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Cold outreach simplified - Best tips, practices & templates 2024

Cold outreach simplified-cover visual

At first mention, cold outreach tends to have a bad reputation. 

It's no wonder, as no one likes unsolicited emails, LinkedIn messages, or calls. 

However, real cold outreach is not useless or annoying. On the contrary, it helps your and your clients' businesses grow and builds strong, lucrative, and long-lasting relationships. 

It starts with thoroughly researching the ICP and Buyer Persona, defining a precise outreach strategy, writing sales messages and follow-ups in advance, predicting objections and preparing for objection handling, and much more.  

That's why, in this blog, we will dive into a detailed explanation of:

  • What cold outreach is;
  • How sales, marketing, and recruiting can benefit from it;
  • Best practices for successful cold outreach;
  • And will give you a list of resources with ready-to-use cold sales message templates. 

What is cold outreach? 

Cold Outreach is a form of outbound marketing. It implies contacting prospects with whom you had no prior relationship and introducing them to your product/service. It can be conducted via LinkedIn, email (cold emailing), phone (cold calling), or by combining these channels (multichannel outreach). 

Companies with a business-to-business work model mainly use cold outreach. For optimal results, each cold outreach campaign should be based on a well-thought-out outreach strategy. This strategy should aligns with the company's needs, goals, and possibilities. 

Cold outreach VS warm outreach 

Cold outreach, as mentioned above, implies reaching out to prospects with whom you had no prior relationship and who most likely have little or no awareness of your product/service. 

On the other hand, warm outreach implies contacting prospects who know about your product/service and have expressed interest in it. The communication channels can be the same as cold outreach strategies - via LinkedIn, email, call, or combining several communication channels. However, the approach is, of course, different. 

Cold outreach strategies in marketing, sales, and recruiting 

Cold outreach is a form of outbound marketing and sales. It is a traditional form of marketing in which a company initiates contact with a potential customer. 

Since cold outreach is mainly implemented by companies with a B2B work model, these potential clients are other companies that could benefit from their products/services the most. 

The most common forms of outbound marketing are:

  • cold outreach (cold emailing, cold calling, cold messaging on LinkedIn),
  • billboards,
  • events,
  • advertising through TV or radio,
  • print,
  • online,
  • in-person contact, etc. 

This chapter will discuss the role of cold emailing, cold calling, and cold messaging on LinkedIn as a cold outreach strategy in sales, marketing, and recruiting. 

Cold outreach strategy in marketing 

Network with industry peers 

LinkedIn networking with industry peers positively impacts the exposure of your business. Furthermore, it brings meaningful connections, and provides additional insights into different marketing trends and practices. 

What once was reserved for in-person business events only today is happening on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social media platform aimed at building B2B relationships that gathers over 810 million professionals worldwide. In other words, it allows you to find and network with all your industry peers from all over the world in one place. 

Connect with thought leaders and influencers

Word of mouth is the best marketing tool, especially from industry experts. 

LinkedIn is also an excellent place to connect with thought-leaders and influencers. This way you can talk about your product/service reach your target audience through their content or mention. 

Also, you can get in touch with their followers through the Sales Navigator filter Connections Of. Or, use a LinkedIn automation tool, such as Skylead, to scrape LinkedIn members who reacted to specific posts and reach out to them.

Invite top speakers to participate at your event 

Whether a startup or an established business, having high-profile speakers at your event (webinars, in-person conferences, seminars, etc.) puts your company in the spotlight. It is an excellent way to gather people from your industry and potential customers in one place. 

Additionally, top-level speakers usually have a broad audience and many followers on social media. As a result, they could attract professionals from an industry branch you didn't consider initially. This gives you a significant insight into the direction your business can take.

Create cold outreach campaigns to get in touch with platforms or other brands that could go hand-in-hand with yours.(obviously, skip your competitors!). In return, be open to hosting their content or exchanging backlinks. 

Having your content published or backlinked on other places rather than just on your gives your brand significant exposure, whether a startup or an established business. Furthermore, it places you and your team members as field experts. 

Send out press releases 

A new software release, reaching a business milestone, announcing a new product/service, or anything worth mentioning should be publicly announced. Use cold outreach to get in touch with online magazines relevant to your industry and get extra publicity. 

