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How To Cold Email For Success: Validating A Product Idea

7 min read

I wanted to show everyone a few examples of use cases for cold emailing. Most people already know the power of cold email, but too many people give up too early and think that it doesn’t work.

Just like entrepreneurship; don’t give up, instead find your mistakes and tweak it.

I’ve personally used cold email for almost everything in my career and personal life from getting a job to getting press to closing deals everyday. I wanted to make a quick series of a few examples where I’ve used cold email for success.

In this specific example, I’m going to show how I leveraged cold email for one of my side projects (scraping tool) to make sales strictly through email only.

The Cold Email Experiment

For this specific experiment, we wanted to build a simple scraping tool that would scrape job boards, project sites, forums etc. for a list of projects and then use another in-house tool to manually filter out the junk projects.

We use all these in-house tools ourselves for our customers at GrowthOK.

In order for this campaign to be successful, we wanted at least 3–4 software dev shops to be interested in what we were going to build. We eat our own dog food, so we approached this with our typical lead generation + cold email outreach process.

The first step is to build the list of leads as we do for everyone of our customers. Using our in-house tool, we were able to quickly build together a list of 91 dev shops that will be a perfect fit for this tool we were building.

Not too shabby to start with!

With this list of lead list in place, we were ready to blast out emails. My philosophy behind cold emailing is always to

  • Craft amazing personalized emails
  • Keep it short and direct
  • Follow up like a boss on all cold emails.
  • No sales templates..because it just doesn’t work well in the beginning.

Let the cold email outreach begin!

Alrighty, the fun starts here. One thing I want to note is that for every single cold email, you should be doing your research on the prospect/lead before reaching out to them.

This can be anything. I’ll go a little bit more into detail with some simple research you can do to make your cold email stand out easily, but for now let’s take a look at the email that we will be sending.

The research process can be a bit of grunt work, so if you have a budget, I would recommend contacting us at GrowthOK to handle the lead research process for you. Save yourself some time!

We didn’t use the same context for every single email. We wanted to hand-craft and personalize as much as everything, so it would be impossible for me to show every single email, but here’s an example of one of the ones that we used for this specific campaign.

“Hey {Name},

Just came across {Company} and love that intro video, especially the scene where code scrolls down the notepad, very cool visual.

We just created a tool that scrapes the web for anybody looking for software development projects. It finds 60–70 projects each week with concrete budget, timelines etc. and then sends them to you every sunday. You can have your biz dev team reach out to them and close a deal.

Does that sound like something you’ll be interested in? If so we could hop on the phone and chat or you can just book a time {calendar link}. ?

Would love your thoughts!

Thanks!

P.S. Fellow piano player here!!”

This email itself took less than 4 minutes to write and this includes the lead research process. We received a positive reply with interest in less than 8 hours. Short sales-cycle and validation FTW. ?

Awesome right? Let’s keep on going! It doesn’t end here.

Quick Breakdown of the cold email

Let’s do a quick breakdown on why this cold email works before going into the response etc.

The first paragraph is extremely crucial.

Notice how the first paragraph is highly personalized. We didn’t just mention a name, but we added context about something that we actually did research on. This makes our main point of content feel good about the email, because it doesn’t seem like spam anymore.

Mentioning their name is a plus, but including something that we saw in their explainer video is huge! This shows that somebody actually cares about their product and that the time that they invested into creating their explainer video wasn’t wasted.

Personalized and a short paragraph is key to success here.

The next paragraph is a short pitch of what you are actually trying to sell. There’s no point in sending a cold email without a goal. Our goal for this experiment was to see if developers were actually interested in the product.

Again, I like to keep this one short and direct.

You can list out bullet points of the benefits and that does well, but since this is just a short pitch to test the idea, we literally just used a short one line pitch. I like to A/B test it a bit with a new list if it doesn’t work out or another thing that I like to do is to add the benefits in my follow up emails.

The final line/paragraph is the most important one in my important. You must must must have a call to action. Remember, the goal here is to see if they are interested. I want to know if this product is even worth building, so I simply ask if they are interested in the product. I wanted to make their life even easier.

I know if I can hop on a quick 15 minute call with them, I will know their needs and how I can make the product even better. I’m a big fan of the Calendly app. We use it for all our call scheduling and it allows the person to pick a time that works for them.

