Cold calling is becoming less and less common these days as companies increasingly transition to email. But why does it still feel like shouting into a void when you hit that send button?

That’s because outbound prospecting is hard. Here’s why:

  • You care about your product. You’ve spent months, or even years, pouring your heart and soul into this product that you know will truly help your prospects. But that carefully-crafted sales email that you spent hours designing has less than a 24% of being opened in the first place.
  • But before that sales email can even get to your prospect’s inbox, it has to overcome a variety of hurdles. Like getting the right email address. 17% of Americans create a new email address every 6 months, and 30% of subscribers change email addresses annually.
  • There’s a lot riding on the email even before it’s opened. 35% of email recipients open emails based only on subject line.
  • Avoiding that spam folder is hard. 43% of email recipients mark messages as spam based on the “from” name or email address.
  • Prospecting takes way more tries than most who do it expect. According to SiriusDecisions, it takes an average of 8 attempts (through any medium, not just email) to reach a prospect. Yet 44% of sales people give up after a single follow up.
  • You’ve heard this one before, but here’s your reminder of the uphill battle that is cold emailing. It is six times more expensive to get a new customer than to keep a current customer happy. Prospecting takes significant investment of both time and money to produce results.
  • Even if they like your subject line, trust your sender name, open the email, and are entertained by your clever, genius copy, it could still be a case of right place, wrong time: at any given time, only 3% of your market is actively buying, 56% aren’t ready, and 40% are just starting to get ready.

Now that you know what you’re up against, let’s look at the best tools to overcome these obstacles.

The good news? You’re already on the right track if you’re using email for your cold prospecting over other mediums like cold calling, networking, or trade shows. That’s because email is proven to have 2x higher ROI than any of your other options.

And what about compared to social media? When it comes to outbound prospecting, email wins–it’s over 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined for getting new customers.

So how can you make sure those carefully crafted messages make it to their receiver in the first place, get read, and excite your prospects about your product?

Craft an effective subject line and sender email address.

Outbound prospecting is not to be confused with email blasts. You are sending this email to this person because they fit your target prospect, so make them feel like they are one, and not just an email address on a list you harvested from somewhere. HubSpot found that emails sent from a real person, i.e. John at, were more likely to be clicked on than emails with only the company name in the sender field.

Arrive in their inbox at the right time.

In general, Thursdays are the best days to email prospects. Wednesday follows, and avoid sending a cold email Tuesday at all costs. 8:00am and 3:00pm are the best hours of the day to email prospects.

But this is based on dozens of other companies that aren’t yours. And according to a 2012 Experian study, open rates may be highest on weekdays, but click-through rates were actually higher late at night, and Saturdays and Sundays won for the highest open rates.

So what is the ideal day and time for your ideal prospect? Examine your demographic and carry out some A/B tests to really get the best data on when your prospects are opening and clicking through your emails.

Target the people you really want to open your emails.

The best way to target someone in a cold email? Just because it’s a cold email does not mean you have to go in blind. Use Linkedin, referrals, or these other strategies to find out things about your prospect, and to segment your email campaigns.

The result? Segmented email campaigns can give an average 760% increase in email revenue.

Make it personal.

You don’t open impersonal, sales-y subject lines, so why would you expect your prospects to? Focus on the relevance and personalization of your emails, or else behold the wrath of the Spam folder.

Personalized promotional emails enjoy 41% higher click rates, and while this starts beyond the subject line, think beyond the basics. In a study of 93,000 calls-to-action (CTAs), HubSpot found that personalized CTAs enjoyed 42% higher view-to-submission rates than generic CTAs.

Tell your product’s story, and how it is helping that prospect avoid the problem in their life. 70% of people make purchasing decisions to avoid problems, while only 30% decide based on whether they can gain something. Find out what your prospects’ problems are and send emails targeted to solving them. In one example of success, Williams Sonoma’s response rates increased 10x after they personalized emails based on prospects’ shopping behavior.

This is the beginning of a journey. Not a story that ends with a single click.

You care about your customers and dream of your product becoming an integral part in their tech toolbox. You don’t want your relationship to start and end with this one email. So think of this first cold email as the opening line to a long, exciting story.

Automation makes it easy to keep track of different segments and plan each target prospect’s “journey” by way of a well-planned series of emails.

And consider the elements beyond the first click–not creating customized landing pages for each item or offer is a missed opportunity–they can result in more than 25% increases in conversion rates.

Email automation can make targeting and personalization much easier–and more effective.

Automation makes you think of blasting out thousands of cold, impersonal emails that get funneled right into the spam folder.

But with the nuances of automation tools like Reply, you can actually personalize emails easily, and tweak email copy for each prospect or segment. You don’t have time to personally write an email to each of your prospects, but you can make sure they receive something that feels like you did.

According to Epsilon Email Institute, automated emails actually receive 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates on average than “business as usual” marketing messages.

And businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.

The stats on outbound prospecting are scary. But you have bigger things to do–don’t lose too much sleep over those numbers. You have the tools to get those cold emails to the right people and start a long, happy customer relationship that is anything but scary.