If getting new customers was as easy as blasting an email to a list, everyone with a computer in Russia would be a millionaire.

I mean, sure, email marketing has an ROI of 3800% (according to DMA), and a well crafted email is thirty times more likely to be read than a social media update.

Not to mention that, unlike any social media, ALL your prospects have an email account and are checking it multiple times a day. And finding anyone’s professional email today is not really that hard (more about it below).

So, the question remains: why is selling your product not as easy as blasting an email list?

Here are some hard learned lessons from sending 119379 cold messages.

Money Really is In The List

Back when we were starting, our customer decided to purchase a list of 5000 emails and blast an email to them. This resulted 8% open rate, and no reactions whatsoever.

Our typical campaign has 60-80% open rate, and 20-40% people will personally respond. And not just anyone, we had executives from companies Johnson & Johnson, BMW and Total requesting a meeting with our clients.

Why is there such a big difference?

Like they say, money is in the list.

Building custom lists, identifying the right decision makers who are likely to have the problem you are solving, and enriching the lists with specific information is a key first step.

Using our data partnerships, with access to >200M decision makers (with 95% accuracy), and our trained team that manually fills the gaps, we can find pretty much anyone’s email.

But building a list requires more than just access to large databases. You’ll need to use information from the website, government records, LinkedIn profiles of employees, job posts… in order to hand-curate the list of the right prospects that will respond.

I once spent 22 hours building a list of several hundred niche companies (and my team many more hours hunting for the right people). Result? 14% of decision makers we contacted requested a meeting.

Niche Can be A Good Thing

If I had a penny for every time I heard “But we are a specific niche… we have a complex sale… this will not work for us”, well I wouldn’t be rich, but I’d have lots of pennies.

Most of our customers are in a niche. And you know what? It’s a good thing.

First of all, does it work? As long as you are solving a real problem for people, and these people have an email address (and some have a LinkedIn profile), you will see results—as long as you do it well.

And second, niche often means it’s less “noisy”. Which bring me to the next point.

It’s Increasingly Hard to Cut Through the Noise

We live in an over-communicated society. An average person is exposed to something like 5000 of ads each DAY, and has to sift through hundreds of emails and other kinds of messages.

The speed at which new startups appear (and become yet another voice) in all sorts of markets is just mind-boggling.

It’s no wonder that nobody reads all the messages they receive.

Here is what might go through your prospect’s mind as they are deciding whether to read your message

Do I know the sender? Here you have an inherent disadvantage, as cold recipients don’t have a prior relationship with you.

The way we ameliorate this is by having a simple, personal and believable excuse to contact them, and positioning our client as a thought leader in their respective market.

Is this mass messaging, or meant specifically for me? People are well trained in spotting “marketing speak” and promotional messages. When pressed for time (and who isn’t), this type of message will be ignored.

The problem is that for some reason, most entrepreneurs write very different as they “climb the soapbox” to write a message for many people—different than they would normally speak to a regular person.

After sending 100K+ emails, cases where I had extremely good open rates (up to 85%) and response rates (up to 51%) were always with personalized messages that did not look like promotions.

But writing personalized messages en masse truly is a craft that doesn’t come naturally to us.

Is the content relevant for me—or, what’s in it for me? I am talking both about the content of the emails, and the essence of the offer you are promoting (product-market fit).

This is why your conversation should really be about the prospect. We are increasingly pressed to come up with innovative ways to get the prospects’ attention, but there is no substitute for getting in touch with what the prospects care about the most. t you (their benefit is all they really care about at the moment of reading).

Is this legit? Can I trust the sender? Online, there’s always a healthy dose of mistrust. You are “guilty” until proven otherwise.

Your message should be free of grammatical and spelling mistakes and use the right vernacular. Dropping names and having legitimate contact information (with physical address, phone number, a trustworthy website and a LinkedIn profile) can help further.

Is your message short enough for me to read? Simply put, your prospects are more likely to read a short than a long message. Also, messages are notoriously easy to misunderstand, so you want to save explanations and arguments for two-way (phone or face to face) conversations.

Think of it as a “Minimum Viable Message”: it should contain the minimal viable information required to spur a reaction from your prospects, and nothing more. Often, less is more with messages.


Thanks for reading. I hope these tips will help you become better at cold messaging your prospects.

Let me know if I can help.