Cold Email Personalization at Scale: Building a Personalization Process
Why should you personalize a cold email? Because it works.
Salesloft has published data across cadences: Whether it's a "bump" (aka a follow-up) or a cold email, personalization works.
When you personalize vs. send a template, you can expect a 50% → 250% increase in reply rates.
Personalization is a hot topic in cold email because it's worth the effort.
The main pushback is the loss of efficiency.
But let us just say — personalization "at scale" is an oxymoron. Let's explain ...
Email Personalization Doesn't Have To Be Time-Consuming
TL;DR: Cold email personalization requires understanding your buyer's to-do list. It isn't personal. You're taking an observation and tying it to a challenge or status quo.
Personalizing requires process. Know your sources. Prioritize them methodically.
First things first. What does it mean to personalize a cold sales email?
The biggest misconception about personalization is that it has to be personal. Personalization means individualizing a message. They just need to know it was for them, and it needs to speak to why you're reaching out.
You're meeting your prospect in a glorified to-do list (inbox). Personal info isn't always relevant. Observations aren't always going to be viewed as relevant, either.
e.g. “Congrats on the funding”
The point of personalization is to show the reader that you're reaching out to them. It's an observation with a clear motivation.
A mental model: “I'm reaching out because I saw x, and I believe you're dealing with Y.”
"Mental Model" means don't use that exact phrasing. The point is to frame your thinking.
The personalization has to progress into the rest of the note logically.
An example of good personalization (say you're reaching out to me selling customer support software):
"Hey Will, I saw your product includes live support.
As a young product-led org, I was curious if this is because it's hard to sort through product data signals.
Would it be helpful to have a better sense of when accounts are at risk?
The personalization here is an observation that ties back to a likely status quo faced. It's the catalyst for the whole message.
Here's the thing, though — there aren't that many reasons to reach out. You may see some variation with the time of year, but you'll reuse stories, phrases, etc.
As you build your process, the writing will speed up.
Easy Tip: Build a Process
When I say personalize a message to "John Doe," a few spots probably come to mind.
- Their LinkedIn
- Their Company LinkedIn
- Their Website
Do you follow our advisor, Kyle Coleman? If not, you should start. He's got a great process he calls: The 5x5x5.
Take 5 minutes to find 5 facts to write an email in 5 minutes.
Take the whole 5 minutes. You'll exhaust quite a few sources along the way. Write all your facts down in those 5 minutes.
(Don't start writing your email until you're done.)
While you're writing down the facts, write your sources. Do this a few times, and you'll start to see patterns.
Some sources always have something – they're reliable.
Some have relevant gems — they're unique.
Other sources have both — they're your "go-to's."
When you're thinking about your process, order the sources you go to in the order of “go-to's,” “reliables," and finish up with “gems." Find a click path that is optimal across these sources.
The sections are numbered in the graphic above.
There's a reason for this. The gems are going to tempt you into writing. This flow will give you a fuller picture of why you should reach out.
Avoid Over Personalization
During your 5 minutes of research, recognize that you don't need to drop every nugget in the first email. You shouldn't. Too much, or being too “on the nose,” will get in the way of you getting replies.
Over-personalizing will also add too much fluff to your writing. Your reader will be thinking, “what does this person want?”
Instead, dropping an extra fact in email 3 or 4 of a cadence is a killer way to stand out.
As you're thinking through sources, here are a few to consider:
- BuiltWith (for tech they use)
- G2 reviews
- Prior experiences
- LinkedIn activity
- Company insights on LinkedIn
- Twitter activity
- Recent news
- CEO or their C suite boss's public activity
- If public, use their public investor docs (e.g. K-10)
- The pricing page on their website
- Their Facebook Ads Library
- The Careers Page (this one is 🔥)
- An experience with their marketing, customer support, product, etc.
… the list goes on and on.
Having a process is key to speeding up your writing time.
Here's how this plays out within a sales system…in case you're curious:
5 minutes of research and 5 minutes of writing means a minimum of 6 Emails per hour or ~30 personalized emails per day.
(This feels conservative, given you'll see things repeat, and you'll reuse language with proper segmentation.)
5 Days a week = 150 Emails per week.
Converting at 10% (a low expectation if you follow best practices) puts you at 15 replies.
Let's say 50% say no. That's 7-8 meetings set per week. That's 28-32 meetings set a month.
Depending on your price per deal, you're doing pretty well.