Outbound Campaigns

What is an outbound campaign?

This is an email or outreach campaign that you send out to people that you may or may not have already spoken to. The way a lot of people think about an outbound campaign is as a way to reach out to tons of people at one time, much like trolling for fish.

It is used this way, but in most cases for SaaS sales, you are more likely to drive away users than pull them in with this kind of system.

In this chapter, we're going through the right ways of using outbound campaigns to grow your business.

In the US, we can send unsolicited emails, as long as they are in accordance with the CAN-SPAM act. But in many countries around the world, particularly German and Canada that I know of, this is ILLEGAL. If you do it, you're going to get into trouble. Be sure to check your regions laws before applying these principles.

Running outbound campaigns can be powerful

If you do it right.

If you do it wrong, it can be a powerful way to keep users from signing up from your system in the first place. The important thing is to remember how your're using it, who you're targeting, and to what end.

Are you:

  • Looking for general users

  • Reaching out to enterprise sales

  • Trying to drum up interest

  • Reaching out to investors

  • Growing your already

Based on your goal, you will need a different email, but the approach is going to be similar.

How not to do it

Ever get one of those emails from some random guy that reads something like this:


I clearly want to sell you this thing that I am promoting to you in this email. Here are some reasons you should buy my thing or more than likely trash this email and never open another one from this email address or probably just mark me as spam.

Yours Truly,

The Guy Who Doesn’t Know How To Sell

PS. I am going to email you 4 or 5 more times till you definitely mark this as spam.

Sound familiar?

I bet it does. You probably even marked this email as spam. I know I have marked SO MANY of these as spam. So many in fact, that these same guys are blowing up my LinkedIn now as well!

The trick here is that it doesn’t have to be this way. There are great ways to reach out to someone directly without being annoying, salesly, or generally just get rejected before you even start. The trick is to do your homework and send an email that is genuine to people who you know have the problem you’re solving in a way that resonates with them. Also, don’t send a thousand at a time, send ten or twenty.

Important disclaimer here! If you are in Canada, Germany, and a number of other countries outside of the US, you cannot do a true outbound campaign. It is against the law and they will come shut you down, fine you, and maybe even take you to jail. That’s not even the worst of possible situations. However, if you are in the US, you can send a BUSINESS address an unsolicited email so long as you follow the CAN-SPAM Act rules.

So long as you do that, you’re all set.

How to run an outbound email campaign

When you’re getting ready to send an outbound campaign, you need to think about what would make you open up an email from someone you’ve never met. If the answer is nothing, then either you shouldn’t be doing this or you’re perfect for doing this.

The last time I opened an unsolicited email was when I:

  • Knew someone associated with the person that was sending me the email.

  • Knew the brand sending me the email.

  • Had a product that related to the email that I used regularly.

  • The email presented some piece of education that I needed at that moment to do my job.

  • There was something in the email that I thought was funny or interesting.

  • I was in some way connected to the person writing the message or they knew my friends, clients, or peers.

The last time I actually read the email and responded to it was when I either needed something in the email or I actually did know the person sending it to me.

I’m a pretty average guy, so if you can send me an email with all of this stuff, there is a pretty good chance I will at least glance at it.So what you need to know when you’re sending out these emails is as much as possible about who you are sending it to.

A better email

If I sent you a message that said:

Email Title: Richard from [some business you know] recommended I give you a call


Hey John (I’m assuming your name is John),

Richard from [some business that you definitely know] mentioned that you and your team at [the name of the business that YOU call the business] needed some help with [a thing you definitely need help with right now] and recommended I give you a call about it. He didn’t have your number and just said I should shoot you an email and I was wondering if you wanted to grab a cup of coffee over at [the coffee shop beside your house] on Tuesday or Wednesday for breakfast or after 3pm and chat about it.

Thanks so much and have a good day!


You would definitely open that right?

Assuming your name is John, you would probably write me back to chat about this thing you desperately need done.

Besides, you’re even going to get a cup of coffee and maybe even a donut out of it!

