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Cold Email Marketing: SaaS Strategies for Customer Acquisition

Updated: Jun 1, 2022

cold email marketing

Many SaaS companies have huge success using cold email marketing to grow their business, while others end up frustrated with little to show for their efforts.

If email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing tactics, why do some companies struggle with getting results?

Truthfully, it’s because most SaaS companies aren’t that great at finding qualified leads, creating conversion-optimized cold emails, or following up with prospects.

Finding Leads for Your SaaS Cold Email Marketing

Cold Email Marketing SaaS Leads

Now that your SaaS company is open for business, it’s your job to find customers. Unfortunately the “build it and they will come” theory only worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, so you’re going to have to put the time and effort in yourself.

Out of the millions of businesses and individuals in the world, how do you find the ones that would make great subscribers? If you’re a B2B SaaS, how do you find the right person at each business who’s in charge of the decision-making?

First, you need to decide exactly who your target customers are. How can your product help them, and what do they have to gain (or lose) by subscribing to your product?

If they’re a company, how big are they? A founder with a small team is always looking for ways to save money or make more money. They don’t have too much to lose if your solution turns out to be not quite right.

However, if you’re approaching the marketing director at a Fortune 500 company there’s a lot more at stake. If your SaaS solution is a winner for their business, the marketing director will get all the accolades. If your solution fails, that same marketing director faces a ton of embarrassment, the business takes a financial hit, and it gets really awkward for everybody – there’s a lot more risk involved.

To keep a clear image of your ideal customer in mind, you might find it helpful to develop “buyer personas” so that you can better appeal to each type of customer and pinpoint the value your product can give them. Once you have these personas clarified, you can distribute them to your team so that everyone is on the same page about who your ideal customer should be.

Lead Finding Tools

Lead Finding Tools

With clear prospects in mind, it’s time to start digging up those leads so you can start your cold email marketing campaigns. There are many ways to go about this – it’s just a matter of trial and error to see what works for your specific business. These are a few of the most popular options.

Lead Databases

Companies such as RightHello provide online access to qualified business leads, giving you direct access to company decision-makers. RightHello alone gives subscribers access to over 5 million companies, making the task of targeting potential customers a lot easier.

Data Scraping

Web scraping tools such as and Mozenda extract relevant data from websites based on your chosen criteria. You can target by keyword and location and scrape places such as social media, online directories, and business and industry associations. This will return a list of people that meet your defined criteria to give you a targeted list of potential leads.

Website Visitor Capture

Turn your site visitors into leads with tools like LeadFeeder and Albacross. These tools allow you to track, target, and contact people that have pre-qualified themselves as leads by checking out your website.

Online Tools for SaaS Cold Email Marketing and Follow-Ups

Online tools for SaaS cold email marketing

As a growing SaaS company, your time is precious. You need to get as much accomplished in as little time as possible – and within budget.

We’re not going to sugar coat things. Cold email marketing takes up a lot of time for a business. Thankfully, some of your fellow SaaS companies have come to the rescue with software to make your life easier.

There’s a wide variety of tools out there to help you with initial cold emails and follow-ups, but some good ones to start with are:

Hunter – this is a website and Chrome extension that lets you find personal email addresses from a company website in seconds. A little stalker-ish, but it’s one of the fastest ways to get this information. You’re allowed 100 free searches a month before you need to upgrade to a paid plan.

Mailshake – this is one of the most popular cold email marketing tools out there. Mailshake lets you schedule, track, and analyze your cold emails and automated follow-ups. It also provides templates, customized campaign emails, and auto-suggestions for more persuasive content if you’re starting from scratch. Mailshake has no free option but offers a 30-day refund if you decide it’s not for you.

Bluetick – following up every lead can be even more of a time-suck than your initial cold email outreach. Bluetick takes away that frustration by automating your follow-up email process, while at the same time keeping your emails personal and genuine. It’s like cloning yourself and then ordering your clones to do all the boring stuff. This software offers a 14-day free trial to get you started.

Replyify – another great automated cold email marketing and follow-up solution. This software is free to start, then offers affordable payment options as you grow.

Woodpecker – a great cold email marketing and lead nurturing solution that integrates easily with email providers and CRM software. Woodpecker is for companies of all sizes with plans ranging from start-up to enterprise, and the first two months are free.

Cold Email Marketing Strategies for Customer Acquisition

Cold email marketing strategies for customer acquisition

Email is 40 times more effective than social channels for customer acquisition and it delivers the highest return on investment. Open and click-through rates vary by industry, but in general, targeted business outreach emails have healthy open rates.

For a growing SaaS business, the cold email response rate is the most important metric in terms of your conversion goals. The average response rate for business emails (depending on industry) sits between 14% and 23% according to MailChimp and ConstantContact. If your response rates are well under that it probably means that your outreach template needs work.

