What Is Cold Email & Is This Spam?

September 8, 2019
Written by Jesús Diaz

Every now and then we all need to revisit basic concepts, if you’re into email marketing, then this article is for you. Cold email has been practiced for a long time and while is not at a peak in popularity right now, it can still be helpful. Beginning with the basics let’s refresh our knowledge about cold email.

In here you will learn what cold email is, how to send cold emails and if it does still work. With the added bonus of knowing how to send cold emails without being labeled as a spammer. A cold email campaign can be a really powerful way to attract attention to your business. However, before ever reaching a successful one you have to be clear on the basic concepts presented above.

What Is Cold Email

Don’t worry if you have experience in the area but just don’t do cold emails too much. Or if you’re just starting out in the email marketing sector, this article is at everyone’s level. Let’s begin with the questions above, but for that we have to be clear on the following.

The 5 core pieces of email outreach.

This is to say that we will be presenting answers for the above using the following approach. While at the same time answering to these 5 core pieces as part of what you should know about cold emailing.

What Is Cold Email & Is This Spam
What Is Cold Email
  • Cold email fundamentals. This is the very basis of cold emailing, the difference between a newsletter and a cold email.
  • Is cold email spam. Why some cold emails are labeled as spam and how to prevent this.
  • How to send a cold email. This is the same as to how to boost your email deliverability and land your emails in the main inbox.
  • Cold email best practices. The best practice in this aspect refers to a good format or template for your emails.
  • Dangerous email myths. Is it better to send a short or long email? About the GDPR. Best time and date to send cold emails.

What is cold email?

Cold email is whatever email you send to your prospects, with no prior relationship with your brand, that have not opted in to receive your emails. Think of this more like a door to door sales approach, rather than an uninvited proposition. It is after all, a way for you to get more subscribers/clients.

It should be noted that cold emails are not the same as a newsletter, and the reason is obvious. While the newsletter focuses on bringing new information to a subscriber, the cold email focuses on pitching your services to someone. Also, your cold emails are a one on one type of email that is usually personalized for a particular audience.

This last bit is as to say that your cold emails are supposed to generate interest in their recipients. All in hopes of increasing your subscriber count or increasing your conversion rate, thus increasing your sales. We do have an example template ready for you.

An example of cold email.

Hello! [First name of the recipient].
My name is [first name of the person sending the email] and I’m [position in the company].
I know how busy you must be so I’ll take as little of your time as possible. I’ve followed your work for sometime now and I think is great. [Personalized message about the recipient’s activities].
From all of us here at [Brand’s name] I wanted to reach out to you and see if there’s a chance that you would like to know different ways in which you can improve your world. We can offer a lot of assistance in different areas such as [areas of specialty and service in the company].
[Brief reference].
We at [Brand’s name] are always available to you and your needs. We would be really glad to hear from you, so reach out to us if you think that this is something you might be interested in.
Best regards.
[Full name and position in the company].”

You’re free to make any changes to deem necessary to this template, it is a free example after all. While on a more serious note you should always keep present the big difference between a newsletter and a cold email. Especially when choosing a platform on which to send your email campaigns. For instance, most people use MailChimp as a platform from which to run their cold email campaigns. This is a big mistake; one often results in dramatically decreasing the deliverability of their emails. But this in itself is a whole different topic.

Is cold email considered spam?

While the issue of whether an email in considered spam or not, depends on the recipient of the email. We can most certainly say that cold emails are not spam. First of all, spam is considered a criminal act now day’s and it’s punished. Using the analogy with a door to door salesman from earlier, the salesman won’t go to prison, or be issued a fine, just for nocking on your door to offer you a product. The same applies for cold email.

What Is Cold Email & Is This Spam

This is not the same as to say that some people won’t be inclined to label your cold emails as spam. This can be due to the format used, sometimes it has more to do with the recipient’s mood or a spam filter. Do keep in mind that the salesman in our analogy would face problems for keep nocking on your door once you’ve told him you’re not interested. The same does apply for cold email, if a recipient is not interested it is best to leave it be, do not risk a spam complaint.

The first thing that you should be aware of when sending cold emails is the CAN-SPAM act. You can send emails to business people that you don’t know. This is as long as you follow the rules dictated by the Federal Trade Commission, in the U.S this is. More on this can be found in our article about the CAN-SPAM act.

Just sending cold emails won’t get you blacklisted or your emails to be labeled as spam. The format you use in the emails, as well as the content, might.

Why do my emails go to spam?

This is a question being asked by most people in email marketing at some point in their careers. We’ve addressed this very issue in our article about why emails go to spam in outlook. While our article addresses the Outlook platform mainly the concepts can be applied in general. However, here we can give you a brief list of reasons this happens.

  • Your complaint rate is not a good one. This is simple, the more complaints you get the more likely you are to be labeled as spam later on. This results on your emails being delivered straight to the spam folder. The solution is simple, care for the format of your emails, your complaint rate and do not send spam.
  • You didn’t authenticate your domain. Domain authentication is crucial for the deliverability of your emails. Without it, your ISP won’t know who’s really sending the emails and as such, this might lead your emails to the spam folder.
  • People are not responding to your emails. This is something that your ISP and email platform do take notice of. Sending emails that will never be opened will likely lead to a low domain reputation which in turn leads to low deliverability and the spam filters acting on your emails.

More advice.

