Cold email outreach is one of the most effective prospecting strategies for B2B and B2C businesses. With an average click-through rate (CTR) of between 2 and 5 percent, cold emailing easily outshines social media advertising, SEO marketing, and other such digital marketing channels.
Social media advertising offers an average CTR of less than 1 percent, across different platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. SEO marketing, on the other hand, offers an average conversion rate of 2.4 percent, as opposed to the average email conversion rate of 15.11 percent.
No matter how effective a strategy it is, however, there are only so many cold emails you can send out manually, on any given day. Crafting a personalized and intriguing cold email is hard work. It requires a lot of research, forethought, and creativity.
If you’re doing it all manually, you won’t be able to send out more than a handful of emails each day. And even then, there would always be the risk of human error – a misspelled name or a misplaced job title could potentially cost you a sale worth thousands of dollars.
So, how can you start scaling your cold email outreach activities, without significantly increasing the amount of time and money you’re spending?
The answer is simple.
You need to start using a high-quality and reliable cold email automation tool, such as Mailshake or Woodpecker.
Both Mailshake and Woodpecker are designed to help marketers send personalized cold emails at scale, in order to connect with potential clients and customers.
In terms of features, Mailshake offers a more intuitive user interface, numerous third-party CRM integrations (such as Hubspot, Salesforce, Pipedrive, etc.), and a list-cleaning service that can automatically remove invalid email addresses from your list. On the other hand, Woodpecker offers a powerful email tracking feature that measures metrics like open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, etc. It also provides many custom fields and snippets to better personalize your cold emails.
As more and more businesses have grasped the effectiveness of cold emailing as a lead generation strategy, this has led to the rise of many tools and platforms that help automate the process. But while a cold email automation tool is not hard to find, it can be much harder to figure out which of the available options is right for you and your business.
The best email automation tool will let you personalize cold emails at scale, segment your prospects and start them on campaigns automatically, automate follow-ups, and improve your sender reputation and deliverability.
Woodpecker or Mailshake – Which One Should You Choose?
Two of the most popular cold email automation tools – that offer most (if not all) of the above-mentioned features – are Woodpecker and Mailshake.
However, it is precisely because of their popularity (and the wide array of features they offer) that it can be so hard to choose between them.
At first glance, the two tools can seem quite similar. Unless you’re deeply familiar with the unique needs and workflow of your business, it may seem as though it doesn’t matter which tool you choose.
However, once you look deeper into it, you will realize that both Woodpecker and Mailshake have their own advantages and drawbacks, and that each is best suited to a different type of campaign.
So, if you’re still unsure about which one to choose, read on to learn some more about both these email automation platforms, as well as their unique features and benefits.
If you want to focus on simple, straightforward cold email campaigns, then Woodpecker might be the best option for you. Headquartered in the city of Wrocław in western Poland, Woodpecker is designed to help users reach out to (and engage with) leads, across various channels.
It helps companies grow and increase their bottom lines, by helping them build valuable business relationships. One of its main advantages is its simple and easy-to-understand user-interface.
- Simple and Straightforward
It forgoes many of the bells-and-whistles of other cold outreach platforms in favor of a more streamlined approach, with almost singular focus on cold email outreach. Woodpecker also offers a whopping 15-day free trial – along with 150 free cold emails – to help users figure out the tool before they have to make a single payment.
Woodpecker also has a huge archive of video and text-based tutorials, on how to make the best use of their platform for cold emailing success. The moment you log into their website, you will be presented with a 5-minute quick-start guide. Apart from this, you will have access to a huge library of in-depth blogs about the logistics of running a cold email campaign with high conversion rates.
Before you start building your cold email campaign, you have to connect your business email account to Woodpecker. Once the email account is connected, you can then go to your dashboard and create a new campaign. The Woodpecker dashboard has a sparse and simple design, to keep your focus where it needs to be – on your cold email copy.
- Building a Campaign
At the top of the campaign page, you will have to give it a name and select the email address that will be used to launch the cold outreach campaign. You can add this address to the ‘from’ field.
Next, you will come down to the content field. You will have to choose a subject line and the basic cold email template, which will be sent unchanged to all the recipients.
- Customization Options
The cool thing about Woodpecker, however, is that it allows for vast amounts of personalization. Once you’ve chosen your basic email template, you can customize it using Woodpecker’s many snippets and field replacement tags.
