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The Importance of Persistence in Cold Emails

We ran a cold email campaign here at Ambition at the end of 2014. Utilizing a mix of smart, targeted value messaging and email automation, our sales team brought on 73 new prospects.

We cold emailed 578 total prospects. Of the 578 initial emails, only 6 got a response. Here's how follow-up emails netted us 67 additional hot leads. 

We engaged in a cold email campaign in November-December 2014 here at Ambition. The 6 week campaign utilized the value messaging of SalesFolk and the automation capabilities of PersistIQ. ‚ÄčThe relevant numbers:

  1. 578 prospects.
  2. 291 VPs of Sales.
  3. 287 VPs of Sales Ops.
  4. 8 touchpoints.
  5. 73 new leads.

How did we get there? A mixture of smart value messaging and persistence. Check out the numbers below:

cold emails

cold email metrics

How important is the follow-up to a cold email?  Had we elected to send a solitary cold email to all 572 of these prospects, we'd have exactly 6 new leads. Instead, we have 73. And it took significantly less extra effort than you might think.

Lessons from our Cold Email Outreach

The email campaign elicited a grand total of 73 positive responses out of 572. Of those 73 positive responses, 24 came at touchpoints 6 through 8. 49 positive responses occurred at touchpoints 1-5. 

Strange, right? Almost a full third of the positive responses we received to our email campaign occurred after we had reached out to these cold prospects 6 or more times. Let's look at the graph below, as it will prove very instructive about the nature of our overall campaign, and about cold emailing in general:

cold email success

Barely half of our recipients even opened the initial email. Of the 77 that did, not a single one felt compelled to send a positive response or begin a conversation.

It's important to note that this original email was sent on a Saturday and that it's value message focused around an ancillary Ambition feature, which may have proven confusing and non-compelling to recipients. 

Lesson: It's not that they're not interested, it's that you're emailing at the wrong time of the week and/or sending the wrong message. Let's go back to the Graph of this particular Sub-Campaign:

cold email campaigns

Was it a particular time of day that resonated? A particular value message? It wasn't. We generated 17 new leads with this campaign, and no single email generated more than 18 percent of that grand total. What mattered? Persistence. This wasn't about flash. It was about grind. Our eighth email generated just as many new leads as our second.

All of this harkened back to a pre-eminent trend amongst our 4 sub-campaigns: Prospects respect persistence. The old adage that "it takes 7 touches to get through to a prospect" has merit, at least from our experience.

Much of this is due to our steady variation of value messaging. The aggregate number of prospects that opened each email declined with almost every touchpoint. The number that responded in the positive did not.

Adjusted Response Rate and Time Intervals

Let's isolate the relevant numbers of each sub-campaign:

cold email responsecold email sales

cold email best practicescold email metrics

The variation in adjusted response rate fluctuates throughout the course of each campaign. 

Something also worth looking at is the time intervals between each email. We learned that being persistent should also mean giving prospects time to breathe. Below is a look at our time intervals between each email.

cold email automation

As you can see, we often took lengthy breaks between each email. Bombarding a prospect with 8 emails over a 2-week period risks appearing predatory. By contrast, spaced out emails that are sent out between 2 and 14 days apart make each pitch seem more fresh.

The bottom line: Persistence matters. And it's the best friend of a good Salesperson -- it certainly served our Sales Team well.

To read Heather Morgan's excellent breakdowns of our campaign, check out Parts 1 and 2 of her content series on our project. Also check out our original posts on this topic, which can be found here and on the Docurated Blog. Coming up next week: Mark Cuban investees, Datanyze, offer their take on a recent cold email campaign and compare notes with us about email best practices. 

Ambition: The Sales Management & Motivation Platform

Ambition is a sales management platform that syncs every sales department, data source, and performance metric on one system.

Ambition clarifies and publicizes real-time performance analytics for your entire sales organization. Using a drag-and-drop interface, non-technical sales leaders can build custom scorecards, contests, reports, and TVs.

Ambition is endorsed by Harvard Business Review, AA-ISP (the Global Inside Sales Organization), and USA Today as a proven solution for managing millennial sales teams. Hear from our customers below.

Watch Testimonials:

  1. FiveStars: Adam Wall. Sr. Manager of Sales Operations . 
  2. Filemaker: Brad Freitag. Vice-President of Worldwide Sales.
  3. Outreach: Mark Kosoglow. Vice-President of Sales.
  4. Cell Marque: Lauren Hopson. Director of Sales & Marketing.
  5. Access America Transport: Ted Alling. Chief Executive Officer.

Watch Product Walkthroughs:

  1. ChowNow. Led by Vice-President of Sales, Drew Woodcock.
  2. Outreach. Led by Sales Development Manager, Alex Lynn.
  3. AMX Logistics. Led by Executive Vice-President ,Jared Moore.

Read Case Studies:

  1. Clayton Homes: HBR finds triple-digit growth in 3 sales efficiency metrics. 
  2. Coyote Logistics: Monthly revenue per broker grew $525 in 6 months.
  3. Peek: Monthly sales activity volume grew 142% in 6 months.
  4. Vorsight: Monthly sales conversations grew 300% in 6 months.

Contact us to learn how Ambition can impact your sales organization today.

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About Ambition
Sales Leaders, HR Professionals, and C-Level Executives use Ambition to recognize, motivate, and develop employees into more engaged and productive versions of themselves. Funded by Google, used by the Fortune 500, endorsed by the Harvard Business Review.

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