“Why aren’t people responding to my cold emails?”
This is probably the question founders ask me the most.
And I get it. When you’re a new founder, writing cold emails can be a daunting task.
But – in all honesty – it’s actually quite easy to write an effective cold email if you focus on the few things that matter (and ignore everything else).
So, today, I’m going to do something I’ve wanted to do for ages and share with you a teardown of a recent cold email which caught my eye…
Now, there’s no single ‘right way’ to write a cold email. And we’re just going to be focussing on a one-off cold email which (ideally) would be part of a sequence.
But – by analysing this cold email and taking you step by step through…
- the mistakes made outside of the email content
- how well it fulfils the requirements of a good cold email
- some common language and copywriting mistakes
… you’ll be able to apply the same lessons to your own copywriting and create better performing, higher-converting cold emails in no time.
First, let’s look at mistakes made outside of the email content…
Now, you won’t be able to see this from the email content itself, but before we even open the email, John (the sender) has made 2 big mistakes…
🤕 Sending to multiple contacts at the same company on the same day
John sent this email to the CEO of Baremetrics. Who is probably the right contact at Baremetrics to send this kind of email to.
But it turns out he sent the same email to Corey, Head of Growth at Baremetrics, at exactly the same time…
This is really bad form. It comes across as spammy, makes it seem like you haven’t done your research on the lead, and just generally decreases the likelihood you get a positive reply.
If you have multiple contacts at the same company, email them one at a time.
Start with the contact you think is the best fit (in this case probably Josh) and – if you don’t get a reply after a day or two – then email the next contact.
You can even reference the fact that you emailed the other person, got no reply, and wonder if this person is a better fit.
This shows you are a human who is genuinely interested in the company, and makes it much more likely you’ll get a positive reply.
🤕 Not doing lead qualification
Baremetrics and ProfitWell are pretty much direct competitors.
But the big mistake here isn’t actually that John emailed their main competition (although that is quite embarrassing)…
It’s that he didn’t qualify his leads.
And by that, I mean he didn’t do a basic check to make sure everyone he is emailing is a plausibly good fit for the product.
Aside from being embarrassing and kind of annoying, sending cold emails to poorly qualified leads is bad for your business…
- you’ll end up wasting time on emails and phone calls/demos with people who could never buy your product
- your email deliverability will suffer, because you’ll be marked as spam/unopened more often
Now, let’s move on to the content of the email…
Before we can judge how good the email is, we need to have an idea of what makes a good cold email in the first place.
Stripping it down to the bare bones, a good cold email needs to…
- … make the lead instantly feel like this email is valuable and worth reading. The easiest way to do this is to get them to understand and identify with the pain (that they experience). Make it burn.
- … get the lead to buy in to ‘the dream’. The promised land. How amazing their life will be after buying your product.
- … convince the lead that you are able to get them that value (and that you want to get them that value)
- … provide a concrete, clear next step (CTA) for the lead to take to realise that value
- … overcome any objections the lead has to taking that next step
Now that we have an idea of what makes a ‘good’ cold email, let’s take a look through each of the 5 points and analyse how John’s email performs…
Goal #1: Make the lead instantly feel like this email is valuable and worth reading
Here, in the first line of the email, John explains the pain the customer should be experiencing. So far so good.
But there are a few ways this sentence is lacking and could be much more effective. For example…
- John says ‘X is a problem’ – but makes the reader do all of the brain work to piece together a) why this is an important pain, and b) why this pain is relevant/urgent for them!
- John doesn’t use simple, easily understandable language his customers would use (and understand) to describe the problem. By talking about ‘delinquent churn’, he’s making sure that the only people who understand what he’s talking about are people who’ve probably already solved the pain and don’t need his product…
Overall, my first impression is that someone has shared an interesting bit of information with me, not that there’s a massive, burning, gaping hole in my business that needs fixing ASAP!
Goal #2: Get the lead to buy in to ‘the dream’
Again, John does a pretty decent job here of succinctly describing ‘what the product will do’…
But a pretty poor job of getting the lead excited and explaining ‘how your life will be so much better after using our product.’