Cold outreach strategy in sales 

Simply put, sales represents the group of activities that lead to exchanging goods or services for money or other assets. 

Not long ago, the entire sales process, from lead generation to the pitch, was reserved for face-to-face contact. Then, unsolicited calls to prospects without prior contact, known as cold calling, became a crucial part of sales teams' cold outreach strategies. This way, teams managed to reach geographically more distant clients. 

Today, with the internet becoming available to almost everyone, sales reps are using more and more social media networks to understand their customers and to reach out to them. However, the social selling process is far more complicated than that.

There are over 63 million decision-makers on LinkedIn. You can now offer your product/service to the entire world, but so can everyone else. That's how social selling was born. It is a sales and marketing strategy that prioritizes relationship building with potential clients and makes the act of selling its consequence rather than a goal. Social selling has many processes, but it usually starts with cold outreach. 

Cold outreach strategy in recruiting 

Due to the global talent shortage, recruiters must develop an employer branding strategy to present their company in the labor market and a cold outreach strategy to approach ideal candidates and attract them to work for their company. 

Furthermore, LinkedIn developed a series of platforms designed to help recruiters find the most qualified candidates for their companies - LinkedIn Recruiter.

What is cold email outreach? 

Cold email outreach is an outbound prospecting technique that uses email to approach prospects to establish professional relationships and sell your product. Therefore, a cold email is any unsolicited email sent to someone who knows nothing or very little about your product with the goal of selling it. 

B2B Cold email response rates 

A generally accepted average cold email open rate is 21.33%, while an average response rate is 1% to 5%

As you may see, the difference between an open rate and a reply rate is significant. The email open rate depends on your email subject line and your reply rate of how good you are at writing sales messages and follow-up emails after no response.

One of the many benefits of using Skylead, a LinkedIn automation tool and cold email software, is the possibility to find and verify your prospects' email addresses. The verification process is critical, as it ensures higher deliverability (chances of your cold email landing directly in your prospect's inbox instead of spam) and safeguards your domain from restrictions. 

Furthermore, every day Skylead team strives to educate our users and beyond on sales and anything sales-related, how to put our tips, tricks, and templates for better open and reply rates, and finally, conversion rates into good use through our tool. You can find sales email templates and LinkedIn templates in our resources or subscribe to our newsletter for the latest industry and software updates and ready-to-use sales templates. 

Image of CTA banner 1 for Skylead salesbook - ready-to-use outreach template that can be applied to our LinkedIn automation and cold email software

Cold outreach on LinkedIn 

LinkedIn is a social media platform that, besides connecting professionals from around the world, gives you significant insights into your prospects' needs, desires, and pain points through their LinkedIn profiles. 

Unlike other social media focusing on people's private lives or B2C communication, LinkedIn is majorly oriented towards the B2B business model. 

It offers detailed insights into your ideal customers, such as your prospect's name, company name, contact information (email, website, phone number), professional communities they like, and content with which they engage. 

Despite LinkedIn being majorly mentioned as a platform for salespeople, sales teams, and marketers, it's important to highlight that it's pretty valuable for recruiters and people looking for new job opportunities. 

When fishing for the best talent to join your company, the process is the same as social selling. On the other hand, potential employees rely on LinkedIn before applying to a position that might interest them. They can draw conclusions from the company's employer branding campaigns, growth insights, etc., just like sales reps and marketers do for their potential clients. 

What is multichannel cold outreach?

Multichannel cold outreach implies combining channels of communication, usually LinkedIn outreach, email outreach, and cold calling to get prospects to engage in the process of social selling. It can also be performed through your multichannel contact center.

Multichannel outreach is the most effective approach for starting a conversation with your ideal prospects because you are creating more than one touchpoint with your prospects and, at the same time identifying their preferred channel of communication for further conversations. 

Benefits of cold outreach

  • Cold outreach is cost-effective. You don't need a specific budget to invest in ads, event planning, advertising, etc. 
  • It's scalable. If you use automation tools, hyper-personalized cold emails and follow-ups can reach thousands of people in a few clicks. 
  • You can include personalized images, gifs, and videos to make your cold emails or LinkedIn messages more attractive. 
  • You can reach potential clients and industry peers from all over the world. Cold outreach allows you to expand your business and networking efforts outside a specific geographic area.
  • Consequently, cold outreach offers broader brand exposure. Cold emails and cold LinkedIn outreach can reach anyone on the globe. Additionally, LinkedIn provides specific features to promote your business through its feed, online events, sponsored InMails, communities, etc. 

