How To Get Started with Outbound Email Marketing

Avoid the Biggest Mistakes Novice Email Marketers Make that Waste Time & Money


Outbound Email Marketing is Hot

Whether B2B or D2C, outbound email marketing has a real head of steam for businesses of all shapes and sizes.  So it makes sense that you may be thinking about how to get started yourself!

Read More from Our Local Marketing Blog:  Latest Trends in E-Mail Marketing

We’re sharing our best practices for the ideal cold outreach email sequence and, to save you some aggravation, here’s a quick list of 3 big mistakes we see from novice email marketers, and how to avoid them:

Mistake #1: Bad Data Quality

Outbound email marketing is a “garbage-in, garbage-out” proposition.  If you can’t get a quality list of deliverable emails, you can’t reach your objectives.  So consider data quality.

In our experience, you get what you pay for; and it’s easy to get duped.  Ask your data provider what percentage of the records will have a deliverable email address.  And ask whether you’re getting work emails (with a company domain name), or secondary/personal email addresses (i.e. gmail, outlook, etc.).

Mistake #2: Poor Deliverability Metrics

A good list is a must.  But it’s valueless if you can’t get the messages delivered reliably.  And one of the biggest mistakes novice email marketers make is charging forward without considering deliverability.

Going off crazy with a large list and blasting emails without using a proper delivery platform can quickly get you in deep trouble.  If your domain gets blacklisted for spam, your other business emails will start getting held up by firewalls and you can severely disrupt the normal flow of your business.

Getting off spam blacklists can take a lot of time and money.  Avoid doing things that are likely to get you blacklisted.

Mistake #3: Lame, Wordy Messages & Subject Lines

Novice email marketers typically get in a rush to start sending messages and forget to put themselves in the shoes of the prospect.

Subject line can have a massive impact on your open rate.  It’s got to be laser-focused on “what’s in it for me?”

And once you get that message open, it’s got to get to the point quickly.  Benjamin Franklin was famous for saying, “I wanted to write a quick note, but I didn’t have time.”  He understood that making a point quickly takes a lot of effort.  Write.  Re-write.  Re-write.  Send.

Mistake #3A:  Once is Never Enough

Most novice email marketers give up too quickly.  They send one email, or even 2-3 emails and then give up.  “It’s not working.”  We would argue you may have quit just before you were about to start seeing results.  You certainly quit before you had a true test of the potential of outbound email marketing.


Best Practices for the Ideal Cold Outreach Email Sequence

Over the years, we continue to evolve best practices for the ideal cold outreach email sequence.  Here is our latest “baseline” approach:

We follow our basic marketing formula for everything, including email marketing.


Targeting.  We start with a great list.  Once you clearly define who you want to talk to, finding the best source of that data is critical.

Messaging.  We break messaging into 2 parts: (1) the email sequence, and (2) the landing page.

We build a sequence of 6-7 email messages that are typically delivered 5-10 days apart.  The subject lines come first.  We use an AI tool to evaluate our subject lines and get recommendations for changes that have yielded higher open rates historically.

Once we nail down the subject lines, we build out the body of the email sequence.  For B2B campaigns, we most commonly write text-only emails.  For D2C campaigns, we commonly include at least one visual element.  However, there are compelling reasons to break these rules.  Simple A/B testing can help you decide.

For text-only emails, we keep it brief.  We want the entire email to be readable on a phone screen without scrolling.  If we’re including an image, we still keep the copy brief.  The call to action is always very clear; it has to be obvious to the reader and jump off the page.

Then we turn our attention to a landing page.  Obviously, the prospect can simply reply to the email, but we’ve found that having a place to get more information (landing page) can increase conversion and increase total leads.

Walking through the entire messaging strategy in the shoes of your prospect is key to our best practices for the ideal cold outreach email sequence.

Reach.  We send a series of 6-7 emails over 30-70 days.  The speed depends on how much time we feel is reasonable between messages (5-10 days).  Since we see the best response rates on Tue-Thu, we tend to use 7 days as our default.  That way, we’re always sending on a day where we’re likely to get the best outcomes.

We commonly see the best response to emails 4-6.  And what about the people who don’t respond?  If we felt the overall sequence was effective, we just wait for a breath or two, and then re-start the sequence.

Email has to reach the prospect at a time when he or she: (1) has a need, (2) has the time to respond, and (3) sees a clear benefit.  Assuming that one email, or even an entire sequence of emails, hit them at just that perfect time is a bad assumption.

There is a school of thought that email is a classic numbers game; meaning that you’ll probably FEEL like you’re sending way too much email, even though you’re really NOT.  If you’re following best practices for the ideal cold outreach email sequence, you’ll definitely send more messages than you originally envisioned.

It’s Easy to Mess This Up

We can help.  And we’ll start with a free initial consultation.  Just schedule time with our team and we’ll make sure our email experts are on the call.  You’ll get free advice from us, and we’ll get to know you while you get to know us.  It’s one of the ways we invest in you before you invest in us.

If you’re already doing outbound email marketing and you’re not happy with your results, walk us through what you’re doing and we’ll offer you honest feedback.  We share our best practices for the ideal cold outreach email sequence freely.  There’s no obligation, and we’ll be happy to prepare a detailed proposal of how we’d help fix it.

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Steven Ludwig
After 3 decades as a professional marketer, serial entrepreneur and business consultant Steven Ludwig shares his best practices for small business marketing for owners, managers, and marketers with limited time, money, and expertise. Steven started his professional marketing career in broadcasting in the early ‘90s in Chicago after attending Valparaiso University. After a brief stint at an advertising agency specializing in entertainment and sports marketing where he worked with radio and television stations, movie theatre companies, record labels, musicians, and professional sports teams, he moved to Nashville to form The Marketing Group with his long-time business partner, Jim Wood. Having worked with some of the largest brands in the world, in 2010 he returned to local marketing primarily out of an interest and excitement for working with small business owners to build stronger companies. That desire comes out of early days in radio, where he worked closely with everything from car dealerships to restaurants, insurance and real estate agents, banks, home services companies, and specialty retailers of all kinds. Over the past decade, he has been on the bleeding edge of digital marketing technology, constantly seeking to understand complex strategies employed by giant corporations and then translate those capabilities into tactics small businesses can execute at a local level. Today, in addition to other business ventures with his wife and other long-time business partners, he still lives outside Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee and currently serves as Executive Chairman of EmpowerLocal, a digital marketing company building a nationwide network of digital, hyperlocal news and lifestyle publishers to provide efficient advertising opportunities for local, regional, and national brands.


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