Mastering the b2b cold email

Mastering the B2B cold email

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Stand out from the crowd and master the art of B2B cold emails with our data-backed ten golden rules to email prospecting.

Cold email prospecting isn’t a revolutionary practice within the world of B2B – but the way you do it can be. 

347 million emails were sent daily in 2023 – competition in the inbox is heating up. Your personalisation, device optimisation, deliverability, and creative content must be on point to stand out and get good results.

If you haven’t already, The State of Prospecting 2024 is a valuable tool to explore – outlining ten golden rules for sending the perfect email and achieving that ideal level of engagement.

But in the meantime, this guide to sending cold emails is a great start. Stick with us, and you’ll be on your way to forging new relationships, building trust, and improving those conversion rates in no time. 

What is a cold email?

Cold emailing falls under email marketing, where a sales rep will send emails to prospective clients without having previously contacted them in the hopes of building a business relationship.

Buyers want to hear from sellers, and our research finds that their preferred method of being contacted is by email – no changes there. Switching to the seller’s perspective, 86% of companies say email prospecting delivers “good to excellent” ROI. So, we know this is a valuable communication form for buyers and sellers. 

With 1.5 billion marketing emails opened each month in 2023, the inbox is becoming more crowded than ever. So, it’s time to focus on optimising your cold outreach so potential clients are more inclined to open your email.

Is cold email allowed under privacy regulations?

The short answer is yes; B2B cold emailing is seen as a standard business practice. Privacy laws differ from country to country. You should be aware of this if you are entertaining international outbound. Let’s have a look at some of the most common across the UK and the US. Not only are they imperative, but sticking to them will help you avoid that pesky little spam filter.

GDPR (2020)

GDPR is central to streamlining all sales activities by ensuring that your business has an excellent reason to reach out and that you are fully transparent about where you obtained their contact information. It also requires you to provide an easy way for them to opt-out of hearing from you. This generally includes a one-click unsubscribe feature in all email correspondence. 

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation (2003)

This regulatory requirement covers all electronic marketing outreach and customer data privacy when using communication networks or services. 

The Data Protection Act (2018)

The DPA controls how organisations, businesses and the government use our personal information. 

CAN-SPAM (2003)

A US-based law that regulates commercial email output. Some of the requirements of this legislation include not using misleading messaging, identifying the communication as an ad, easy opt-out, and informing recipients of where your business is located.

CCPA (2018)

Another law to be aware of in the US is the California Consumer Privacy Act. It gives consumers more control over the data businesses store. From the right to know what details a business stores on an individual to the right to delete personal information. 

Now you’re aware of the regulation that is in place within the UK, how do you go about being compliant and not being liable for hefty fines and a damaged reputation? 

How to be cold email compliant

To stay compliant, there are six easy guidelines to avoid ending up in hot water and out of the spam folder. But an important point to make is that while these are the rules within the UK – Europe, the US, Canada, and Australia have a whole set of different regulations, so if you’re prospecting out to these territories, it’s best to brush up on your knowledge. 

So, without further ado…

State of Prospecting 2024: deliverability checklist

How to draft a B2B cold email

Having published our most in-depth State of Prospecting report, we’ve poured through 75.2 million emails, 22,120 multichannel prospecting campaigns and surveyed data from 377 senior B2B decision makers and 82 top industries. 

With that in mind and eight years of valuable experience behind us, we’ve assembled the all-new golden rules for writing the perfect prospecting emails. You can read the data-driven reasoning behind them in our State of Prospecting report for 2024, but in the meantime, here they are: 

State of Prospecting 2024: 10 golden rules to email prospecting

B2B cold email subject lines

Email subject lines offer a unique source of A/B testing. From the length of your initial hook to the content, there’s a lot to play with here to help you identify what makes your target audience tick and has those open rates soaring. 

We know all too well that first impressions count. And you know we’ve done the research. So, let’s break it down element by element, helping you uncover the perfect cold email subject line. 

Word count

Your word count is important – make your subject line too short, and it won’t have the desired effect. Subject lines that are too long could result in your recipients not even reading it, let alone opening the email. According to our data, anywhere between four and seven words is perfect. 

State of Prospecting 2024: open rate by subject line word count

Subject line categories

We asked our panel of B2B buyers what subject line categories would make them more inclined to open an email. Based on the emails we’ve sent and received, we split the categories up into: 

  • Personalised (name/company name)
  • An offer
  • Topical, trending content, current affairs
  • A question
  • Time-sensitive content
  • Humorous
  • Intriguing/clickbait
  • Shocking/alarmist

*drumroll please*

Personalised email subject lines came out on top, with 73% of our respondents saying this would make them more inclined to see what’s inside. What turned out with the poorest results, we hear you ask?

Subject lines that were alarmist or tried to evoke shock. No surprise there. No, literally. Ah!

With these results in mind, we dug deeper to see what personalisation got those inboxes jumping for joy. 

