How to Start B2B Cold Email Outreach?


Here’s what it usually looks like: we read Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross, we read some articles by people who have succeeded in doing cold email, we download some PDFs from the people who have gained lots of new customers and partners for their businesses thanks to cold emails. We soak up all the theory until one day we think to ourselves: ok, now it’s time for practice. Sooo, where do I start… I mean, what do I do literally? This post proposes an answer to this crucial question.

What elements do we need in general?

After reading all the books, posts, and PDFs, we know that in order to send some cold emails we need:

a) a base of prospects (including email addresses plus some other info)

b) a well-crafted personalized copy of our cold emails

c) loads of time and persistence, or an automation tool like Woodpecker to help us send the emails.

What is our first thought?

Starting from the a), the first practical question most of us ask themselves usually is: where do I get the base from? We think of buying one, or we think of using tools that will help us build it.

But even before we buy or build the base, we need to clearly define the “plus some other info” part of our prospect base. What other info will we need, or more specifically:

  1. Is the first name of our prospect enough?
  2. Should we find out what the person does in their organization?
  3. Should we also collect info about the company name and size?
  4. Should we know what country, state and city the company is from?
  5. What else should we have in our contact base?

Well, in short, respectively:

  1. No.
  2. Yes. Because that’s part of the reason we decided to reach out to him/her, and not someone else. We don’t want to talk about implementing new marketing automation tool with a secretary.
  3. Yes. Because that’s part of the reason we decided to reach out to the company, and not somewhere else.
  4. It depends, but basically yes. That’s an important part of the information about the company as a part of the market we aim at.
  5. It depends on what we are going to write in our email exactly, so that it provides some value, shows the reason why we decided to reach out, and makes sense with what we offer in general.

An important realization for starters

It looks like the copy will affect the final look of our contact base and, at the same time, the limitations of our contact base will affect the quality of our copy.

So we’ve got two options here:

Option one: we can build a very specific contact base including many columns and all kinds of data, and next try to come up with a cold email copy that makes sense and uses only some fields from the base, yet not all of them.

Option two: we can try to come up with a draft of our email and follow-ups and check, what types of information we would ideally want to use as our personalization snippets.

Option one takes loads of time and still does not guarantee that in the dozens of columns filled with stats and numbers there will be information we can use in our email. Yes, the information will be helpful and important for segmentation purposes, but the question of what exactly we’re going to write to our prospects still stands.

That’s why I’m an advocate of option two start from the first draft of the copy. I don’t say option one is wrong. It is a reasonable approach for some groups of prospects and for some purposes cold email may serve. But I’ve seen great results (50% reply rate!) following option two.

How to start from the copy?

Ok, so it’s time you take all the knowledge about best cold email practices you got so far, just in case you make sure you know the 10 Golden Rules of Cold Email, and following all these, you’re trying to write a template that:

  • makes perfect sense for your target group,
  • provides some value to them, and
  • ends up with a clear call to action, or a question that starts a conversation.

Easier said than done, right? Here are a few practical tips which may be helpful in the process:

STEP 1: Find a common denominator for your prospects

Maybe they are a part of a community in their industry? Or perhaps their company is listed in some kind of ranking? Maybe they are members of some organization? Think what is the link between all the people you want to reach out to. What is the common ground for all those companies?

For instance, looking for personal fitness trainers, we started from the IDEA Health & Fitness Association in the US and the National Register of Personal Trainers in the UK. That’s where we found the trainers and their websites. The laborious tough part was to get their emails by visiting those websites. But that’s how we could discover who they are.

That’s what you can base your cold email intro on. That’s what makes your outreach personal and credible. Tell them how you found them and why you decided to reach out to them.

STEP 2: In the “common denominator” place, find the information that you could use in your message

That’s a step further, and it requires more thorough research but it makes your message more relevant and better personalized. Maybe your prospect said something you liked and you can refer to in your intro. Perhaps they declared they do something at their company your solution could help with. Maybe they shared some information that let you suppose you could partner with them in business.

For example, that’s what I focused my campaign on when I aimed at cold email experts. I referred to their blog posts or Quora comments. Here’s more details:

How I Wrote a Cold Email that Got 50% Reply Rate >>

STEP 3: Make sure the information you use is logically connected with your proposition

In other words, make sure you don’t start with “hey, I saw your website, it looks awesome and professional” and then in your proposition you go like “I’m doing web design an I could work on your site”…

I get emails like that. And I feel confused, because they tell me my site looks great and 3 seconds later they offer me improvement. So yeah, they start from referring to my website and then they offer me website redesign website in the intro, website in the proposal, awesome.

But hey, my question is: why would I need to redesign my website? The very same person who’s offering me her redesign services, and who obviously is an expert in her field (which she devoted two lengthy paragraphs of their email to, but that’s a topic for another day), in the very same email has just told me my site already looks great. I’m asking, where’s the logic in that?

A lesson: make sure your email is logical. Read it and see if it makes sense. It’s not just about dropping names and links in the intro, but about actually using those names and links as a valuable context for your proposition.

