If you want to be running an SMMA business years from now, sleeping soundly at night knowing that you not only have your clients today but also have a repeatable process for finding clients tomorrow, you’re going to want to read this guide.
Today, we’re going to be talking about the SMMA cold email outreach method. If every single one of our social media marketing agency or SMMA clients fired us tomorrow, I would spend no minutes panicking. Why? Because I know exactly where I would go and get the leads, the clients, and the invoices paid to rebuild our agency from scratch, even if that happened tomorrow.
The best part about the email outreach method is that it’s actually crazy simple. You can start doing it basically immediately, and it’s almost free to get started with it.
Here’s how cold email works. Put simply, you’re going to find contacts in your niche, send them emails, follow up on those emails via email, and receive responses that turn into meetings; they turn into deals and, ultimately, money in your bank account.
So, let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
SMMA Cold Email Outreach Strategies: Manual to Automated
Before we start the cold email outreach, let’s first talk about outreach strategies.
There are three main ways to go about emailing those contacts.
1. Manual Outreach
Number one is you manually email them one by one. This is free, easy, and you can start right now. This is what I did first. I literally would Google our niche, such as fitness studios, local to my city; I passed through Google local search, find businesses, email them one by one.
2. Mail Merge
Then, over time, I got a little bit smarter. I discovered something called a Google Mail Merge. In short, you can either do this directly through Microsoft Excel and Outlook, or you can do it with Google Sheets and Gmail.
If you choose the Google Doc option, check out yet another Mailmerge or GMAS. They’re great platforms that natively email all the contacts on your list through your G Suite account.
With one click, you can email hundreds and thousands of people all at once. You can customize it with different data points called merge fields, hence the name Mailmerge, that customize and personalize email based on who you’re emailing.
It could either first name, last name, company name, the city in which they live, or that you live in.
Once I discovered this, all of a sudden, I could do a very high volume of emails at once.
Doing a mail merge is a great starting point and it’s a lot faster and more efficient than manually emailing everybody, but it lacks one key piece: follow-up.
Follow-up is essential. It’s really where all of your deals are going to come from, whether that’s your email follow-up, whether that’s your deal follow-up. That brings us to the next point.
3. Automated Cold Email Outreach
What we’re looking for here is a platform that actually helps us automate all of our cold email outreach. These days, our team actually manages these platforms for us, and it’s super easy to train people on how to do this, which makes it super scalable.
Basically, all you need to do with these platforms is import your list, create a little touch point sequence, and it’s going to have a full-blown follow-up going on without even having to be involved at all.
Identifying and Acquiring Quality Leads
All cold email outreach campaigns start with lead generation. So the first thing we need to do is to figure out a place where you should get leads. A few good places are Apollo.io, LeadFuze, and Google Local Search, believe it or not.
Now, I’ll show you how to generate leads with Apollo.io. Here is what this search could look like.
Let’s say we are searching for agencies, and then we can filter companies in the size of, let’s say, 10 to 20 people.
Then we want to target agencies in the United States and narrow it down to, for instance, just marketing and advertising agencies.
And as you can see below, we have over 300k leads we can reach out to.
It’s also important to narrow this search even further because we can’t target all of them.
For example, we can target the CEOs, founders, co-founders, etc. Now, I’ve got a total list of 4.4K, which is a lot of leads you can reach out to.
And then, you can save this lead list and export it as a CSV because you’ll need it for an email outreach.
Then you’re going to choose a platform or method I’ll talk about in just a moment on how to sequence them and get in touch with the people who have those email addresses.
Setting Up SMMA Automated Cold Email Outreach Campaign
Once you download this file as a CSV, you can import it to your favorite email automation software and start your outreach.
Here you have tools like:
I personally use Instantly.ai because it’s super easy to use compared to other cold email outreach tools out there.
All you do is import the contact list that you generated in the previous step.
Next is the copy you can put in with the variable that you’ve imported from the lead list, like for the first name.
Then, you can put in the variable first liner. When your offer comes into play with the risk reversal and then maybe a Calendly link, this could somehow be the structure of your email outreach.
You can pick guidelines for business hours in which they should go out, exactly what time of day you want them to be sent, how many emails should be going out per hour, you name it, you can completely customize it.
So, this is how to set up an SMMA email cold outreach campaign.
SMMA Cold Email Outreach Script Template
Now, I’m going to talk about some free cold email script templates that will help you get SMMA clients.
“Hi [Name] with [Your Company]. I came across your website and noticed that [Add a brief note or a hole in their strategy: not running ads, the issue with their site, lack of social media [presence, etc.]
Many attorneys I speak with have been focused on three key areas for business growth in [Insert the year] – referrals, SEO/Google search, and video content. Has this been an area of focus for your practice as well?
[Your Name] [Your Company].”
So here what you can do is look them up on Facebook ad Library and see if they are running ads, Google their business, maybe go onto their website, find some kind of hole in their game that you can add here to see how we’re speaking to them and actually talking about how this can benefit them.
