There’s no short supply of blogs and listicles promoting various email marketing software programmes. While useful for some, they’re not very insightful. Neither are they effective if you’re looking for answers to the question: “How do I use cold email software to run successful sequences, produce reports, and meet business objectives?”
Well, let’s tackle that question today.
Steps for setting up data-backed cold outreach
If you’re in B2B, you’ve encountered “data-backed” so many times you’re understandably suspicious of it. At FueltoFly, we use a combination of tools and processes to earn ourselves that oft-heard, oft-distrusted title.
Step 1: Contact Data & Sending Out Cold Emails
For anyone running cold outreach – whether you’re sending cold emails in-house or you’re an agency sending them on behalf of clients – the very first step is having a data source and a sequencing tool. The former allows you to access contact information, and the latter is how you send out your emails.
Many factors come into play when deciding which tool is best for you (we’ll touch on this later), but Zoominfo and SalesLoft are popular names. Apollo.io is an example of software that combines data sources with sequencing tools, but this option also comes with its own pros and cons.
The major pro for a tool that does both contact prospecting and email sequencing is convenience. All your important campaign data is in one place, which means fewer 3rd-party integrations and more efficient workflows. The major con is that all your eggs are in one basket. If the tool shuts down, you lose everything – i.e. you’re f***ed.
Also, migrating to a new tool gets harder and more complicated the longer you use the old one.
Step 2: Data Storage
Next, you’ll want somewhere to export the campaign data to for secure storage. Campaign data refers to the many data points that emerge during a cold email sequence, such as open rates, reply/interest rates, first/last/company names, job titles, etc.
These juicy tidbits are the meat of your email campaigns. They are how you know whether to pop the champagne or shamefully admit to your CMO that you’ve wasted the cold outbound budget.
You can access some of this data from your sequencing tool, so many people would skip this step of exporting and storage. However, we’ve found it’s best practice to export it as this allows for more complicated data analysis which… y’know… makes for some pretty impressive reports.
If you use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform like Hubspot, it’d be a good idea to integrate this with your sequencing tool. People that respond “yes please” to your cold emails will push through to your CRM and you’ll be able to qualify all your leads in one place. However, this isn’t crucial, so don’t fret if you’re CRM-less.
Step 3: Cold Email Data & Business Objectives
Next, you get the smart people and their AI assistants to take the performance data from its safe space and process it in an analytics tool – like Google DataStudio, MS PowerBI, or Tableau. If you have a whole team of properly smart people, you’ll skip this and just use a custom dashboard which, I’ve heard, makes the smart people really, really happy.
By grouping the data points together and visualizing them in easy-to-read but nuanced dashboards, you can make actual data-based decisions. And the actual decisions you make will depend on the objectives of the campaign (or your business, if you’re an agency).
In order to understand if a cold email sequence is meeting objectives, there needs to be an investigative question. For example, let’s suppose your question is: “How do C-suites at companies of different sizes engage with my messaging?”.
Only by running the performance data through an analytics tool would you get the insight you need to confidently answer that question.
First, isolate the job titles that responded to your cold emails; then, isolate the C-suites; next, separate the positive and negative responses. Once you have these two groups, you’ll identify the company sizes that make up each camp, and you’ll then be able to confidently say something along the lines of “C-suites at companies of fewer than 50 employees seem highly responsive and generally positive, while those at larger companies barely respond at all – and if they do, it’s not with interest.”
This enables actions like removing C-suites at larger companies from this sequence, then creating another sequence that targets them specifically with messaging more likely to resonate. Without proper data, this segmentation would be a shot in the dark at best.
A good investment (and challenge) would be trying to solve the issue of manually reading replies by using machine learning with a language processor – if you’re doing that, we’re really impressed and would love to chat!
How to choose a cold email tool
People always say they don’t have a favorite kid when we know they’re lying; you can trust us when we say there is no best cold email tool. Each comes with its own set of pros and cons, and you’ll have to determine for yourself how you’re going to compromise.
The first thing to consider is cost – obviously. In these tough times, as my grandma would say, people are pinching their pennies. There are free tools out there that can get the basic job done, but if you’re trying to run cold outreach at scale and extract nuanced insights from your campaign data, you’ll have to allocate budget for it.
The second factor is data accuracy, which is a much more complicated topic than you think.
There are two “kinds” of data that need to be accurate:
- Contact info – first and last names, email addresses, companies, locations, etc.
- Sequencing data – the actual number of opens, replies, interests, etc.
It isn’t always obvious that the data you’re accessing through a tool isn’t completely accurate. If you have a hunch that it might not be, then – like in college – experimentation is your best friend. You should try out a few tools and see which yield the best results.
Another thing to consider is the number of data points that a tool makes available to you. Some data providers only offer American data, for example; or they offer global contact data, but lack the ability to segment industries by keywords; or they only provide email addresses but no names; and so on.
You have to determine what is best for your business needs. For FueltoFly, being the global champion of cold outreach that we are, we need as many as possible.
The bright side?
Setting up a data-backed cold email sequence with insightful reporting and action-taking is… well, complicated. There’s a lot of room for error, and incorrect assumptions could complicate or harm campaigns. We’re still learning as we go, but we’ve definitely learned more than most about how to run killer cold outreach at scale.
If cold outbound suits your business’s offering, get in touch with us.