Are you or your company sending cold emails to prospects?

Cold outreach today is a very valuable and fairly scalable channel for generating leads and interesting conversations. For startups, cold outreach — when done right — is an excellent tool. It can be instrumental in finding customer prospects, investors, future employees, advisors, and more.

But days of indiscriminately pumping out thousands of emails a day with your favorite email automation tool are long gone. We recommend against it. Especially as an early-stage B2B startup.

Quality >> quantity as far as cold outreach goes. Anyone worth reaching out to has hundreds of other machine-spewed cold emails delivered into their inbox every day — and perhaps a multiple of that in their spam folder. Your mechanized cold email will get ignored, statistically speaking. Or worse, it will get you flagged as a spammer — by a machine, or by the human prospect in question. Email open rates and response rates have been in decline as volumes have shot up exponentially with the capabilities of email automation tools.

Please take the time to customize and personalize your outreach. Go well beyond feeding a list of first names and org names into your email automation tool. Spend a few minutes per prospect and send fewer, highly targeted messages. With all the tools and resources available today, you can qualify who you are reaching out to, know basic info about them/their org quickly, and include personalized hooks in your message.

This will not only have a significantly higher response rate but also would be a much better ROI on your time. Moreover, pure cold outreach has adverse selection bias — your juiciest prospects are even less likely to respond than the marginal ones, and you leave a paper trail (metaphorically speaking) of your spamming attempts.

Moreover, personalized outreach will significantly improve the quality of conversations (demo, intro call, pitch, etc) when they do happen. Any conversations that come out of those mechanized cold emails start off on a highly awkward note — with you being perceived as the sender of mechanized emails, and your prospect as someone who was desperate enough to respond to one.

Just apply the golden rule, and send personalized messages that you’d want to respond to if you were in the receiver’s shoes. Avoid gimmicks. Keep it short. Personalize. Have a clear ask. Just be a human. Sounds simple, but it’s surprising how few do this.

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