Over the years I've tried - and failed - to set up many B2B SaaS products, until I began using direct outreach. In this guide I'm going to run you through a few of the things I wish someone would've told me 5 years ago.

So you're setting up, or growing, a B2B SaaS? Congratulations!

"But I have no users yet?", I hear you say. No, that's not why I'm congratulating you. Users are easy to find, as you'll learn in this article.

You deserve kudos because you made the decision to start a B2B SaaS, and I assume if you're reading this you've already strapped together an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). You're now officially ahead of 95% of the crowd.

B2B SaaS businesses are beautiful. With hard work and perseverance you will have yourself a largely passive, high-margin business in no time. You are now uniquely positioned to take advantage of one of the most effective lead generation strategies known to man. Cold email.

Why uniquely positioned? Well, a consumer business simply cannot use cold email to find customers in many jurisdictions (Europe and California, for example). But as a B2B business, you can reach out directly to prospects who you think may have a legitimate interest in your product.

This is what we’re going to focus on in this blog. 

Scientifically, outflow equals inflow. This is true in the marketing world, it’s more than just science. 

If you outflow enough of the right messages to the right people, you will have an inflow of leads.

It really is a simple formula: the right people + the right message = more business.

Outbound B2B SaaS Lead Generation

When we think about outbound marketing, we often think of direct mail and cold calling. 

These days, the leader for lead generation for B2B SaaS is cold email.

What exactly is cold email? Glad you asked.

Cold email, simply put, is the act of sending an email to someone you do not know, for a business purpose. Let’s dive into to how to implement cold email as a B2B SaaS lead generation strategy.

How to Send Cold Emails for B2B SaaS Lead Generation

At a high level, here’s how it works, step-by-step,

  1. Define Your Audience
  2. Build Your List
  3. Setup a Sales Enablement tool
  4. Write your email copy
  5. Press GO!

Many articles out there make this process feel complex. When you break it down, it’s fairly simple. Anyone can do it, it’s quite inexpensive and has potential to reap huge rewards. It’s hard to argue that cold email is a bad strategy as a result.

Define Your Audience - Creating Your Ideal Customer Profile

Spend time on defining your ICP. It's one of the most important steps.

Creating an ideal customer profile (ICP) is essential for understanding and targeting the right audience.

The easiest way to define your audience is by modeling your best customers. Your best customers are the ones who have been with you the longest, spend the most money and are happy with the service.

Research your existing customers to understand their needs, pain points, and preferences. You can use surveys, interviews, or focus groups to gather qualitative data.

Don't have existing customers? You'll need to make some assumptions here, but don't worry - you'll have your first customers soon, at which point you can loop back and iterate. Determine the broad market segments that can benefit from your offering. Consider factors such as industry, company size, location, and business type.

Create customer personas: Develop fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on your research findings. Include demographic information, behavioral traits, goals, and pain points. Creating multiple personas can help you account for different types of ideal customers.

The more you visualize who your ideal customers are, the easier it will be to find more of them and sell to the right people.

In over 100 years of direct mail studies, according to Frankie Fihn, author of Beyond The Agency Box, 60% of a campaigns success comes from the list you start with, 30% was the offer and 10% was the Call to Action (CTA).

When a 100 year study indicates that 60% of the outcome is determined by the list/ audience, that’s not something to take lightly.

Take the time to get your audience right. 60% of your success counts on it.

Build Your List

Building a list of leads with Coldlytics.

Next we need to build a list, and before I dive too deep, let me just say that I have built thousands of lists. Hundreds were painstakingly terrible, which eventually led to me co-founding the site you’re on now, Coldlytics to solve that problem.

Here’s the wrong way to build a list: scrape as much data as you can, and hope for the best. This will easily land you on a blacklist such as SORBS.

The right way to build a list: scrape company information, cleanse, normalize and deduplicate, identify the decision makers, enrich with researched contact information, enrich with additional data points as needed, such as a revenue and headcount… or just use Coldlytics.

