How to experiment your way to more effective cold email templates

by Steli Efti

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When was the last time you took a deep dive into the performance of your cold email templates? A month ago? Three months ago? Six?

Running experiments isn’t something that comes naturally in sales. But experimenting and testing your way to better results is an essential part of improving any process.

Today, we’re gonna talk about how to approach testing in sales and create more effective cold email templates. Because who says your best performing cold email templates can’t perform even better?

Let’s get started.

How to approach testing

What works great today will lose its effectiveness over time. That’s why it’s important to keep experimenting and discovering what your audience responds to.

Act with urgency

Getting lazy while you’re successful is easy. But continued success is never guaranteed. If you don’t challenge your existing templates and wait too long to try new ones, it might have a negative impact on your sales team.

The time between realizing you’re in a tough spot and finding a template that’s going to work again could be weeks or months. During that time, you’ll see a decreased performance in your sales team and your numbers will suffer.

Challenge your winners

Among your email templates, there should be 3–4 templates that you know perform very well. These are your winners. But while they’re generating great results, don’t get too comfortable.

Keep making changes to them, draft up entirely new templates, and run an A/B test against your best performing emails.

Customize your templates

So you’ve got your hands on some new cold email templates? Perhaps you found them in a book or a blog and you’re ready to put them to the test.

Copy. Paste. Send. Job done? Not so fast.

Regardless of the conversion rate these email templates have seen, you have to tailor the message to your audience.

We all copy and borrow from others. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when you do, ask yourself how you can improve on that? How can you make this cold email template better suited for your audience? How can you make it more appealing? How can you make it a better fit for your brand and voice?

Decide what to test

The first step is to decide what you want to learn and what you need to improve. Here, you’re primarily looking at two things:

  • Open rate
  • Response rate or action, e.g. book a time for a call

While the list of things you can test is long, always test one thing at a time to generate the most accurate results.

Here are a few things to consider.

Subject line

The subject line is the most crucial part of your email. It decides whether your lead will open your email or not. If your open rates are low, this is where you start.

A lot of subject lines have become overused as a result of sales influencers sharing their best practices and subject lines that generate high open rates. And when something is overused, it’s not effective anymore.

From name

There’s a number of variations to try here. You can use your full name, first name or even your nickname, e.g. Steli, Steli Efti.

Personalization

The easiest and quickest way to personalize an email is to include the recipient’s name in the subject line and greeting. But why not take it further? Here’s an example of what you can do in Close.io.

Use custom fields to add the industry to your lead page. Next, say you want to target insurance companies based in Austin, Texas.

Set up a new email template using email template tags.

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Your new email template is ready to use:

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Now you have a subject line that’s more relevant to your lead and it’ll be more likely that they open the email.

Greeting

The greeting sets the tone for the email. Think about who you’re selling to. Should they be approached in a more formal way or will a good old “Hi” do the job? Maybe you don’t need a greeting at all and can cut straight to the chase.

Hi Steli,

I came across your blog and I think it’s great. I’d love to talk to you about x.

Vs.

I came across your blog and I think it’s great. I’d love to talk to you about x.

Body text

David Ogilvy once said, “If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language.”

The legendary copywriter could not be more on point. Make an educated guess about how they’d want to be talked to, then test that assumption in your copy.

Timing

The internet is full of “Best time to send an email” blog posts. While those serve well as guidelines, you need to uncover what works best for your own audience, not someone else’s. Experiment with day of the week and time of day to see what their routines are like.

Define success

You’ve decided what to test and your new email templates are ready. But before you hit send, it’s important to decide what success means. How will you know your new templates are working?

Look at previous results and decide how much you’ll want to improve that. For example, if you start with email open rate and you had an open rate of 15 percent, you might want to increase that to 20 percent or even 25.

Test in small batches

After you’ve customized your new templates, it’s time to hit send. Test your templates in small batches first to see how they perform and then tweak them as the results come in. Once you know what’s working and what’s not working, increase the list size to target more leads.

4 rules to follow with Close.io’s email templates

In a previous post, we outlined a few guidelines for getting the most out of email templates in Close.io.

  1. Always be testing, but stay in control.
    • Let anyone on your team put together a template and try it out. Give them the freedom to test any template idea, but let them know that they always need to report the results.

  2. Follow a common email template naming structure.
    • Always use the same title for the type of email you’re sending.
    • Associate template names with a specific campaign.
    • Put the person’s name in the template name to identify who came up with it.
    • For example, if you are sending cold emails: “Cold Email - Test #1 (Nick Persico)”

  3. For cold emails, send a minimum of 100 emails before looking at the results. If you are sending it to a smaller sample size, try to send at least 30.
  4. Export the Sent Email Report data every quarter and start all over again.
    • The list of Email Templates can get long and confusing. Clean everything out and put the best performing email templates back in for everyone to use.

Make experimentation part of your sales culture

Make testing your cold email templates a part of your routine to make sure you stay ahead. What’s working today, might not work tomorrow—and it will definitely not work forever. That being said, always follow the results—not the advice.

Creating and using email templates in Close.io is easy. Try it for free for 14 days and use our bulk email features and email templates to increase your response rate.

Recommended reading:

5 cold email templates that will generate warm leads for your sales team!
5 cold email templates for sales professionals. There are templates for the cold calling 2.0 approach as well as templates for the direct sales approach.

How to improve your cold email response rates
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