Image of Free Trial CTA banner with Skylead's smart sequence that demonstrates multichannel outreach using LinkedIn automation and email steps with if/else conditions

Cold outreach: Best practices

Understand your prospects' needs 

LinkedIn is a gold mine of qualified prospects and information on those prospects. So, check out:

  • the content your prospects share or like,
  • the communities they participate in,
  • their professional and educational background,
  • and their interests.

You can learn all of this by visiting their LinkedIn profile. 


Once you've understood your prospects' affinities, needs, and goals, it's time to put this information into practice. Personalizing your outreach goes far beyond calling your prospects by their names. Some successful sales reps import CSV files (with email lists or LinkedIn URLs) into automation tools. They also personalize entire paragraphs to each prospect for the best results.  

For example, let’s say you have an email list of your ideal prospects. Create a column where you write a personalized intro for each of them where the rest of the sales message copy stays the same for every prospect.

CSV file, example, Skylead CSV-file cold outreach campaign

Once you upload this .csv file to Skylead, the column “intro” will automatically turn into a variable {{intro}}. Use it like this. 

Skylead, example of personalization, cold email outreach, variables

Each prospect will receive a combination of the personalized intro as in the csv file with the rest of the message. 

Address the pain points 

Your best pitch lies in proving that your product/service solves your prospects' pain points most quickly and directly. Make that clear in your sales messages, from the intro to CTA. 

Connect on a human level

However, addressing the pain points doesn't mean selling repeatedly. Keep in mind that your prospects are humans and that you should always try to connect on a human level. Sales reps who genuinely show that they care and want to help their potential customers improve their businesses have higher conversion rates. 

Build relationships before selling 

As part of social selling, cold outreach is all about building relationships with prospects. People are more likely to buy products from people they trust and with whom they feel comfortable opening up. 

Don't quit - follow up 

Don't give up after the first try. Decision-makers to whom you're trying to get are busy. They receive numerous LinkedIn connection requests and cold emails and, believe it or not, often forget to reply. So sending a follow-up email is always a good choice. 

Qualify your prospects  

Qualifying a prospect means determining whether or not someone interested in your product/service is a good fit for it. Therefore, a qualified prospect is a potential client whose pain points your product/service solves in the most direct way. By qualifying your prospects, you will have higher customer lifetime value while lowering churn rates. 

A/B test your cold outreach

One cold outreach template won't fit all prospects. That's why it's smart to A/B test message templates of all kinds. A/B test is a randomized experimentation process where two or more versions are sent to different target users simultaneously to determine which one makes results and influences the desirable business action. It's the only way to know what really works for your target prospects. 

For example, in this case, we tested 3 different copies of Invite to connect on LinkedIn to see which one would have the highest acceptance rate and/or reply rate. 

Here’s how you see the results of A/B testing in Skylead. You also have instant insight into the messages you were testing. 

Skylead, AB testing, example of AB testing results

Automate your cold outreach

It's 2024, and we're far past manual outreach. LinkedIn automation tools progressed and are now an indispensable part of any sales, marketing, and recruiting process. Skylead, for example, optimizes your time by finding the fastest way to your prospects, makes sure your cold emails land directly in your prospect's inbox, which affects your deliverability, gives you real-time reports and campaign status, and supports all sorts of integrations with CRMs (i.e., Hubspot, Salesflare, Zoho) newsletter tools, databases, etc. through Zapier and API. 

What is a good cold email 

A good cold email must show that the sender has thoroughly researched the recipient (prospect) and their company to understand their needs, desires, and pain points. Furthermore, it also includes a concrete and straight-to-the-point explanation of how your product/service can help improve a specific aspect of their business. 

The characteristics of a "good cold email" are the same for recruiters and candidates writing to hiring managers to search for job opportunities. 

For example, if you're a recruiter reaching out to the ideal candidate, you should show that you've researched that person and why you consider them the right fit for the position. The "spray and pray" approach doesn't work, not it makes your company look good. 