You don’t want to be saying we do this, we do that. So right away, we’re addressing that, so put one brief hole in their strategy, and then you could just leave it at that see if they respond. If they do not respond, you can follow up with them in about 48 hours and say
Here’s what an example follow-up email could look like:
The reason why I’m asking is that I own a marketing agency specializing in sustainable growth for the legal space. We’ve seen large conversions and first-time customers come through search and social selling. [If you have any case studies or any numbers, this would be a great opportunity to include them here; if not, move to the CTA].
If predictable net new revenue is a focus for you and your team, we should connect. Let me know if you have a window this week or next, and I’m happy to share further insights.
[Your Name] [Your Company].”
Now, as you can see, we’re talking about ourselves. We weren’t doing that in the first message. We were trying to establish curiosity and elicit a simple response. Many times, you will get a response from that first message, but if you don’t, you’ll want to continue following up with them.
Also, notice how we talked about how it could benefit them, and then we had a call to action: ‘Let me know if you have a window this week or next, and I’m happy to share further insights. We should connect; we should set up a call,’ or whatever verbiage you want to use. This is how you get messages to convert.
Understanding the Timeline of Emails
Now, let’s go ahead and review the timeline. Most of your meetings are going to come from follow up emails. This is a mistake that I see all the time made by agency owners.
They think they send one email, they don’t hear back, and that means that the prospect’s not interested. Actually, that prospect is probably just busy.
They probably saw your email, may have been interested, and never got back to you. So you want to make sure that you’re following up with them.
Effective Email Cadence for Maximizing Responses
And this is the cadence that we use.
- Day 1 – Email 1
- Day 4 – Email 2
- Day 9 – Email 3
This is a totally respectful cadence that is not going to cause a lot of friction, and it’s going to increase the amount of replies that you receive. Probably about 90 % of your replies are going to come from emails two and emails three.
You might get a couple of quick hits off email one, but most of them are going to thank you for following up and then reply to one of your later emails.
Cold Email Outreach Best Practices
Now, let’s review some guidelines and rules that we can follow when it comes to cold email.
Keep it Short
The first thing that can make or break a cold email is you want to keep it short. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen agency owners write out long paragraphs where they want to talk about everything that they can do to help, the extensive audit that they did, how amazing they are, how much the business needs their help, what they can do, and so on and so on and so on.
So you want to keep things short, punchy, and to the point. If you’ve never worked in business before, your first corporate job can actually be a little bit shocking when people send you sometimes three-word emails, or sometimes they don’t even have a body for the email; it’s just a subject line.
This type of candor and this type of dialog happens in the business world all the time. So think about how it’s perceived when you send over an essay in a cold email. So keep it short, keep it to the point.
Keep it Clear
The next thing is it needs to be clear. You want to clearly state:
- Why it is reaching out to them,
- How you can help them, and
- What the next step is if they’re interested
Take a surgical approach to any other words that are in your email that can be removed.
This is actually one of the key pieces that I look at when I’m doing revisions on my cold emails: how can we make it shorter.
The next thing that you want to make sure that you include is conveying some expertise or knowledge in the niche. It doesn’t need to be specific to their niche.
So a lot of you, I’m sure, probably don’t have case studies yet. You’re just getting started. But there are a million ways to convey authority without needing to name all the clients you’re working with.
If you talk about the fact that you specifically focus on helping fitness owners and you’re targeting a fitness owner, it’s 100 % fine to say that without saying that you’ve worked with a ton of fitness owners.
See what accomplishes the same goal while still remaining truthful.
Have Time Sensitivity
The next thing that you want to have is some time sensitivity. You can have a call to action:
- I can get you more clients before the end of the year
- I can get you more clients before the end of the month
- We can book out your business before the New Year starts
There’s all these different ways that we can have some urgency. Where the recipient sees that, and thinks, Hey, I should get started to respond to this today. There’s some time box around this. Otherwise, it’s totally open ended.
Include a Call to Action
You definitely want to make sure that you include a call to action of some kind.
What action do you want the person to take?
Do you want them to just read the email and move on with their life?
Or would you like them to read the email, reply to you at some times that would work well for a meeting?
Or would you like them to read the email and get back to you and answer some questions that you have to qualify them as a potential lead for your agency?
You always want to make sure that you have a call to action.
The Power of Persistence: Securing Replies through Follow-Up
As I mentioned earlier, almost all the money you will end up putting in your bank account will come from your follow-up emails. What I mean by that is most of the meetings you’re going to have will come from follow-ups, and then you’re going to have those meetings. Those are going to turn into your booked opportunities.
It will be in that revenue or the dollars you will put in your pocket. So, if you want to put dollars in your pocket, make sure you’re following up on your emails.
Setting Daily Email Goals for Consistent Outreach
A huge rule that I like to follow is to always set a daily goal for the number of emails going out. This is especially true for young, aspiring agency owners.
I’ve seen a ton of agency owners get started with their agency and they feel like they’re sending 50, but they aren’t keeping a tally, they aren’t actually tracking it, and they end up sending 15, 20, 25.
That means that they’re only sending 50 % of their attention and they’re only seeing 50 % of the results. So always set that goal, track it, and make sure you hit it every day.