HubSpot was approached by a B2B SaaS company that was despondent about their 2% response rate. HubSpot took the template and made it clearer, shorter, and more relevant to the recipient.

They reframed the email, included social proof, and made the benefits of the product in relation to the prospect’s own business crystal clear. There’s also a specific call-to-action at the end (scheduling a call) to encourage a response.

cold email saas

The result?

  1. 57% open rate

  2. 21% response rate

  3. 16 new customers

That’s a pretty impressive lift in conversion rates by simply changing up the cold email structure.

Best Practices for Sending High-Performing Cold Emails

Best practices for sending high-performing cold emails

What Not to Do When Sending Cold Emails

We’ve all been the subject of awful outreach emails. There are probably a few sitting in your inbox right now. The ones that make it past our spam filters often look something like this:

saas cold email

Our immediate reaction to receiving a cold email like this is to roll our eyes and hit the delete key. There are so many things wrong with this that it immediately gets flagged by our brains as a scam, and we think no more of it.

If this is a legitimate company using cold email marketing as their customer acquisition strategy, they’re in big trouble.

A Quick Teardown of This Email:

  1. The subject line has a bad typo (what the heck is a “getway”?).

  2. It’s sent from a Gmail account – this is unprofessional and sends a message the company can’t be bothered (or can’t afford the minimal cost of) setting up a company email account.

  3. There’s no personal greeting, so it comes across as a thoughtless mass email to a list of prospects.

  4. There are more typos in the body copy.

  5. The content of the email is vague and offers no specifics on the “what’s in it for me” benefits for the customer. Due to the overall feel of the email, you won’t click on those links because there’s a good chance a virus or hacking software will be on the other end of the click.

  6. There’s no specific call-to-action.

  7. There’s no personal sign-off.

Now you know what not to do, let’s take a look at some of the best practices for making sure your cold emails get opened, read, and replied to.

How to Send Cold Emails for Customer Acquisition

Subject Line and Sender Name

The subject line and sender name are the two elements that drive your open rates.

The subject line is the most important part of your email. Like any good headline, it has to grab your attention. It also has to stand out in the sea of 124 billion business emails that are sent every day. Plus, it has to be enticing enough for someone to take time out of their day to click on it and read the content. You can evaluate your current cold email subject lines here.

When you’re sending a cold email, you need to think about your reader. What can you say to them that will trigger them to give you that opening click? What’s the hook?

The following email subject lines invoke curiosity and are highly relevant to the recipient, which means there’s a good chance they will get opened. All businesses want to avoid loss and double their conversions!

cold email marketing saas

You’ll notice the “From” field in all of these emails is in the format [first name] at [company]. It’s best practice in marketing right now to include your name and where you’re from in order to establish trust.

Simply using your full name (e.g. John Smith) in the “From” field doesn’t tell the recipient much about who you are, or why you’re showing up in their inbox.


Your introduction should be personal. You’ve gone to the trouble of finding your recipient’s personal email address (hopefully), so don’t spoil the introduction by using “Dear Sir” or “Hey there.” A simple, friendly, first-name greeting such as “Hi Mike” will work just fine.

Body Copy

The content of your email needs to clearly and quickly explain who you are, what you do, and why you’re contacting the recipient. Don’t write a novel in your cold email – nobody has time for that.

Make it as personal as possible. Nobody likes to feel that they’re the recipient of a faceless list blast. If you have some way to connect on a more personal level with your cold email recipient (e.g. their recent business achievement that you read about), you can mention this to help establish trust and interest.

Keep things short, and make the benefits of your SaaS product abundantly clear. If you have a case study or relevant social proof to include, this can also be beneficial.

Don’t be tempted to ramble on about how awesome your company and products are. Your cold email needs to frame the benefits of your product in terms of the value it will bring to your customer.

Call to Action (CTA)

Don’t forget to add in the call-to-action that you want your recipient to take after they’ve read your cold email.

You should ask your potential customer for one simple action that they can take now. It might be to visit your website, schedule a call, or sign up for a free trial.

Don’t overwhelm your reader with a bunch of things you want them to do. Focus on a single goal and call to action for every email that you send to make it as easy as possible for your reader to respond.

A/B Testing

Always be testing different versions of your cold email templates. Even if you have a solid template that converts well, it’s always worth testing different elements to see if you can get it to perform better.

Following Up

Don’t forget to follow up with your leads – both the ones that respond to your initial outreach and the ones that don’t. People are busy. They might have been meaning to respond but simply forgot. There is no magic number of follow-ups you should send after your initial cold email. Be guided by your own feelings on the matter, and don’t be afraid to test your follow-up process to see if more or fewer emails work better as part of your customer acquisition strategy.

Final Thoughts on Cold Email Marketing for Customer Acquisition

SaaS companies can get outstanding results using cold emails to acquire new customers. With the right systems in place for finding prospects, sending conversion-optimized emails, and having a good follow-up process in place, your sales team will have a robust strategy for new customer acquisition.

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