Top Cold Email Mistakes and How to Correct Them

Vladislav Podolyako
Nov 04, 2022
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Making a successful cold email campaign might be challenging, but designing a truly appalling campaign requires a high level of expertise. You are familiar with the emails we're referring to - the ones that have received no opens and that nobody can delete fast enough. πŸ€” Are these common errors being made by your SDR team when creating sequences? Maybe not, but there's always room for improvement in your outreach. 

Helping our customers avoid the most common errors when planning and launching their campaigns, increase their open and reply rates, and ultimately convert more prospects and complete more transactions is a part of our job. 

So, to help both users of your platform and those who are just starting to think about their email outreach automation, we’ve made a list of these errors. There are also some pointers on correcting these errors so that your attempts to the network will yield even better outcomes! But first, let’s explore which cold outreach metrics matter and why.

Metrics for Cold Email Outreach That Are Most Important 

Let's review the metrics you must track that will provide you with a wealth of information about the performance of your campaign as a whole before we get into great detail about these email blunders. 

To assess your outreach campaign's success, you must understand and monitor the email metrics πŸ“Š. It's comparable to erecting a billboard in a public place without knowing how many people would see it or ultimately purchase your product. Now you can because of technology. 

Knowing how many emails were opened, bounced, responded to, and how many individuals converted as a result of cold email outreach will help you assess email performance more accurately. You can start developing compelling cold email marketing once you've mastered that. 

Bounce Rate 

The percentage of emails sent out via email but not successfully delivered is known as the "bounce rate." For instance, a bad email address or a problem with the email provider's technology could cause this. 

Understanding Email Bounce Rate Calculation 

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Assume you sent 1000 emails during your email campaign. Among them, 98 deliveries failed to take place. It would work like this to calculate: 

Bounce Rate = 98/1000 x 100 = 9.8% 

Open Rate

The percentage of email opens used to gauge the effectiveness of cold email campaigns. Better is higher, obviously. 

The email convertibility as a whole is not well-explained by this statistic. But it can also reveal why it wasn't opened, whether or not your subject line or preview text—the first few sentences of your email body—is interesting, or it might even suggest that your email deliverability isn't working properly. 

Email Open Rate Calculation 

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Taken from the prior example, let's assume you sent 1000 emails, 98 of them bounced, and 565 of them were opened. It will work like this to calculate: 

The open rate equals 565 / (1000 - 98) x 100, or 62.63%. 

Response Rate 

It's wonderful to have a high open rate, but it's even nicer to have a high response rate. The number of unique emails in the cold campaign that leads reacted to is what this measure, as its name suggests, indicates. The content of your email is represented by this metric. In the end, a solid response rate indicates that you were successful in grabbing the lead's attention. πŸ‘€

Calculating Email Response Rate 

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The sampling thread is carried on. You currently have 902 delivered, unique emails. Only 133 leads from that group answered. Following is the calculation: 

Response rate: (133 / 902 x 100) = 14.75% 

Email Conversion Rate 

A lead's completion of the desired action, such as registering for a demo or beginning a subscription, is referred to as a conversion. However, the percentage of prospects that responded to your cold email campaigns and completed the intended action is known as the conversion rate for email outreach

❗️ The conversion rate is the most important indicator to determine whether an email campaign was effective. 

Calculating Email Conversion Rate 

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There have been a total of 36 conversions out of 902 emails that were delivered successfully. The following calculation is made: 

Conversion Rate = 36/902 times 100 = 3.99% 

Now that you’re familiar with the metrics, it’s time to examine your email errors and discuss how to avoid making them in the future, so they don't negatively influence these KPIs. Keep reading for the best part!

Top cold email mistakes

Without further adieu, here they are. πŸ‘‡

A desire to improvise

As they say, neglecting to plan is intending to fail. And when it comes to email marketing, this is undoubtedly correct. Assuming things will work out without any effort is the first rule of the terrible email club. Randomly sending emails to contacts at various times is a surefire way to land up in the spam folder or worse. 

