March 19, 2019

Handling Backlash in Cold Emails

Steve Recio @steverecio

How do you handle backlash from your cold emails? I received a response to a cold email complaining that I was abusing the directory where I found leads. How do you handle this type of complaint? Do you stop using the list or brush it off?

  1. 6

    You should stop getting emails from lists and start finding potential leads by researching for yourself, and actually knowing what problem that particular person has and how you can help solve it. Spamming people at an early stage is useless and will result in backlash like this. You need to talk personally to people. It doesn't "scale", sure, but you don't need to scale - you need to talk to people.

    1. 1

      I agree partly, but for some people talking directly to their target audience without first validating at least the idea for the idea is not realistic.

      For example, I know of a problem in sales recruiting, but I have never worked in the industry nor know any sales recruiters. What am I supposed to do, walk into their office? Call them directly? How is a call any different than email?

      1. 2

        In that case, I would say look people up on e.g. LinkedIn and learn a little bit about them, and why they would want your product. At this point, the OP is simply spamming people, because he doesn't know what problem that particular person is having and how his tool can help them. It's not personalized and sounds like he bought a list and sent a mass "cold email."

        If you put in the time, you'll see some results. This doesn't really count as putting in the time, IMO. The person knew they were part of a list, and that's not good.

        Have you had success with this cold emails sourced from lists?

        1. 1

          Sorry just to clarify, I did not purchase a list. I found a public directory of businesses who would have use in my product and began reaching out to them individually, citing that I found them on that directory. One person told me not to use the directory for the purposes of promoting my product.

          1. 2

            Eh, a directory is close enough to a list in this case. I would focus on crafting less, but more personalized emails to people. See how that goes relative to what you're trying here. For example, do a bit of research on the person via Twitter/blog/job/etc. and mention something there, trying to strike up a real convo, then talk to them about how your product can fix some problem they have. When I started doing that, I had more successful conversations from cold emails.

          2. 1

            I don't think that the source is the problem. It's probably more about the approach itself. If you send me an email saying "hey I found your name on a piece of paper, do you want to chat?" then I'm not likely to find that appealing.

            If, however, you did find my name on a piece of paper, then went out of your way to understand what problem I'm facing and show me that you've done some homework then now you get a higher chance to get my attention.

            I'd definitely remove the part where you say "I've found you on X" from the email. Unless it's an intro by someone I know there's 92% chance that it will decrease the value of your email and add more fluff to the email.

  2. 5

    Just remember: Cold email is separated by a very fine line from spam.

    Assuming you're in the US (based on your site's privacy and Stripe links): This is applicable...

    It takes one pissed off recipient to report you to the FTC and the fines are crippling. $40,000+ per email sent.

    IMHO I'd be really careful of sourcing email addresses from third party directories. Sounds like a recipe for getting into hot water.

    1. 2

      It takes one pissed off recipient to report you to the FTC and the fines are crippling. $40,000+ per email sent.

      That's some serious fearmongering.

      Cold email is separated by a very fine line from spam.

      No, it's a really BIG line between the two.

      @steverecio if a lot of folks are complaining, and it worries you, then simply stop cold emailing. It won't be the end of the world. But also, don't let fearmongering stop you from using email as it was intended to be used.

  3. 2

    If this is one off response, I'd just ignore and move on. But, if there's a trend to it - there should be something amiss with your cold email strategy:

    • receiver not relevant to your offering
    • email content too sales pitchy (not offering real value)
    • sending too many cold emails to same recipient
    1. 1

      This is really good advise, and doesn't make big assumptions (like other responses do).

      There is nothing wrong with one cold email sent to someone who has listed their email publicly. Just make sure you're not sending too many, make sure you got that email legitimately, and start narrowing down why you are getting this response.

  4. 1

    Does this person fit your ideal customer's profile?

    If so, then you need to listen up to their objections and figure out why your message isn't portraying value to them.

    If not, then you need to find a way to not target this person and more who are not your target audience. If you continue to target these folks, your messages don't fix their pain points, and you will continue to be an annoyance.

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