  • You have invalid email addresses in your list. This is pretty straight forward, but there are some great news for you. The best service to help you clean your email list, is available to you right now, EmailVerify will help you get a clean and valid list of email addresses. It checks for misspelling, spam traps and much more.
  • You are sending cold emails using email blast. While this is practiced for some email campaigns the outcome isn’t always good for your email deliverability. In fact, this should be avoided in cold email campaigns. The reason is that most email platforms and ISP’s see this as spam behavior. Instead of email blasting your campaign, try a service or platform that would send one email after another.
  • You forgot to warm up your email address. Any time you create a new email address for your campaigns, you should ease your way into the sending goal of your campaign. Otherwise you will look very suspicious to your ISP and this might get your emails into the spam folder.

Cold email best practices.

The first thing that will help you with your cold emails is personalization. The mission of your cold emails is not conversion, contrary to what most people think, it’s to catch the attention of your recipient. With this in mind you never play the odds with cold emails, you play the person.

Your cold emails should be personalized and cater to your recipients. This is why you always have to do your research on your recipients. Try to empathize with your prospects and get details and specifics about why they should pay attention to you. This will show that you are interested and will make them much more likely to actually reach out to you.

While we provided a free example above, any other template for cold emails won’t differ much from that one. You can change the reason of the email and other details, however most follow the same template. Just remember to personalize your emails and make your recipient interested on your brand.

The dangerous email myths to avoid.

You might have heard about not doing this or the other in an email campaign. Here we will address the most common myths of email marketing. Keep in mind that there is no rule over who is successful and who isn’t, some campaigns are a complete success and other are a complete failure.

Below we will be addressing the following myths.

  • Avoid images at all cost.
  • Keep your subject line and email short.
  • Send emails at specific time and date.
  • Don’t use spam words.

Let’s begin with the most obviously fake of all.

Avoid images at all cost.

Okay, this is absolute nonsense. Images work greatly in your cold emails. You can add a compelling image of your brand or yourself in the email, this will help you make a connection with your recipient. You can also add landscape images with vibrant colors that make your cold email feel more alive.

Images are a great addition to your cold emails and will work wonders for your response rate. In other words, this myth is completely fake.

Keep your subject line and email short.

This one does have a certain reason to it, but it is not completely true. Your subject line should be precise and friendly while being optimized for any mobile device. However, your actual email should not be as short as some people might lead you to believe. In fact, there is no proof that short emails work better than long ones when it comes to cold emails. Just remember to stay on point and make sure that all you put in the main body of the email is relevant.

The best time and date to send cold emails.

Different times and days work for different people and campaigns. Is not always going to be the same for each person. However, there are days and times where emails are more likely to be opened, more on this can be found in our article about the best time to send your emails.

Remember that this does depend on the nature of your emails, the geolocation of your recipients and much more. The best advice we can give you on this regard is to do your own research.

Using spam words.

This is actually something to concern yourself, but to a point. Using one or two words in full caps is no big deal. However, writing your whole email in full caps might lead your email to be labeled as spam. This is due to the format of your email being too similar to spam emails.

While more on subject. Using spam words such as “Buy now”, “free” or others are not always the worst. Do keep in mind that this not an issue largely due to the nature of your cold emails. The body of your emails should feel organic and it should resonate with your readers, therefore you won’t be using words like “buy now” too often.

Know your recipients.

This cannot be overly stressed; you should always make an effort to try to get information from your potential customers. This of course applies to your cold emails. The basis of any cold email campaign should be getting to know your public and their needs.

This will make you much more likely to empathize with them and be able to create a connection. This leads to a faithful consumer base of clients that are engaged with your brand and can offer a lot more than just money.

Avoid sucking up to them.

People can smell fake complements from miles away. When running a cold email campaign your aim is to look professional and reliable, while sounding true to your words. This help you build your trust with your prospects as they see you as an honest and concise person.

This is similar to the attitude you should have when doing business with another company or person. Just don’t bother to suck up to your prospects, it will likely not lead to a response, and if it does it won’t be such a good one.

The last myth, will the GDPR label your emails as spam?

This last one is an absolute lie. The GDPR states under recital 47, which is named “Overriding legitimate interest”, the following.

“The processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest.”

While the GDPR does engage actively in the fight against spam, it has nothing to do with cold emails. Remember that we’ve clarified that cold emails are not spam, therefore the GDPR won’t go up against them. However, once your recipient says “no” make sure not to keep sending them cold emails, this will be considered spam in the given case.

Wrapping up.

Given the length of the topics covered here, let’s recapitulate what you should get out of this piece.

  • Cold email is an email sent to a prospect, with no prior relationship to your company and that has not opted in to get emails from you. It is used to get a response from the recipient rather than to gain a conversion.
  • Cold emails and newsletters are very different and are not interchangeable.
  • According to the CAN-SPAM act you can send cold emails, so long as follow certain rules. The same applies for the GDPR so long as you have a legitimate marketing interest to send the email.
  • Successful cold emails campaigns begin with the understanding of your audience and their needs.
  • Using images in cold emails can, and does, work in your favor. Don’t trust myths that you might have heard about from other people. Always seek the possible reasons behind each piece of advice someone gives you.

Now you have a clear understanding of what cold emails is, how to best apply it and the its hidden dangers. Do make sure to apply this knowledge in future email marketing campaigns, and remember to always try to create engaging cold email templates that can resonate with your prospects.

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