The last thing that we included was a “P.S. Fellow piano player here”. This takes personalization to a whole new level and now you have another reason to follow up with the person that you are emailing.

Don’t forget the call to action at the end of the cold email!!!

With that cold email, the lead that we emailed bought later that day after a 8 minute short call! Woo hoo! Sale made, product validated, now I just needed a few more!

Funny thing is that he was using Calendly to schedule calls too hehe. Cold email itself has a huge return on investment.

How to do quick research for cold email in 2 short minutes.

Earlier in this post, I mentioned that I was going into how to do lead research in a 2 short minutes. Research is what makes you stand out. Our first paragraph in the cold email work because of the research we did on the person we are emailing prior to even crafting the email.

The biggest misconception about cold emailing is that cold emailing is spam, which is wrong. People put a bad rep behind cold emailing because they make it look like spam. People approach cold emailing like cold calling, which sucks.

If your emails are personalized, then it shouldn’t seem like a Mailchimp newsletter spam. It should seem like a friendly postcard or a friendly warm call.

This is where the research kicks in!

The first step to doing quick research is to make sure that the person you are emailing is a good fit for what you are offering them. If you are cold emailing to look for a job, you want to make sure that the employer is actually hiring someone with your requirements.

If you are looking to make a sale, you want to make sure that the company is actually a good fit for your product. I won’t go in depth on that, but you should do your homework ahead of time when building your initial cold email lead list.

Let’s say you did do your homework and know for a fact that this person/company is a great fit, your next step would be to find something personal that you can relate to them on. Maybe you’re both a piano player or a huge San Francisco 49ers fan, all of these work!

Check their company/personal website

By simply browsing their blog or website, you will be able to find something that you can use. In the cold email above, we spotted an explainer video, so we took a quick minute to watch it. I took the shortcut of just skimming through it :). 80/20!

Most companies like to post updates about their product’s new update and releases on their blog. I like to use that as an introduction paragraph by telling them how I like the new feature that they release a few days ago.

Some personal blogs include an interview that he/she was recently featured on. I like to skim through the interview and pull out some interesting facts.

That’s a major plus when reaching out to them! 🙂

Browse their Linkedin profile

In addition to just visiting their site, you can always look at their Linkedin profile. Linkedin is like the modern resume platform.

I personally take a look at everybody’s Linkedin profile before reaching out to them. You will be surprised how often I find new job updates or maybe some mutual connections that we share.

Congrats them for being at their current company for a certain time.

A quick thing to read when looking at the person’s Linkedin profile is to read their biography. Not everyone has a detailed bio description, but most of them do put something that you can learn from.

For this blog post, I randomly clicked on the first person I saw when I logged into Linkedin and took a quick glance at their bio. Here’s what it says,

“Founder, entrepreneur, dreamer. {This Person} been creating educational games for toddlers since 2006, and he and his team have created over 800 of them. In 2012, they launched {Company name} — a platform with educational games that teach social skills for kids 2–5 years old. He believes that these simple activities help make the world better place.”

This simple biography was straight-forward and took me less than 30 seconds to read. Without having to read further, I already have enough information to craft a personalized introduction paragraph for my cold email.

Asking for introductions is one of my most favorite tactics to cold emails because once the introduction is made, the email is not cold anymore.

This section isn’t about introductions. I will save that for another post, but browsing Linkedin quickly will allow you to find out more information about the lead rather quickly. This combined with visiting their blog and company website is more than enough for you to find something personal.

If you want to make it even more personalized, visit their Twitter account or do a quick Google on their name.

Don’t have time for personalized research?

That’s cool. I know your busy and wasting time researching on sales lead might not be the most fun thing to do. Just hit us up at GrowthOK . Tell us the type of lead you are looking for and the research that you need and we’ll get them for you for an affordable price. Simple 🙂

Results

Again, this experiment was just a quick experiment for me to validate my idea before actually building it. We did this with a simple ugly landing page and a bunch of cold emails. What were the results? Within 3 days, we received 4 pre-sales, which gave us more than enough validation to start building out our product. The next step would be to make it the best product and build out a process and plan around this to scale out the product.

For this specific experiment, we also did a lot of subject line testing as well as follow up emails, but I’ll save that for another blog post.

In my next blog post, I’ll show more examples of how you can use cold email efficiently, come up with subject lines that convert, follow up emails and many more.

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