The legal side of cold outreach is another stage that many outreachers frequently omit, whether on purpose or out of ignorance. The CAN-SPAM act regulations, which apply to the USA, are the most notorious of them

If you want to ignore those as well, many nations have their version. You will not only trip every spam filter from here to Tennessee, but you will also inadvertently break the law. Here comes public enemy number one! 

Of course, until you give it a shot and see for yourself, you won't know for sure whether cold email templates or strategies are effective for your audience. But at least you'll be aware of some general guidelines to follow to avoid the frigid outreach gods' wrath (as well as the authorities). 

Emailing everybody 

You have a fantastic product or service that can greatly assist many people. Naturally, you want as many people to hear about it as possible, so you want to shout it from the rooftops πŸ—£οΈ. So you decide to purchase every unqualified list you can find. If necessary, generate emails at random. Every email address you can locate should receive your campaign. 

This will, among other things, irritate a lot of people. Even worse, you'll be reported as a spammer and have your sender reputation damaged, making it harder for you to contact people in the future who might be interested in what you offer. Even if you manage to reach their inbox, you will have wasted a lot of resources for a response rate that is somewhere in the lower half of the scale. 

The list is where it all begins. One of the keys to success is to ensure that you have a high-quality list (or source) of leads before even considering the content of your cold email.

In other words, having 10,000 emails from technical professionals isn't nearly as effective as having 1,000 emails from VPs, Marketing, or Marketing Managers, for example, if you provide marketing software.

Creating prospect segments for targeted advertising is a terrific method to improve the effectiveness of your efforts. To avoid a high bounce rate, you should also ensure that the contacts in your list are current and valid. 

Spend at least 3–4 hours learning about your target audience if you're just beginning to compile a list of people to approach.

Even better is having a well-defined buyer persona — a set of criteria you can use to filter through the data source and find the most qualified candidates. 

πŸ“ Create a list of potential purchasers next, including as much information as you can on each one. Their contact information is also provided (you will need this later when you decide to personalize your messages). Last but not least, double-check the contact details to make sure they are accurate and current. 

Not giving adequate thought to the subject line mistakes

You should spend at least as much effort crafting the ideal subject line as you do crafting the email itself.

 Subject lines are your gateways to capturing the first milliseconds of your audience's attention. 

Some believe that the best way to do this is to include as much information about the email's contents in the subject line (which, to be fair, may work in a very small number of cases), but the best way to make it resonate is to use information that's only relevant (and important) to each specific contact, via variables. Do you know the name of the business? Technology that they could be utilizing? Who is their boss? Use it! Never disregard the importance of the subject line. 

Don't believe that adding variable information would inevitably increase your chances of being detected. The subject line should, if anything, sound most natural. In light of this, we’re compelled to list some of the worst strategies employed in cold email subject lines. The "clickbait" style topics come first. 

There are so many click-bait headlines on the internet that you can't throw a stick without striking some. Everyone has seen them. Most likely, you've clicked a few times as well. They should be a part of an effective email campaign if they're that good at getting people to click, right? Use subject lines with click-bait appeals. The exact opposite. πŸ“ Email open rates are negatively impacted by click-bait titles. So, avoid the impulse to add as much intrigue to your subject line as you can. Instead, use a direct and concise subject line for your email

Similarly to this, avoid using misleading subject lines that begin with RE: or FWD: to entice recipients to read your email. These mimic emails that have already been replied to or sent to another recipient. Naturally, there's a possibility that a potential customer will click it without thinking. However, the likelihood that your email will go straight to the spam bin after that is significantly higher. 

It's not a good idea to trick someone into starting a discussion, especially if you want to do business with them. Instead, you can develop your strategies by using the tried-and-true subject line formulas or applying data-supported ideas on how to write better cold email subject lines. 

Focusing only on you 

Every party has that one person who will corner you and talk nonstop about himself, from his first word "success" as a baby to how smart he is. The genuinely awful email campaigns use a similar strategy, but it's far simpler to delete an email than leave a party. 

One of the most frequent mistakes people make when sending cold emails is writing ones that are "selfish." Since talking about oneself in a cold email is the quickest way to lose a prospect's interest.

Keep in mind that your prospects are not interested in your business or your fantastic product. Like all humans, they are mostly concerned with themselves. 