That email is about as personal as it gets. But believe it or not we’ve sent automated messages like this, and they convert like crazy. Although it does require a lot of early mornings and a donut expense account. Also, if you screw up these kinds of emails, it is going to kill your credibility with me. So you can’t afford to send a thousand at a time, just enough to keep your phone ringing.

Breaking down the email

This email above had the following items:


Do you know Richard? I hope so. But if you don’t do you think maybe you do? Is there a chance that you do and you just didn’t remember meeting him? Either way, Richard believes in me, so you should as well. Also, if Richard didn’t actually recommend you, don’t add this part. Sales are relationships and starting off on a lie is the easiest way to trash any relationship.

A Reference

Can’t recall that Richard guy, but you definitely know that business.

The Name YOUR LEAD Calls Their Own Business

We refer to this as the business shortname. If I know the name that YOU use for the business, not what’s online or in some list somewhere, then you’re probably thinking “This Jason guy clearly knows who we are. I should at least give him the time of day.”

The Thing You Need Help With

It didn’t seem like I was guessing about that thing you needed help with did it? It didn’t say “Are you struggling with whatever?” No! I knew when I sent you the email that you had this problem and needed some help with it. How did I know? Because unlike my times in high school, I did my homework.


I know, it’s the internet. You’re on the other side of the world. How are we going to grab lunch in wherever you are if I’m busy sipping my pina colada in Bali? It’s an example ok. You can take that part out if you must, but you get the point. If I was right there, you would definitely want your free coffee and donuts.

A Personal Invite

Whether you get your Tuesday morning fix or not, a personal invite is still an invite. If I were to say something like “Actually, I can’t make that Tuesday thing, but how about a teleconference so we can take a look at those pressing issues you’ve got tomorrow morning? Oh, and I’ll have Uber deliver some pastries and a half-gallon of dark blend morning brew to your office. You’re still probably going to be interested in a chat.

Make it a good first date

Now that we’ve torn apart the most intimate of cold business emails, how can we take this and turn in into something more usable? The rule is, the more items on the list above, the better. This is where everyone screws it up. Everyone wants to take the easy way out and try to send out a thousand emails to people they don’t know who may or may not have the problem and they don’t even offer some one-on-one time! That’s no way to take someone out for the first date is it?

Ok, so now that you know all the things that you need in an email, let’s pretend you don’t have all this information. Maybe I don’t have a reference, ok take that out. Let’s say I can’t actually meet with you for breakfast, alright we’ll make an offer for another kind of meeting, probably a phone call. Now let’s assume I don’t know any of the other items… it’s not going to work is it? Probably not. If that’s the case for you, don’t send the email! It’s a waste of your time because I probably wouldn’t open it, and neither would you.

The lesson here is that if you can’t take the time to adequately research your list and aren’t actually doing sales, you’re just trying to get people to go to your website, it’s not really going to work out for you. Try something else.

Will this work for a SaaS though?

Since you have the time, resources, and gusto to get on the phone with all these great people, now we have something to talk about. This is a method of direct sales. It is automated, but you’re getting on the phone with people which means you’re spending some cash to get them going. To figure out the value of of this, we just need to take a look back at the chapter on Appraisement and remember that as long as your Lifetime Value (LTV) is at least 3 times your Cost of Acquisition (CAC), then you’re in the money.

For a simple example, let’s assume that this is your primary method of sales and that it costs you $100 for each call you make (including the donuts and coffee) and you close a deal every three calls. Then it costs you roughly $300 per sale. If your average client is paying $25 per month for one year, you’re not going to make it. But if your average customer is paying you $100 per month and on average stay with your system for 2 years, that is $2,400 and you just made a cool $2,100 from that $300 you spent. Of course in real life the math is more complicated, but you can often bring it down to something like this and it gets real simple real fast.

Testing Your Messaging

This is probably the most important thing you can do. The difference in a few words can be huge when sending out emails. We have had an open rate difference of as much as 27% from the titles “Are you taking more referrals” vs. “I want to send you some new patients.” That is a HUGE difference on what is essentially the same message.