The same goes another way around. If you're a candidate searching for an opportunity, make sure you've done thorough research on a specific company's product/service. Even if you're an expert in your field, the hiring manager is less likely to consider you if they notice you don't particularly care about the company itself and that you just go and apply for random jobs. 

Image of CTA banner 2 for Skylead salesbook - ready-to-use outreach template that can be applied to our LinkedIn automation and cold email software

Cold outreach email template 

Now, let's look at some proven cold email formulas (and cold email templates) that increase your reply rates and generate results. 

The most basic structure of cold emails, whether a first email or a follow-up, consists of an email subject line, email body copy, call-to-action (CTA), and email signature. 

As mentioned above, the email open rate majorly depends on your email subject line. Your response rates depend on how well you researched your recipients, hence, how relevant your offer is to their company. Also, if you included links or hyperlinked words, ensure the anchor words are attractive enough (but not misleading) to improve your click-through rate. 

Here are some cold email formulas/templates.

The BAB (Before - After - Bridge) formula

Before - a paragraph on your prospect's pain point. 

After - what your prospect's business looks like with a solution you're offering. 

Bridge - how your prospect can get there. 

Cold outreach email template with the BAB (Before - After - Bridge) Formula

The PAS (Problem - Agitate - Solve) formula

The PAS formula is also known as "a pessimistic version of BAB". However, it works equally well in different situations. You have to evaluate which principle works better for you and your prospects, or you can always AB test them. 

Problem - open your cold email with the problem your prospect's facing. 

Agitate - emphasize the problem until it "hurts".

Solve - offer a solution to your prospect's problem.

Cold outreach email template with the PAS (Problem - Agitate - Solve) Formula

The SSS (Star - Story - Success) formula 

Star - introduce the main character, that should be either your prospect or someone with whom your prospect can identify.

Story - tell a story about your character in which they face the same problem your prospect does.

Success - share how your character got out of the problem and offer the same solution to your prospect.

Cold outreach email template with the SSS (Star - Story - Success) Formula

The ACCA (Awareness - Comprehension - Conviction - Action) formula 

Awareness - show your prospect that you know what their pain point is.

Comprehension - explain how this pain point affects them, and tell them you have a solution.

Conviction - create a desire for the solution.

Action - call-to-action (CTA).  

Cold outreach email template with the ACCA (Awareness - Comprehension - Conviction - Action) Formula

The AIDA (Attention - Interest - Desire - Action) formula 

Attention — Grab the prospect's attention.

Interest — Make it personal to engage their interest.

Desire — Build desire for what you're offering.

Action — Ask for a response.

Email template with the AIDA (Attention - Interest - Desire - Action) Formula

Also, remember to check out our ready-to-use follow-up email after no response templates, as well as the most common email mistakes and the most effective email calls-to-action (CTAs) for higher response and conversion rates. 

Best cold email outreach subject line 

Whether a first or a follow-up email, your email subject line is crucial for your open rates. 

Subject lines should be compelling but not misleading. If you used tricks to get your email opened, and the subject line doesn't reflect the email body, don't expect your prospect to reply. People generally get angry when misled and are less likely to open your follow-up emails, too.  

Here are email subject line guidelines, best practices, and over 107 subject line examples that you can use immediately or draw inspiration from. 

LinkedIn outreach templates 

In simple words, LinkedIn outreach implies using the platform to connect and nurture professional relationships with the goal of selling your product/service to those members that would benefit from it the most.

For this purpose, LinkedIn offers different types of messaging, such as connection requests for better acceptance rates, regular messages for members of your network, LinkedIn InMails for busy decision-makers, and 3rd-degree connections. 

From this point of view, LinkedIn outreach is different from cold email outreach for classifying members based on your connection level, whereas you can send a cold email to pretty much anyone whose email address you have. However, LinkedIn as a platform offers other benefits, such as networking opportunities, significant insights into your prospect's professional achievements, pain points, and professional aspirations, etc. 

You will find over 30 ready-to-use LinkedIn outreach templates in our resources LinkedIn connection message templates, sales messages for starting sales conversations, and LinkedIn InMails examples

LinkedIn outreach automation 

Skylead is a LinkedIn automation tool and cold email outreach software that, thanks to its smart algorithms that make decisions based on your prospect's behavior, automates time-consuming sales processes and gets to your prospects in the fastest and most direct way possible. 

