Most outbound email campaigns suck.

Just yesterday I saw a blog post called My Buddies Send Better Emails Than My Vendors...I tend to agree.

Then every once a blue moon, you get a cold email that’s actually good and feels like it’s been written specifically for you.

outbound email

The challenge is that creating excellent campaigns with a high degree of personalization can take a lot of time.

This puts small companies trying to do a lot with a little in a predicament…I’m looking at you startups!

So how do you scale personalized outbound email in a time efficient way?

One of the bigger mistakes I see when approaching this problem is not investing enough time into planning your campaign and sequencing errors.

For example, most companies execute cold email campaigns in the following order:

  1. Create a company lead list 
  2. Use outsourcers to find stakeholders at those company and their contact information
  3. Write emails for your campaign
  4. Upload spreadsheets with target accounts into an email automation tool
  5. Click send and kick back

Seems good enough, right?

outbound email

A broad approach like this can certainly work if you write excellent email copy, but if you’re not including a high degree of personalization in those emails you’ll generally end up in the “suck” category.

I’m going to make an argument that sequencing your sales development plan in the order outlined above does not make it easy to streamline personalization beyond something simple like company name.

Instead, you should start new sales development initiatives by writing email copy first.

Assuming you’re using outsourcers to do lead research and data enhancement, we’ve found the following process to be much more effective:

  1. Write out the emails for your outreach campaign
  2. Identify the unique variables you will use for personalization
  3. Create a company list (outsource)
  4. Use outsourcers to find stakeholders at those company, their contact information, and the unique variables in our campaign
  5. Upload spreadsheets with target accounts into an email automation tool
  6. Fire them away

The main difference in this process is that you’re working backwards by writing copy and establishing the unique personalization element(s) you want to use before you outsource any lead research.

I repeat, you write the email copy first!

Recently, I even had someone send me an outbound email with a custom branded URL to a stock video. Even though the video wasn’t personalized, the fact that it was hosted on a seemingly personal link made me open it and write them back.

outbound email

Pretty clever right? This coupled with a novel subject line stopped me in my inbox processing tracks.

When you start with copy as a first step, you can build a process around finding more nuanced variables an outsourcer can find to rapidly increase the amount of emails you send without sacrificing a high degree of personalization.

You can also think about including nuanced variables in email subject lines

Account Based Sales…

But what about account based sales development?!? It’s totes all the rage today.

Account Based Sales Development: A sales development approach in which prospective customer accounts are treated as markets of one, reached through hyper-personalized, targeted campaigns.

[Source: Salesloft]

When you’re narrowly targeting specific companies, you can still bake in this approach to your process.

At any point in the lead research process (i.e. identifying companies or after you have a completed spreadsheet with contacts and unique identifiers) you can spot check the list for companies that warrant higher personalization.

Denote these in a new column so you can easily see which targets get an even higher level of personalization, or commit to alternative methods for getting your foot in the door such as getting an email introduction.

outbound email

Thinking about your process this way provides you with a great start to creating a highly personalized campaigns even if you're doing account based sales development. 

This copy-first sales development framework can be used in a variety of contexts:

  • Sales Development
  • Recruiting
  • Job Searching
  • SEO Backlinking
  • Content Promotion

For example email scripts where you can see how we bake unique variables into campaigns click the button below:

Click Here For 5 Proven Templates

You can even think about this within the context of user re-engagement if you have obvious “drop-off” points that by highlighting in an email, indicates to your users that you really know them.

I’m sure there are many more ways to scale personalized outreach...this is just one way we think about it as a small team with limited resources trying to stand out!


How does your company fill the top of the funnel while still maintaining a personal touch in your sales development? Let us know in the comments below!



Written by Scott

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