πŸ”Ž Let's examine a selfish example of a cold email (along with a patch) from Jack Reamer of SalesBread. 

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Notice how “my” needs are at the center of the entire message? Now, let's adapt the identical message into a prospect-focused email as follows: 

6 Template (1)

Both emails include the same message. But while the other is written for the prospect, the first is written "selfishly." And there is a significant difference between the total number of favorable responses produced. 

To compose prospect-focused cold emails, we recommend removing all sentences that begin with "My name is.." (Prospects can read your signature if they get curious.) 

Not personalizing

One thing that most campaigns we've seen with low response rates have in common is that they don't make any effort to connect with the reader in any meaningful way. Emails that sound generic and unconvincing are a natural result of their creators aiming to reach as many people as they can with the same messaging. The good news is that customization variables allow even the laziest SDRs to make their emails sound a little more customized and empathetic 🀝. On the other hand, including a few FirstName and CompanyName variables won't cut it if you're serious about getting prospects to reply to your cold emails

What sort of personalization ought you add, then? 

Start by incorporating some more sophisticated variables for "City," "Industry," "Interests," "Features," and "Similarities" into your email so that it "fits" each prospect like a handwritten note. Successful campaigns go beyond this personalization by segmenting the prospects and customizing based on a wide range of factors, from geographic area to job title. Even one well-used variable can make a difference. 

Then, if you want to go all out, think about adding a distinctive email introduction phrase and/or a personalized P.S. This does indeed sound like a lot of work. However, the outcomes you may achieve by exerting a little more work will be worthwhile! 

So, here are a few suggestions if you're searching for easy action points to add additional personalization to your emails: 

  • Search for commonalities to divide leads into several campaigns; 
  • more investigation to get the information you can utilize as custom variables; 
  • for each contact, create a few brief, specific tidbits. 

Write 100 potential customers a personalized introduction paragraph. We advise including 1 sincere comment about their service or business in the introduction. It may be something like, "Congratulations on receiving 80 5-star reviews on G2Crowd." 

Then, click "Send" and keep an eye on your response rates. 

Even if they are part of a campaign that is delivered to thousands of people, people prefer to get customized emails. But if you want your campaign to fail, stay away from any indication of customization. 

Rushing to make the sale 

Who wouldn't want a "Buy Now" button that works in their cold emails? Because the purpose of a cold email is to persuade the recipient to purchase from you, correct? ❌ Wrong. B2B sales don't operate that way. 

Everyone dislikes pushy salespeople who are in your face, don't listen to what you have to say, and force you to buy the most costly item that doesn't even match your needs. For this reason, it's a typical mistake for many outbound efforts to ask prospects for too much in a cold email. 

So, the first and simplest modification you can do to get more responses is to tone down your call to action. Your response rate will decrease as you make more requests for your potential customer. For instance, simple, low-risk CTAs like "Any interest? "will receive more responses than cold email CTAs that require a lot of commitment, such as "Book a 45-minute Demo." 

The solution: consider your cold emails as a potent approach to start a conversation rather than as a request for a demo. To put it another way, use CTAs that are simpler to respond to rather than asking for the meeting straight away. 

  • "Is this worth investigating?” 
  • "Do you consider XYZ a priority this quarter?” 
  • "Reply YES, and I'll forward it." 
  • “Would you be available for a brief conversation next week for 10 minutes?” 

On the other hand, using weak or no CTAs at all is another cold outreach mistake to be aware of. To help you understand what I'm referring to, consider the following examples: 

  • If you are interested, I can tell you more. Please tell me! 
  • This week, if you want to talk, I'm available. 
  • The PDF attachment is visible. Hope it's useful! 

To put it another way, weak CTAs are simple to ignore. These are really subdued. 🀯 They leave your reader feeling confused and frustrated and give your email no clear conclusion. You might as well leave your last sentence open-ended for maximum effect and to anger as many readers as you can, kind of like... 

Avoid doing that. The last chord of your cold email is your CTA. Make sure the reader can relate to it and is motivated to take the desired action. 

Ignoring the perspective of the potential customer 

So let's say you've nailed the initial stages and created a high-quality lead list that has been divided into various campaigns. You've also created highly tailored cold outreach emails with ideal subject lines and powerful CTAs. Ready to go? Wrong. Even with the accuracy of the aforementioned steps, failure is still possible. 

