Maybe it was your first email outreach campaign. Maybe you tried one and quit halfway through. Or maybe you thought you did everything right, but you just didn’t see the results you were looking for. Whatever your reason is for wanting to kick your email outreach game up a notch, you’ve come to the right place.
The best email campaigns have a simple structure, follow email outreach best practices, and leave plenty of room for experimenting, analyzing, and tweaking so you can incrementally build up to that perfect email campaign that gets you results every time.
Start with identifying your desired outcome, reaching out to the right audience, and maintaining compliance. Then, dive into crafting a powerful email that prompts action, structuring a strong campaign, and, finally, deploying your email outreach campaign under the right conditions.
And finally, analyze the results to determine what’s working and what’s not. Then, start again at step one with a new set of prospects and your newly-discovered insights, iterating the basic campaign structure with slight improvements until you become a master of your domain.
Want to learn more? Here’s our step-by-step instruction guide to running a successful email outreach campaign.
Table of Contents:
- Identify Your Goals
- Pinpoint the Right Prospects
- Verify Emails and Maintain Compliance
- Craft Your Emails
- Structure Your Campaign
- Launch Your Campaign
- Testing and Tracking Results
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Step 1: Identify Your Goals
Identifying your goals before starting an email campaign seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how often companies gloss over this step. And all too often, those who do get the goal-defining piece right end up not holding themselves accountable or failing to share those goals organization-wide.
Your campaign's goals could range widely from simple prospecting to boosting brand awareness or even educating the market on new product lines or features. Or perhaps lead generation is steady, but your team is having a tough time closing deals or retaining customers. (In that situation, it might be beneficial to send a survey campaign.)
Whether your goal is relationship building, link building, basic prospecting, or something else, you should make sure everyone on your team knows exactly what the end goal is and what metrics to track to identify if the campaign was a success or not. While open rates and click-through rates are important, they really just tell you if there’s a problem with your content. The most important thing is to track conversions and overall ROI.
Step 2: Pinpoint the Right Prospects
Even the greatest email campaigns can be brought to a grinding halt if they aren't targeting the right audience. Putting together a prospect list is a critical task. Fortunately, there are countless ways to find people who may want what you're selling:
- Outbound prospecting
- Inbound marketing
The hard part is deciding which one is the most effective for your product, your company, and your sales style. Typically, it's a combination of multiple approaches, but in the end, it really boils down to what avenue offers the best return on time and resources invested. These days, automation reigns supreme when it comes to crafting the perfect lead data from scratch. Tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help you create advanced queries to find prospects based on geography, industry, number of employees, estimated revenue, and more.
Step 3: Verify Emails and Maintain Compliance
Once you’ve crafted your ironclad prospect list, you’ve then got the arduous task of tracking down each potential lead’s correct contact information – which in the past, was easier said than done. Fortunately, we now have tools like Voila Norbert that allow you to input lead data and extract out their real-time validated email addresses all in one shot.
Once your goals are set and you have a verified email list, you then need to take a few critical steps toward maintaining CAN-SPAM compliance, ensuring deliverability, and protecting your domain.
1. Set Up an Email Address on Another Domain
This is an often-overlooked but necessary step. Email outreach campaigns require lots of experimenting, and if you send all those emails from your primary domain, you run the risk of damaging the reputation of your company. The safest option is to set up another domain that’s reserved exclusively for outbound campaigns targeting a new audience.
2. Create an SPF Record
The SPF, or Sender Policy Framework, is essentially a security device that prevents wrongdoers from sending any emails on your behalf. You just need to set it up on your DNS server, which defines and verifies the specific IP addresses allowed to send emails from your domain. Google has a pretty good write-up on SPF if you want to learn more.
3. Create a DKIM Record
Similar to the SPF record, the DKIM, or DomainKeys Identified Mail, was rolled out to prevent imposters from masquerading as you via email. Think of it as another layer of protection that says to the receiving DNS server, “It’s okay, I’m really the person sending this message.” Similar to the SPF record, it will also ensure a greater deliverability rate once set up.
4. Adhere to CAN-SPAM Guidelines
The CAN-SPAM Act was enacted in 2003 as a way to set an established standard for sending commercial email, and made the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) responsible for its enforcement. People tend to overcomplicate it, but the essentials are:
- Steer clear of using false or misleading information
- Limit the number of “!”s in emails you send
- Abstain from using too many words like “promotion,” “sale,” “free,” etc.
