14 Email Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Cold Outreach (and the solutions)
Email mistakes can cost more than your open rate. Some are costly enough to throw your entire outreach campaign off track.
The world of outreach is becoming more complex. On top of that, cold outreach is becoming more popular (again). Standing out in the inbox is a growing concern for marketers and sales folk alike. Knowing the best strategies will get you so far, but you also have to understand the email mistakes that can cost you leads, conversations, and dollars.
Email outreach (really your entire outreach strategy) is like serenading your intended audience with an orchestral song. Lots of moving pieces and people working together but… One wrong note and the entire performance is tainted.
Depending on how bad, it could change the perception of your outfit.
We’ll use this loose analogy from time to time without much order. Now, let’s talk about the errors to avoid that will have your cold emails sounding like music in a lead’s ear.
Our List of Email Mistakes to Avoid
Email Mistake 1: Playing to the Wrong Crowd
No matter how beautiful an orchestra plays, there are many people who just don’t care for it. And others still who like it, but don’t LOVE it. The same is true with your products/services. The skills that you offer will speak better to some target markets than others.The skills that you offer will speak better to some target markets than others. Click To Tweet
Solution: Really niche until it hurts. Don’t just find potential buyers, but find out who your ideal buyers are and look for leads who match that profile. Your emails will be much more celebrated.
Email Mistake 2: “Just Checking In”
Don’t say this in your emails. Follow-up emails — Good. Passive language — Bad. In addition to this, avoid things like “following up”.
Solution: Instead of the timid options, just start out with the questions at hand. Something like, “Have you taken a look at [resource] yet, [First Name]? Would really like to get your feedback.”
Email Mistake 3: Not Using
Sheet Music Email Templates
Playing a song without sheet music leaves too much to improvisation. Sending hundreds of emails without a well-thought-out template for the bulk of your copy could leave your emails sounding like you made it up as you went along.
Solution: Good templates along with personalization are also a necessary combination to avoid email mistakes.
Email Mistake 4: Not Tuning Your Email
Instruments that aren’t properly tuned can be either flat or sharp. Too flat and the music sounds dull (even confusing). Too sharp and it’s offensive to the listener. Emails (not surprisingly) are the same. If you don’t focus the call-to-action, it can be very confusing what you want a lead to do. If you just send a straight sales email, it’s likely going to come off too sharp.
Solution: Cut out all of the fluff. Take away everything you can that doesn’t add clarity. Figure out what you want the lead to do and only include words that make that most likely.
Email Mistake 5: Read the Audience
Each piece of music an orchestra plays tells a story. So does the entire concert. Conductors may re-arrange the music based on the average crowds’ reaction. All of this is to entice a maximum response. You should be figuring out when those targeted leads want to see your emails.
Solution: Software goes a long way toward reading a lead’s inbox. LeadFuze has created detailed reports to allow our users a close look at the behavior of their leads in relation to cold emails (see screenshots).
Seeing, not just the number of opens/responses, but the times that they came in can be compared to when emails were sent. This data allows for you to tweak send times and track effectiveness — allowing for improvements over time.
Email Mistake 6: Being Afraid to Improvise
Ever send a text message that was interpreted differently than you meant it?
Composers write music, but it can be interpreted in different ways. Sticking with the template alone can have lackluster results. If you only send a couple hundred emails a month, a 2% conversation rate is only 4 people. A 25% close rate would only be one new client a month. Is this ok?
Solution: Sometimes, especially if you send to fewer leads, it’s beneficial to add a little bit of improvisation to the email by looking up details about the specific lead you’re sending an email to. Templates are still helpful, but be much more personal.
Email Mistake 7: You’re Not Entertaining
If you’re on a sales call, you’re likely doing something to build rapport. Mentioning the sites/weather where the lead is at, asking questions that are “off topic”, or even being funny. Too often, this rapport-building doesn’t translate to cold email — and that’s a shame.
Solution: Many people play the violin well, but there is only one Lindsey Stirling. Her entertainment and skill far surpass playing beautiful music. Try to stand out via humor or personalization. Just be purely valuable to your lead without asking for anything (at first).
Email Mistake 8: Failure to Experiment
Sending the same email for long periods of time will diminish your results over time. Tactics change, roles change, and even your products/services change. Sending the same email is never a good idea, even if everything remains the same.
Solution: Always be testing something. Make a list of email split tests (we’ve got over 50 for you right here) and start doing them one at a time. Double down on what works and forget what doesn’t.
Email Mistake 9: Emails are Too Long
So, symphonies are long. Some are in the 4-6 hour range. Our analogy breaks apart here for just a second, because your emails shouldn’t even be 6 sentences. Long-form sales copy still has a place in the world, but long-form sales emails don’t. Like, at all.
Solution: Don’t write long emails and use the other solutions we’ve mentioned so far (i.e. templates, focus, etc..)
Email Mistake 10: Forgetting Your Audience
Musicians can become conceited (like us all), especially when they’re good. Mariah Carey, on New Year’s, said she had to rough it like everybody else with no hot tea. You may not be so vain in your cold emails, but if you say “I” too much, it will seem that way.
Solution: Good music makes people feel. Great music makes people live in the song. Ever notice how virtually every movie is about the lead character(s) discovering this latent power within? That’s because most people know they aren’t living up to their potential and want to discover it. Music and even emails can do this, but you have to show “what’s in it for them”.
Email Mistake 11: Breaking the Law
That’s right, many well-intentioned marketers are being unlawful in their outreach by violating CAN-SPAM. Not including your address is a big no-no, as well as not allowing a way for recipients to opt-out. Avoid at all costs.
Solution: Follow the email laws and do everything you can to keep from ending up on a blacklist somewhere.
Email Mistake 12: Only Playing One Song
People, even if they pay to go to a show, are distracted. Back in the day, plays would start off with funny skits to focus the audience before the play would start. Our movies have trailers and announcements. We have meetings before the day starts. We are cats that often times need herding.
Point: Your first email will not be opened by the majority of your leads.
Solution: Send more than one email. Actually, send 4-6. And, if you’re really wanting to maximize effort, include other forms of contact (i.e. voicemails, social media, direct mail).
Email Mistake 13: It’s Clearly Canned
If you’re in B2B (most of our readers are), then this one is vital. People know most emails aren’t personal, but mostly robotic. Computer programs can play music too, but people don’t listen to it. Even though a program plays flawlessly, it ultimately sounds lifeless. There’s no interpretation, no personality. Are your emails like this?Computer programs can play music too, but people don't listen to it. Click To Tweet
Solution: Try to “touch” each of your emails and master the template to sound as close to sending a personal email as possible. It may even be worth trying to send a truly personal email (using a template). If results aren’t there, revert back.
Email Mistake 14: You Lie
Your subject line makes a promise, much like the title of a song or movie. For instance, people saw “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and thought it would be (at least) decent. Most people did not have their expectation met. Every Breath You Take by The Police promises to be a love song, but ends up about a stalker.
(Source: Rotten Tomatoes)
Solution: If you put something specific in the subject line, make sure it’s in the email.
The Stage is Set
An audience that came to hear a grand orchestra and a list of quality leads that don’t know they’re about to get an email have similar desires. If they pay to see the show (monetarily or opens), they want to get their money’s/time’s worth.
If you practice, tune your instruments, and have the right song — you’ll avoid these email mistakes and people will respond the way you desire.