At this point you're probably thinking this article is biased and we're just plugging our own tool. Hands down, I know of no better way to build a prospect list right now. Why am I so sure of this? Well, because our customers are telling us so, and that's the best validation for any kind of SaaS, as you know.

Watch this example where I source a list of lawyer leads for a marketing technology (martech) SaaS company:

Coldlytics is built to hugely simplify list building.

Here’s how it works in 3 easy steps…

  1. Set the number of prospects you’re looking for (Ie. a list of 100, 1000, 5000 etc)
  2. Define your target audience (Ie. owners and attorneys of US based law firms)
  3. Choose from 20+ data points like FB ad pixel detection and if it’s built on wordpress.

Coldlytics will scrape the web to create an initial list of your target companies. Once we have a solid list of companies, we deduplicate the list, cleanse it and normalize the data. This is fancy data-speak that just means we’re making the data consistent and usable for you. After the data has been processed, we then pass this over to our human research team here at Coldlytics. 

The human research team is made up of experts in contact finding, helping us find more potential leads for you than any other source. By employing human research, we end up finding data that is often missed out on by our competitors. 

After this, the data is sent over to our 3rd party email verification partner, Zerobounce, to validate as many emails as possible. This helps ensure that you are keeping your email bounce rate as low as possible. Note: we offer a bounce-free guarantee, this means that you will never pay for a bounced email contact again! Simply send a screenshot of your bounced contacts and we’ll credit those back to your account.

Setup a Sales Enablement Tool

A sales enablement tool will help you to stay on top of your outreach, follow ups, and replies.

There are many options to choose from, which can make this part more confusing than it needs to be. While each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses, they all generally do a good job at helping you manage an outbound marketing campaign. For this example, we’re going to cover a couple of highlights on our 3 top favorites.

Woodpecker.co is a popular sales automation and email outreach platform designed to help businesses streamline their cold email and follow-up campaigns. 

Woodpecker provides 3 main solutions: Cold Email, Sales Automation and an Agency. In the spirit of B2B SaaS, we’ll focus on the SaaS aspect here.

Key features of Woodpecker include:

  1. Personalized email campaigns: Create personalized email templates with custom fields, making it easy to tailor messages for individual recipients.
  2. Automated follow-ups: Automated follow-up emails based on recipient behavior, ensuring no potential lead is left unattended.
  3. Email deliverability & warm up: Woodpecker ensures high email deliverability using techniques such as throttling and sending emails through users' email accounts to avoid being marked as spam as well as automated email warm up for Microsoft Exchange and Office 365 hosted email accounts.
  4. Integrations: You’ll love that Woodpecker has a whopping 38 integrations built-in, including Slack, Hubspot and Pipedrive. There is certainly no shortage of quality integrations here on the platform.
  5. Results tracking and analytics: The platform provides detailed analytics on the results of your email campaigns, including open rates, click-through rates, and response rates. This data helps you optimize your campaigns for better results.
  6. Enterprise functionality: Woodpecker offers team features useful for larger organizations.

Woodpecker.co is a great choice for implementing your B2B SaaS lead generation strategy due to its robust features and ease of use.

Lemlist is another excellent choice for sales enablement software. The platform is known for its unique capabilities to add personalized images and videos to email messages, making them more engaging and increasing the likelihood of recipients responding to the outreach in addition to its Lemwarm product which has arguably led the industry as the best-in-class email warm up tool.

Key features of Lemlist include:

  1. Email sequences: Lemlist enables you to create customized email templates with personalized text, images (this is really cool - you can apply custom text to images for each contact), and videos, increasing engagement and conversion rates.
  2. Lemwarm: Lemwarm is a Peer 2 Peer (P2P) warm up platform inside the Lemlist suite. It has been rigorously tested against other platforms and comes out on top every time. You can’t find a better warm up tool in the industry.
  3. Email Templates: Choose from over 25 fantastic templates with proven results. Each template comes with its own case study and is easy to use inside of the platform.
  4. Integration with CRMs and other tools: Lemlist integrates with 30 different CRM systems and other sales tools, making it easy to synchronize contact data and manage your sales pipeline. See the list of integrations here: https://www.lemlist.com/integrations
  5. A/B testing: Lemlist supports A/B testing, allowing users to test different email variations to identify the most effective messaging and improve campaign performance.
  6. Team collaboration: The platform facilitates team collaboration by allowing team members to work together on campaigns, share email templates, and track team performance.

