Outbound email can help you start conversations with decision-makers and future clients. But, to get results, you need to stand out in your sales prospects’ busy inboxes.

In this guide, I’m going to walk you through what outbound email is, why it’s effective for engaging with new leads, and actionable steps to take when setting up your outbound email campaigns to ensure you get the best results.

  1. What is Outbound Email?

  2. Outbound Email vs. Email Marketing

  3. Why Use Outbound Email for Customer Acquisition

  4. Setting Up Your Inbox for Outbound Email

  5. How to Send a Cold Outbound Email That Gets Replies

  6. Sending Outbound Email with QuickMail

Let’s dive in.

What is Outbound Email?

Outbound email is any email sent out from you or your team to prospects matching your ideal customer.

This means you can reach out to anyone that you think would be interested in your product or service in a highly personalized way.

When used effectively, outbound email can be a powerful tool for building relationships with customers and driving sales.

Outbound Email vs. Email Marketing

Outbound email is different from your everyday email marketing strategy.

In your regular email marketing strategy, you’re going to be staying in touch with your existing customers and email list subscribers. They already know your brand and will have opted-in to hearing from you.

Outbound emails are cold emails. You’ll be reaching out to people who don’t necessarily know your company and who haven’t already been in touch with you. This can be a challenge because you need to use your email to show your cold prospect why it’s worth replying to you.

However, if you can perfect the process they’re a powerful outreach strategy that can generate consistent results and help you drive growth at your company.

Why Use Outbound Email for Customer Acquisition

1. Reach Key Decision-Makers

One of the best parts about outbound email is that it’s direct to key decision-makers. You don’t need to build complex ad campaigns to slowly build brand awareness and then drive someone through the purchase funnel. 

Instead, you send a personal email, instantly show why it’s worth replying, and then start a conversation with the CEO, founder, or head of department at the company you want as a new client.

There’s no other channel that’s so personal and cuts through the noise as effectively.

2. Gather Direct Feedback from Prospects

Talking to your sales leads and prospects is key for any business. You get to learn about their pain points, hear feelings about your product or service, and discover what would lead them to become a paying customer.

With cold outreach, you get the benefit of having real conversations with your prospects and quickly learning what questions they have.

For example, if you notice your prospects regularly reply with: “sounds interesting, but how much does it cost?”. Then, you’ll know that pricing and ROI are topics you need to address early on in your sales process, and can send that feedback to your team.

3. Affordable to Start and Scale

Cold email is an affordable acquisition channel.

All you need is:

  • An email address

  • A cold email tool to send personalized emails in bulk

  • A CRM or tracking system to track your leads

Comparing this to a channel like paid ads on LinkedIn where you’ll be looking at several hundred, if not thousands per month to target key decision-makers, it’s clear why outbound email is a low-risk channel to test.

Setting Up Your Inbox for Outbound Email

Before you send an outbound email you need to set up your inbox for it.

Avoid sending outbound cold emails from your primary business email address. If anything goes wrong, it can affect your email deliverability which will stop you from being able to communicate effectively with your team or existing customers.

You’ll need to set up a new cold email domain.

If your main company email is name@quickmail.io, you’d set up a new inbox on a new domain, like name@quickmail.com. You’ll send all of your cold outbound emails from this new inbox.

Now you don’t need to worry about your day-to-day emails and main inbox being affected, even if your inbox does run into deliverability problems.

How to Send a Cold Outbound Email That Gets Replies

1. Warm Up Your Email Address

The first step to success is getting your emails delivered. The best thing you can do at this stage is to warm-up your cold email inbox with a tool like MailFlow. It's a free email warmup tool that has a native integration with QuickMail.

This is a way to show email service providers (ESPs) that you’re a trustworthy sender and that they need to deliver your emails to the primary inbox. MailFlow generates engagement between your account and other emails in the email warm-up network and mirrors real sending activity.

You should leave the MailFlow Auto Warmer running for around two weeks before sending any outbound email campaigns, and you can leave it running for as long as you’re doing any outbound email prospecting. 

2. Building a Qualified Prospect List

The next step is to build a list of people you’re going to reach out to. This is critical because if you reach out to someone that’s a perfect fit they’ll have an easy time saying ‘yes’ to your offer even if your outbound email template isn’t perfect.

When choosing your prospects, consider:

  • Whether their job title matches your ideal customer

  • If the problems they have are solvable with your product/service

  • If they already use complementary software or services

  • If they’re the key decision-maker at a company

Once you’ve determined what type of prospect you’re going to reach out to in your campaign, you’ll need to build a prospect list.

You can use sales prospecting tools like:

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator: quickly build lists of qualified prospects based on their LinkedIn profile

  • UpLead: search for potential customers based on demographic, technographic, and firmographic criteria

  • BuiltWith: identify companies based on the software they use in their business

Source: BuiltWith

These tools are going to help you both speed up the process but also ensure every prospect matches your key criteria that makes someone a perfect customer.

3. Writing the Perfect Cold Outbound Email

Being able to write a cold email that’s irresistible to reply to is what separates the good cold emailers from the great.

Today, personalization is table stakes. Every cold email you send needs to be personalized if you expect someone to even read it in the first place.

