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Less components-more compassion: Five steps to mastering the cold email

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The Future Factory on the importance of personalisation and being human on emails.

So you’ve built an agency, work is coming in, your staff are working hard, everything’s going okay but you’ve decided it’s time. You’re about to engage thrusters and blast off to the next level, you’re just roaring to kick on and work with some bad-ass, exciting new brands. After all, word of mouth can only take you so far, right?

You find a brand you would love to work with, you find a contact you want to write to, but then what? How do I address them? What can we offer them? What do they need? What would I even say?

Cold email approaches are like breaking in a brand-new pair of Dr Martins. A bit of a nightmare at first of course. But honestly, pull on some thick socks of empathy and relevance, allow for a bit of perseverance, and in no time you’ll have boots that, well, fit.

A lot of what I’m about to tell you won’t be revolutionary or ground-breaking. There is no one time offer, no quick fix. In all brutal honestly, outreach takes time, research, and for you to TRULY care about who you’re speaking to. A human approach is key to cutting through the 20 agency introduction emails clients receive daily.

Here’s how to apply this in the real world.

1) Your first line is your first impression

Seven seconds is the amount of time it takes someone to form their opinion of you when meeting for the first time. Your subject line is essentially the e-version of these seven seconds so it’s critical that you make them count. Try using a direct quote from the person you’re emailing. Google their name, find a quote in which they talk about a challenge their brand faces and use a snippet of that in your subject line. This is a real peach for two reasons, firstly, it adds a familiarity, and secondly, it shows you’ve done your research.

2) Make it personal

Everyone who’s seen iRobot or Westworld will tell you, robots are not to be trusted. Who knows how long we have left before they become sentient and take over the planet, so for now, let’s just embrace being human, yeah? Your emails need to be unique, tailored to the person you’re contacting and should always reflect that you are, indeed, a big ball of flesh, not a hard-wired repetitive block of metal. The best way to do this? Make your email personal. This means research, research and more research.

3) Find a pressure point

What keeps them up at night? If you don’t know the answer then - yes, you guessed it - do more research. Demonstrate how your insights and experience have helped other organisations overcome similar challenges. Tailor your work, your awards, even your staff’s experience to this challenge. Be the Calpol to their fever.

4) Revel in the relevance

If your work, insights and experience aren’t relevant then you’re probably barking up the wrong tree. Use trade press, LinkedIn and even the contacts’ social media pages to find aspects of their work that resonate with your achievements. Just because your work falls under a different sector doesn’t mean that it isn’t relevant. Find mutual ground and always build your case around what you have in common.

5) Always end on... a what?

A question, yes! See what I did there? Questions are essential for multiple reasons. Firstly, they help you gather information, secondly, they show that you care. These two things go together like Dr Martins and thick socks. When you gather information, you’re showing you care, which helps you build trust and understand their challenges. This then means you can sell in your agency.

So remember:

  • Make a good first impression.
  • Be human.
  • Research.
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • Be their Calpol!

...What are you waiting for?

Sam Gill, account manager at Future Factory.

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