5 Must-Know Strategies for Cold Email Success (Backed by Real-World Data)

Short Description

Discover five proven strategies to enhance your cold emailing success and gain valuable insights from a one-month experiment using Instantly. Whether you’re a business owner, marketer, or sales professional, this article provides actionable tips and real-world results to supercharge your cold email campaigns for B2B success.

Main Takeaways

  1. High-Volume Strategy: Sending a large volume of emails increases your chances of engaging with the 1-3% of your target market that’s ready to take action.
  2. Video Integration: Incorporating video in your follow-up emails can significantly boost engagement and add a personal touch.
  3. Soft Ask: Instead of asking for a meeting upfront, aim for initial engagement to build rapport.
  4. Don’t Over-Focus on Subject Lines: While important, subject lines shouldn’t consume all your focus. Simple, straightforward subject lines can be highly effective.
  5. A/B Testing: Continuously refine your strategies through A/B testing to optimize your ROI.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    1. What is Cold Emailing?
    2. Why It’s Important in B2B Marketing
  2. 5 Must-Know Strategies for Cold Email Success
    1. Send A Lot of Emails
    2. Use a Video When You Can
    3. Don’t Go Straight In Asking For a 30-Minute Meeting
    4. Don’t Over-focus on Subject Lines
    5. A/B Test Your Way to Success
  3. Personal One-Month Experiment with Instantly and Results
  4. Conclusion: Mastering the Art of Cold Emailing


If you’re running a SaaS company or an agency and you’re on the hunt for more clients—especially high-value ones—then you’re in the right place. Cold emailing is a powerful tool for client acquisition, no matter what the skeptics might say. I should know; I’ve been there, done that, and am still refining my approach.

I recently launched an account with Instantly, a cold email automation tool, to scale up my efforts. Why? Because I’m in the trenches with you. I’ve started a company called Marketing Hero, where you can hire top-notch marketing freelancers. It’s a startup I launched with my business planner, and I’m using cold emailing as a new channel for client acquisition.

Here’s the thing: starting a new channel for client acquisition, whether it’s for your clients or your own business, is often a start-stop process. It rarely succeeds on the first try. But that’s no reason to give up. In fact, consider this a bonus tip before we even dive into the article: Never give up. Cold emailing does work; you just need to keep fine-tuning your approach.

So, are you ready to dive into the five must-know strategies for cold email success? Let’s get started.

What is Cold Emailing?

You’ve probably heard the term “cold emailing” thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? In its simplest form, cold emailing is the act of sending an unsolicited email to a potential client or business contact. 

But let’s clear up a common misconception: cold emailing is not spam. It’s not just about blasting emails into the void. It’s about reaching out to the right people with the right message at the right time. It’s a calculated move, one that involves research, timing, and a bit of psychology.

Cold Email vs. Spam: A Comparative Analysis

AspectCold EmailSpam
Target AudienceHighly targeted, usually decision-makers in a specific industry.Random, often scraped from various online sources.
PersonalizationHighly personalized to the recipient’s needs and pain points.Generic, one-size-fits-all messaging.
Value PropositionOffers real value, often solving a specific problem for the recipient.Usually offers little to no value, often irrelevant to the recipient.
FrequencySent in a controlled manner, often as part of a larger campaign.Sent in bulk, often repeatedly to the same recipients.
Follow-UpIncludes thoughtful follow-up emails based on recipient’s behavior.Rarely includes follow-ups, and if it does, they are not behavior-based.
Opt-OutProvides a clear way for recipients to opt-out or unsubscribe.Often lacks an opt-out option, or makes it difficult to find.

Why It’s Important in B2B Marketing

You might be wondering, “Why should I invest time and resources into cold emailing when there are so many other marketing channels available?” Let’s dive into why you should seriously consider investing in cold email.

Benefits of Cold Emailing

BenefitWhy It Matters
Direct Access to Decision-MakersUnlike social media, where your message can get lost, an email lands directly in a decision-maker’s inbox.
Cost-EffectiveCompared to PPC or industry events, cold emailing offers a higher ROI, especially when targeting the right audience.
Scalable and MeasurableWith automation tools like Instantly, you can scale your efforts without losing personalization and easily measure success.
Builds Long-Term RelationshipsCold emailing is not just for quick wins; it’s a channel for initiating meaningful conversations and building lasting relationships.

