7 Reasons Why Your Cold Email Campaign Might Fail

7 Reasons Why Your Cold Email Campaign Might Fail


Cold email drip campaigns are tricky.

On the one hand, if you’re a beginner, it’s easy to fall into the category of conservatives who think that cold emails, and especially the automated ones, are borderline spam and no one should ever consider sending them.

On the other hand, if you’re smart enough to look deeper into the current state of available technology, you’d quickly realize what tremendous opportunity you’ve been missing.

Whether your goal is to get people respond to you, or simply read your message, there’s never been a better time to launch a cold email campaign.

But here’s the paradox. Too many people’s cold emails still suck. And by suck I mean suck hard.

This is exactly why part of my job here at Reply has been to educate our customers about the ways to avoid the most common mistakes when preparing and launching their campaigns, maximize their open and reply rates, and ultimately convert more opportunities and close more deals.

Having worked with hundreds of customers’ campaigns, I’ve decided to put together a list of such mistakes, hoping it will be useful to both seasoned users of our platform and those who are just beginning to consider automating their email outreach.


It all starts with the leads.

I cannot stress this enough. Before even starting to create your perfect cold email copy, making sure that you have a high quality list (or source) of leads is probably one of the most important keys to success.

In other words, if, for example, if you sell software targeted at marketers, having 10k emails of company CEO’s isn’t nearly as efficient as having 10k emails of VPs or of Marketing or Marketing Managers.

Segmenting prospects for tailored targeting is a great way to increase the performance of your campaigns

Also, you need to make sure that the contacts in your list are up-to-date and valid, to avoid getting high bounce-back rates.

A good rule of thumb is this: if you’re only starting to build a list of contacts to reach out to, spend at least 3-4 hours researching your target audience.


Using outdated cold email template techniques

One would think that by the end of 2016 email marketers and salespeople would learn from their past mistakes, but for some inexplicable reason a typical cold email still looks similar to this:

Hey {Firstname},
I’ve seen your article/social media account/website here {link} and this is why I think you should check the stuff here {link}

Really? Come on people! Don’t you yourself hate cold emails like this?

Your contacts are smarter than you think they are and everybody has learned by now to throw this garbage into the spam or junk folder as soon as they see that {Firstname} is written in a different font from the rest of the email. Be creative!

The secret to writing a highly efficient email campaign is understanding this: with Reply you’re not sending selfless automated messages, you’re still sending your own unique personalized emails that you would send otherwise if you were doing it manually, by copying and pasting the core message and then tweaking a few things to make it resonate with each contact.


Not caring about the subject line enough

Subject lines are your gateways to grabbing the first milliseconds of your audience’s attention, so I strongly believe that you should spend at least as much time creating the perfect subject line as you spend creating the email itself.

While some think that the way to achieve this is to put as much information about the contents of the email in its subject line (which, to be fair, might work in a very limited number of cases), the best way to make it resonate is to use information that’s only relevant (and important) to each particular contact, via variables.

Do you know their company name? Technologies they might be using? Their boss’s name? Use it!

Dont underestimate the significance of the subject line

But don’t think that including variable information will automatically improve your chances of getting noticed. If anything, the subject line should first and foremost sound natural.


Using other people’s email copies

I get this question a lot: “what does a good email copy look like?”. No matter how tempting it might be for you to google “best email copies”, the most successful email campaigns are usually tailored for your specific audience, i.e. written manually. Don’t get me wrong, researching successful examples might be essential in the process of creating your campaign, but they should be an inspiration rather than the source of a carbon copy.

In some cases it might be a good idea to use the services of a professional copywriter that will create a highly efficient sequence based on your specific requirements, and we at Reply are lucky to partner with one such company, Growth Copy.


Not using context

Just as with the subject lines, context in the body of the email is key. The Reply campaigns I’ve seen that achieve poor response rates don’t usually try to resonate with the reader in any significant way.

The reasoning for this is understandable: people who created them are trying to cover as many contacts as possible with the same messaging, which inevitably leads to emails that sound generic and unconvincing.

Customizing just one sentence in a templated email can make a world of difference

The way to avoid this is to spend some time researching your contacts to

  • find commonality, so that you can segment leads into multiple campaigns (using our partner Blitzen for example)
  • find out more details that you can use as custom variables
  • tweaking the whole first couple of sentences for each contact, which also can be done via variables.


Not putting yourself in the prospect’s shoes

So let’s imagine you’ve nailed the first steps, having compiled a high quality lead list, segmented into different campaigns, with highly personalized emails with perfect subject lines. You're all set, right?

Wrong. With all the above things done correctly, there’s still chance for failure.

The best way to see this is to ask yourself: "Am I writing an email that I myself would read through to the end?"

And it blows my mind how many campaigns don’t pass this test. The reason is usually the same: having grabbed the attention of the reader with the subject line, people are then frantically trying to cram as much useful (from their perspective) information into the first email, with the rest of the follow-ups sounding approximately the same:

Hey, did you read my previous email?

We believe that the best approach for cold emailing is to keep it short, to the point, offering a bit of value on every step of the campaign, and not just in the first message, while still making the reader want to reach out to you for more details.


Not continuously improving your campaign

Believe me, even if you think your campaign is perfect, there’s always room for improvement.

One of the ways to increase open and reply rates it is to continuously A/B test your copies and subject lines to make sure you’re getting the highest open and reply rates possible.

Besides A/B testing Reply gives you a bevy of rich analytics and actionable data (like detailed prospect activity) that you can use to spot hot leads earlier and close your deals more efficiently.

So as you can see, creating a really successful cold email campaign that will lead to converting more opportunities and closing more business is not a matter of simply writing a couple of email templates and uploading a list of contacts. It is rather a continuous process where each element is carefully crafted, but if done properly, the results will surprise you.

Questions? Email me at george@reply.io

George Vitko

Sales Executive at ReplyApp
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