But, how exactly do you put that into practice?

Here’s an outbound email template structure you can follow that will work for almost any scenario:

  1. Personalized opening line: a personalized opening line is a way to stand out and show your prospect you’ve actively researched them. This could be mentioning content they’ve created or shown that you’ve got something in common. The key is that it’s unique to each person.

  2. Value proposition: you need to prove why it’s worth your prospect’s time. Can you help them increase sales? Improve workplace productivity? Generate more website traffic? Use one or two sentences to convey this, and make it clear how your prospect can benefit.

  3. Social proof: this will help prove that you can get results. If you can cite a case study or statistic that relates to how your product/service can help businesses like your prospects, it’s an excellent first step to building trust.

  4. Call-to-action: your CTA needs to make it easy for your prospect to reply. Keep it simple and don’t ask too much straight away, as the goal is to start a conversation. You can talk more on a call or in a meeting later. 

  5. P.S. note: This is optional, but it’s a simple way to add even more unique personalization to your email. This could be something as simple as: “let me know if you want me to send over a recent case study” or “enjoyed your recent podcast on [topic]”.

The perfect outbound email doesn’t exist. But, if you follow this general structure and customize it for your industry and prospect type, you’ll see good results from your campaigns.

4. Following Up After No Response

Most outbound email campaigns will see a 10-20% reply rate to the first email. If you get to that level, you’re doing well.

But, to maximize the results from your campaign you need to be sending follow-up emails.

Think of your follow-up as a friendly reminder – you’re reaching out again because you have something you know your prospect will need in their business. It’s an essential part of any outbound campaign because 55% of replies to outbound campaigns come from a follow-up email.

To send a follow-up, add a new step in QuickMail after a three to five-day delay.

Write your email template, and save it.

That’s it – now, if someone doesn’t reply to your first outbound email, they’ll automatically receive your follow-up. If someone did reply, they’ll be removed from the campaign so you never accidentally send multiple emails to someone you’re already in touch with.

5. Tracking Your Results

If you want to get buy-in from your team that outbound email is a channel worth investing in, then you need to have the results to back it up.

The best way to do this is to track your results in QuickMail’s dashboard.

You’ll be able to see each metric you care about, from open rate to click-through rate (if you include links), to reply rate.

The only caveat here is that we usually recommend against tracking opens (at least in your first outbound email) to avoid tracking link clicks.

This is because the tracking links can get flagged by ESPs as spam, so it can increase the risk that your emails don’t get delivered.

However, even if you don’t track those, you’ll still be able to see your key cold email metrics clearly displayed in your dashboard which you can use to judge if your campaigns are working or not.

Sending Outbound Email with QuickMail

Even if you’re sending low-volume outbound email campaigns, the process can get repetitive quickly.

You can use a cold email platform like QuickMail to help you automate the most repetitive part of the process and free up time to focus on what matters most: having conversations with your prospects.

Here’s why it’s ideal:

1. Personalize Every Email with Attributes

QuickMail is ideal for getting replies because you can personalize every email you send using attributes.

Attributes are added to your email templates and will be personalized to each recipient based on the details you have in your prospect list.

Attributes can include:

  • First name

  • Company name

  • Job title

  • Personalized opening lines or P.S. notes

All you need to do is add one to your template and it will automatically populate with the information from your prospect list.

It’s an easy and powerful way to show every prospect that you’re reaching out to them individually and will boost your reply rates.

2. Add Extra Team Members to Help Manage Campaigns

Most cold email platforms make you pay for every seat you need, even if those seats aren’t for people sending email campaigns. That means even if you’re working with a VA or freelancer to help you upload prospect lists and format campaigns, you’ll need to pay extra.

QuickMail is designed for teams. You can add as many people as you like to your account, and you only need to pay if you’re sending emails from a new inbox.

You can also set up inbox rotation, which will send a campaign from multiple inboxes. 

That means you can spread out the sending volume and avoid any of your inboxes being flagged for high sending activity. It’s an effective way to improve your email deliverability and improve team productivity.

3. Always Land in the Primary Inbox

Landing in the primary inbox is key to getting high response rates. QuickMail helps you ensure that always happens with a native integration to MailFlow, which has email deliverability reports and the cold email warm-up tool.

As we’ve seen already, the MailFlow Auto Warmer works by generating engagement in your inbox. You can add as many inboxes as you need to the Auto Warmer so no matter how many inboxes you’re using to send outbound email campaigns, they’ll all land in the primary inbox.

To ensure your emails are always landing in the primary inbox, you can use MailFlow's Deliverability Reports to track inbox performance on an ongoing basis. 

These show you how the major inbox providers are treating your emails, so you'll always know if there are potential problems that could hurt campaign performance and be able to take action to solve them.

Wrapping Up

Outbound email is a powerful channel to get new customers. You can have real conversations with decision-makers and don’t need to rely on luck to get a response from someone that perfectly matches your ideal customer profile.

There are no shortcuts to getting great results through cold outbound email – but, if you follow the steps I’ve laid out you’re going to be ahead of the majority of people competing for attention in your prospect’s inbox.

When you’re ready to start reaching out and having more conversations with qualified prospects, you can start your free trial of QuickMail and see how quickly you get replies.