The easiest way to determine this is to consider if you are writing cold emails that you would read through yourself. The cause is typically the same: after grabbing the reader's attention with the subject line, people scramble to squeeze as much useful (from their perspective) information into the first email. The rest of the follow-up emails then largely sound the same: "Hey, did you read my last email? ” 

We think the ideal strategy for cold emailing is to keep it brief and to the point, provide some value throughout the campaign, not only in the initial letter, and still compel the reader to contact you for further information. Asking for too much is one of the worst strategies to utilize when doing cold outreach. Even though this is merely a favor request and not a sale per se, why should I even care if you don't provide anything of value in return? 

❓ What are the advantages of continuing to read, click through, and act? Your readers will swiftly lose any interest they may have had since, in reality, nobody is interested. That is unless you can persuade them to care by the provision of an undeniable advantage, an instant benefit, some food for thought, or something more useful, such as a discount, a present, or a gift card. 

Not taking (enough) action 

There is proof that it takes seven times for someone to hear from you before it has an impact.

People won't buy from you if they don't know who you are.

66% of replies in a typical SaaS cold email campaign come after the first email. And after the third email, 20% of all replies occur. What can we learn from this? You're throwing money away if you don't follow up four or more times

You won't be alone, so don't worry. It turns out that after just one attempt, 44% of salespeople give up. If you follow suit, you will undoubtedly lose your potential for sales

Why then do some of us continue to hold off on sending that follow-up email? If we contact someone too frequently, we worry that they'll become angry. So, we make do with a (maximum of) 3-step email campaign and pray for the best πŸ™. On the 12th follow-up email, other SaaS companies are receiving favorable responses. Not yet persuaded? View the statistics for one of our campaigns here: 

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See? After the third email, 24 of the 138 replies were received! (17%) 

Okay. When you're prepared to step up your follow-up strategy, follow these steps: 

  • Recognize that you WILL receive rejection emails from some prospects. Rejection is a normal part of the sales process, so don't freak out. 
  • Keep track of the affirmative responses to ascertain how successful your follow-ups are. 
  • Allow plenty of time between your third, fourth, and fifth follow-ups. That's a terrific start—120 hours.
  • Create follow-up emails until you have at least five follow-up emails in your sequence. In each follow-up email, give a new benefit and a call to action. 

Similar to CTAs, there is also a flip side to the coin: sending a prospect a barrage of emails can be more effective than failing to follow up with them. Do not pursue.

Even those who may have been initially intrigued by your goods may get irritated if you bombard them with emails every time they open their inbox, and they will rush to block you. 

You need to strike a delicate balance where you connect and engage without annoying your potential clients between giving up right away and overwhelming them. Aim towards one of the extremes if you want to be sure that you will miss that sweet spot. 

Sending emails at the wrong time 

πŸ’» When you turn on your computer in the morning, how many emails are there in your inbox? What if Monday morning arrives? Like most busy professionals, you receive dozens or even hundreds of emails every day, including newsletters, advertisements, and cold emails. Therefore, most of those communications will only be briefly seen before being permanently lost in the depths of your trash folder. 

On the other hand, the majority of individuals will read an email that arrives in their inbox during business hours. Unavoidably, the recipient's attention will be drawn to the notification when it appears on the screen. Additionally, in the morning, people frequently set aside time for correspondence, whereas in the afternoon, they tend to ignore emails. Use this information accordingly. 

Concentrating on a single channel 

Keep in mind the phrase "don't put all your eggs in one basket"? Cold outreach is also covered by this guideline. Even if the email is the preferred method of corporate communication, sticking to it solely will cost you money

Just have a look at the breakdown our team created of the demonstrations booked by channel. This indicates that if you simply use email for automated promotions, you may be passing up at least 40% of the opportunities. 