With mail merge being commonplace in today’s cold email landscape, those extra little layers stand out, and in this case, it was time personalisation that took the top spot. References concerning the day, date or time were shown to increase the open rate by 8.1%. It’s pretty decent if you ask us. 

Words and phrases

Next, we zoomed in on those little words that make a mighty difference. As we’ve already learned, personalisation goes a long way in cold prospecting emails. Themes of collaboration also do pretty well. So, what is the one golden word that will likely make your prospect open that email?

Any takers?

To get you started, the three worst words you could use are invite, demo and you, your or yours. Okay, that’s technically five, but you get the picture. 

And here’s what came out on top:

State of Prospecting 2024: words in subjects line and impact on lead rate

This doesn’t mean it’s a practical strategy to cram in all those top-performing words, but it gives you a little insight into those tones and the type of language prospects are more likely to engage with. 

Cold email templates to secure a sales meeting

One of the top three challenges marketers face in the coming year that surfaced in our State of Prospecting report was creating quality content – 36% of our panel said the same. With this comes the challenge of generating enough quality leads. With this in mind, we’ll share a few cold email examples, bringing together the research from our report. And trust us, they do work.

Now, at this point, you should know who you’re targeting. You should also know what information they’ll be more reactive to. 

So, let’s kick it off with a simple cold email B2B template that shows you’ve done your research and offers a more personalised tone.

B2B cold email example template

Knowing how to draft a cold email can be a difficult starting point. This is just one example that incorporates those ten golden rules and natural language. It shows authority without the sales push, keeps it simple, adds value and includes that golden call to action. 

A webinar, blog post, free trial, or any offering that adds value to your message can also be well placed. The recipient feels like they’re getting something from interacting with you. 

Et voila! Right?

Typically, your reply rate isn’t going to boom from sending just one email. If it does, then great! But if it doesn’t, don’t lose hope. 

Here at Sopro, our analysis of millions of emails shows that four times – one initial email and follow-up emails – is the perfect number of messages. 

Here’s another example of a great email to build that relationship.

B2B cold email example template

Still not feeling confident? Not to worry. Elevate your cold email game with our free Email Awesomeness Checker! Our easy tool boosts your spam score, optimises your content, and perfects your spelling. If all else fails, we find that sometimes a funny, less-business-first tone can break through where other approaches have failed.

Our tool ensures your emails are next-level awesome, maximising your chances of success in the competitive world of cold email outreach.

And if that’s not enough, we have even more advice on sending that perfect B2B cold email then read our blog about nailing personalisation too. 

Email… and then some

Do you want to level up your cold email approach? Now is a better time than ever!

In the words of our Chief Innovation Officer, Rob Harlow, “It’s not about casting a wider net; it’s about weaving a more intricate and effective one.” So, in a time when email-only lead rates are seeing a dip, what can you do about it? 

The solution isn’t to send more emails out. You know your target market, so stick to it. Instead, harness the benefits of a multi-channel approach. Our latest report shows how cold email outreach is being improved by adding multiple channels into the mix. 

What is a multi-channel approach? 

Simply put, multi-channel prospecting uses a layer of channels to reach and engage with prospects. It aims to provide them with a consistent message across all channels, leading to more conversions.

Multi-channel outreach should be coordinated across different media to make your message more memorable. Channels can include email, telephone, social media and direct mail.

By using a multi-channel strategy, you’re making your brand top-of-mind. You’re exposing more decision-makers to your message, building trust and authority. And you wouldn’t be the only one!

68% of B2B companies agree email prospecting complements inbound marketing channels well. Also, 75% of B2B companies say prospecting results are better when email is combined with other outbound marketing channels.

Are you worried about being perceived as spammy? Don’t be. When we asked buyers which channels they wanted to be contacted on, they picked an average of 2.8 channels, up from 2.3 in 2023. This highlights that sellers are increasingly adopting multi-channel and is being welcomed by buyers.

Maximise your cold email outreach, not only with traditional inbound tactics but be sure to be consistently present across other channels to boot. 

Turning up the heat on cold emails

To bring it home, email isn’t dead. But you must level up your game to stay ahead of the competition. 

Mastering B2B cold email prospecting is imperative. As businesses strive for heightened efficiency and a broader reach, a well-crafted cold email strategy is the foundation of your outreach. 

Email is the gateway to establishing meaningful connections, fostering collaborations, and driving revenue growth. In a landscape dominated by digital interactions, the ability to cut through the noise and engage potential prospects directly can make a difference. 

A strategic approach to cold email prospecting will enable you to tap into new markets, nurture leads, and convert prospects into valued clients. With personalised and targeted communication, it’s a tool that can build credibility and trust, positioning yourself as a solution provider in a competitive marketplace. 

Mastering B2B cold email prospecting is the linchpin for sustained success, amplifying outreach efforts and paving the way for lasting business relationships in today’s fast-paced and interconnected business environment. So what are you waiting for? Make the most of our tips and tools and start laying the groundwork. 

Right person. Right message.
Right time. Right place.

Discover how our multi-channel outreach service helps hundreds of businesses sell more.

Multichannel prospecting