Direct Access to Decision-Makers

Firstly, cold emailing gives you direct access to decision-makers. Unlike social media platforms where your message can get lost in the noise, an email lands directly in someone’s inbox. And if you’ve done your homework, that someone is likely a key decision-maker in a company you want to do business with.


Let’s talk numbers. Cold emailing is incredibly cost-effective, especially when compared to other B2B marketing strategies like PPC advertising or attending industry events. The ROI can be substantial if you’re targeting the right people with a compelling message.

Scalable and Measurable

One of the things I love about cold emailing is its scalability. With the right tools, like Instantly, you can automate much of the process, allowing you to reach a larger audience without sacrificing personalization. Plus, most email platforms provide analytics, so you can measure open rates, click-through rates, and conversions to continually refine your strategy.

Builds Long-Term Relationships

Cold emailing isn’t just about making a quick sale. It’s about initiating conversations and building long-term relationships. I’ve had clients who initially didn’t respond to my cold emails but reached out months later because they remembered the value I offered.

These benefits aren’t just theoretical; they’re based on real-world results. Cold emailing has been a cornerstone in my strategy, and it’s helped me connect with high-value clients and grow my business.

5 Must-Know Strategies for Cold Email Success

So, now that we’ve established why cold emailing should be a part of your B2B marketing arsenal, let’s dive into the strategies that will help you dominate this channel.

1. Send A Lot of Emails

Aim to send hundreds of emails per day to cast a wide net and increase your chances of finding prospects who are ready to engage.

Think of this strategy as fishing. You’re throwing out a wide net to catch the few who are ready to bite. And when they do, that’s your opportunity to reel them in with your genuinely awesome services.

The Ideal Email Count

First things first, how many emails should you be sending? If your market is large enough, aim for a few hundred emails a day. We’re talking around 200 a day, to be precise.

The Importance of High-Volume

So, you’ve got your target email count down, but why is hitting this number so crucial? Let’s dive into the importance of high volume to understand the method behind it.

Key Insights for Cold Emailing

Key PointExplanation
Only 1-3% Are Ready to EngageWith such a small percentage ready to take action, volume is essential to find these prospects.
The 99% Who Aren’t ReadyMost of your market isn’t ready now, but high volume ensures you don’t miss those who are.
Capturing the Right TimingA high volume of emails increases the likelihood of hitting the sweet spot in your market’s timing.
  • The Reality of Market Readiness: 1-3% vs. 99%

Only about 1-3% of your target market is ready to engage at any given moment, while the remaining 99% aren’t ready to take action right now. If you’re only sending 30 to 50 emails a day, you’re not giving yourself a fair shot at finding those who are ready today. They might be interested in the future, but you’re missing out on immediate opportunities.

  • Capturing the Right Marketing Timing

Sending a high volume of emails isn’t just about playing the numbers game; it’s also about capturing the right marketing timing. The market is always in flux, and by sending out a lot of emails, you’re more likely to hit that sweet spot when someone is actually ready to engage with your services.

  • Beyond “Thanks, But No Thanks”

Even if you craft the most compelling, personalized emails, you’ll still get a lot of polite declines. That’s why volume matters; it’s a numbers game. But here’s the kicker: by sending out a high volume of emails, you increase your chances of eventually getting that coveted “Yes” for your services.

A Powerful Cold Email Automation Tool For Scaling: Instantly 

To truly scale your cold email efforts, automation tools are a must. While Woodpecker.co is great for more personalized campaigns, Instantly offers two features that make it a game-changer for scaling out your cold emails:

  1. Multiple Domains Under One Pricing Plan: This is a cost-effective feature, especially if you’re planning to scale out and use multiple email domains. Unlike other tools where you pay per domain, Instantly allows you to operate multiple domains under a single pricing plan.
  2. Automated Email Rotation: If you’re sending a maximum of 30 emails a day, Instantly will automatically rotate these across your multiple domains. This saves you the hassle of manually switching domains and allows you to focus on what matters—closing deals.

2. Use a Video When You Can

So, you’ve sent out your first email and did or didn’t get a reply. What’s next? This is where the power of video comes into play.

I typically incorporate video into my follow-up emails, and it’s also my go-to approach when a recipient replies to initiate a more engaging conversation. The power of video can’t be underestimated; it adds a personal touch that text alone can’t achieve.

Why Video in the Second Email?

I usually reserve video for the second email in the sequence, especially if the recipient didn’t reply to the first one. Why? Because it grabs attention. A simple text saying, “Hey, I have a video for you,” can make all the difference. In my experience, a few percent of recipients actually watched the video, leading to replies.