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However, using inventive manual, hyper-personalized emails with video or even SMS messaging (use with caution! ) will increase demos by 15%

Therefore, try to shake things up a little and insert a few different touchpoints in between rather than sending endless emails. For instance, start a series with a LinkedIn interaction, such as a profile look or connection request. However, there is also a method that multichannel outreach might go wrong. For instance, if you simultaneously send your message across numerous channels (such as email, LinkedIn, etc.). And by that, we mean at the same time. This will overload your prospect and aggravate them, decreasing their likelihood of responding. 

Don't add any more messages; your prospects already have plenty in their inboxes and on their platforms. ☝️ Send your follow-ups in stages, allowing at least a few hours to pass between each. 

Not understanding your metrics 

With their campaign reports, SDRs frequently place a strong emphasis on response rates. In the end, that is how you get new leads! You only need responses, right? Actually, no. Similar to how some measures might influence one another, there are additional stats to keep an eye on. 

For instance, every SDR is aware that your cold email campaigns should have an open rate of at least 50%, ideally between 60 and 85%. It seems obvious that the first thing you might want to alter if you're seeing fewer opens is your subject line. Yet your deliverability and open rate are directly related. How can you expect someone to read your email if it doesn't get to their inbox? 

βœ… Here are a few quick actions you can take right away to boost your open rate: 

  • Conduct several tests to identify the problems that require attention. 
  • Verify the setup and authentication of your email account. 
  • To remove invalid email addresses from your contact list and keep your bounce rate under 5%, validate it. 
  • Sending emails to your current contacts will help you establish or enhance your reputation. You can also use Reply's Email Warm-Up tool to fully automate the process. 
  • Look for spam terms, broken links, and HTML code in your email's text. 

Other factors, such as email engagement, can also impact your delivery rate. However, this ought to be sufficient to start things off. 

Not enhancing your marketing constantly 

Your outreach program is, therefore, ready to go and operating efficiently on autopilot. You can relax while sipping coffee and watching the responses come in, right? Actually, no. You cannot simply set up cold outreach and forget about it. You can always make your campaign better, even if you believe it's ideal. 

Constantly A/B testing your messages is one approach to make sure you're getting the best open and reply rates possible. The best option is constantly being checked and improved upon by seasoned SDRs, from the subject line through the sign-off. 

In addition to A/B testing, your sales engagement platform will provide you with a wealth of comprehensive prospect activity data and sophisticated analytics that you can use to identify hot leads early and complete transactions more successfully. 

There are a billion tips on how to ruin your email campaign, but only you know who your audience is. Every sector of the economy is distinct, as are all businesses. As a result, it's important to monitor your progress and be prepared to make changes as needed. 

The biggest error you can make is not doing outbound, out of all those stated here. Unless you already have a surplus of leads to manage. Why? Don’t get us wrong, incoming leads are great. Once a solid inbound channel is established, they may be simpler to close and come in automatically. But do you anticipate that all your clients will find you immediately? 

Or if there's a market niche you'd like to penetrate, outbound can assist you in getting in touch with them before they learn about your service. Best case scenario: you're successfully generating leads by balancing outbound sales with inbound marketing. "Oh, so you're claiming that traveling outbound has no drawbacks? Yeah! Send all the emails now! ” 

⏳ Wait a minute. Your reputation is at risk each time you contact a cold lead. It could backfire on you if you disregard opt-out requests or if you send pushy outbound messages. Work with a reputable lead generation company that supports your business, or do it yourself. 

Wrapping up 

There are many tactics to ruin your email campaign if you're determined to do it. Just a few of the most frequent errors are those stated above. However, the list is endless: 

  • ignoring feedback (even good feedback!);
  • making clear errors (such as spelling the prospect's name incorrectly);
  • generic scripts being sent (especially in response to a positive response);
  • sending a message or email in an incorrect language;
  • contacting the same individual once more (despite the previous negative answer).

You can perhaps avoid the dangers and successfully launch your outreach campaign with the assistance of this post. Hope that will help!

Vladislav Podolyako
Vladislav Podolyako
Founder & CEO
Vlad’s decades of entrepreneurial wisdom and business building experience have allowed him to successfully mentor a diverse group of business owners, entrepreneurs in growing their companies. A recognized expert in the areas of transforming organizational culture and leadership development, B2B Sales, Marketing, spent more than 10 years building technology products, with a background in communication networks and electronic device engineering.

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