Creating Sales Email Sequences That Actually Get Responses

Email outreach is an effective method to engage prospects at scale.

Nearly every working person in the B2B world has an email address they check multiple times each hour. However, with upwards of 269 billion emails sent every day, how you execute your email content and strategy can make all the difference in the inbox.

The following article goes over how to make email sequences that get responses, and we’ve included a rich set of tools to help scale your email efforts. We’re going to get tactical!

How to Write Good Sales Email Sequences

Let’s start with a quick definition: An email sequence is a trigger-based or time-based series of emails that is automatically sent to specific segments of individuals on an email list.

It’s basically an automated one-way conversation that enables you to connect with each prospect directly. If strategized correctly, a successful email sequence can act as the best lead sourcer, lead qualifier, and demo scheduler, at zero or minimal additional cost.

Email, like most sales and marketing initiatives, is very iterative. Each piece of data that comes in can help you make minor tweaks that will end up landing you more closed deals in the long-run, so prepare accordingly. Sales emailing gives you an advantage over other types of marketing because it gives you a rapid feedback loop on how prospects respond to your offerings and value propositions.

Thankfully, you can leverage several automation tools to take your sales email sequences to the next level:

  • Outreach.io: a market-leading sales engagement platform built for keeping track of email sequences end-to-end.

  • Reply.io: a sales engagement platform that automates email search, LinkedIn outreach, personal emails, and calls.

  • MailShake: an email optimization platform that facilitates the sending of personalized cold emails at scale, and following up with them via phone and social media.

Tell a story and tie your sequence together

To properly write a sales email sequence, you need to tell a cohesive, human story. Most emails that lack that human element tend to sound overly commercial and usually end up ignored, sent straight to trash, or marked as spam, which can negatively impact your email deliverability rates.

Read and reread your email series out loud: make sure you actually sound like one human speaking with another human, not a robot or canned emailer spamming a human. Cater your messaging and language to the type of human you’re contacting– know your prospective Ideal Customer Profile and Buyer Persona, and speak to them.

What story are you trying to tell throughout this email series? It could be a value-add, such as a free tool, talking about positive customer experiences, why you started the company, and so on–your story acts as the glue that keeps your recipients warm and familiar to your future emails.

Best Email Structure: Keep it Simple!

The best way to tell your story and present your value proposition is in a way that maintains the recipients attention, and ideally, nurtures it with enough interest and urgency so that they act by the end of your email. Successful emails tend to start with a strong contextual attention-grabbing lead that flows into the value proposition and points to a clear, simple, and strong call to action (CTA).

Each email should answer these two important questions:

  • Why you? Why are you in their inbox, and what value will you add to their lives??

  • Why you NOW? Use that simple, concise CTA to let the recipient know exactly what they will receive if they click it.

For example, “Greg, in one brief phone call, you can hear firsthand how you can increase the number of leads you generate by 60% and grow your revenue by at least 50% like BIG NAME BRAND (one of our clients). Does it make sense to discuss further?”

However, it’s important to not lose sight of the human element that makes an email seem like more of a conversation rather than a hard pitch.

Writing the perfect email sequence formula is both parts art and science, requiring creative copywriting, data, and a higher strategic vantage point to connect them all for optimal results.

How to Write a Call to Action That Works

The art of a successful call to action is in its name: is your call compelling enough, and what action do you want them to take?

A few great call to action ideas include the following:

  • Give a Specific Time and Date: What works better for you, a 10-minute Zoom call Tuesday at 3 PM EST or Friday at 9 AM EST?

  • Give a Calendar Schedule Link: Let’s catch up for 10 mins, please pick any date and time on my Calendly: link.

  • Restate Your Value Proposition: Can we jump on Zoom this Monday at 11 AM EST to discuss how we can help you automate beautiful proposals?

  • Add Urgency: There are only 5 spots left for our 2-day program on improving writing email CTAs, book your slot now before they disappear!

Make the barrier to entry to opt-in to further communication with you super low. Use different CTAs throughout the email series, but try to keep CTAs to one per email to avoid any confusion. Shoot for a Click Through Rate greater than 18% for any send of >250 contacts.

The most effective cold email CTA is actually one that gauges interest (does it make sense to chat further?) rather than using a specific CTA (do you have time to chat on Tuesday at 10AM EST?) and an open-ended CTA (do you have time next week to chat?)

Asking for interest, rather than time, breaks the usual sales email pattern and allows people to lower their guards briefly. Further, it compels them to explore whether this is a conversation worth having and how they can utilize your solution.

If they respond affirmatively to an intent-oriented CTA, they’ve mentally “opted in” for a meeting, making them more engaged for your meeting. Once you do get that yes, make meeting with you as simple and straightforward as possible.

Subject Line

If someone isn’t opening your email, they’re not buying from you. Subject lines are one of the most, if not the most important, component of successful email campaigns.

Your email subject line carries a lot of responsibility in a small package. It needs to be concise enough to be scanned quickly, intriguing to win the click over every other email subject line, and contextual to warm recipients to the body of the email– all while being on-brand and conversational.

There is no golden formula for a perfect subject line, but you can use data as it comes in to tweak for improvements. Your goal should be to shoot for an Open Rate above 45% on any send of more than 250 contacts. If your open rate is less than 20%, try sending the exact same email with a new subject line to non-opens.

A few subject line best practices include:

Use Numbers: a Yesware study of 115,000,000 million emails sent found that subject lines with a number were opened 1.3% more than those that didn’t. If numbers are relevant, such as case studies linked to real results (i.e, 100 hours saved per month), use them to your advantage.

Keep it short: A 2020 Email Template study found that open rates tend to peak around 4 to 5 words.

Avoid spam words: Sometimes, spam words in your subject line or email body could cause your email to be filtered into the abyss– the spam box. Try to avoid words and phrases like “earn $” or “one hundred percent free”– your email will do you no good in the spam box.

Keep your email subject lines personal: studies show that emails that add a recipient’s name (usually done with a {fname} tag) are 26% more likely to be opened.

Overall, you should be targeting a Reply Rate of greater than 10% on an entire 3-5 stage sequence with more than 250 contacts.

Final Thoughts

Believe it or not, email sequences still work. Despite improvements in spam filters and advancements in laws preventing spam email, building an effective email channel will improve both top-of-funnel testing and success.