You’re probably wondering — does cold email still work in 2021? Perhaps you’ve seen poor results, or was there too much noise to be conclusive. Is it just a numbers game? How can you use cold outreach to generate a sustainable source of leads?

We’re huge fans of cold email. We’ve built several businesses around it in the customer development & marketing spaces, and we can 100% guarantee that it works. However, as with any marketing channel, it requires a solid understanding of the common tools & techniques involved.

Let’s focus on the one thing that contributes towards 95% of your success in cold outreach — how and where to find prospects.

Let’s take a look at several ways to do it.

1. Buy a List

Pros

  • It’s cheap.
  • It seems that these days you can find a list for any niche.
  • It’s ready to go — you can start your outreach campaign immediately.

Cons

  • You can’t be sure that you are the only one who bought this list.
  • In 99% of cases, significant parts of the data will be stale.
  • You don’t know how the list was built.

Our advice is to never use this approach. Yes — you will spend less money, but it will most likely yield sub-standard results, and perhaps more importantly — it will damage your reputation as a sender. Your brand name will be tarnished and in many cases, your mail server will end up blacklisted.

2. Use a B2B Database Tool

There are many prospecting tools on the market such as Uplead, ZoomInfo, LeadFuze, or Seamless.

And this is how we started our journey in this industry. It’s pretty easy to signup, filter leads based on your requirements, and pump the results through to your CRM. Some solutions you can subscribe to on a monthly basis, and some will require shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for an annual contract.

And it can work well for prestigious brands like IBM or Microsoft who simply need to check contact details, and don’t need to worry so much about warming up their audience. But for small and medium-sized enterprises it’s not working anymore — the rigid filtering and limited data points that these services provide is not enough.

Pros

  • Works best if your reputation precedes you, and you just need to look up contact details rather than warm your audience.
  • Instant gratification — just filter and receive the results straight away.
  • Affordable options are available.

Cons

  • Available data points are limited. In most cases, you will only be able to get hold of email addresses, names, company names, job titles, and a few more. All of these say nothing about the “buying intent” of your customer.
  • In many cases the data is stale. Not as extreme as buying lists, but still not great.
  • Static databases + high popularity = diminishing ROI. These are popular tools and when their underlying databases are relatively static, prospects become desensitized to cold outreach, which makes it harder to achieve positive results.

3. Hire Freelancers

Another popular option — you can sign up to Upwork or Fiverr, find a well-rated freelancer and ask them to build a list for you.

Pros

  • If you manage to hire a great contractor the data quality will be very high.
  • You are not limited by filters, you can request any data points you need.
  • It’s fairly cheap as most list-building freelancers are based offshore.

Cons

  • It’s hard to manage the process. Communication can be difficult and you need to be sure that the freelancer will use the right tools (not the cheapest) for email validation.
  • Scaling can become a minefield. If you need more leads and scale-out your freelancers horizontally, you’ll need to manually implement processes to prevent duplication — both between freelancers and your existing data.
  • You are limited by the tools and skills of the freelancer. Do they have Sales Navigator? How technical are they? Which database do they use to validate emails?

Use this technique if you have the budget for both the freelancers and for an in-house team to manage the process at scale. In many cases, custom development will be needed to ensure efficient collaboration and that leads are validated correctly.

4. Use Coldlytics - The Best of Both Worlds

We started building this tool 1 year ago for our sales department, after extensively testing all of the above methods and failing to achieve the results we needed.

What we discovered is that we can use real-time data to identify buying signals. A buying signal can be derived from someone recently joining a special-interest group, or a press release announcing a new partnership. However, to do this effectively we still needed to have humans in the loop.

To manage our researchers effectively we built some smart automation tools to ultimately guarantee a high quality of data at any scale. This is how Coldlytics was born, and data quality remains our core focus going forward.

Pros

  • You can request any data points you need. You are not limited by sources where the data can be scraped only by automated tools.
  • Your leads can be highly targeted. Our unique semi-automated approach means there’s always a human ready to find data that can’t be procured by our algorithms.
  • It’s easy to use. You don’t need to manage freelancers. Just set up the task, and the system will do the rest.

Cons

  • You need to understand which buying signals you’re looking for and how to identify them. The better you know your customer, the more likely you are to achieve great results.
  • Cold emailing should be the first priority for your sales reps. You can’t just get the list from Coldlytics, send 1 email sequence and expect results. You need to understand how to write great cold emails.
  • It’s not instant — however, it’s still pretty fast. The limit is 1000 leads per 24 hours. All lists are built from scratch using real-time sources, which guarantees the freshness of data.

If cold outreach is already part of your sales strategy, then Coldlytics will turbocharge your results 🚀