The Personal Touch

If someone does reply to your initial email, that’s your cue to get personal. Pull up their website, check out their LinkedIn, and then craft a video message that shows you’ve done your homework. Something like, “Hey John, I checked your website, and I noticed you could improve in these areas, and I have freelancers who could help. Interested?”

The Spam Dilemma

A word of caution: you can also use a video in your first email, but using a video in the first email can sometimes land you in the spam folder. While it hasn’t been a significant issue for me, it’s something to be aware of.

Technical Tips for Creating Effective Videos

  • Tool Selection: I often use Loom for quick and easy video recording. It’s user-friendly and offers both free and paid plans.
  • Video Length: Keep it short and sweet. Aim for a 1-2 minute video that gets straight to the point.
  • Quality: Ensure good lighting and clear audio. A poor-quality video can be more damaging than no video at all.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

  • Overcomplicating Things: You don’t need a Hollywood production. A simple, clear message is often more effective.
  • Ignoring Privacy: If you’re showing any client-specific information in the video, make sure you have their permission.
  • Spam Triggers: Be cautious with your wording and the video’s title to avoid having your email categorized as spam.

You can also dive deeper into this topic by checking out my other articles, ‘How To Get Client With Video Prospecting (For Lead Generation)’ and ‘4 Easy Ways to Embed Video in Your Emails: Step-by-Step Guide’ to learn more about video prospecting and how to seamlessly embed these videos into your emails.

3. Don’t Go Straight In Asking For a 30-Minute Meeting

When it comes to cold emailing, the last thing you want to do is jump the gun and ask for a 30-minute meeting right away. Let’s face it; nobody wants to commit to a half-hour conversation with a total stranger from an initial email. So, what’s the smarter approach? Let’s explore.

The Soft Ask: Engagement Over Commitment

In the world of cold email outreach, patience isn’t just a virtue; it’s a strategic move. Rather than rushing into a meeting request in your very first email, consider a softer approach. One effective tactic is to ask a question that directly relates to their business needs. For instance, inquire, “Are there any marketing initiatives you’re currently considering?” This approach opens the door to a more genuine and meaningful conversation.

Benefits of Aiming for Engagement First

Higher Response RatesEngagement-focused emails tend to receive more responses as they are less intimidating.
Building RapportIt allows you to build rapport and trust gradually, increasing the likelihood of a positive response.
Natural ProgressionIt creates a natural progression from initial contact to a potential meeting or call.
Less PressureProspects are more comfortable with engagement inquiries, reducing the pressure on them.
A/B TestingYou can continually refine your approach through A/B testing to find the most effective engagement questions.

A/B Testing Success: Finding the Sweet Spot

To refine this strategy, I’ve been extensively A/B testing different variations. It’s all about striking the right balance between being too pushy and overly vague. The sweet spot lies in crafting an email that sparks curiosity and interest without imposing a heavy commitment.

Why This Approach Works Wonders

So, why is aiming for engagement before commitment such a powerful strategy? The answer lies in human psychology. People are generally more open to engaging in a conversation than they are to locking in a meeting. The less intimidating nature of engagement inquiries allows for a more natural progression towards a call or meeting down the line.

In the end, it’s about building a connection and trust gradually rather than attempting to leap ahead. Remember, cold email outreach is a journey, and patience is your ally in this process.

4. Don’t Over-focus on Subject Lines

Tip number four is: don’t over-focus on the subject lines. In my experience, I’ve consistently achieved high open rates (50 to 70%) with simple subject lines. Here’s what has worked for me:

1. Say The Service You Sell

I’ve found that being straightforward in my subject lines yields excellent results. For example, if I’m offering LinkedIn ads services, I simply state, “LinkedIn Ads Specialist.” This simplicity tends to generate open rates of 50% or higher. It’s enough to pique curiosity without resorting to misleading clickbait tactics.

2. Avoid Overthinking

While subject lines are important, it’s essential not to overcomplicate them. Many content creators, such as YouTubers and bloggers, spend excessive time A/B testing various subject lines. Sometimes, simplicity is key, and a clear, concise subject line can be more effective.

3. Use Quick Questions

Another approach I’ve found successful is including a quick question in the subject line. For instance, “Quick Question: Interested in LinkedIn Ads?” This method consistently generates positive responses without misleading recipients.

