November 7, 2018

Cold emails to target market - any tips or guides to get them interested in my value proposition?

I've had an idea in my head for about a month now. I've started coding it, but I've stopped myself as I haven't talked to anyone in my target market about the idea.

It'd be B2B, and I have an email list of 20 potential customers who will be familiar with my previous company, so that's a sort-of "in".

The app's goal is to make them more money, so I feel like it shouldn't be too hard to get them interested, but at the same time they probably get offers like this all the time.

I'm trying to author the email to them, but I want to know if there are any tips or tricks I should follow, or even just some golden rules about what to say or what not to say...

Any help is much appreciated.

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    Oh boy I love this question because I love writing cold emails.

    I agree with Spencer on some points.

    As a copywriter who has written hundreds of them with response rates never lower than 40%, here are my best tips:

    • Like Spencer mentioned, email them all individually. The new GDPR laws don't allow you to email from Mailchimp or InfusionSoft, etc anymore anyway.

    • The subject line should imply that you won't be taking much of their time, but also--that their knowledge is important. You convey that and they feel like the hero.

    • Here's how the flow should go: explain who you are, why should the reader care, how will you make their life better, what does the reader do next?

    A template:

    subject line: quick question, <first name>

    Hey <first name>,

    Chip, here. You may remember me from [your previous company] which [helps them accomplish x].

    I'm working on [value prop: a tool that helps your type of people accomplish this and this is how it makes your life easy].

    I'm trying to find people who would help me in making it the best product it can be. For that, I need some feedback.

    Would you have 15 minutes to talk about how the product would be beneficial for you?

    I look forward to hearing back from you, whether it's a yes or a no.



    Follow up in one week:

    Hey, Chip again.

    Never got your reply.

    Would really appreciate an answer, whatever it may be.

    (But I'm hoping it's a 'yes'.)



    Hope that helps.

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      Veronika, thank you so much for this. This is EXACTLY what I needed! (not to take away from Spencer's response at all)

      This is why I love IH. @csallen it's these little micro-assists that show you've created a strong community here, thank you!

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        Happy to help :)

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          I've sent two so far, I'm customising each one with a mockup of their website with what it might look like with my product included. I'm hoping that's customised enough that it gets their attention. :)

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            Sounds good. How did it go?

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              It's actually going pretty well, I'm getting the feedback I need! of the 18 I've sent so far, 4-5 have gotten back to me and 2 have confirmed they'd be willing to test the product out, so that's amazing.

              The mockups help a lot I think, otherwise the mails would be too salesy.

              Thanks a million for your help!

              1. 2

                Yes, mockups do tend to work.

                Don't forget to follow up--often times the right time is everything. maybe you'll catch them at a doctor's office or in line somewhere or even in the middle of the problem you are offering to solve.

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                  Great advice Veronika I hadn't thought of that! will do!

                  Thank you again, much appreciated!

  2. 4

    Chip, cold emailing is the door knocking of the internet. It sucks! I know because I have been in direct sales my whole life and send thousands of cold emails still to this day.

    Also, I was/am in your shoes. I own a small software platform called Loup and I have to cold call and email customers all the time.

    Here is my advice, if you have met any of these people in person send them the email first and call out the fact that you have met. Bring up the location, time, and anything else you can think of that will act as a reference point. They will feel much more obligated to talk to you if you have met.

    If you haven't met any of them that is fine too. 20 people is a rather small number so make sure you email them all directly and do NOT use some sort of email engine.

    There is a lot that goes in to cold emailing but in my option the most important thing is to keep the email short. Four sentences or less, four sentences are easy and quick to read and lets them know that you respect their time.

    The first sentence should be some form of compliment to something personal for them. For example, I read your "blank on blank" and I found "subject" very interesting. That way they know you are not a fly by night emailer and are invested in them even before reaching out.

    The second sentence, I like to call out the email for what it is. For example, "name" I have been following you for a while and figured you would be the perfect person to reach out to for feedback about my "blank".

    The third sentence, the pitch, I have been working on "blank" for some time now and if you have a minute, I would like to get your 2 cents about on "blank"?

    The fourth sentence, here is a link to more information (track link clicks) any and all feedback would be much appriciated. Thanks for your time, cheers, "name"

    Now you are not going to get 100% response rate and if it is anything like my cold emails, which are way colder, you should be happy with a 10% response rate.

    My advice outside of the emailing is to dive much deeper into the community you are looking to target. If you are in the comunity people would love to help.

    1. 3

      Spencer, thanks for this. it's exactly what I needed to get the ball rolling, a starting point to build on, much much appreciated!

      I haven't met any of these contacts, so I'm expecting response rate to be relatively low.

      Reading your response though, I might whip up a mockup of what my product would look like on their site, with their colours and type etc. That could help the email stand out a little and give more context to what I'm talking about.

      Thanks again Spencer much appreciated!

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      @Squb what a great reply!

      @ChipD I'm sorry, I hope I'm not hijacking this, if so I'll ping Spencer outside of this thread (and apologies again if I am).

      @Squb could I convince you to give my very alpha product a test drive? It's a tool to help with exactly what you described and if it's something you like, I'll just give you a free paid account for as long as it's useful to you. The link to the site is in my profile page.

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        @Chris I checked out your website. Very impressive! I love the simplicity and you have great copy.

        I would love to give you feedback as you build this product. I actually use an application called Hunter that does the exact same thing.

        In fact if you need any form of validation has over 300,000 active users with their Google Chrome extension.

        Another great website for scraping emails is BuzzStream. Unlike BuzzStream scrapes emails from websites along with their social profiles.

        Lastly, there is a tool called Datanyze that looks at the HTML code on a website and can decipher which applications they are running on. They then categorize the data and sell it as leads. For example, in a past life, we use to spend a ton of money on Datanyze leads because we knew exactly what applications they had before we called so we could tailor our message.

        @Chris there are a million salespeople out there and if you could give them a tool to help prospect for leads they would be forever in your debt.

        Shoot me a message, I would love to help.

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          Awesome overview @Squb, thanks!

          The ultimate goal is to move closer to something like BuiltWith and Datanyze.

          Thanks for the BuzzStream suggestion and review.

          I actually use an application called Hunter that does the exact same thing.

          What would it take for you to start using Webdef instead?

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            @Coffee I will gladly move to webdef. I have no allegiance to and if I can provide feedback to build a better product then I will gladly do that.

            I will say, the Chrome extension is a game changer and it is the only reason I use hunter. I can just click the extension and boom I know everything I need to know. I haven't been to the website in many years due to the extension.

            @Coffee I like where your head is at. If you can combine emails with a Datanyze style application I think you would have a very valuable product.

            If you could also scrape phone numbers and social media accounts then you would be really on to something.

            I worked with a company in the past called that sells call center analytics to fortune 500 companies and their application could tell who was calling, the callers credit score, and how likely they are to purchase, all based on their phone number.

            Lastly, you might want to check out I also use their Gmail extension to learn more about the people who email me. I like it because it will link to their Linkedin which allows me to fire off an easy invite to connect.

            Shoot me an email at, let's talk more.

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              You rock!

              I will shoot you an email very soon!

              In the meantime, you can see what I've done so far to combine Hunter + Datanyze/BuiltWith here:


              I was missing the email piece (those emails are simply mocked up) but the technologies and tech spend is real. That said, I've now got the real email addresses so I'm getting closer.

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        No worries at all Chris :)