B2B Cold Emailing Tips and Best Practices

May 10, 2018 by Intelemark

B2B email

Outside of direct calling, email is still one of the most effective ways to reach prospects. In some cases, email allows you or your salespeople the opportunity to reach a buyer before anyone else. And being the first to reach a buyer dramatically increases your odds of landing new business: the first viable vendor to reach a decision-maker and set the buying vision has a 74% close ratio.

Of course, not every email you send will be a success. In fact, a lot of them will probably never get read. That’s why one of the keys of cold emailing is to maximize your open and response rates. If you send out enough emails, even a small improvement in the percentage of respondents who open your message can have a positive impact on your sales pipeline development.

So, how do you get more people to open your emails? And what can you do to improve your likelihood of a response? Here are some B2B cold emailing tips and best practices to get you started.

Write Shorter Subject Lines

The subject line—it’s the first thing a prospect sees when your email comes through, and it can have a huge impact on whether they actually open your message and see your content. In fact, 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone.

You can take a couple different routes with your subject lines, but the most important thing is to keep them short and to the point. And whatever you do, make sure they don’t sound spammy.

According to Convince & Convert, 69% of people who report emails as spam do so based on the subject line. To lower the chances that your message is deleted or flagged, use simple, straightforward language and avoid salesy words like “free,” “consultation,” and “promotion.” Prospect.io put together this list of 455 email spam trigger words to avoid.

Subject lines may be shorter or longer depending on who you are prospecting and what you are trying to pitch, but according to data subject lines with three to four words get more responses than shorter and longer ones. However, long or short, the most important thing is to include some sort of subject line at all: only 14% of messages without a subject line receive a response.

Bonus subject line tips:

  • DON’T YELL – According to Boomerang, an all caps subject line hurts response rates by approximately 30%.
  • Always Be Testing – Send different subject lines to different groups to test certain word and phrases so you can see how the changes impact open and response rates.
  • Ask a Question – You can also experiment by asking a question in the subject line to encourage more people to open your message.

Write Shorter (and Simpler) Email Messages

The next best practice for cold emailing is to keep the message brief. The sweet spot, it seems, is between 50 and 125 words, all of which yielded response rates above 50% based on one study. Response rates were still good for 500-word messages (44%) but tumbled above 2500 words. If you have an extensive offering , a better option is to send it as an attachment and explain why the prospect should open it in the body of your email.

Something else to keep in mind when drafting a sales or prospecting email is to write at a lower reading grade level. One study found that emails written at a 3rd grade reading level performed 36% better than emails written at a college reading level and had a 17% higher response rate than emails written even at a high school reading level.

It’s not that your prospects are unintelligent, but rather the fact that short sentences and simpler words are easier (and quicker) to digest. Learn how to test your content’s reading grade level in Microsoft Word.

Personalize Your Emails

If you want to engage a prospect and make sure your message is well received (or at least seriously considered) you need to personalize every cold email you send.

If you’ve ever read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, you know that people love to hear their own name. Prospecting emails are also more successful when it feels like you’re writing to a specific person, not some mass campaign sent to thousands of addresses in a database.

So, how do you personalize a prospecting email? For starters, greet the recipient by name and mention their role and company name. Above and beyond that, you might congratulate the person on a recent product launch, refer to something you read in an article they wrote, or relate to something from their bio (e.g., where they grew up or went to school). This will help grab their attention and show that you’ve taken the time to send a truly flattering email.

Ask Questions

Your email should clearly define who you are, why you are reaching out, and what the benefit of communicating with you might be.  However,  it is also important that you ask questions. This is a great way to engage the prospect and start a dialogue that will hopefully lead to a more in-depth conversation about your product or service. One analysis found that emails that asked between one and three questions are 50% more likely to get a response than emails that don’t ask any.

There’s another good reason to ask questions: it makes people feel important. Research shows that people are more motivated to help others when they feel uniquely qualified to do so. By asking questions, you show respect for the prospect’s subject matter knowledge or for their position within the company and, more importantly, you make it a two-way conversation instead of a sales pitch.

Additional Cold Prospecting Email Stats and Best Practices

  • Write with Emotion – Emails that are slightly to moderately positive (uses words like “great,” “pleased,” and “delighted”) or slightly to moderately negative (words like “bad”, “terrible,” and “awful”) elicited 10-15% more responses than emails that were completely neutral.
  • Think About Mobile – 35% of business professionals check email on a mobile device. Make sure to check mobile responsiveness if you are sending any kind of templated email or have included images or videos. Litmus allows you to review your emails across 70+ apps and devices to ensure compatibility, responsiveness, and deliverability.
  • Email Early or Late – You either want to be on top of the pile when your prospect gets to work, or the last one to reach them at the end of the day. So, when is the best time to send an email? Emails sent between 5AM-6AM have a 37% open rate, and those sent between 7PM-9PM have a 48% open rate.
  • Follow-Up More Often – It’s better to send more follow-ups than fewer. According to one study, email campaigns with 4-7 emails per sequence have three times higher response rates (27%) compared to campaigns with only 1-3 emails in a sequence (9%).

Get in Touch with Decision-Makers Faster

If you want to accelerate your business development and fill your sales pipeline with a consistent volume of quality leads, Intelemark can help. Our B2B appointment setters can connect you with the business leaders and decision-makers you’re trying to reach through cold emailing efforts. Learn more about our B2B demand generation and appointment setting , or contact us to schedule a test campaign.