What’s in it for you?

Let’s get back to our initial question:

Where do I start B2B cold email outreach… I mean, what do I do literally?

Here’s a simplified answer in 6 steps:

1) Choose a group that you’re going to reach out to. If you haven’t done that even before you decided you want to start cold emailing your prospects, define your target group on the basis of an ideal customer framework. You may want to check for instance:

2) Find a common denominator for your target group of prospects.

3a) Start collecting some relevant information you’re going to use in your email copy.

3b) Come up with the first draft of copy for the purpose of 3a the two should be done simultaneously, so that you don’t get stuck at the point where you can’t find the info you want to use in your copy, or at the point where you realize that you haven’t been collecting the type of information you actually need for your message.

4) As you have the draft ready and you know all the information types you need can be easily found, keep collecting your database.

5) Upload your ready database to Woodpecker and set a cold email campaign using the copy you crafted and the prospects you’ve found. Seriously, copying and pasting all the custom fields from your database into each of your emails would be a real drag. I know because I’ve been doing that before Woodpecker was born. And those were hard times indeed. 🙂

Hope this helps.

If you’ve been practicing a completely different workflow, which works for you equally well or incomparably better than this one, please share your experience in the comments section, or drop me a line.


How important is the subject line in a cold email?

The subject line is crucial in a cold email as it’s the first thing a recipient sees and determines whether they open the email. A compelling subject line can significantly increase open rates, making it a key factor in the success of cold email campaigns.

What are some effective cold email templates for B2B sales?

Effective B2B cold email templates should include a clear value proposition, address the prospect’s pain points, and have a concise call to action. Including social proof, such as success stories or press mentions, can also enhance the credibility of the email.

How can I personalize cold sales email templates?

To personalize cold sales email templates, include specific details about the prospect’s company, job title, or business operations. Referencing a recent blog post or competitor’s product relevant to their business can also make the email more personalized and engaging.

What should be included in a cold email to a prospect?

A cold email to a prospect should include a brief introduction, a clear understanding of the prospect’s pain point, a value proposition that addresses this pain, and a specific call to action, like suggesting a quick call or providing a calendar link.

How can I research a prospect’s company to write better cold emails?

Researching a prospect’s company for writing better cold emails involves looking at their website, recent press releases, blog posts, and their presence on social media. This research can provide valuable insights into the company’s current challenges and goals.

What makes subject lines effective in cold emails?

Effective subject lines in cold emails are usually concise, personalized, and intriguing without being misleading. They should spark curiosity or offer value, making the recipient want to read more.

Can you provide examples of compelling subject lines for B2B cold emails?

Examples of compelling subject lines for B2B cold emails include: “Quick Question Regarding [Company Name]”, “How [Company Name] Can Overcome [Specific Challenge]”, and “Insights to Improve [Prospect’s Company] Operations”.

What is the role of a value proposition in a cold sales email?

The role of a value proposition in a cold sales email is to clearly articulate how your product or service can solve the prospect’s specific problem or improve their situation, making it a critical element to persuade the prospect to engage further.

How can social proof be incorporated into a cold email template?

Social proof can be incorporated into a cold email template by mentioning success stories of similar companies, testimonials, or case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of your product or service.

What is a good call to action in a B2B cold email template?

A good call to action in a B2B cold email template should be clear, concise, and easy to act upon. It could be an invitation for a quick call, a request to check out a specific blog post, or a prompt to schedule a meeting using a calendar link.

How often should sales teams update their cold email templates?

Sales teams should regularly update their cold email templates, ideally every few weeks, to ensure they remain relevant, effective, and aligned with any changes in the market or their target audience’s needs. Regular testing and feedback can guide these updates.


6 Resources to Help You Build Contact Base for Cold Emailing

Obviously, any cold email campaign cannot exist without prospects. So as soon as we're ready to get about crafting our cold emails, we also need to find our prospects' adressees. In step one, we define the profile of our ideal prospect. But in step two, it's time to look for some actual contact data. First and foremost, we need our prospect's email address, name and company. Then, we can find some more information to personalize our emails. In this post, I give you 6 resources that we found helpful when building our prospecting process. Hope you will find them helpful as well.

5-Minute Campaign Audit for a Cold Email Newbie

Are you just one click away from sending your first cold email campaign? Then this post is for you. Hold your horses for a moment, and spare a few minutes to do a quick campaign audit before you click the ‘send’ button. Here’s what you should check to make sure your campaign is all set and ready to go.

Lean Approach to Email Outreach, or How Big Should My Cold Email Campaign Be?

Our users sometimes report to us that they couldn't find enough time to run their outbound campaigns. Yes, a well-thought-out cold email campaign takes some time to get prepared. But what we often observe is that cold email senders want to go large from the very beginning: have a prospect base including thousands of addresses, an 8-touch email sequence with A/B testing, and so on. In this post, I'm going to show you why it's more beneficial to start small. Check out what we call the lean approach to cold email, and why it's worth testing.