Cold Email

The 3 Letters That Gave Us 22x More Cold Email Replies [Case Study]

How do you make your cold emails stand out? 

Nobody seems to like a cold email sitting in their inbox. But everybody likes to feel special. 

It’s why targeted ads and personalized email campaigns work so well, even though everyone knows what’s going on. 

We have a little story for you. It starts with Stephen and Hans and ends with three letters. 

hans stephen cold email case study

Coming from a cold outreach agency background, both Stephen and Hans know cold email gets a bad rap these days. 

But they know cold email is an important (and effective) part of outreach, as long as you follow two rules: 

  1. You need to mix it up and keep trying new things.
  2. If you find something new that’s effective then you’d better put it to good use.

When it comes to cold email, it seems everything has been done already. Some even believe cold email is well past its Best-By date. 

The past few months at Wiza have shown us that’s 100% not true. You just have to take the right approach. 

So Hans and Stephen ran a little experiment. And it had big results. 

Is cold email really the problem? 

Yes, getting traction with cold email can be tough.

For example: average open rate for cold email is somewhere between 15 and 29%, depending on your industry. 

Combine that with an average reply rate of 1%, and you’ll start to understand why SDRs have one of the highest burnout rates in sales and why so many small business owners are throwing in the towel.

But B2B sales has never been easy. Whether you’re dialing for dollars or handing out business cards, it takes metaphorical legwork. 

Let’s see if we can save you some energy. 

Try new things until you see results 

Hans and Stephen are constantly trying new tactics, templates and messages in their cold email outreach efforts. While they’ve learned a thing or two about cold outreach over the years, things are moving fast. You always need to be on your toes.

Read More: 30 Cold Email Tips to Increase Responses & ROI 

Early this year, they decided to try something bigger. 

In order to beat the average, they knew they had to get creative. 

“The idea wasn’t too sophisticated, to be honest. We wanted to make our email look as natural as possible: a simple, conversational opener between industry professionals. So what if we could make it look as if we were simply looping someone into a conversation within our company?”

Hans Dekker | head of growth | wiza

That was the seed of a case study that led to the highest open and reply rates Stephen and Hans have ever seen. 

Three letters for winning cold email — Fwd: 

Step 1: Build your verified lead email list 

First up, you’ll need a list of fresh leads. Use your favorite lead generation tool (Hans and Stephen know their go-to). 

The Wiza team has a simple, two-step process for building our email lists:

  1. Search or save leads on LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  2. Export lead emails and details with Wiza 
wiza stephen gif

Read More: Advanced Search on LinkedIn Sales Navigator 

By using LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Wiza’s prospecting tool, we can generate hundreds of lead emails in under an hour. 

Pro Tip: For this to work, you’ll need a list that includes the full name, first name, company and valid email of your leads. 

Step 2: Send an email to a colleague

Hans sent a simple, 37-word email to our Stephen (our CEO, remember). 

Hey Stephen, 
Came across {company} and thought they would be a good fit for us.

Try reaching out to {Full Name}, seems to be the right contact. 

Looks like their team is using Sales Navigator. 

Cheers, H
cold email template 1

Want this to be even more powerful? Have your CEO send a message to you and use this for your campaign. Then the cold email is originating with the CEO. 

Step 3: Have your colleague forward the message back to you

Stephen then forwarded this email back to Hans, with a message to go with it. 

Here’s what that looked like in Hans’ inbox. 

Hey {first_name},
Our Head of Growth thinks that your team is using Sales Nav to generate leads,
so I wanted to reach out and hopefully make your team’s life a lot easier.

Wiza lets you export LinkedIn Sales Navigator searches and lists to let you instantly
generate thousands of accurate leads. We provide only 99% accuracy email addresses.

We’re just a year old and already being used by amazing companies like Oracle, Grubhub,
Gartner, Cloudera, and even the Brooklyn Nets. Those names are great to put out there,
but we’re actually more proud of the scrapy startups we’ve helped propel like OpenPhone,
Parsely and hundreds of others.

If you’re using Sales Navigator I think we can help a lot, interested in getting
on a call?

cold email template 2

“The perfect email? Nope. But it was enough for us to get started with our test. Because if I didn’t know any better, if I’d receive this email I would think the CEO of Wiza just looped me into an internal conversation about me and my company.”

hans | HEad of growth | Wiza

Step 4: Copy and paste into Wiza Connect (or your favorite email software)

Stephen and Hans then pasted the entire message into Wiza Connect

With Wiza Connect you can deliver automated cold email drip campaigns at scale to the prospects you’ve just extracted from LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

cold email template 3
  1. It’s important to copy and paste the message exactly to make it look as natural as possible.
  2. Adjust the subject line of your in-app subject line to “Fwd: [subject]”
  3. Try out different subject lines. We tried out quite a few different variations using custom variables. All of them saw similar reply rates, so the important part is “Fwd:”. 
  4. Add some more personal information. Pretty much any email sender will let you add the custom variables you see in this email. Play around with what works in your subject line and your email message. 

Some of the subject lines we tried: 

“Fwd: Wiza – sales nav”

“Fwd: {Full_Name} at {Company}

 “Fwd: {Company} – sales nav”

With those steps, you can make it seem as if a message from your CEO has been sent to you, and you just went and forwarded it to the prospect. You can accomplish that either in the subject line or the forwarded email itself.

How’s that for feeling special?

“It’s impactful to have your prospects stop and think, ‘What? Who are these people talking about me?’”

stephen | CEO | wiza

Pro Tip: Over time, make sure to adjust the sending date and time of the forwarded email to be more recent. 

How’d we do?

560 emails, 490 opens, 123 replies 

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. 

“After hitting send we couldn’t wait to see the results for our experiment.”

hans | Head of growth | wiza

The results didn’t disappoint.

cold email results

Out of the 560 people we sent our campaign to, 490 opened the email (that’s 88%) and 123 people replied (22%).

With the average reply rate at 1%, the Wiza team saw 22x more replies than the industry average. 

Note: Adjusting for opens, we saw a 25% reply rate. 

Here are some of the replies Stephen and Hans received: 

Even people using other lead generation tools replied, interested in a demo. And those who weren’t the right fit still replied to comment on the cold email technique.

It’s the little extra touch that makes the difference. No, it’s not exactly a handshake and a “How you doing?” 

But it makes people feel like you’ve taken the time to consider them before reaching out with an email list 500 leads long. 

Some people caught on to it. Some even called the Wiza team cheeky (“Heck, I’ve been called a lot worse,” says Hans). But plenty of others couldn’t wait to jump on a call. Altogether, the results were great. Stephen and Hans have continued to run the campaign with similar results.

Improve your response rate with Wiza

Getting to new heights for opens and replies wasn’t 100% due to the simple, three letter trick. 

Stephen and Hans had a good foundation to build off of: valid emails, personalized messages and a solid list of leads. 

“Beyond the little ‘trick’, the key to our open and response rates was sending to valid email addresses with 99% deliverability.” 

stephen | ceo | wiza

How are you going to improve your cold email campaigns? 

🧙 Extract emails from LinkedIn

Wiza is magic. Turn any LinkedIn Sales Navigator search into a clean list of verified emails, ready for outreach.

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20 credits FREE! No credit card required.

About author

Hey, I'm Brooklin, Head of Content for Wiza. I used to create content for tons of B2B SaaS clients. Then I saw the beauty of Wiza and had to jump on board. Use Wiza to quickly create email lists from LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Use GIFs to win my heart.

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