Email Marketing · Cold calling

Cold email best practices and best examples?

Lisa Falcone Rock Star Marketer available for company poised for growth

December 14th, 2015

Hi there,

We are evaluating purchasing cold lead lists and engaging them with a series of emails, sent from the MARKETING team, not the SALES team.  What are some best practices for sending out cold emails from the marketing team?  The idea being that, our first set of emails will be sent from marketing in order to qualify and nurture our leads with a series of 5-7 emails.  After that, if they are qualified, the sales reps will jump in with emails further qualifying them and setting up demos.

What has worked best for you when it comes to cold email nurturing?  are there examples that you could share?

Thank so much,

Paul Murskov

December 14th, 2015

Hi Lisa! 

Checked out the website and love what you guys do. HireKeep uses Zapier currently for integrating various platforms and CRM's and I couldn't do without it.

From my experience, cold leads lists have failed time and time again so I am not a big proponent but I want to put something behind my opinion. My inbox currently has about 250 unprocessed emails and that sucks! Getting others that come out of nowhere as a solicitation because my email is public would actually piss me off. No one wants to see e-mail in their inbox from companies and even people whom they did not request.

Let's talk actual rewards, risks, challenges and solutions:

The biggest reward (if you want to call it that) is that you can blast tens of thousands of "potential clients" and get into their inbox. But their actions thereafter are completely out of your control and could lead to some seriously detrimental outcomes.

The biggest risk and detrimental outcome here is your domain being flagged (as people mark your emails as spam) and all emails then start being sent to the spam folder. More info on that here: This would also mean your sales team and others could potentially not reach even intended prospects. Be very careful there. It has hurt many companies because your domain rank is crucial.

The biggest challenge with this type of approach is purpose. What is the purpose of 5-7 emails to a group of people who have been qualified on the basis of information that is probably outdated and/or people who are actually not expecting it? If i have not searched for it, I have not inquired about it, I have no interest in it, I have no desire for it. Maybe I am being one-sided - but hey - I get so much spam and bs in my inbox - I have a right to feel that way.

Here is the kicker though - there are other ways to nurture leads, rank them and funnel them down to your sales team. 

My immediate recommendation is 2 fold - generate a lead funnel using SEO and SEM. I won't go too in-depth here - but feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and I would be happy to provide further insight should you want it. 

My steps would be:

1. Identify the research process a potential client is embarking on when searching for a solution for a problem that you can solve. i.e. integrations between two platforms that don't generally talk to each other.

2. Use your marketing team to write content about different ways these integrations have or can help customers so that when someone is doing research they can see that you have authority on the topic and Bedrock Data can solve that problem. Case studies and examples help. Free tips and ways to use things together - even in a free way could drive people to the blog/website. CRUCIAL: Allow that reader/potential customer/researcher/CEO/Co-Founder to sign up for your mailing list - simple - Name/Email. That's where you create your own list of people. That is the list you want.

3. Use Jaxxy or another cheap/free tool to identify keywords that are popular and potentially research oriented for an ideal customer profile. How could they find you and what are they researching. My first search was almost idiotic when I was trying to integrate two events in a gmail calendar where one event ending creates a second event automatically. I typed in "google calendar automated events". Stuff like that. 

Final thought: Don't buy lists. Use a strategy to create your own lead funnel AND THEN have marketing nurture those leads with valuable content, relevant webinars and show case studies. 

Hope this helps!

John Philpin People | Passion | Platforms

December 14th, 2015

'cold lead' would suggest that these people once expressed some kind of interest in you, your company and / or product - and then fell off the bus - discovering that they in fact had no interest for whatever reason.

But then you say you are 'buying' the list. 

This suggests that they are not leads per se, but rather a collection of names, and associated information that may or may not be right and that they in turn may or may not have any interest in whatever it is that you wish to sell them.

On that topic, I can't help, other than to say before you start e-mailing lots of people you don't know, stop and ask your self what your reaction would be if out of the blue you suddenly started receiving a series of emails that you hadn't asked for - and that were trying to sell you something.

At a technical level of email deliverability, spam rules, engagement, IP warming, opt in techniques, email design, list building etc etc ... there is plenty to be thought about.

Eric Fransen Strategic, Digital Marketing | Lead Generation | Marketing Automation | Ecommerce | Paid Ads Expert

December 14th, 2015


There are a number of components that we are dealing with here. First of all I love what you are doing on the marketing side and trying to engage cold traffic with content emails. Just make sure it's really good content and provides value to the end-reader. 

What you need to remember is that you are targeting cold traffic and in no way should you be selling at this stage. Provide the content and give them the option to ask for more content, but don't force it. 