Ramping Up Email Volume Responsibly
You’re definitely going to want to make sure that you ramp up your email slowly. This isn’t a key issue if you’re manually sending your emails, but if you’re using any automated email service, you’re definitely going to make sure that you start things slow and ramp them up.
Email servers are smart these days, and they know to look out for bots and spam. So the best way to make sure you don’t get caught doing that is to ramp it up slowly, adding 10 or so emails every day for a couple of weeks. Pretty soon, you’ll be ramped up. You can be sending hundreds of emails a day, no problem.
Ensuring Email Deliverability and Avoiding Spam Filters
Another thing that you want to do, especially if you’re sending a high volume of emails, is always verify your emails before sending them. There’s a really inexpensive service called Mailercheck where you can take a large email list, import it into there, and for a couple of dollars, it’ll make sure that all the emails on the list are verified for delivery.
This means they won’t bounce; they won’t return to sender, any of that stuff that can cause spam issues and end up having your email be blacklisted.
If you’re sending your emails manually, this really isn’t as much of an issue just because you’re sending your emails manually; you won’t have as high of a volume, but still keep an eye on it.
Personalization vs. Efficiency: Balancing for Agency Growth
The last tip that I’ve got for you guys is when it comes to scaling your agency. Early on, make focus on personalizing your emails. Take these scripts, customize them, and make them even more personal.
Add in some things that you notice about their Facebook page, their Instagram account, or areas that they could improve.
Spend a little bit more time when you’re first getting started. As you close your first couple of clients, then you can focus on increasing throughput increasing efficiency, and you won’t need to personalize as much.
But in the beginning, think low volume high personalization. As you start scaling your agency, think high volume lower personalization.
Why Cold Email Works for SMMA Agency Owners
Now, let’s talk about why cold email works.
1. Building Confidence and Preparing for Discovery Calls
First of all, especially for new agency owners, gets even the most inexperienced agency owner in front of your leads.
Because it’s in a written format, you can put a lot of thought into formatting the email and what exactly it is you want to say.
Versus a live conversation where you might not be super confident and you might fumble over your words a little bit just like I did the first time I was cold calling for our social media marketing agency.
You avoid all of that with an email, and you can have a succinct airtight pitch in written form directly in front of your lead. That way, they can reply to you.
Now you know that they’re interested, you got a little bit of confidence and you can get prepared for your discovery call to find out a little bit more about the needs that they have for their business.
2. Reaching Prospects Where They Are
The second reason is it meets prospects where they are at. Every person on the planet has email, and email is where business is done. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. You email enough of them, you’re going to start getting responses and good things are going to start happening for your business.
3. Crafting Empathetic Messages for Better Engagement
The next reason is because you can actually spend time thinking about what you’re saying, it’s very easy for you to craft messages that lead with empathy. When you craft messages that lead with empathy, it means that you’re understanding the challenges that those business owners might be facing and you’re putting it into terms that they can understand and how you can help them.
It moves it from a sales-y type outreach to an inbound type outreach where people actually want to sign up and do business with you.
4. Scaling Outreach for Increased Success
The fourth and potentially the most important thing is that it’s just easy to hit insane numbers of outreaches, which is going to increase your chances of finding success. Any sales effort is a numbers game and the more people you contact, the more chance of results you have, and the more money you’re going to end up putting in your bank account long term.
The best part is that’s just one email address. You can create more email addresses, you can buy more domains where you set up even more email addresses, and you can really scale this thing to tens of thousands of emails going up per day if you want.
Cold Email vs. Cold Calling: A Comparison
Why do we choose cold email over other SMMA outreach methods like cold calling? It’s just going to be a lot easier for you, especially as a new agency owner, to start landing your first couple of meetings through cold email than it is through cold calling.
For a new, inexperienced agency owner who has never really handled rejection in that way before, cold calling can be rough, and cold emailing just eliminates a lot of that friction.
When is Cold Calling Better?
However, once you get some experience and confidence in yourself, there’s a sweet spot where cold calling can be super effective. There’s just really no better way to convert people to that next meeting than SMMA cold calling, where you have the opportunity to handle objection live on the phone.
The problem is after you start having some success, you start getting really busy and it becomes difficult again to find time to make those phone calls. You might find yourself again flipping back over to cold email just because of the time savings and how quickly it is to email thousands of people at once.
Cold Email vs. Cold DMs: Adapting to Changing Platforms
Let’s talk about cold email versus some cold DMs or messaging people through Facebook Messenger or Instagram message. Cold DMing worked really, really well for a while, but become less and less effective over time.
The reality is every time that you go and you log in to Instagram or Facebook Messenger, I feel like the interface has completely changed.
It might work one day, it might not work so well the next. In the last year or so, we basically saw Instagram go from everybody being able to DM everybody to all of a sudden having a primary and a general inbox. And then all of a sudden a lot of those that were going in the general actually went into message requests.
Email, on the other hand, as long as you actually are not showing up in spam, you’re going to be inboxing. You’re going to be showing up in that conversation.