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[Case Study] How to convert cold leads in 5 emails or less

“We have increased our sign-up rate by close to 300%,” said Marylou Tyler –  author of Predictable Prospecting and the client for this campaign I wrote.

It was achieved with only 5 emails to COLD prospects. How?

Here are 3 reasons why they worked, so you can apply these lessons yourself.

1. Make your introduction snappy

Writing to cold leads is the hardest thing you can do as a copywriter.

You have no prior relationship to work off; no way to establish a quick rapport and separate you from all those spammers who plague the reader’s inbox.

Noob copywriters sometimes assume you can bypass this issue with a strong subject line.

You can’t.

Whenever a reader peruses a piece of copy, they have a series of subconscious questions in the back of their head. These must be answered in order. And the first question, always, is this:

“Who the hell are you?”

Think back to when you last assessed a flooded inbox or pile of junk mail on the doormat. How did you decide what to open and what to chuck out? I’m willing to bet your decision was based almost entirely on the sender.

  • Do you know them?
  • Do you like them?
  • And if you don’t like them (Tax man, Internet providers, banks etc), do you have to read their stupid message anyway?

Your subject line should arouse interest and get them into the email. If you have the reader’s first name, this can also help raise your open rates a further 30% or so.

However, your first sentences must answer these 3 questions fast.

  1. “Who are you?”
  2. “Why are you writing to me?”
  3. “Why should I listen to you?”

Fortunately, Marylou Tyler has bags of credentials.

The first email asks the reader a question, then links it to her bestselling book: Predictable Prospecting. This has been praised by marketing greats such as Jay Abraham, and helped others increase their billings by 7-figures and higher.

You might not have the same clout right now, and that’s fine. But you must assess every scrap of proof you can offer. Then pick your strongest piece of proof which backs up who you are, why you’re writing, and why they should listen.

2. Make your follow-up emails part of a campaign

Sending a follow-up message is one of the simplest ways to boost results.

(In direct mail, we often find a simple 1-2 page follow-up letter gets around 50% of our original letter’s response.)

However, if you’re sending a series of standalone emails, you could be leaving yet more money behind. I’m sure you’re familiar with the principle, 2+2=5. Well I’ve found it’s the same in email.

You should thread your emails together, so they’re part of a campaign.

Read Marylou’s 5 emails. You’ll see they each create an ‘Open Loop.’

(This is a technique Andre Chaperon teaches in-depth in his excellent ‘Autoresponder Madness’ course – which I highly recommend.)

Email 1 raises a question, which isn’t answered until Email 2.

Email 2 might answer Email 1’s question…only to raise more questions which are left unanswered until Emails 3, 4, or 5.

This helps keep readers opening.

(In Marylou’s case, Email 1 got a 33% open rate and 7% CTR. Email 2 got a 26% open-rate and 8% CTR – respectable figures for cold traffic, in my opinion. Though it’s the sign-ups which matter most and, as mentioned above, these figures were smashed out the park.)

A campaign of emails can also encourage readers to go back – open an email they’ve missed.

In a variation on this campaign, I also numbered these emails in each of the subject lines: [1/5], [2/5], [3/5]…and so on. I did this for 2 reasons.

First, obviously, it shows them which emails are part of this campaign. They’re easier to find and open. As a campaign, these emails have a stronger inbox-presence than they would individually.

Second, I want the reader to know these cold emails will stop.

It’s not usually cold outreach which bothers prospects so much as the fear it will never end. Numbering the emails helps them understand precisely what the emails are and when they’re due to finish.

3. Make a low-barrier offer

A cold prospect is still highly unlikely to buy.

So make your first offer low-barrier. Once they’ve completed a small action, they’ll have less fear completing a second. (Previous customers are around 3-8 times more likely to buy than a cold prospect.)

In Marylou’s case, this meant offering a free online course. Those who accepted were now on HER list. She had a way to contact them again and again.

If you’re renting data this is especially important, because you may only be able to message them a set number of times. All your energy should be spent getting them onto your list first.


I hope this was useful and gave you some ideas to raise results for yourself. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. My email is alex@alexbusson.com