The goal here is for the lead to visualise the impact of using the product.
Because we don’t buy products – we buy the results those products can achieve for us.
Goal #3: Convince the lead that you are able to get them that value (and that you want to get them that value)
Assuming the lead understands what delinquent churn is (which is unlikely), this is a pretty neat description of what the product does. Which is good.
But just because I understand (kind of) what your product does, doesn’t mean I believe it will work for me. Or that it’s worth spending time talking to you about.
This is where I’d want to see some social proof. Linking what the product does to real value created for companies like mine. Why are you confident you can help me get the same value?
Goal #4: Provide a concrete, clear next step (CTA) for the lead to take to realise that value
There is a (reasonably) clear CTA here: a call to discuss going live.
In my opinion though, it’s the wrong CTA.
The next step for the lead, based only on the information in this email, certainly isn’t to ‘discuss going live’.
There’s no way the lead is ready to do that yet.
Instead, the next step is to align with the lead, understand their pains, and show them how they will see real value from using the product.
That might (hopefully) end in the lead going live, but that’s definitely not the CTA you want to motivate them with.
Another improvement that could be made is suggesting a concrete time (or several timeslots) instead of a vague ‘on Tuesday afternoon’. A Calendly link (or similar) would be nice too.
Goal #5: Overcome any objections the lead has to taking the next step
This is a difficult one. You can only know what the exact objections to taking a next step are if you spend time talking to your potential customers about what their objections are. And I obviously haven’t done that for this product.
Explaining that there’s no risk and no upfront cost (like John does here) is a pretty great start.
But – given that the CTA is ‘a call to go live’ – I’m pretty sure that there a whole host of objections the lead may have which the email doesn’t overcome.
The solution here probably isn’t to add further content/arguments to solve those objections in the email. Instead, it makes more sense to just choose a more sensible, value-oriented CTA.
If the CTA were something like “Can we find time on Tuesday afternoon to walk through how you could slash churn by 50% overnight?” then I think John does a pretty good job of objection handling here.
Finally, let’s look at some language/copywriting improvements…
✏️ The subject line
We haven’t mentioned the subject line at all so far. And there isn’t really a ‘good or bad’ judgement to be made here. Either the subject line is performing well, or it isn’t.
Given that both contacts at this company opened the email, I’m going to assume the subject line is doing okay.
✏️ Active, ‘lead-centric’ copywriting
Here’s where this email (and most founders) really falls short…
You want to put the lead front and centre in your copywriting. And use active copywriting.
All the way through this email, the language is either passive (Retain solves… it’s completely…) or focussed on the writer (I’m reaching out… we only…)
✏️ Easy to understand, concise language your customers identify with
John did a pretty good job of writing a concise email. It’s short, to the point and there isn’t really much fluff.
But it isn’t really that easy to understand the important things…
- what pain are you solving for me
- how will you make my life better
- what do I need to do to see those results
The email is phrased in a way which makes the reader really work to pick out answers to the questions above.
With terms like ‘delinquent churn’ and ‘returning missing customers’ it almost certainly isn’t written using the customers’ own words, so they’re unlikely to identify with John and the product.
Now that we’ve been through the email in detail and found some areas for improvement, I want to leave you with my own, ‘improved’ version of the email…
But first, I just want to make it clear that this is by no means a ‘bad’ cold email. It’s in the top 50% for sure. And it probably wasn’t ‘John’ who even wrote or sent the email in the first place – his marketing team likely took care of all that on his behalf.
Still though, here’s just one alternative version which I think solves some of the original email’s weaknesses and would perform significantly better..
Do you ever think about how many customers you lose each month because of expired credit cards and payment problems?
Well, you should. Because you’re probably missing out on $thousands each month for no good reason…
And I’d love to help you get that money back.
SaaS companies just like Baremetrics are slashing churn by up to 40% and making way more money thanks to our ProfitWell Retain tool.
You could see the same results – even if you’re short on time, budget or expertise.
Are you free for a call this week to walk through where you’d see value? Say, Tuesday at 10am ET?
PS: There’s absolutely zero risk – you only ever pay (based on performance) when we’re making you money!