Cold-call emails: 3 gold-standard tips from our behavioural science experiments you need to know
Email marketing has the highest ROI of any marketing tactic. $44 for every $1 spent, say Campaign Monitor: Email marketing is a tactic that’s hard to ignore. But how do you make sure you get good conversion rates? There’s plenty of blogs, articles, and user-guides you can download – but how do you separate the folk-law from the real laws? How do you separate the signal from the noise?
Here. Right here.
On a study of business to business cold emails (approx. 45,000) we tried a variety of subject lines: Loss aversion (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979), Curiosity gap (Lowenstein, 1994; Wainer, Dabbish & Kraut, 2011), Social validation, ‘people like me’, Personalization (Sahni, Wheeler & Chintagunta, 2016) where ‘things’ associated with the self are persuasive, as they’re more liked and trusted (Kahneman et al., 1990; Nuttin, 1985; Reed, 2004).
The best and worst?
- The self is the best: e.g. The name of the business/their name
- The curisoity gap is the worst: e.g. ‘3 simple steps…’
On a study of business to business cold emails (approx. 9,000, error range way under 1% at 95% confidence) we tried a variety of content positions: Limited time offer, Personalisation, Social proof, Ease (of use), and all of these effects combined.
The best and worst?
- Personalisation *or* ease-of-use techniques were the best
- All effects combined were the worst
Overall we improved clicks from 2% of emails sent to 3.6% of emails sent (that includes all the emails unopened – the kind of responses you want from a cold campaign).
Everything but the kitchen sink; this is the answer to this challenge. With a study of 1,126 business owners (error range under 5% at 95% confidence) we included a range of behavioural techniques:
- 33% increase in reply rates (from 7.71% to 10.29%)
- As a rule-of-thumb we evoked 10 responses for every 8 in the pre-Hunting Dynasty control version
Beyond this work we delved into preview lines on emails, and mobile SMS text-back rates (~90,000 respondents and ~47,000 respectively for a global startup and a UK hospital Trust). We’ll come to that one day (or ask us!).
So, there’s some solid, concrete techniques to use today (and every day) to get your emails ‘sticky’. There’s more information – which is very useful – on ‘The ABC of RCTs’ here, on sample size for tests here (‘How many people do I need to test on? (Answer: It’s not as many as you think.)’), and all about pre-testing the value of understanding and motivation with our Comprehension-Motivation Test© here.
I’d email the links to you, but even though I know how to write a sticky email, I don’t have your email address… (how to get email addresses is for another time, and another post).
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