By automating your LinkedIn outreach, you are optimizing your time and saving resources while still getting the most out of your LinkedIn prospecting process. In addition, it is perfectly safe and supports integrations through API and Zapier with CRMs, newsletter tools, database software, calendar booking tools, etc. 

Skylead allows you to automate only LinkedIn outreach, make only cold email campaigns, or combine everything into multichannel outreach for the best results. It also has its email finder that, at the same time, verifies each prospect's email address to increase deliverability and prevent harming your email domain. 

Skylead’s Smart Sequences work on the “if/else” principle meaning that they act based on your lead’s behavior. The picture below shows what multichannel outreach looks like but you can always opt to make a Smart Sequence that focuses on one channel only (LinkedIn or email). 

Skylead, smart sequence, example of multichannel cold outreach

Also, it has a proven boost mode feature that helps you bypass LinkedIn limits and connect with more prospects in less time. 

Image of CTA banner 1 for watching Skylead - LinkedIn automation and cold email software demo

Frequently asked questions 

How does cold outreach automation compare to manual outreach in terms of effectiveness and personalization?

Cold outreach automation can scale efforts and maintain consistency while keeping a deeper level of personalization, potentially increasing effectiveness by making recipients feel uniquely considered. While manual outreach can be personalized as well, automation is a preferred option because it saves so much time. 

What are the ethical considerations or potential drawbacks of using cold outreach strategies, especially regarding unsolicited messages?

Ethical considerations in cold outreach include respecting privacy, avoiding spam, and ensuring messages provide value. Misuse can lead to negative brand perception and legal issues.

Can the effectiveness of cold outreach vary significantly between industries, and if so, how should strategies be adapted for different sectors?

Effectiveness of cold outreach can indeed vary across industries. Sectors with high digital engagement may respond better. Tailoring strategies to industry-specific preferences and pain points is crucial for relevance and effectiveness.

Is cold outreach effective? 

If done right, cold outreach is a powerful prospecting tactic used by many salespeople for its high ROI, the possibility to reach potential clients from all over the world, and the ability to build long-lasting business relationships. 

Why is cold outreach important? 

Cold outreach can help you gain broader brand awareness and reach potential customers from all over the world. Furthermore, it's cost-effective and can be used for sales, marketing, recruiting, and job searches. 

How do you conduct a cold outreach? 

  • Identify prospects more likely to convert.
  • Consider using multichannel outreach to identify their preferred means of communication.
  • Prepare your LinkedIn and/or email strategy in advance.
  • Prepare your LinkedIn sales messages and/or cold sales emails in advance. 
  • Personalize. 
  • Follow up. 

You will not get into trouble if you use your prospects' business email addresses for cold email campaigns. 

Can you cold email B2B? 

Yes, B2B companies' sales teams use cold email outreach and LinkedIn outreach more often to accomplish their sales goals. 

What is cold outreach in marketing? 

Cold outreach in marketing is a form of outbound marketing that implies contacting prospects who could turn into your potential clients but don't know about your brand and have no previous experience with it. It could be done through email marketing, LinkedIn outreach, and cold calling. 

What is cold lead generation? 

Cold leads (referred to as "top of the funnel" leads) are those who are most likely not familiar with your product/service and haven't expressed interest in it. Cold lead generation is the process of gaining cold leads' attention, usually through LinkedIn (LinkedIn lead generation), cold emailing, and cold calling.

What is the difference between cold calling and prospecting? 

Prospecting is the process of identifying and building relationships with potential customers who probably don't know about your product and haven't shown interest in it so far. Cold calling is one of the prospecting techniques which includes reaching out to potential customers via phone. 

Is it better to cold call or email first? 

It majorly depends on your sales outreach strategy. However, some outreach experts find cold emailing less invasive and advise starting by reaching out to your ideal customers in written form (cold emailing and/or LinkedIn outreach). 

How long should a cold outreach email be? 

Generally, shorter cold sales emails of around 50-200 words have higher response rates. However, the most important aspect of cold emails is that they are personalized and highly relevant to the recipients. Also, their subject lines must be catchy while reflecting the emails' topic.

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