Growth March 26, 2020

Free (and affordable) Ways To Get Started with Cold Outreach

Tony Chan @scoops86

Tony here! I wanted to share tools and process we used early on to help us test out cold outbound email at an affordable cost for CloudForecast (www.cloudforecast.io) early on. We're more sophisticated now with larger tests, but I wanted to share some early process and tools we used that helped us keep our testing cost low.

To Find People/Companies:

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator - We use this to find our personas and people ~ $89. Sales Navigator is worth every penny. They do give out free subscriptions, so look out for that. I am pretty sure I had almost 4-5 month worth of free access at different times.
    -LinkedIn - We use job search to find companies that fit our criteria.
  • Phantom Buster (www.phantombuster.com) - We use various recipes of theirs to scrape search results from the two above. You get 10 minutes free. If you are smart about it and plan it our correctly, you can get what you need.

To Find Emails - After we got the info from above through PhantomBuster, you can use the following tools to find emails to match back. This should get you roughly ~120 leads per month for free. There are probably more, but these three are my favorite so far.

To send cold emails:

  • MixMax (www.mixmax.com) - MixMax is a good place to start if you are just getting started. $29/month for their lowest plan is a small initial investment.
  • Apollo.io - I am digging apollo so far since it has everything all in one place.

Marketing

  • WebFlow (www.webflow.com) - WebFlow is great if you need something more sophis
  • MailChimp or ConvertKit - Both have free plans to build drip campaigns for sign ups and customers.
  • Loom - I use this to send quick personalized welcome videos for all our sign ups. Nothing like putting my ugly mug for the world to see.

Marketing Notification

  • Slack - We use Slack in a lot of different ways. I created a few recipes to bring some notification into Slack using IFTTT and Zapier from some of the tools mentioned above. We get notifications in Slack for the following to react quickly ti engagement with our app: Sign Ups, Successful Sign ups, application errors, successful/unsuccessful charges in stripe. My co-founder have built other internal/admin tools to trouble shoot misc things.

If you follow and use everything above, all-in investment will be around $120 with majority of the cost being LinkedIn Sales Navigator. You'll get ~120 emails for your startup a month and even more if you leverage additional email finding tools. Also, don't hesitate to ask companies to extend free-trials if you need more time with the product.

I hope this is a helpful and practical start for people looking to test outbound cold outreach. There are definitely a lot of different approaches and tools. Sharing what worked for us and the tools we used early on.

What are some of your favorite outbound outreach tools to find prospects and emails? How does your process look?

ADDING BONUS TIP FROM @matas (https://www.indiehackers.com/matas). This can also be found in the comments:

Wanted to add one essential thing that sometimes gets overlooked but can completely shut down ALL of your efforts:

  • If you're sending email, NEVER do cold outreach from your main domain, always set up a new one (instead of main.com --> register main.io or similar)
  • Save yourself a ton of headaches and MONTHS of lost prep time, and after you register a new domain, run the inbox through a tool like https://www.mailwarm.com

Bonus:

  • If you want an extremely light-weight and cheap solution for sending, I can't recommend https://yet-another-mail-merge.com enough. You'll need to ditch it for something else as you scale, but just to start it's incredibly powerful and flexible.
  • This should go without saying, but don't send spammy emails. Research the hell out of the ideal customer type you want to reach out to, build a consistent "persona" of these people you want to target, and then reach out only to those types of people. With cold out reach: quality > quantity in 99% of scenarios.
  1. 2

    Wanted to add one essential thing that sometimes gets overlooked but can completely shut down ALL of your efforts:

    • If you're sending email, NEVER do cold outreach from your main domain, always set up a new one (instead of main.com --> register main.io or similar)

    • Save yourself a ton of headaches and MONTHS of lost prep time, and after you register a new domain, run the inbox through a tool like https://www.mailwarm.com

    Bonus:

    • If you want an extremely light-weight and cheap solution for sending, I can't recommend https://yet-another-mail-merge.com enough. You'll need to ditch it for something else as you scale, but just to start it's incredibly powerful and flexible.
    • This should go without saying, but don't send spammy emails. Research the hell out of the ideal customer type you want to reach out to, build a consistent "persona" of these people you want to target, and then reach out only to those types of people. With cold out reach: quality > quantity in 99% of scenarios.
    1. 1

      Completely agree to all this. Let me edit this post to include this in case people read through this and not the comments. I will give you credit for writing this up as well. Thank you so much for the additional tips.

  2. 2

    Nice, I'll be looking into these. Although I’ve paused cold outreach for a couple of weeks (I’m itching to get back into it).

    I used to use Rocket Reach for discovering email addresses, but have recently just been sending emails to [email protected] and [email protected]. This does feel like quite a naive approach, but 90% of the time one of those emails will go through.
    I would be interested to know if this kind of behaviour somehow damages your email deliverability ratings?

    For finding leads I have been using Google search operators, these work like a charm for what I need. I don’t use them for Linkedin, but here’s an example search term posted by a fellow Indie Hacker about a month ago:

    site:linkedin.com/in/ "NICHE OF YOUR PRODUCT" GATEKEEPER POSITION

    1. 1

      Yeah, you want to be careful with that. From what I've read with various groups that do this at scale, it will hurt your deliverability ratings.

      Solid advice on: site:linkedin.com/in/ "NICHE OF YOUR PRODUCT" GATEKEEPER POSITION. There is a tool out there that helps you generate and scrape these results. It'll come to me....

      Also, I forgot to mention. Be sure to warm up your domains first vs one big blast. This is an interesting tool, but I haven't had a chance to check it out yet: https://www.producthunt.com/posts/mailwarm

      1. 2

        Thanks scoop86, that mailwarm product looks very interesting. What a great idea

  3. 1

    Hey Tony, would you mind walking me through what you did with Phantom Buster. I'm going into my second email segment next week for my slow launch and I want to improve my conversions at every step. I have the email already, but I am considering using Phantom Buster to add more touchpoints. Maybe message them on LinkedIn or comment on their posts, or friend them on FB and message them and say, "Hey, just sent you an important email". What do you recommend? Is it worth the effort?

    1. 1

      Hi @NathanLively! I am so sorry I missed this. It was a crazy May for us. If this is still relevant, want to email me directly? [email protected]

  4. 1

    Is there a product that does all of these in a sequence? I guess it will be quite profitable if someone could build an entire pipeline required for cold emailing for finding emails to delivering them.

    From my past experience, we also used to message possible customers directly on LinkedIn. I remember I had a client for whom I automated message sending process on amazon.

    1. 1

      There are tools out there that does everything for you, but the investment cost is relatively high. I don't think that's worth the investment early on unless you have some run way going. The space is pretty crowded as well.

      Now that we have runway, we're doing less of the manual process mentioned above except for finding people/companies via LinkedIn+PhantomBuster and other things we hacked together. We're still testing tools out and hopefully we can really automated 100% of it and let it fly.

      1. 2

        Yes for someone who is just starting a new business, specially bootstrapped its pretty hard to fork out money for all these automation. I myself do all the scraping/automation, filter the list manually by doing some research to save cost :D

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