There is a step that you need to take. and one that will raise your conversion percentage down further down the road. Make sure you pixel these visitors so you can market to them using Facebook and Google's Display Network in the near future. If you have questions regarding this let me know. 

You are embarking on a technique that a lot of companies use. I would be leery of the practice of buying emails. I'm sure you have received emails from companies that have purchased your email. What did you do? Probably unsubscribed and deleted it. 

I think you would be better off investing into highly targeted marketing and by using Facebook's ad network to get in front of your targeted customer. It will be more expensive than purchasing an email list, but it will be much more effective and your ROI will be much greater. 

Good Luck!

Richard Harris Top 25 Inside Sales Leader, Public Speaker, 40 Most Inspiring Leader, Sales Trainer, Start-Up Advisor, SalesHacker

December 14th, 2015

Hi Lisa,

Like others have suggested I would be wary of buying cold lists. In fact I would suggest taking that money and doing the following...

1. Develop your ICP - Ideal Customer Profile. This comes from existing customers and knowing the decision makers and decision influencers. It should also look at data across the verticals you own and those you want to own and any other attribute like revenue, employee size, sales cycle, etc. 

Then you need to make sure you understand their "why pains" not their "what pains". From there you develop your collateral as it relates to those titles and the other components from the ICP.

Now comes the important part. Identify the first 50-100 companies you want. Then the 3 best titles from each companies, that gives you between 150-300 suspects. 

Take this information and outsource the scraping to somone at UpWork. Its not hard to find decent people. Agree to a price and delivery of information.

While they are building the list you build the cadence and content. 

Then you start testing...

If you buy a list, I can assure you they have not done this as it relates specifically to your needs. 

Best of luck and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Happy to help.


Stephen Mitchell

December 15th, 2015

Opt-in is *the* only way.


and this:

Be careful.

Raghu Ranjolkar Strategy & Marketing Consultant

December 15th, 2015

HI Lisa,
I agree to a some points given by Michael Wienick,
Points like personalised snippets templated emails with personalised touch etc.

But when you do this you are still not certain that you are communicating to the target. Rather what I suggest is with the cold list you have, ask your marketing team to warm up the list, so your sales team can jump in and start converting the hot list.

Max Rosenthal Strategic Sales Professional Harnessing Tactical Fortitude To Capture New Business

January 6th, 2016

Do it to it. You da man!
Hey, on your cc script avoid referencing the email. What I have found is:

Q - 'did ya get my email?'
A - 'hmmmm, not sure' (click click click heard in the background) awkward silence..for a few secs'Ya know I think I might have...tell you what let me find it first and if we are interested we'll call you back'

another click sound is heard but this time it ain't the keyboard. 

Rob G

January 6th, 2016

Patience grasshopper...  As is typical in startup land prospecting is an iterative process. i wouldn't consider put all my eggs in one basket nor would i assume there's 1 right answer.  I'm a fan of going very narrow (vertical) to start with - it just has so many advantages.  If you can identify a few niches and build a reputation in those niches then you can hone your pitch and email content and SEO and landing page content and testimonials and, and, and...   
Manufacturers in the same or complimentary industries tend to talk so this also helps build your referral network and opens up other marketing channels like trade shows and industry news letters. When you've got that machine working well then it's easier to find new niches and tweak the machine to fit. I would not abandon email by any means.  My gut tells me that for you a blend of phone and email and eventually SEO and PPC will do the trick. 50,000 is a pretty big number to get your arms around.  If you can sort by geography or food type or even process - batch manufacturers VS process blenders VS perishables VS ??? 

Sheejo George I am part of AeroLeads and we help businesses and startup for finding B2B leads and prospects

June 29th, 2018

Hi Lisa, I assume that you have already identified your ideal customer profile and if you want to convert your customers through cold email than follow these steps:

1. Send a cold email to your prospects and before sending it seek for some of the amazing email templates and then pitch about your product.

2. Do proper follow-up and if possible schedule it on a particular day after an initial email.

3. Try to focus on meeting or a call, book a meeting or schedule a call and take a conversion ahead. One call or meeting is always equal to 15 emails.

4. Always use some of good SMTP server which help you to improve your campaign.

Michael Wienick Founder and President at CurvedLine

December 14th, 2015


My company acts as an outsourced sales development rep for clients.  We don't ever buy lists for clients but develop a custom list based on a very specific set of criteria for what a target prospect look like for the client.  

Building the list involves a  number of tools tied together via APIs.  

We then spend some time to develop personalized snippets for each contact, so we can send templated emails with a personalized touch.   

Our clients see anywhere from a 5% to 20% positive response rate.  The key is  targeting the right targets with a message that looks custom to them.  

Reach out if you want more details, happy to go into our method further.

- mike