Remember, the goal is to capture attention and encourage recipients to open your email, but it’s crucial not to resort to deceptive or clickbait subject lines. Keeping them straightforward and relevant to your offering can yield impressive open rates.

5. A/B Test Your Way to Success

In the world of cold emailing, A/B testing is your secret weapon for continuous improvement. I recently conducted a series of A/B tests in my campaigns, and the results have been promising. It’s all about refining your approach until it consistently delivers positive results.

Why is A/B Testing Important?

A/B testing is crucial in cold email campaigns for several reasons:

Benefit Explanation
Data-Driven Decision Making A/B testing provides concrete data on what works and what doesn’t. Instead of relying on assumptions or best guesses, you can make informed decisions based on real results.
Continuous Improvement Allows refining of marketing strategies over time. Identifying the most effective elements optimizes campaigns for better performance.
Higher ROI A/B testing maximizes the return on investment (ROI) of marketing efforts. Fine-tuning emails increases conversion rates for better results with the same resources.
Customization Every audience is unique; A/B testing tailors cold email campaigns to the preferences and behaviors of specific segments.
Competitive Advantage Being able to adapt and improve strategies quickly offers an edge, allowing staying ahead in competitive landscapes.

Key Areas of A/B Testing

Here are the primary areas I focus on during my A/B testing:

Key Elements Why to Test
Target Audience Find the most receptive group among different segments to improve campaign effectiveness.
First Line Create a compelling opening that grabs attention.
Pitch Determine the messaging that resonates effectively with your audience for better communication.
Engagement Strategies Refine the approach to maximize responses, enhancing the outreach’s effectiveness.
Target Audience

What is it?
The target audience refers to the specific group of people or businesses you aim to reach with your cold email campaigns. It encompasses factors like industry, job roles, company size, and more.

Why A/B Test?
A/B testing your target audience is crucial because it helps you find the most receptive group. It can be the difference between receiving enthusiastic responses and ending up in the spam folder. By testing different audience segments, you can refine your outreach and focus on those more likely to convert.

Real-Life Example:
In one of my campaigns, I tested two audience segments: marketing department professionals and CEOs/founders. I sent similar emails to both groups and tracked the response rates. While founders responded more frequently, they also generated more unsubscribes. Surprisingly, our first converted client came from the marketing department, adding complexity to the equation. This real-life example illustrates the importance of A/B testing your target audience.

First Line

What is it?
The first line is the initial sentence of your cold email. It’s typically unpersonalized and sets the tone for the rest of the email.

Why A/B Test?
A/B testing your first line is essential because it’s your email’s first impression. It determines whether your recipient continues reading or hits the delete button. Testing different approaches helps you find the most engaging and effective opening.

Real-Life Example:
In my A/B tests, I experimented with AI-generated first lines versus no personalization. The AI-generated lines aimed to pique curiosity, while the non-personalized lines were straightforward. Surprisingly, the no-personalization approach yielded better results, grabbing recipients’ attention without misleading them.


What is it?
The pitch is the core message of your email. It typically includes what you offer, why it matters to the recipient, and your unique selling points.

Why A/B Test?
A/B testing your pitch is vital because it’s where you communicate your value to the recipient. Different messaging can resonate differently with your audience, so testing allows you to discover what resonates most effectively.

Engagement Strategies

What is it?
Engagement strategies are the techniques you use to encourage recipients to respond or take a specific action. This includes follow-up emails, video usage, and the timing of engagement efforts.

Why A/B Test?
A/B testing engagement strategies is critical because it helps you refine your approach to maximize responses. Different tactics, such as using videos, adjusting the number of follow-ups, or timing your engagement efforts differently, can significantly impact your success.

By A/B testing these key elements, you can refine your cold email campaigns and increase your chances of success. 

Applying A/B Testing Insights

The insights gained from A/B testing aren’t confined to just your cold email campaigns. They have broader applications. For example, if you plan to launch other marketing initiatives like paid social media advertising like LinkedIn ads, the knowledge you acquire from cost-effective cold email testing can be invaluable.

For instance, if you’ve discovered that targeting founders with a specific messaging approach yields positive results in your cold email tests, you can carry this knowledge over to your LinkedIn ad campaigns. It’s like hitting the ground running with insights that give you a competitive advantage.