In email systems worth using, there is always an A/B testing system that allows you to test different email titles and messages against one another. If your system doesn’t have this, then get a new system because you need it.

In every single campaign we send, we test our messaging with small word changes. We send a few different titles and messages out to a small sample size first to test it out, then grow it from there. Once we confirm or deny our hypothesis about our messaging, then we can get our our campaign started. Sometimes we will send out a few test samples before deciding on a set of titles and message, and even then we will keep testing.

The Title That Always Works


It’s as simple as that. That is what works for us just about each time. For us, this worked great for sending out to medical practices when we used the title “I want to send you more patients.”

It is simple, to the point, and fast to read. “I want to give you the thing that you want.” If someone has the thing you want, then you’re probably going to at least listen to what they have to say.

Writing the message

Keep it simple, make it fast, show off your accolades, don’t be afraid to say you’re selling something, and never lie. A good example of this is something like “We did this thing for someone else and they made a ton of money from it and we can do it for you as well.” Now the conversation is just about budget and time.

The standard outbound campaign emails

Email 1: Ask for a meeting - Make it very short, clear that you want a meeting and know their needs.

Email 2: Check in to see if they got the first email. - This is essentially a check-in to make sure they’re still paying attention.

Email 3: The Case Study - It’s ok to make this one a bit longer. The best case here is to use a case study of a project you already have. Or, if you don’t have one, use a competitor or peer’s case study. More often than not, just showing that what you are presenting will have positive results will make a huge difference. If they know the work or know the person you did the work for, then they are fairly likely to open it up and take a look, and maybe even get back to you.

Email 4: The Breakup - You’ve had enough of these guys! It’s time for you to stop wasting your time on them and they need to know it. I wouldn’t be rude, but make sure they know that you are not contacting them again (at least as part of this campaign). Almost 50% of contacts back will come from this last email.

Play around with this setup. Different kinds of people and personas respond to different messages and the standard 4-email process doesn’t work for everyone. It’s a good place to start though.

Important Notes About Sending Outbound Emails. READ THIS!

There are a few important notes here. All of them are important.

1. Don’t use your main domain!

You can set up a domain like “yourdomain.com” that is isn’t quite the same. For example, how about “getyourdomain.com” or “yourdomain.net.” These all work. The reason for this is that if someone does mark you as spam, you don’t want them to hurt your main domain.

2. Authenticate your sending domain

You will need to set up DKIM and SPF for your sending domain. If you don’t do this, you have a higher chance of getting blacklisted.

Makes it harder doesn’t it? In the first two emails, don’t ever send a link to anything that is built into your emails. You can add the full url to the email. For example, “Check out our website at www.jhmediagroup.com”. That is fine. But let their system add the link, don’t add the link yourself into the email, and definitely don’t send files in those first couple emails. Spam filters will pick that up in about a millisecond and mark you as spam.

4. Give Google some time to think about it

Remember the section on the Google Sandbox for content marketing? This is pretty similar. Google doesn’t know if you’re a business that is planning on sending out regular ole emails to associates or if you’re planning on working as a world class spammer with their servers. They need some time to get acquainted with you and feel good about you using their servers.

If you are using Quickmail, Woodpecker, or other system that interfaces with a Gmail account to send email, you need to set up a Gsuite account and pay at least the $5 per month, then let the system sit for a month. That’s right, a full 30 days! Just send a few emails to your friends or coworkers from that email address, but don’t start using it for business for at least 30 days.

5. The Tools of the Trade

Personally, I like Quickmail.io. But recently Woodpecker.co has been growing on me. I like the UX on woodpecker.co more, but quickmail is more functional. They’re about the same really. Try them both!

Final Note

Knowing how to send people a ton of emails is both powerful and can be really, really annoying. So don’t be a pain. Do it right, follow the rules, use it for good, and remember that with power comes responsibility.

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