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min read
July 18, 2023

How to Use Content in Prospecting Emails to Avoid the Cold Shoulder

Parthi Loganathan
CEO of Letterdrop, former Product Manager on Google Search

As a Sales Development Representative, you know that cold emails are a necessary part of your job. You've sent thousands of "let's get on a call" messages to prospects — and lost count of how many times you've been ignored. Ouch.

We feel you, sales reps

‎"Let's get on a call" messages are spammy and impersonal. That's where using content for sales outreach comes in. By providing value to your prospects through educational content, you:

  • Build credibility by showing that you and your company know what you're talking about — you need to know more than your prospect about the problem in order to help them.
  • Give something of value before asking for their time.

There's more to being "left on read" by prospects than a bruised ego — if you continue to be ignored, you fail to hit your meeting targets. If you consistently miss targets, your job is on the line. So it's time to make a change.

Why People Don't Respond to Outbound Emails

Ask any decision-maker about their email inbox, and they'll tell you it's flooded. Even as the CEO of a seed-stage business, I get over 30 emails a day selling me lead gen services or outsourced developers. You can only imagine what the inbox of a VP of Engineering at a 1,000-person company looks like.

When you send impersonal emails about your product and ask for a meeting, you're making a request without providing any value. Why should they give their time to a total stranger?

I generally only respond to emails if:

  1. there's a personal connection. This is out of your control; you can't have gone to the same school as all your prospects.
  2. they give me something valuable at the right time. This is completely under your control and what we're going to focus on.

That's what Meera Kanani from the Bento team did for me recently when she shared content on fighting spammy in-app notifications. Our own self-serve onboarding notifications were top of mind, and she sent me a very helpful guide on how to think about them.

A thoughtful cold email from Meera
A thoughtful cold email from Meera

‎We practice what we preach at Letterdrop and use content in our cold emails too. I got a demo booked within minutes of sending this email where I sent them an article from our blog:

Cold email from me that resulted in a demoCold email from me that resulted in a demo
Cold email from me that resulted in a demo

‎And it's not just us saying this. Adam Goyette, former VP of Marketing at HelpScout, talked to us about how adding value at the right time makes a cold email successful.


TLDR? You need to provide value before you make an ask. Otherwise, your cold emails will be moved to the trash (or even worse — the dreaded spam folder... shudders ).

Segment Your Lists To Personalize: Create Cold Email Sequences Around Targeted Customer Problems

Be honest — do you tend to spam everyone with the same email?

It may be the easy way out, but it also makes it look like you don't care about individual customers. No one wants to respond to a mass email.

You want to personalize emails, but you also need to send hundreds every week to hit your targets. Segmenting your prospects is a good way to personalize while still operating at scale. Think about a problem you're trying to solve and look for public signals that a person might face those problems. Segment your list by the problem and personalize those emails to address that specific pain point.

Use public data from social media posts on LinkedIn, company blogs and websites, platforms like BuiltWith, new funding rounds, employee growth numbers, positions they're hiring for, etc, to identify problems.

Example 1: Using BuiltWith To Create Sequences

Letterdrop is a CMS for Webflow that brings it to parity with WordPress. We use BuiltWith to find companies that have sites on Webflow and email their Head of Marketing or Content.

BuiltWith can tell you which sites are on Webflow
BuiltWith can tell you which sites are on Webflow

Example 2: Sequence with People Who Started a New Job

We also have a sequence for when a Head of Content starts a new job. We know they probably need to orient themselves at the new company and be successful. So we send them an email offering to help them think through a strategy for their first three months.

Generic outreach makes your customer feel like they're just another number you're trying to hit. A personal approach makes them feel that you've specifically thought of them and reached out because you want a two-way conversation. This is where you can use content to help with your personalization efforts. It's a great way to give value immediately at scale.

Tailor Your Content to Your Sequences

You've got your sequence. Now it's time for content that educates your buyer and increases your response rate.

Talk to your marketing team and create thoughtful sales enablement content for every sequence to share with and help your prospect.

Example 1: Using a "How-to" Guide for Webflow in an Email Sequence

For our Webflow sequence, our second sequenced email has a guide on adding dynamic tables to Webflow if we notice that they don't have one.

Our cold email sequence where we send our guide to creating a table of contents in Webflow
Our cold email sequence where we send our guide to creating a table of contents in Webflow

We immediately booked an intro call from this email. Ilia mentioned how we sent our guide at the perfect time, and it was something he was begging his design team to use.


Example 2: Using a 90-Day Guide for Content Leads in an Email Sequence

We also created a 90-day guide for new Heads of Content. It's an actionable plan to get them that first win in their new role.

The response we received was overwhelmingly positive.

Aaron from Corporate Visions thank us for our content in a prospecting email
Aaron from Corporate Visions thank us for our content in a prospecting email

Since we started including content in outbound emails last month, our cold email response rate has increased by 4%. We're creating even more sequences with tailored sales enablement content to help our prospects do their jobs better and using that to start sales conversations.

Get a Flood of Responses in Your Inbox

No one needs more spam in their inbox. Personalizing your message with value-additive content before making an ask increases your response rate and creates a lasting impression.

99% of sales reps are not personalizing emails, so you can stand out by following our advice and putting in a little more work. This will help you build authentic relationships with your prospects.

So, the next time you're crafting an email, try to see how you can drop in a targeted sales enablement piece, and you'll be even closer to closing that sale.

If you want to figure out how to have a conversation with your marketing team on creating sales enablement content, feel free to reach out. Letterdrop offers tooling to make it easy to request content and extract top questions from sales calls to inform your marketing team's sales enablement content.

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