Lemlist is suitable for sales teams, marketers, and business owners who want to create engaging and personalized email outreach campaigns to boost conversions and build relationships.

SmartReach.io is a sales automation and email outreach platform. The platform is focused on providing users with advanced personalization options, email deliverability, and campaign analytics to optimize email outreach efforts for sales, marketing, and networking purposes.

Key features of SmartReach include:

  1. Cold email campaigns: SmartReach.io has a very intuitive interface for creating cold email campaigns. One of our favorite features in Smartreach is that it sends cold emails based on the prospect’s time zone, rather than your own. This means emails scheduled to send between 9 AM - 5 PM will be sent based on the receiver's time zone rather than your own. This is particularly useful if you’re targeting companies across the US.
  2. Campaign progress indicator: on the email campaign management dashboard you can quickly see how many emails have been sent, how many prospects are queued to receive the campaign, how many are in progress, and how many have been completed.
  3. Integrations: 14 out of the box integrations including Zapier which makes it easy to have your data communicate with your CRM and other sales tools you may be using.
  4. Lead management: You can use Smartreach as your crm. IT has a range of lead qualifying tags you can use from do-not-contact’s to converted deals.
  5. A/B testing: SmartReach.io supports A/B testing, allowing users to test different email variations to identify the most effective messaging and improve campaign performance.
  6. Email inboxes: Manage multiple inboxes from one place. No more signing in and out of multiple email addresses to communicate with your prospects. Smartreach allows you to simply select the lead and reply from the same email you used to reach them in the first place.

SmartReach is suitable for small start ups all the way to enterprise companies looking to manage multiple campaigns with large amounts of data in one place.

Read Our 2023 Niche Insights Report

Discover the industries our customers are targeting this year.

Write Your Email Copy

Great email copy is short, succinct, and captivating.

Ready to craft a killer cold email that'll make your target want to hit the reply button ASAP? Here are five tips to help you do just that:

  • Subject lines matter! Make yours personalized, attention-grabbing, and relevant to the recipient. No one likes a boring subject line, so get creative and make it pop!
  • Keep it short and sweet. Nobody has time for a long and rambling email. Get to the point quickly and clearly, highlighting the key benefits of what you're offering or requesting.
  • Do your research. Show that you've done your homework on the recipient and their business. Mention relevant information or challenges they're facing to show you've done your due diligence.
  • Call to action, baby! Be clear and direct about what you want the recipient to do. Whether it's scheduling a meeting or simply replying by a certain date, make sure to include a clear call to action.
  • Don't be afraid to get a little funky - add some emojis or GIFs to your emails to make those emails pop!
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread! Nobody wants to work with someone who can't be bothered to check their spelling or grammar. So, take the time to read over your email a few times before hitting send. It’s the least you can do for yourself!

Press GO!

Time to launch! You'll have more users in no time.

Let’s cap this off with a few brief remarks on cold email campaign optimization!

First things first, the secret to cold email is iteration. Split test and figure out what works.

I recommend you send each version to at least 100 people before making changes. You want to ensure that you have a large enough sample to make improvements from.

If something's not working, ditch it and try something new. Finally, always remember to have fun with it - after all, cold email as a B2B SaaS Lead Generation Strategy can be a wild ride, but with a little bit of creativity and some strategic thinking, you can take your campaigns to the next level!

Quality data for cold email, phone, or direct mail. Researched on demand.

Your perfect prospects in 24 hours.

Businesses worldwide are igniting their sales pipe with Coldlytics.
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I've ran successful outbound sales campaigns for countless businesses, and I want to share my knowledge with you.

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- Matt

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