Using the Woodpecker snippets, you can customize any part of the cold email you want. You can have custom first lines, first paragraphs, or custom CTAs. And this is apart from the usual customization options that most cold outreach automation tools offer, such as first and last names, job title, company name, etc.
Therefore, Woodpecker is the tool of choice for marketers who are highly focused on personalized cold email campaigns, as their primary lead generation strategy. If you have a limited pool of potential clients and customers, and want to reach them and build lasting relationships with them via email, then Woodpecker is without doubt the right tool for you.
- Scheduling Features
Another important benefit of Woodpecker is that it offers extensive scheduling features. Using Woodpecker, you can decide on the number of cold emails to be sent per day; the window of time when the emails will be sent each day; the days of the week on which emails are to be sent; and the minimum sending delays between individual emails.
In fact, Woodpecker is one of the only cold email automation platforms that mimics human behavior when sending out emails. You can set up a minimum sending delay between emails.
For instance, if you have scheduled 50 emails to be sent on a given day, you can set it up so that the emails are sent at intervals of 30 seconds, one minute, or two minutes. This is how a human being would normally send out emails, instead of shooting out bursts of 5-10 emails per second.
Woodpecker is also well aware of its international user base, and eager to service their needs. It tells you your location and time zone, as well as the time zone of your recipients.
So, if you’re based in Europe, but are building a cold email campaign for prospects based in the US, then you can easily set it up so that the emails will be sent at 6pm, US Eastern Time. You don’t have to calculate the time differences in your head to decide which is the best time to send emails to international prospects.
- Follow-Up Emails
To create a follow-up email, you simply have to scroll to the bottom of your campaign page and click on the tab that says ‘Add Email’.
Now, you’ll have to decide whether to continue with the original subject line or choose a new one for your follow-up email. You can also schedule when the follow-up emails will go out. For instance, you can set it up so that a follow-up email is sent exactly two days after the original cold email.
You can also set it up so that the follow up email will be sent as soon as a prospect replies to the original cold email, clicks on a link, or performs any other pre-determined task.
Woodpecker also allows you to decide whether you want the follow-up email to appear in the same thread as the original email, or to start a new email thread.
- Importing an Email List
Woodpecker allows you to import email lists in the form of CSV as well as XLSX files. The importing process is quite intuitive, and simply requires you to upload the relevant file from your computer to your campaign dashboard on Woodpecker. If you want to learn how to scrape the email addresses of your prospects for the email list, click here.
Once you’ve uploaded the CSV file containing the email list, Woodpecker will ask you weather you want to update your contacts on the platform. In the next page, you will be asked to match the data in the CSV file with the available fields on Woodpecker.
On this page, you will have to ensure that each email address on your list is aligned with the right first name, last name, job title, custom first line, etc. Once this is done, simply click on the ‘Import’ button at the bottom of the page.
- Email Verification
Once the email list has been imported, Woodpecker will tell you how many new email addresses have been imported, how many of them are duplicates (if any), and how many have errors or are invalid.
Woodpecker will also provide you with a list of all the newly-imported email addresses, along with their current status (active/bounced/invalid/replied), the associated first and last names, and all the other data needed for customization.
You can then choose to add this email list to your campaign, preview your email, or send a test email. After this, you can either start your cold email campaign by clicking ‘Send’, or save it as a draft.
Once the cold email campaign is underway, Woodpecker will provide you with a dashboard with all relevant data, statistics, and information.
On your campaign dashboard, you will be able to see how many prospects received your cold email, how many of them opened the email, how many replied to it, clicked on a link, or unsubscribed.
The dashboard will also tell you if any of your emails bounced or if any were sent to invalid addresses. From your main dashboard, you can also choose to pause, stop, or edit the campaign whenever you need.
Woodpecker offers three plans. These are the Start Up Plan for individual marketers and smaller teams (at $39 per month), the Team PRO Plan for advanced features and bigger teams (at $44 per month), and the Unlimited Plan, which offers custom integrations for custom pricing, according to your business needs.
Unless you run a big B2B agency, the Start Up plan should be enough to cover your prospecting needs, especially when you first start using Woodpecker.
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Mailshake is a simple email outreach and sales engagement software. With more than 47,000 users around the world, Mailshake can help you generate leads, build and nurture business relationships, and much more.
Compared to the sparse simplicity of Woodpecker, the Mailshake website is much more colorful, vibrant, and dynamic. To sign up, you will need to provide your full name, your team’s name, and an email address.
