THE SAAS BLOG

The B2B SaaS Cold Email Playbook for 2024

Updated: January 7th, 2024
Published: November 28th, 2023

People are shouting 'email is dead'.. But as a B2B SaaS founder I booked 15 meetings last week alone.

Via… email (!)

As a founder, marketer or sales rep - you are aware that products don’t sell themselves. Especially, when no one knows you, or have heard about your SaaS. There are a ton of talk about product-led growth, cool growth hacks, and viral waiting lists. Well, I'm a big advocate for PLG myself.

BUT I'm not a fan of discarding the traditional channels for customer acquisition - thinking customers will magically appear by your doorstep, craving to buy your unknown startups’ brand new product.

Not everyone is HubSpot, or Slack. And these companies seldom got their first 10, 100 or even 1000 customers through only inbound. Often having large outbound motions and sales teams, to complement inbound deal flow.

Outbound email is a core aspect of a SaaS growth toolbox - and I know from own experience - it WORKS, and can be a consistent growth channel, marketing, and source of leads.

Here is how I just last week, booked 15 meetings through email alone.

🛠️ The basics to get started with outbound email

So running outbound email requires some basics in terms of setup, to get started. Here is what you need.

  • Make sure your emails get through to the recipient - deliverability, DMARC, email warmup - check out tools like MailToaster for warming up your domain.

  • You need a list of emails. This list can be generated in many ways. You can buy lists, generate your own, or use prospecting tools like Goava, ZoomInfo, Apollo, etc. Filter based on your ICP criteria.

  • An email service and way to trigger emails in bulk. Gmail + HubSpot (or other CRM) can be a solid setup for running sequences.

  • A relevant, short and personal copy.

  • Your headline - short, sweet and relevant - stand out from the crowd and please no “Want to book a quick meeting?” in the headline.

  • The body - keep it short and personalize as much as possible - be specific on 1-3 specific value drivers - and please not abstracted to "save time".

  • The CTA - one question and one question only. Make it clear what you ask.

  • The footer - include links to both calendar + your website + possibly also LI here.- A sequence - typically email outreach is done via 3-5 emails in a sequence, that is done over 1-4 weeks time, often mixed with calls.

  • Other channels to combine with - warm up your prospects with targeted ads on SoMe, combine email with LI outreach, or squeeze out more from your sequences with calls

⛏️ Prospecting, prospecting, prospecting - where it all starts

Prospecting is EVERYTHING. It's the mining part of email outreach. Without proper prospecting, the other things like copy, CTA, or structure do not matter, as you need to get it in front of the right person => your ICP.

Make sure you qualify as much as you need and have time to. You can use services here to help you - like BuiltWith, Goava, Apollo, etc. And combine with custom built tools where you scrape for more specific data.

Prospecting criteria - an example:

At Univid we build a webinar software, that suits marketers who want to create engaging webinars in 60 seconds. If you're not hosting webinars already - you probably will not be looking into webinar tools. Thus, we aim to get in touch with stakeholders that are already running webinars.

We are NOT interested in reaching those that do not already host webinars.. At least not with outbound effort, as we are laser focused and need to prioritize our time.

Therefore, we do some magic in the prospecting phase to ensure most prospects we reach out to are already hosting webinars. 🪄

And you probably have some similar criteria that define your ICP - like company size, yearly revenue, recent fundings, total employees, differently located HQ:s, systems used, etc.

✍️ Sharpen your pen and stand out - the copy

To stand out - be specific. Segment and personalize outreach as much as you need and have time to. Don't treat busy inboxes, stakeholders and prospects like Jonas below, with generic headlines - thinking you will get attention.

What not to do in cold email outreach b2b

❌ What NOT to do

When prospecting is lacking, or creativity is draining, you end up with generic stuff like the above ☝️ Only being able to "personlize" using generic stuff like first name, just like everone else. Or, using the wrong language, or sending irrelevant info.. Those outreach either gets A. ignored, B. spam marked, or C. deleted before opened Needless to say - if you want to book demos, don't be those guys.

✅ What to do 👋 

By personalising the copy you make sure to stand out of the crowd - and go the extra mile. Here is how to:

  • ✅ Use a specific headline + first line that stands out in the inbox - make sure it's worth clicking, but do not over-promise

  • ✅ Use their name where appropriate, maybe their company name - but make sure it’s cleaned and does not look machine generated

  • ✅ Use specific benefits to competitor X, Y, Z

  • ✅ Mention industry-specific reference customers - in industry X, Y, Z we already solid references A, B, C

  • ✅ Localize and make sure you communicate in the right language. You might need to manually filter through your list here. We have a custom HS property for this on contact level: "Spoken language".

