How Reply helped a solo business owner get cold email reply rates of 40%
Dayana Mayfield helps tech companies get more customers with super, super strategic copy.
With experience in QA, web design, digital marketing and journalism, Dayana brings a whole heap of value to any copywriting project.
I’m Dayana Mayfield, a conversion copywriter for B2B SaaS companies who helps tech companies in Europe and North America increase their website conversions and get more customers.
I love working with B2B companies; the environment is fascinating, you have to solve real problems, and you can drive profitability much faster.
Challenges as an individual business owner
As an individual consultant and business owner, I’m in charge of bringing in enough business for myself.
The biggest challenge I face is generating high-quality leads and booking sales calls consistently.
My income is based on the amount of client work I’m able to do. If generating leads is taking too much time away from my client work, I’m in trouble. As an entrepreneur, I also need to keep a close eye on any expenses. So I could have chosen to use paid advertising to generate leads, but the cost was too high.
I needed to find a way to generate consistent leads without it taking too much time, effort, or cost.
A smooth and simple solution
I started looking at different automation software tools, but I found their design was really frustrating. However, when I tried out Reply it was exactly what I was looking for—smooth, simple and easy to use.
At one point I also tried Prospect.io because I thought we needed their email finding tool and all these other different features they offered. However, it was much more expensive and not as user-friendly. My assistant and I just didn’t like the format of it. I switched back to Reply because we realized that for our low volume (less than 100 contacts per month) we could free tools like Clearbit for email finding.
I’ve tried several different tools over the past year and I just love Reply. We get higher deliverability, the UX is great and it’s just super easy to use and intuitive to set up your campaigns.
Generating consistent leads
I believe in fully manual, 100% custom list building. I don’t think it’s possible to get really great success with cold email if you’re not building the lists from scratch, using custom criteria to match your business.
I’ve given my assistant the criteria for what type of company fits my business. For me, that means:
- 1) a B2B SaaS company,
- 2) between 11 and 50 employees,
- 3) based in North America or Europe.
Then I’ve given her suggestions where she can find these kinds of companies; different events they may have attended (such as conferences, hackathons, contests etc.) different news outlets where they may have been featured, and the types of news to look out for (such as funding announcements).
Based on the criteria I’ve defined, my assistant looks in LinkedIn, the tech news outlets, conference sponsorship pages, etc. to build a quality list in Google Sheets totally from scratch. I end up with a very tailored list of my ideal prospects.
Customizing your cold email
Ready for my biggest trick for getting success with cold email?
I write a custom first sentence for every company and add that to my Google Sheet. I don't customize the whole email.
I customize the first sentence only, in a way that makes it very clear I know this company and I’ve done my research. After I’ve written my custom first sentence for every company in the list, my assistant adds the leads into Reply.
So what do I write? That first sentence might be a compliment about the design of the site or the market need for the tool, or it might be a suggestion of how the company could better position themselves.
I try to make it high value, where it’s very specific to their business. It’s like a mini-pitch, in one sentence. It’s got to be really good. That’s just the nature of my business though because I’m an individual, not an agency. Consultants doing cold email can get great results by focusing on quality over quantity.
I’ve also gotten very good at writing follow up cold emails that seem totally customized to the company, even when they’re not. I’ll say something like how I can see some kind of conversion opportunities on their site. Then when they write back wanting to learn more, I’ll have to go and look for what those conversion opportunities are!
Another thing I learned from a really smart marketer is to offer a video. So I’ll say “Hey, I’ve got a two-minute loom video that details some ideas for your site. Would you like it, or should I send it to somebody else on your team?”
That seems very customized, so they’re more likely to reply. Then I have to go and make the video—that way you’re only making it for the people who ask for it.
If they say “Oh, send it to this person,” then you’ve found a better contact at the company, and they’ve essentially told you who you need to contact. When you reach out to the new lead, you can let them know that their colleague suggested that you email them.
The 3 ingredients to successful cold email
Some people come to me for help with cold email because it isn’t working for them. The way they’re doing it just isn’t getting the results they want. As a result, I’ve identified three factors for a successful cold email:
You’ve got to have a great business. Do people actually need what you offer? This is always important in the B2B sector. Your prospects don’t typically buy things because they’re ‘nice.’ They’re not buying shiny shoes to make them look cool. There’s got to be a genuine market need. You have to be solving a real problem.
The second factor is quality custom lists. You really do need to be using lists you’ve built yourself, from scratch, that actually fit your specific business. If you’re just using a list you bought, you’re not going to see the same results.
Number three is having super tailored, highly specific messaging. If you have multiple markets, if you serve multiple personas, you have to create unique messaging sequences for each one. You want it to be as tailored as possible to that individual person.
Anybody who follows those three factors can enjoy great success with their cold emails.
The results of custom cold emails
Right now I’m running two campaigns with Reply. One goes out to B2B SaaS prospects, for companies who would be a good fit for individual copywriting consulting with me. Then I also have a second campaign going out to consultants who might need help with their outreach using cold email and LinkedIn.
My open rates range from 66% to 75%, and the reply rates range from 25% to 33%.
My main campaign (for new clients) consistently achieves that 33% reply rate, and I think it’s primarily because of that customized first sentence. Once you get used to it, it’s not much extra work, especially when you consider how much higher your reply rate is and how valuable each lead is.
If I was building a humongous list of low quality leads it wouldn’t be worth it. Because my list is custom built from scratch and the companies on it are totally the right fit in every way, the effort of doing that custom first sentence is worth it.
I also see high reply rates on the follow-ups, even though they’re completely uncustomized (except for the prospect name and company name). The reason is I’m offering something really valuable. I’m saying “Hey, I can see a conversion opportunity on your site. Would you like to know it?” It’s something valuable that people want, offered for free. They’d have to be silly to turn it down. To try this, think of something valuable that you can offer in your follow-ups, instead of just making it all about you and what you want.
Why I use Reply
One of the main advantages of Reply for me was the ease of automating the follow-ups. I’ve been doing cold email for three years now and when I started using Reply (about 11 months ago), I was doing cold emails consistently the manual way, but I was struggling with the follow-ups.
And as for follow-ups, I don’t advise that companies do eight or ten. That’s too aggressive and will get you flagged as spam. I recommend three or four. Because I create a high-quality custom list, any lead that’s on my list is going to be a really good fit. Going for quality over quantity, it doesn’t make sense for to just reach out to them only once. Being able to automate the follow-ups was important for me.
It’s also helpful being able to batch the work. Around the same time I started using Reply I took on an assistant, so she was able to easily help me with various parts of prospecting too.
The thing I like most about Reply is the fact that I can set up a campaign in just a couple of minutes. If I have an idea for a new sequence, it’s very easy for me to set it up. It’s really intuitive—I can take something from my brain and put it in the tool in no time.
As an individual user, you don’t want endless extra features. You don’t want all this junk that you really don’t need. You want to be able to figure it out easily for yourself or your assistant. That’s great value for me in my business. Feature overwhelm really bothers me. I’m always looking for the tools that do exactly what I need—no more, no less. I don’t want to feel overwhelmed.
I recommend Reply to all of my clients. It has a great look, great usability, it’s super smooth, and it’s super easy to use. It’s very intuitive, plus it has higher deliverability than anything I’ve tried—and I’ve tried a lot of tools!
It’s the right quality for the right price. That’s why I always recommend Reply.
If you’re a B2B SaaS or tech business and want help with your website and cold email copy, you can learn more about Dayana and schedule a call.
To find out how Reply can help you with your next email campaign, whether you’re a solo business an SMB, sign up for a 14-day free trial today.
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