- Payment Plans
Once you’ve signed up, you will have to choose one of their payment plans. They have a plan for email outreach (at $44 a month) and another for sales engagement (at $75 per month). For those who want to use Mailshake as a cold email automation tool, the first, cheaper plan should suffice.
While Mailshake does not offer a free trial, it does guarantee users a full refund if they’re not satisfied with the results after the first 30 days of using their platform. However, to get started with Mailshake, you will need to pay them upfront before you’re able to send a single cold email.
- Learning Materials
As soon as you sign in to your Mailshake account, you will be greeted with a helpful introductory video from the site’s founder. Apart from that, Mailshake also offers a wide array of help articles, blog posts, and YouTube videos to help new users learn the ins-and-outs of the platform.
Their helpdesk support is very responsive, and can be reached at any time. So, if you’re having trouble understanding how to create your first campaign, you can easily seek help from the Mailshake office in Austin, Texas. They typically reply within a few hours.
- Creating a Campaign
To start a new campaign, you’ll have to connect Mailshake with your email account. As you follow the steps to create your first cold outreach campaign on Mailshake, the platform will offer you a number of helpful tips, to walk you through the process and increase your chances of success.
Once you’ve connected an email account to Mailshake, you will be asked to choose a signature for your new campaign. You should be careful not to add too many links in your signature, as this can detract from the actual message of your cold email.
Next, you will be asked to name your new campaign and choose the email address from which the cold emails will be sent. This will typically be the same email address that you connected with Mailshake, although you can also choose a different one if you want.
- Adding an Email List
As you may have guessed, you cannot start a cold email campaign without first adding an email list. This is the list of people who will be contacted through this campaign.
You can either type the email addresses of your prospects manually into the relevant fields, or upload a CSV file containing the email addresses (and other data) of all the recipients. Mailshake campaigns are restricted to 5,000 recipients at a time.
Once the CSV file has been uploaded, Mailshake will ask you to map the columns in the file onto different text-replacement fields.
For instance, if your CSV file has one column containing the first names of all your recipients and another containing their job titles, then these columns can be mapped onto the relevant fields in your Mailshake campaign. This will ensure that each email is properly personalized with the first name and job title of the recipient, mentioned in the right places.
- Composing the Email
To compose your email, you’ll first have to choose an intriguing subject line. This will help ensure that your prospects feel compelled to open the email once they’ve received it.
Then, you can copy and paste the email body into the relevant field. Mailshake offers many formatting options for the email text, such as bold text, italics, bullet points, etc.
Finally, you’ll be able to insert the text replacement tags for better personalization. Mailshake will pull the relevant data from your CSV file, to personalize the cold emails for each recipient.
As you compose your cold email, Mailshake will provide you with a real-time analysis of the quality of the email. You can also request a free campaign review from Mailshake, if you’re doing this for the first time and would like a second pair of eyes on the campaign.
- Follow-Up Emails
Once you’ve composed your initial email, Mailshake will ask you to complete the sequence by composing and scheduling any follow-up emails that you might want to send your prospects.
You can set up your campaign so that the follow-up emails will be sent in accordance with certain conditions. For instance, you can instruct Mailshake to send a follow-up email exactly two days after the initial email was delivered, unless the prospect replied to the first email.
You can change the subject line of the follow-up email or keep it the same as the initial email. You can also set up your campaign so that a different follow-up email will be sent when the prospect clicks on a particular link in your initial email.
- Tracking Options
Mailshake allows you to track when (and how many times) your cold email is opened by the recipient. You can also track link clicks, which might be a necessity if you’ve set up conditions for Mailshake to send follow-up emails when a link in the initial email is clicked. However, if you allow Mailshake to track link clicks, it might negatively affect the deliverability of your cold emails.
In your campaign dashboard, you will be able to track various metrics like the total number of cold emails delivered, number of opens, replies, clicks, bounces, and unsubscribes.
A Brief Look at the Differences
|Personalization||Extensive personalization through custom snippets.||Can pull in data from a CSV file to personalize emails.|
|User Interface||Sparse and simple.||Colorful and vibrant.|
|Scheduling||Helpful scheduling options for different time zones.||Allows you to space out the emails throughout the day.|
|Pricing||Offers a 15-day free trial, and the paid plans start at $39 per month.||No free trial, and the paid plans start at $44 per month.|
|Learning Materials||Offers in-depth blog posts about cold emailing.||Offers helpful learning materials in the form of articles, blogs, YouTube videos, etc.|
What Features Should Your Email Automation Tool Offer?