Personal One-Month Experiment with Instantly and Results 

In my pursuit of cracking the cold email code, I embarked on a one-month experiment using the cold automation tool I recommended, Instantly. This venture coincided with the launch of my company, Marketing Hero

During this one-month experiment, I opened an Instantly account and delved into A/B testing and the other strategies mentioned like sending out a substantial volume of cold emails to optimize our cold email strategy. It was a period of learning and discovery, and while it’s just the beginning, the results have been promising.

By implementing these tips, I was able to achieve the following results in just one month:

Metric Outcome
Client Conversion Acquired a valuable client worth an estimated $3K-$4K in lifetime value.
Opportunities Generated Secured 17 opportunities, showcasing the effectiveness of our outreach.
Phone Calls Had 5 phone calls with interested prospects, crucial for advancing them in the sales funnel.
  1. Client Conversion: Our cold email efforts led to the acquisition of a valuable client, estimated to be worth 3 to 4K dollars over their lifetime value. This achievement underscores the effectiveness of the strategies we’ve discussed.
  2. Opportunities Generated: We secured a total of 17 opportunities, demonstrating that our outreach was not only effective in capturing attention but also in creating potential business openings.
  3. Phone Calls: Among the opportunities generated, we had approximately five phone calls with interested prospects. These conversations were instrumental in moving them further down the sales funnel.

These results are certainly encouraging, but it’s important to emphasize that A/B testing played a pivotal role in achieving them. It’s through testing and refining our strategies that we’ve been able to make such progress in just one month.

As I continue to fine-tune our approach, my goal is to secure even more clients, scale our efforts, and further optimize our cold email campaigns. The journey has just begun, and with the power of A/B testing, there’s no doubt that we can achieve even greater success in the future.

Conclusion: Mastering the Art of Cold Emailing

Cold emailing isn’t just a tactic; it’s a strategic approach to client acquisition and relationship building in the B2B space. From the fine art of crafting subject lines to the science of A/B testing, this article has aimed to provide you with a comprehensive toolkit for cold email success.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Cold Emailing vs. Spam: Cold emails are targeted, personalized, and offer real value, unlike spam.
  2. Importance in B2B: Cold emailing provides direct access to decision-makers, is cost-effective, and builds long-term relationships.
  3. High-Volume Strategy: Sending a large volume of emails increases your chances of engaging with the 1-3% of your target market that’s ready to take action.
  4. Video Integration: Incorporating video in your follow-up emails can significantly boost engagement and add a personal touch.
  5. Soft Ask: Instead of asking for a meeting upfront, aim for initial engagement to build rapport.
  6. Don’t Over-Focus on Subject Lines: While important, subject lines shouldn’t consume all your focus. Simple, straightforward subject lines can be highly effective.
  7. A/B Testing: Continuously refine your strategies through A/B testing to optimize your ROI.

By implementing these strategies, you’re not just sending emails; you’re building relationships and creating opportunities for meaningful business interactions. The journey to cold email mastery is a continuous one, filled with tests, refinements, and, yes, even a few setbacks. But with these strategies in your arsenal, you’re well on your way to becoming a cold email champion.

Further Reading

Interested in mastering cold emails? Dive into our other blog articles where we cover everything from techniques to personalize cold emails, reviews of top cold email tools, to innovative approaches like using ChatGPT to craft compelling cold emails and attention-grabbing first liners. 

Check Out:

Introducing My Comprehensive Cold Email Course

If you’ve found value in this article, I’ve got something even more special for you. I’ve just rolled out a comprehensive Cold Email Course that takes you through the nitty-gritty of setting up and scaling your cold email campaigns.

What’s Inside the Course?

  • Technical Foundations: Learn how to set up multiple domains in Instantly to scale your efforts seamlessly.
  • A/B Testing Mastery: Get hands-on experience in setting up A/B tests that yield real-world results.
  • Priority Inbox vs. Spam: This course dives deep into the technical aspects that ensure your emails land in the priority inbox and not the dreaded spam folder.

Free Course Option

For those of you who are new to cold emailing or are on a tight budget, I also offer a 6-Day Free Course. While not as detailed as the comprehensive course, it covers all the essential topics and skills to get you started on your cold email journey.

So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting started, there’s something here for everyone. Don’t miss out on these invaluable resources to elevate your cold email game. Check it out now!


Philip Ilic

Philip Ilic

B2B Growth Specialist

Phil helps B2B SaaS companies with growth marketing and is a deep specialist in Linkedin advertising and paid social more generally (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). He runs a paid social agency called Superlumen.co and is the founder of B2Bhero.co.


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