Customer acquisition is a huge part of the sales process. You have to pitch to get new clients and you need new clients for your freelancing business to grow and succeed.
Although you may receive referrals through people you already know or groups you interact with, at some point you will need to find new clients. You want to reach people that would otherwise not hear about you. One way to do this is cold emailing.
Cold calling or cold emailing is a technique where you reach out to a person or business without an introduction or previous meeting.
Here are the five steps for cold emailing:
1) Get a contact list
Buy, find, or create a list of contacts that would be interested in your services. This list may be people in your niche, local businesses, or agencies. It may even be competitors! People doing the same thing as you may have overflow clients that they can pass along if you develop a relationship with them.
I created a cold email campaign for my newsletter writing service. I made a spreadsheet of all of the local Rockford, IL nonprofits and charities by googling “charitable organizations”, “not for profits” and “nonprofits”. I made a list of the contact person in each organization if their information was available on the website. If there was no contact person listed, I used the generic “info@organiation” email address.
2) Write your email template
You’ll want to change the template for each client, but some parts will remain the same. The introduction should not change much from potential client to client.
Your email template should include the following:
- A short introduction about who you are (2-3 sentences maximum)
- Why you’re emailing
- A proposal for how you can help them
- Why they need the help (using statistics)
- A call to action **Call to action is a marketing term that describes wording that motivates the person to respond.
You’ll want to be very specific with how you can help them. If you’re a designer, talk about what exactly you’d do. If you’re a copywriter, tell them which sections of their website you would rework or that you noticed the key players in the organization don’t have biographies. You’ll want to customize your email to what they need. A general email offering a range of services will be too overwhelming and salesy for most people. People are busy and they want you to get to the point as quickly as possible.
3) Send to your contact list
Send to each person on your contact list. Be sure to use the person’s first name if possible. Otherwise, start the email with Hello or Hi.
4) Keep track of responses
I kept track of responses in a spreadsheet. Some organizations said no outright while others asked for a follow-up with my service fees.
Keeping a spreading of the status of your campaign will keep your organized so you know which organizations you already reached out to and when to send a follow-up.
5) Send a follow-up two weeks later
Two weeks after you initially email, send a follow-up restating your request and asking if the person had a chance to look over your email.
You’ll want this email to be very short. An example is below:
Subject line: [Service name, e.g. Copywriting] proposal
I emailed you a few weeks ago about helping out with copywriting for your website. Did you get a chance to look over my proposal? Let me know if you have any questions or if you’d like to set up a call.
Consider visiting in-person. Although this is somewhat out of my comfort zone, I know it can be helpful to go into a small business and meet the owner and explain your services. For this step, you will want to have professional business cards on-hand.
Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t hear back from many of the people you’ve cold emailed. Cold emailing has a success rate of ~20%. However, it is one of the least stressful and time-consuming client acquisition strategies. Once you’ve invested the initial time it takes to gather email addresses, and write the basic template, tweaking it and sending the emails is a quick process.
Bonus – Cold Email Template
Here’s an example of a cold email that I’ve sent out to local organizations that are not currently publishing a newsletter. Thus far I’ve had a 25% success rate in getting new customers (I must note, my sample size is very small).
Subject line: Email newsletter for Org Name
Nice to meet you! I’m a local marketing specialist who wanted to reach out and offer my services to your organization. As I browsed your website, I noticed that [Organization name] is not currently sending out an email newsletter.
I think you would see some real benefits from a focused communications strategy. I have worked in social media marketing, strategy, and content creation for several years and started my own business in 2015. I’ve designed and written email newsletters for several clients. You can see some of my work on [client’s] newsletter (link) and on [other client’s] newsletter (link). I’m a lifelong resident of the community and I have a special interest in charity and social work. You can find out more about me on my website (link).
Email newsletters are so important for keeping the lines of communication open with your supporters and volunteers. In a recent Nielsen Norman survey when asked to opt-in to receive updates from a company only 10% elected to do so through Facebook and 90% chose email newsletters. Newsletters can be weekly or monthly depending on your goals.
If you’re interested in hearing more, I’d love to chat with you.
Thank you for your time,