- Be transparent about your intentions
- Don’t use too many images
Step 4: Craft Your Emails
Crafting your emails is usually where people get caught up. Many have a tendency to overanalyze and try to perfect the email on the first outreach campaign. While you should spend a decent amount of time here, it isn’t good practice to dwell on things. Find or create a good template, run with it, analyze what works, and move on. With that in mind, there are still some best practices to adhere to when crafting your emails:
Subject Line and Snippet
The name of the game here is to seize attention, primarily because 47% of emails are discarded or opened based entirely on their subject line. Easy subject line wins include:
- Getting straight to the point. I’m talking 3-4 words when possible, but maximum 5-6 words. This way they stand out from the long drawn-out subject lines emails typically have.
- Personalizing when possible by utilizing the company name, prospect’s name, referral source, or even a shared experience. Doing so has the potential to boost open rates.
- Keeping it casual to avoid being confused with spam or junk offers. Try typing in lowercase incomplete sentences as if you wrote the subject line to a longtime friend or colleague.
The core of your email should be entirely about the prospect. Avoid talking about yourself or your product initially. Some best practices here include utilizing social proof in the form of hard numbers, case studies, or statistics – preferably something relevant, relatable, or hard-hitting. Start off by striking a chord with a pain point, laying out your value proposition, or sharing some interesting content. The body is yet another section ripe for personalization that can help you stand out.
You’ve kept their attention this long. Now you’ve just got to seal the deal. Most salespeople know that deals aren’t sold via email, so usually the CTA is a single request, one that has a low-friction ask and is easily answered with a 'yes' or 'no'. In fact, according to marketing guru Ellie Mirman, emails with a single CTA increased clicks 371% and sales by 1617%.
The signature is arguably the most overlooked part of the email, to your own detriment. The signature is likely the first section the prospect will scroll to when they open your email. They want context. So settling for a mere phone number and company name won’t suffice. Instead, you should leverage your signature to do more for you. Add your social media profiles (and make sure you keep them current). Toss in links to a recent article you published, a speech you gave, or even to an award you received. The whole point here is to establish trust and credibility while also coming off as relatable and likable.
Step 5: Structure Your Campaign
You’ve got an email loaded and ready – now you just need to hit 'send.' But wait: before you do anything else, you’ve got to structure the rest of your campaign. Typically, this means determining what your email cadence schedule is and what your follow-up emails will cover.
While this is something you could do manually, it’s better to leverage some sort of automation software. A tool like Mailshake, for example, can send your initial email and your follow-up emails on autopilot for you. The big question here typically is: "How long do I wait before following up again?" The short answer is "Not long." You’ve built momentum, and it would be a shame to let that go to waste. Here’s an example outreach schedule you can steal and begin to tweak:
- Day 1: Send the initial email
- Day 3: Consider connecting on social media
- Day 4: Send follow-up email #1
- Day 7: Consider calling them
- Day 11: Send follow-up email #2
- Day 15: Engage with their content on social media
- Day 21: Send follow-up email #3
From then on, try at least once a month. As you can see, this isn’t an exact science. If you space things out logically and use other channels for touchpoints throughout your outreach campaign, you’ll come off less salesy and spammy.
Step 6: Launch Your Campaign
Today is launch day. You thought this day would never arrive, but here you are, and your well-thought-out plan is ready to go. Before you hit that button, it’s a good idea to do one final read-through of your emails, preferably out loud or to a colleague, so you can catch errors you may have missed before. Once that’s done, you just need to pick a date and time. The best day to launch your campaign is Tuesday and the best times are between 8 AM and 10 AM as well as 3 PM and 4 PM. While using those timeframes may increase your open rates a bit, it isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. If you need to get your campaign launched earlier for other reasons, don’t hesitate to do so.
Step 7: Testing and Tracking Results
Measuring the effectiveness of your email outreach campaign is essential to ensuring future campaigns are even more successful. From the beginning, you chose to structure your campaign, templates, and launch in specific ways. Now you need to know if that formula is a successful one.
Some important metrics to watch:
Delivery rates, which tell you the strength of your list. A high deliverable rate shows you are reaching your intended prospects. A low one means you need to spend more time verifying your prospect list.
Open rates and click-through rates, which tell you if your subject line was strong, the date and time you sent it was correct, and whether your email content resonated enough to warrant action.
Conversions, which are the ultimate goal, should trump all other metrics. If your email campaign is converting, then there isn’t much, if anything, you should change.
After your initial email outreach campaign has concluded, then you can measure its effectiveness, record your metrics, and determine what, if any, changes you should make before launching the next one to a new list of prospects.
Ready to Rock Your Email Outreach?
In the end, the success of your email outreach campaign will depend on the time, dedication, and resources you pour into it. Keeping up with all the moving pieces can be stressful and time-consuming, so use all the tools at your disposal. Software like CoSchedule can help you keep an actionable calendar of all your marketing and outreach campaigns, whether that be email, social media, podcasts, or any other channel you use to drum up business. Having a central solution in place is invaluable if you want to make each campaign a little more successful than the last.