Cold Email Outreach in the US & the UK: What Works?

Sandra Wilk - Senior Content Creator at Woodpecker

There’s no doubt – the United States and the United Kingdom are one of the most saturated cold email markets.

Which means that you need to go to some extra lengths to get through to your dream prospects.

To get the best advice on reaching prospects in markets where everyone *ekhm* wants a slice of the cold email pie, I talked to a few Woodpecker Experts who consistently generate leads in those markets: Veth Group, We Are Team Rocket, LevelUp Leads, and Nerdwise.

Get ready for some serious notetaking… Or, you know. Go straight to Woodpecker and build a campaign with our Experts’ advice at hand.

Location – not the #1 point of focus

Let’s get one thing out of the way.

The location of your prospects does matter. But it’s not the thing you should start with when you’re thinking about your next cold outreach campaign.

Patrick – the CEO of Nerdwise, a US-based lead generation agency – pointed out that the entire audience is more important. Or at least just as important.

So first, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are your prospects?
  • What’s their industry?
  • What’s the role you’re targeting?
  • What’s their company size?
  • What are their goals and what outcome can you drive to get them to those goals?
  • What credibility would be most meaningful to them?

All of these things go before location.

And once you address them, begin referencing clients you work with in that area, city or country. This will create specificity in the social proof. You won’t get the social proof without considering the target audience first.

So having said that, what role should location play in your B2B cold outreach strategy?

Our Experts took some of the nuances out into the spotlight.

Effective cold outreach in the US vs the UK

Here are the differences our Experts pointed out:

1. Formal vs casual language

Let’s start with the most obvious ones:

  • differences in spelling and phrasing
  • how formally you’re talking to your prospects

From what our Experts told me, in general Brits tend to be a bit more formal in their communication. As Patrick from Nerdwise puts it, “We do see increased formality in the UK & EU for executives. Many of our client campaigns in these regions will address prospects in email #1 with Sir or Madam and use more official language vs. the US.”

This, naturally, leads to their copy targeted at US prospects being more casual for most industries.

John Karsant, CEO of LevelUp Leads, also sees a difference: “I tend to be slightly more formal when targeting the UK than the USA. Not too much, but a bit. Some of this depends on the types of personas we’re reaching out to.”

While it’s not a hard-and-fast rule, do keep it in mind – the tone of your message might make a difference if it resonates better with a prospect.

2. Length & directness of the messages

One of our UK-based Woodpecker Experts, Tom from We Are Team Rocket, pointed out that their metrics show that shorter, to-the-point and a little more “blunt” cold outreach sequences work better for the US.

“This can seem counter-intuitive and come across as jaded if you’re accustomed to writing to the UK market, where a little more formality and a more in-depth, insight-led approach tends to work better.

But Americans often look at shortness and directness as being efficient or productive. In the UK it could carry the risk of being perceived as rude or not research-led, and thus – not worth their time.”

Miles, the CEO of Veth Group, shared a similar view: “Short emails. Eye-catching subject lines. Simple calls-to-actions. Crisp statements.”. John from LevelUpLeads even compared a cold email to a text message to a friend.

3. Channels

For the folks at We Are Team Rocket, target country impacts much more than just email copy – it influences strategy across the board.

“Prospecting methodology for one – LinkedIn vs email vs cold calls vs social selling tactics change depending on the country.”

Their experience is that e.g. cold calls do not work in the US, work moderately well in the UK, and work extremely well in more nascent markets.

Tom adds that “while LinkedIn and email are market-agnostic and core channels for B2B lead generation, local social media platforms should be taken into consideration, too.”

Again – it’s not carved in stone. Your target prospects might be best reachable by cold calling. But it’s definitely something to think about and maybe test for yourself.

4. Personality & humor

From what We Are Team Rocket observed, your UK outreach often needs to be more personable in its level of personalization.

“It’s more important for personality to come through in order to gain high levels of traction. This can come from humor or wit being built into the text or through using personalised short 1-minute talking-head videos or product walkthrough videos (with talk over) embedded into messaging sequence.”

Less surprisingly – if you’re using humor to hook prospects, its style should probably also change when you’re targeting US prospects.

From a cold-email-receiver’s perspective, I’d say – go for personality & humor whichever market you’re targeting. Sure, remember to adjust it to your target group. But we’re all people. We’re fed up with bland and boring emails. I’m way more likely to reply if a cold email gets me to smile – and so are your prospects.

Can you cold email in the US?

Yes, you can.

But that doesn’t mean there are no rules to follow and anything goes.

