You’ve probably heard it before, cold email is nothing but glorified spam. This is the line used by almost everyone who is not a fan of cold email prospecting. Usually because they have tried it before, failed and refuse to accept the possibility that someone else might succeed where they couldn’t.
The fact is that when cold emails are well written and sent to the right people; they are still one of the most valuable lead generation tools you can have in your arsenal. when they aren’t, then yes, they probably are spam.
Creating a cold email campaign that’s made up of valuable, customized, personalized sales emails is a perfectly acceptable way to get leads. Sending spam isn’t. So how can you tell if your cold email is really spam? These are some of the biggest red flags.
The Email Doesn’t Address the Recipient By Name
We all get emails addressed ‘Hey friend’ or ‘Dear Sir or Madam’. How many times did you bother to read them? Exactly, you didn’t. Spam filters know that, and that’s why most of the time they’ll be sent directly to junk. If they do slip through, they are likely to either be ignored, trashed, or marked as spam by the reader themselves.
Making sure that every cold email you send uses the recipient’s first name isn’t hard, so make sure you do it every time.
Your Cold Email Offers No Value
“Hi Deepak! My company is AMAZING. We do A, B,C and sometimes D. Want me to tell you about it?”
Er, probably not. I get ten of these pitches a day and I’m busy. Can you do something for me?
Basically you should never send a sales email unless it offers value to its recipient. It doesn’t have to be complicated. An interesting piece of content that is valuable to them. A tip. A solid demonstration of how what you have to offer will benefit them. All of these things work. A mass mailed company bio won’t.
The Email Makes No Attempt at Personalization
Adding a first name is not real personalization, that’s just a bit of code you can slot into a mass mailing. Personalization that counts demonstrates you know something about this person. What they do. What they’ve done. What their interests are. You don’t need to be psychic to figure this out, you just need to spend some time on LinkedIn, it’s almost always all there.
The Message is Just an Ask
“Hi Deepak. Do you have time for a quick 30 minute meeting? I have something interesting to share”.
Again, no. I’m busy. Tell me what you’ve got or stop emailing me.
Yes, the CTA, or the ‘ask’ SHOULD be part of a good cold sales email. But after you have explained why your recipient should even think about taking three minutes out of their day, let alone 30, to listen to your pitch.
30 minutes, by the way, is a bit much, start smaller. A 10 minute call is what I usually ask for, and that’s just about right.
The Email Looks Like It Was Written By a Primary School Kid
Emails that are riddled with typos and grammatical errors are messages that a lot of spam filters will dump immediately. There is no excuse for spelling mistakes in 21st century cold emailing. There are too many tools – free tools – you can use to catch errors for there ever to be a reason to let bad copy get sent.
Your Message Is Being Sent to People It’s Irrelevant To
The standard definition of spam per Spamhaus, one of the largest email blacklists on the planet:
” An electronic message is “spam” if (A) the recipient’s personal identity and context are irrelevant because the message is equally applicable to many other potential recipients; AND (B) the recipient has not verifiably granted deliberate, explicit, and still-revocable permission for it to be sent.”
Let’s say you’ve crafted a beautifully customized sales email template specifically targeted to companies in the retail industry. So why did you then include one bloke who works in education and a woman who does recruiting? Because you didn’t research your prospects, that’s why, which makes your email spam.
You’ve Fallen into the Stop Word Trap
Spam filters have lists of words that trigger them instantly. You can find a good list here if you don’t know what they are. However, some cold emailers try to get away with using them anyway. Imagine you see these three subject lines in your inbox:
“Earn Extra Cash While You Sleep”
“F R E E Will Not Believe Your Eyes!”
Which one would you open? None right? Of course not, they’re spam. And even if the rest of your message is good, emails that make use of these stop words annoy recipients and when people get mad, they hit the ‘mark as spam’ button fast.
You’re Trying to Be a Fake Friend
One old favorite ‘trick’ of bad cold emailers is to try to deceive recipients into opening their email. But inserting a false “Re:” or “Fwd:” in your subject line when you’ve never contacted the prospect before is deceptive, and can invoke recipients’ ire. So will things like “We should catch up.”
If you don’t know the person, don’t try to pretend that you do. You might con them into false sense of familiarity for a second, but that will only make them madder when they realise (within seconds) that they’ve been tricked.