Cold Emailing: A Case Study

I know that some freelance writers do not enjoy cold calling. Although this is something I have had success with, many just don’t want to try it out. For this reason, I thought it would be a good idea to talk a bit about cold emailing and whether it can lead to new clients.

To give you a better idea of how things have worked out for me, I performed a small “cold emailing case study.”

Last week, I sent out 50 emails to local businesses. I started locally because it is easier to strike up a conversation when you have something in common. While I used the same template for all 50 emails, they were personalized and tweaked slightly to match the industry and organization.

So, what kind of results did I achieve? Out of these 50, three bounced back as bad emails; three said no thanks, they already have a marketing team; and two said they wanted to talk more. The rest have yet to get back to me – and the majority of them probably won’t.

If you look at those numbers it is easy to see how they can be disappointing. After all, I only generated two real leads. But if you know anything about cold emailing or cold calling, this really isn’t all that bad. In fact, if I can close both leads it will end up being well worth my time.

These numbers are based on a very small scale, but hopefully they give you a better idea of what you may be able to expect from a cold emailing campaign.

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Chris is a full-time freelance writer based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He specializes in web content, sales copy, and many other forms of writing. Chris has two books in print, as well as hundreds of articles in local and nationwide publications.

2 thoughts on “Cold Emailing: A Case Study”

  1. Cold calling is an area that I’m not particularly experienced in. I tend to do it a little, but don’t really take a great deal of notice of the success ratio.

    Is 2 out of 50 considered to be good? Poor? About right?

    I know in general it doesn’t look good, but is this what would be expected?

    If it’s poor, is there anyway to increase the ratio? Maybe e-mailing someone directly, rather than a generic address or including a direct link to your online portfolio?

    Just thoughts, but I’m interested in knowing a bit more.

  2. In the interim of platform development, I, too have sent out some cold email queries. I sent five yesterday and have had two “no” responses thus far. We’ll see how the others go.

    But as far as a good rate, Dan, I’d say that getting 2 out of 50 is just about right. However, you’ll notice that Chris said that he sent them out to local businesses with some industry information added…Chris is a great writer, but I’m sure even he will tell you that you can’t be everything to everyone. I think that an increased conversion rate would mean:
    1. Targeting prospects within your target market.
    2. Sending a specific pitch that opens the opportunity to discuss other marketing goals rather than a general pitch letter.
    3. Addressing actual problems (for example, I highlight web pages that aren’t web-reader friendly or that don’t adequately sell a prospective lead on their product / service) and explaining how you can fix them.

    You need to show each and every prospect that they have problems that need to be solved and that you are the indispensable problem-solver. And usually about 1 percent will actually say yes or want more info, compared to the maybe 2 percent that respond.


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