Double down or delete - spend your time wisely and automate 🤖

advantage of email as growth channel - it's repetative. The downside of email (if you don't automate) - it's repetative.

Thus, to nail email as growth channel and get consistent flow of demos - you need to automate your workflows.

Just like any other funnel. The higher up in the funnel, the less time you can (and should) spend on each lead. The further down, the more likely they are to book a demo and become a customer - so you can justify more time spent. To get an overview of how you can structure your outbound email activities - I put together what I like to call the TAE framework for cold email outbound.

The TAE framework for cold email outbound in 2024

Just like algorithms in computer science - I like to divide different actions into buckets, depending on their execution time, to determine what's an appropriate cost at each level of the funnel.

And identify what action to take, given certain triggers. Here are some of the ones I use:

Trigger

Action

Execution time

Qualified prospect

Automated email in bulk

1 seconds

Qualified prospect on target list

Manually personalized first email

3 minutes

Replied

Templated conditional email

20 seconds

Replied positive/neutral

Personalized email w screenshot

2 minutes

Clicked / replied

Cold call

10 minutes

The TAE framework to work effectively with cold email outreach for B2B in 2024

Note: Your triggers could be unique - and also what actions to take. Maybe you can make a personalized video for each prospect, invite them to a lunch, or some other action - if you work with high tier account based lists.

📅 My 12 cold emailing secrets for B2B SaaS

Now we have gone through all the basics to get started, how you prospect, how to write copy that hits home, and how to allocate your time wisely to maximize booked demos.

You are now ready for my 12 secrets I use to book +15 demos via email / week:

  1. Ask simple questions to spark conversations - that’s where demos get booked. Just like a good demo - you should not be conducting most of the talking. Make it easy to respond. That will give you a ton of insights, referrals, and demos.

  2. Warm up your lists via targeted LI ads ⇒ make prospects aware of your brand before reaching out.

  3. Make sure to enroll max 3 stakeholders per company at the same time. This will ensure you A. reach the right stakeholder B. get them talking internally. All without being too pushy.

  4. A/B test your copy - both headlines, body and CTA:s, while looking at KPI:s like open rate, click rate, reply rate, and # booked demos.

  5. Follow up with calls based on triggers and follow the TAE framework - e.g. take actions on everyone that opens, clicks your links, or replies. This way you will squeeze out a lot more demos from the valuable lists you created, but ensures you spend your time wisely.

  6. Include your calendar link - both in email and footer. You will be surprised how many just book a demo, because it’s simple and convenient. Sometimes long after the email was sent.

  7. Offer a free resource or industry specific insight up front - this could also be an invite to a networking event, or free webinar to attend

  8. Humanize and make it personal - this could be a spelling error, “sent from my iPhone”, or something that makes it feel like a real person sent it.

  9. Use a slightly longer initial email, followed with shorter bumps - simply “Jonathan?” works surprisingly well. Typically, most meetings are then booked at email #2.

  10. Template all your follow-ups. I have added HS templates for all standard replies. Two of mine that work excellent are:

    1. Thank stakeholder and ask why no - ask if they really are the right person or what is the reason for no

    2. Thank stakeholder for guiding - open for future and share our Youtube-video where I give a 2 min demo

  11. Use social proof. Refer to other similar and happy customers. In follow-ups you can even refer to your stories/case page - eg. https://univid.io/stories/12. Use familiar video links like Youtube. If using video at some point.. Remember: people don’t want to click random spammy links from people they do no know.

📊 Some outbound email benchmarks to aim for

Here is what my stats looked like last week, to solo generate 15 demos.

KPI

Result in campaign

Open rate

48%

Reply rate

17,6%

Click rate

5.9%

Booked meeting rate

1.7%

Outbound email benchmarks from campaign with around 900 enrolled contacts, and 15 booked meetings

Takeaway, you need consistent volume of enrolled contacts. There is always room to improve the metrics, but the important thing is to.. get started and stay consistent.

✉️ Wrapping up - email as growth channel for B2B SaaS

The biggest challenge to maintain a consistent deal flow from emails, is to make sure you always have a steady stream of qualified prospects enrolled.

So IMO making sure your pipeline for prospecting is on point is the most important thing to go from A. list of companies ⇒ B. enrolled prospects in HubSpot with correct contact details, receiving relevant copy.

Obviously, also templating follow-ups according to the TAE framework above - has helped me as founder, maintain a large volume of outreach, with minimal time spent. Still answering and pushing conversations forward.

But remember each founder, product, marketer, or market is different. Just because someone is fantastic at PR, cold emails, or creating viral TikTok:s - does not mean that should be YOUR go to growth channel.

Find a mix that suits you - and use The Bullseye Framework 🎯 - to stay focused when experimenting for your B2B SaaS.

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