A note from Alice: My friend Heather R. Morgan is a genius when it comes to the art of writing effective emails. When I saw her post about the difference between cold emails and marketing emails on Inc., I knew I had to share it with you.
Cold emails are exactly like they sound: cold. They’re sent to strangers with the goal of getting a response, usually with the intention of starting some kind of conversation for sales or business development.
Marketing emails are a little bit different. Often referred to as “warm emails,” “drip marketing emails,” “nurture emails,” or “inbound emails,” they are meant to keep you top of mind with prospective customers while educating and building awareness over time. Traditionally, these people would have subscribed to your blog or opted into your list somehow, meaning that they have accepted and expect communications from you.
If you look in your inbox right now, you can quickly see that there are plenty of spammers sending unsolicited marketing emails, but that’s not necessarily how they’re meant to be used.
But no one opts into cold emails: they just get them.
Whether you’re sending “cold emails” or “warm emails,” you still need to be courteous and follow a certain etiquette if you want to get clicks or responses. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:
1. Different expectations
When people opt into your newsletter, they expect to receive marketing emails from you. They’ve heard of your company before, visited your website, and have raised a hand to say that they are interested in hearing more about your business (or at least reading your content).
But that’s not the case with cold emails. These people have not requested information from you, they don’t necessarily want to hear from you, and they may have never even heard of you.
Therefore, you must have even more courtesy and social proof in your cold emails so that a stranger would even consider reading an email from you.
2. Different appearance
People who receive your marketing emails expect mass email newsletters, and so you don’t necessarily need to send them personalized one-on-one emails. Just like cold emails, the best email newsletters always contain valuable content that’s relevant to their audiences. However, because the recipient already requested to be contacted by the sender sometime in the future, there’s much less of a hurdle to overcome than when sending a cold email.
On the other hand, the best chance you have getting a response to your cold email is if the recipient thinks it’s an individual email to them. While this may or may not be the case, it only matters what the recipient believes. Therefore, you must do everything you can to make your email look and feel like you’re sending them a personal note.
That’s why cold emails should never have lots of colors, bold, HTML formatting, bullets, numbered lists, or anything else that might resemble a mass marketing email. Likewise, the more you can signal to your recipient that this message was crafted especially for them, the better your odds are. At the bare minimum, you should try to write an email template for each “buyer persona” you’re sending to, but you may want to consider adding additional personalization as well to increase your chances of getting a response.
You should also never send cold emails from MailChimp, Marketo, or any other “email marketing automation tools,” since this is not what they are intended for, and it will make your emails look mass and decrease deliverability. If MailChimp catches you, they will quickly shut down your account. Instead, send your cold emails individually or through a “mail merge.”
3. Different goals
Don’t confuse the purposes of cold emails and marketing emails.
The sole purpose of a cold email is to get a response; most often to start a conversation. But marketers generally don’t expect thousands of people to respond to their newsletters–nor would they want them to–rather they just want recipients to click a link and complete some action in their marketing funnel.
Cold emails can have links when fitting, but they don’t need to. In fact, having links in cold emails can actually distract from the call to action, and decrease response rates.