Fact: The majority of cold email sales outreach goes unseen. Cue salesperson cringing. According to Neil Patel, less than 24 percent of cold outreach emails get opened, meaning sales teams need to lock down the science of effective, personalized prospecting emails. You can’t afford to waste 75 percent of your efforts, costing you time, productivity, and of course, ROI—due to a lack of deep audience insights.

The only way you can personalize a message is with a granular understanding of exactly who you’re speaking to. 

“The more data points you have on somebody,” says Danielle Drapeau, senior manager of marketing operations and automation at ZoomInfo, “the better you will be able to understand that person and send them content that is relevant to them.”

While personalization may be more work—the payoff is worth it. According to HubSpot, 67 percent of buyers are influenced to accept a meeting when content is 100 percent customized to their specific situation.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to manually type a personalized email for every prospect on your list. That’s unrealistic. Instead, automation can (and should) still be at play—but with more specificity. Segment your lists into groups of similar people and create custom templates that speak to each of those groups. 

Not sure how to start? We’ve got you covered. We’ll walk you through how we created a personalized cold email flow that works for even the largest of sales outreach lists—and how you can, too.

Step 1: Segment by Persona

Different personas require custom email personalization. There are a few ways you can break down personas: by title, management level, and function.

Let’s start with title. Your product or service likely caters to people of many different job titles who use your product for different purposes. It’s important to market your product to them in the context of what they do every day.

“You’re not going to talk to the director of finance about how you can help them generate more leads,” explains Dominique Catabay, manager of revenue generation at ZoomInfo. 

Next, segment based on management level. Similarly to title, executives such as VPs and directors are going to have completely different needs than someone at the individual contributor level. For example, if you’re selling a cybersecurity product, the manager of cybersecurity will care about implementation of the product in addition to security, while the CIO will be mostly concerned about whether the product works.

Lastly, bucket based on function. Some large companies have dozens—even hundreds—of employees with the same exact title. However, not every person with that title will necessarily share the exact same responsibilities and values. 

For example, a company like Wells Fargo has hundreds of VPs of IT across several locations. However, take into account that goals and objectives may differ from person to person. 

“Being able to break down personas even further to their functional responsibilities is going to make your message that much more powerful,” says Catabay.

TIP: Wondering how to gather this information? ZoomInfo Enrich can help fill in the gaps with up-to-date data on a prospect’s job title, job function, and management level—along with a direct phone number and email address.

Step 2: Segment by Firmographics

What demographics are to people, firmographics are to businesses. Firmographic data is a set of characteristics used to segment and group companies, such as revenue, industry, and employee counts. There are four primary characteristics to consider when segmenting based on firmographics: size, location, industry, and product fit.

Size can refer to the number of employees in the entire company, the number of employees in a specific department, or even the company’s annual revenue. Small businesses and enterprises don’t operate in the same manner, meaning the way a small business uses your product or service could be very different from how an enterprise uses it. Tailor your message accordingly. 

Take a marketing automation tool like Eloqua. A small business may simply need the mass email functionality of this tool to send emails to large groups while an enterprise may want to build more sophisticated, automated programs that move prospects in and out of different email nurtures and assign engagement scores.

Location can have an impact on the language you use in your message—or even the message itself. For example, here at ZoomInfo, we sell data. In the European Union and in California, there are a strict set of data privacy regulations in place—General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Action (CCPA)—that change the way we message our product to people in these regions. In our cold emails, we let prospects know that we are informed of these laws and explain how our product still has value in their market. 

When it comes to industry, there are many different regulations and ways in which someone may use your product. For example, if you’re a cybersecurity provider selling to hospitals, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a huge aspect of the healthcare field. If your cold email messaging isn’t personalized to address HIPAA, your prospect may take that as a red flag. 

“If your product has industry-specific features, mention it because it makes your message more powerful,” says Catabay. 

Lastly, segment based on product fit. For example, you may want to identify who your prospect sells to in order to understand where your product or service fits into their bottom line. Or you may want to segment based on the fact that your solution fits a specific department better than it does another. Work with your team to figure out how you want to break out your product fits.

TIP: Firmographic data is powerful in informing you of good-fit prospects. We can help with that. You can find the contacts you’re looking for based on industry, location, company size, company revenue, job title, job function, and more.

Step 3: Segment by Intent

Intent refers to how interested a prospect already is in your product or service. Have they shown prior interest? If so, were they an inbound lead? Or an engaged outbound lead? At ZoomInfo, we group intent into two buckets: external and internal.

External intent refers to people often outside of your radar who are looking for a solution that your company provides. Stemming from third-party behavioral data, these insights include direct engagement with other organizations’ content and brand that overlaps with research on topics relevant to your business. This type of intent is the easier one to identify.

“If you know someone is at a trade show who’s focused on data cleanliness, you can tailor your message to that, and it’s going to resonate better with the prospect,” says Catabay.

Internal intent can be a bit more difficult to point out. Stemming from first-party behavioral data, these insights depend highly on your CRM’s cleanliness so you can re-engage with people you’ve previously spoken with. For example, at ZoomInfo, we conduct prior engagement campaigns on closed opportunities.

“If we have opportunities that we closed-lost a year ago, a lot of things change in a year,” says Catabay. “And that’s something you should revisit in your own sales process so that you can re-engage, see where you went wrong last time and what they were looking for, and update prospects on anything you might have done internally to help fit their needs better.” 

Providing prospects with what they need right when they need it is hugely impactful in booking your next meeting and closing the deal.

TIP: To customize your solutions, consider leveraging ZoomInfo’s intent feature to reach out to organizations that are most likely to purchase based on their internal online research, hiring and mergers and acquisitions activity, funding announcements, and more.

Capture Buyers’ Attention—Fast

When you combine these three ingredients together, you’ll create a message that is clear, powerful, and intriguing. 

The most important factor to remember is to be human. It sounds simple, but people often forget they’re speaking to other humans—not businesses and not robots. Nobody wants to read a wall of text. Be conversational, and be personal.

Remember to segment your messaging by persona, firmographics, and intent to create a personalized cold email that speaks to your intended audience. “If you do all of these really well, you’re going to create more pipeline, which turns into more revenue,” says Catabay.

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