than your typical marketing blast to warm them up. You’ll need to use whatever data you have on these contacts to target each audience segment appropriately. You can easily tag and target your prospects and campaigns if you have a CRM with customer data. Remember that even great campaigns only see a 20.94% open rate, so non-targeted email blasts are rarely worth your time.

The ROI on Cold Sales Email Campaigns

A contact, even an unengaged one, represents effort and expense on your part. You had to get their attention, convince them to offer their data, and develop marketing and sales strategies to target them. That’s an awful lot of personal investment to let walk out the door.


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A well-strategized cold sales email campaign that uses CRM data for targeting, timing, and personalization can recapture those valuable contacts. These are leads who already know who you are and at one time saw value in what you provide. A cold sales email campaign may be your last chance to prove them right.

52% of customers expect offers always to be personalized — up from 49% in 2019. So if your re-engagement campaigns are one-size-fits-all, you’re wasting time, energy, and money.

Set up a series of targeted campaigns to run automatically as new leads become cold. Personalization and targeting with CRM data and automated triggers based on dates and behavior mean you’re taking your best last shot at re-engaging potential clients.

Companies that use advanced personalization see returns of $20 per $1 spent.

With Keap’s advanced CRM and marketing automation capabilities, you can create a highly targeted cold email campaign with a higher chance of re-engaging leads than a one-size-fits-all approach. Activate your free trial and learn more.

Free Cold Email Subject Line Generator

Get subject line inspiration for your cold email campaigns.

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