In the United States, CAN-SPAM act and CCPA set the rules (CCPA only if you’re reaching out with cold emails in California).

Are cold emails allowed in the UK?

Yes, they are.

And similarly to the United States, there are laws every cold email sender needs to comply with.

First of all – the DPA and the UK GDPR. After Brexit, GDPR doesn’t apply. Unless, of course, you’re running your business from the UK and you’re targeting EU prospects – but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

You can’t send cold emails to private individuals, but you can do so to companies.

Legal guidelines for cold email senders

Whichever country you’re targeting:

  • give your prospects an easy way to opt out of getting your emails
  • make it easy to identify you – get a professional email signature with all your credentials
  • mention why you’re reaching out to them – you should have a valid reason to do so
  • make the nature of your email clear
  • don’t use clickbait in the subject line

With the legal stuff off your mind, see how to reach your prospects.

How to get through in a saturated cold email market

All right, so how can you get your emails in front of your UK & US prospects?

Keep your focus on the prospect

This one remains one of the unbeatable pieces of cold email advice. John Karsant: “Many factors come into play here, so generally speaking make sure to research your prospects, know the pain points they might be facing and target them based on how your product/service can help them.”

Without knowing your prospect, you’re just fumbling in the dark. Start with working out your Ideal Customer Profile>>

Think out the process

Patrick from Nerdwise: “Process first. You need to be extremely specific with your outreach. Map out where you should focus in the marketplace and have top-quality prospect data. Make sure you are reaching the most appropriate role for your offering, and don’t be afraid to make multiple touches over a period of time.”

Here’s how to build a cold email outreach process for yourself>>

Write a message they won’t forget

Miles Veth: “I literally ask the question: how can I write an email that’s so memorable that this prospect is telling their family about it tonight at the dinner table? I keep writing until I feel like I’ve hit this mark!”

We explain how to write a cold email that actually works in this blog post>>

Bonus: if you’re curious how Miles crafts his “dinner-table-worthy” messages, we chatted about his approach to writing cold emails in this case study>>

Go multichannel

Tom and Riya from We Are Team Rocket: “It’s best to run syndicated campaigns using both LinkedIn as well as email. Sometimes it’s hard to get in touch with a prospect on one channel, so having the option to omnichannel them increases the chances of success.

We find taking a robust, joined-up multichannel approach will elicit 3x more responses, than trying to do so on stand-alone channels or even a non-joined-up approach.”

A while back I talked to Jason Bay about KISS, his multichannel outreach framework, combining cold emails, LinkedIn outreach, and cold calls. You’ll find it here>>

Include retargeting

Tom and Riya from We Are Team Rocket: “It’s always helpful to retarget prospects you’ve already had some interactions with or who have been the recipients of your cold outreach – via ads.

Nurturing is a big part of B2B lead generation, and retargeting helps with that. The right ads with the right content can improve campaign efficiency.

For our enterprise clients, and those in saturated markets, we ensure serving ads to the same prospects we are reaching out to via email & LinkedIn is a standard part of the process in the form of matched audience-served ad campaigns – powered by the very data we aggregate for our clients that is powering our cold outreach email campaigns.”

Use intent-powered outreach

We Are Team Rocket: “Way more often than not, your timing won’t be right at all. This is where an intent (intelligence) data feed should come in – to ensure you can get your business in front of the right companies and individuals at exactly the right time.

Intent-powered email outreach, in simple terms, allows us to get our clients in front of buyers who are actively searching for our client’s solutions, before their competitors even have a chance to chime in. Intent data allows us to identify opportunities earlier in their buyer’s journey and in turn, we can grab the lowest-hanging fruit and speed up their sales cycle.”

Keep an eye on your deliverability

This one’s my two cents: take care of email deliverability. Make sure your domain and email accounts are warmed up, set up SPF & DKIM, and follow all the other steps to be sure you put together a cold email outreach campaign that gets delivered>>

Your action points

There are two paths you could take:

#1 Pick a few suggestions from this blog post

…and zoom in on your cold outreach to identify what you can change or A/B test to reach more UK & US prospects.

And maybe consider using a tool that’ll take huge parts of the process off your hands:

#2 Hone in on your cold outreach campaigns with a Woodpecker Expert

You can take a shortcut by working with an experienced partner who knows how to strategize, write, and test cold email outreach to make it work for the US and the UK markets.

And yup – you can connect with Nerdwise, Veth Group, LevelUp Leads and We Are Team Rocket on the Woodpecker Experts platform.

Whichever way you go – good luck!