To find the right tool for you, the first step is to figure out which of these features are the most essential for your business. Once you clearly understand the specific needs of your business, you will be able to choose the email automation platform that provides you with the features you need the most, while remaining within your budget.
To help you on this journey, we’ve compiled a list of the common features offered by email automation tools, and how they can be useful for your business.
Campaign Scheduling and Follow-Ups
Most cold email automation tools will allow you to schedule your campaigns and automate your follow-up emails. You can compose your email copy, write the subject lines, and make all other preparations to send out your emails.
Then, you can schedule those emails to go out at any time that is convenient, and turn off your computer. The emails will go out at the scheduled time, without any further input from you. While all cold email automation platforms allow scheduling, the extent of it can vary widely.
Some tools allow you to add or remove extra email steps, assign different inboxes to different campaigns, auto-stop the email sequence upon receiving a reply, etc. Woodpecker, for instance, is known for its comprehensive scheduling features.
Businesses that have clients and prospects overseas (or in different time zones) may need more sophisticated scheduling options, in order to minimize the friction in communication caused by time differences.
Personalizing a cold email tells your prospect that you truly understand their business, pain points, and long- and short-term goals. Unsurprisingly, greater personalization helps increase conversion rates.
This is why most cold outreach automation tools allow you to use field replacement tags to pull in the relevant data about each prospect when sending them an email.
In this way, you can personalize a basic cold outreach template by inserting field replacement tags for the recipient’s first name, their job title, the name of their company, and other such details. You can even insert a snippet to personalize the introductory sentence for each prospect.
The extent to which a cold email can be personalized might vary from one tool to another. So, you can research the level of personalization that each cold emailing tool typically allows, and then choose the one that perfectly suits your business needs.
Email deliverability is one of the key factors that will determine the success of your cold outreach campaign. If your deliverability is good, that simply means that your cold emails are more likely to end up in the recipient’s inbox, rather than being relegated to their spam folder. The better your email deliverability, therefore, the more likely it is that your prospects will see your cold emails.
Some email automation platforms offer built-in domain warm-up features, to help improve your deliverability. The process of domain warm-up involves generating automatic activity in your inbox – sending and receiving emails from trusted and active accounts – to make email service providers believe that it is a genuine and reputed email address. Click here to learn more about how to warm up your email domain.
Some cold email automation tools also offer other features to help boost your deliverability, such as minimum sending delays, inbox rotation, deliverability testing, and enable/disable tracking options.
If your company is using a relatively new domain to run its cold email campaigns, then you should invest in an email automation tool that offers many, if not most, of these deliverability boosting features.
Collaboration and Team Work
If you run an agency or work with a team of digital marketers, then you will need a cold email automation tool that offers plenty of features for collaboration and team work.
Such collaboration features might include a shared dashboard for all the campaigns you’re running, that can be accessed by the whole team; analytics that provide you with granular data on individual as well as team performance; and an inbox rotation system to change the person who will be sending the emails on a given day.
Businesses that have more than one person working on their cold email campaigns need an email automation tool that offers such collaboration features. If you operate a digital marketing agency, then you should also invest in a tool that offers webhooks, an audit log, and an agency dashboard to manage your client accounts.
Hopefully, knowing about the different features of Woodpecker and Mailshake – as well as the importance of those features in different types of businesses – you will be able to decide which cold email automation tool is right for you. If you’re still in doubt, you might want to check out our article comparing Woodpecker with Lemlist, which is another popular cold email automation tool.
Useful Resources & Tutorials
I hope you found this ebook helpful. Down below, I’ve listed some links to tutorials that you might find useful if you’re looking to set up LinkedIn ads.
How To Run Successful LinkedIn Ads in 2021 – a step by step 38-minute tutorial where we cover all the fundamentals of running LinkedIn ads.
LinkedIn Campaign Manager Tutorial – a 9-minute video that’ll give you a deep overview & bring you up to speed on how LinkedIn Campaign Manager works.
Lead Generation Forms (step by step tutorial) – this 10-minute tutorial will show you how to use lead generation forms & get the cheapest cost per lead.
Which LinkedIn Ads Objectives – Explained (2021) – in this 13-minute video, I cover how to properly use the right LinkedIn ads objectives to your advantage.