How to Do Personal Email Outreach at Scale

Everything You Need to Personalize 1-On-1 Email Outreach

Jason Quey
Last updated: Nov 13, 2019
Originally published: Apr 11, 2019

This is a series on how we create email outreach programs that get 20-40% reply rates. If you want to know how to build an email sequence, click here. You can check out all our articles on email outreach here.

Or if you want this entire series in one pdf, you can subscribe to the Growth Ramp blog and download a free copy by clicking here.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you should “do things that don’t scale?” I mean, didn’t Paul Graham also state, “A startup is a company designed to grow fast?”

Scaling too fast can kill startups and marketing campaigns when you experience too many problems all at once. Let me give you some examples of how this might look like with email outreach.

If you send too many emails, you will hit a sending limit. Or if your emails are not optimized, you will get too many spam requests which can shut down your email. Finally, if you send all emails in one fell swoop, you can’t improve your reply rates.

So how do you do personalized outreach at scale? You need to master mail merge.

On Mastering Mail Merge Fields

As I mentioned in the personalization section of creating an email sequence template, you should use mail merge fields to increase your reply rates. A good outreach tool will allow you to create custom mail merge fields.

To create your own mail merge fields, you will need a spreadsheet file that is saved as a “Comma Separated Value,” or CSV. For Google Sheets, you can download your spreadsheet as a CSV file by clicking File -> Download As.

At the top of your spreadsheet, use the header you will use as a replacement text in your email. This spreadsheet should have a list of email recipients and what the text replacement will look like for that person. It may look something like this:

scale email outreach

Then when you upload your CSV file into your outreach tool, you will be able to specify what field will be used in your templates. Here is an example of what this looks like in the template:

scale email outreach

In this example, my mail merge fields are “company,” “first name,” and “topic.” I often find it easier to write an email first, save it as a message template, then create my spreadsheet where I want to place my replacement text.

After you write out your template with merge fields included, make sure to read the email to make sure it grammatically sounds accurate. This is a common problem I see in emails, which can result in a lower reply rate.

On Scaling Slowly, but Efficiently

When doing a massive outreach campaign, I always learn to crawl before I walk, and walk before I run.

Depending on the total emails I have, I send between 100 to 400 emails and see what kind of response I get. I look for a 5% reply rate in 24 hours before scaling further. If my replies are low or too many negative replies, I re-examine my campaign. While I can’t undo the first batch of emails sent, I can optimize all remaining emails.

I use Mailshake for the email outreach process because I’m able to create all follow-up sequences before sending a single message.

I’m also a fan of Polymail as it combines the power of an outreach tool with an email client, and calendar scheduler all into one. Think Mailshake + Gmail + Calendly + Streak. While in some ways the outreach part isn’t as effective as Mailshake, Polymail can save a lot of time, money, and hassle when doing bulk outreach.

How Do I Monitor and Manage Who I’ve Reached Out to Before?

The more you do outreach, the more you may want to manage who you have sent an email to previously.

Mailshake has a feature built in that automatically checks who you have sent emails to before. When it shows me the email, I do a quick search to find out the last time I sent them an email.

If your outreach tool does not have a CRM function to track the last time you connected with them, I would recommend keeping a master spreadsheet. You can do this by downloading a CSV or excel file and putting each campaign in one sheet.

Or you can send an email anyways, given that most people will still respond and mistakes happen.

Some Final Thoughts

A successful campaign should begin with a clear goal in mind. Having a clear goal will help you to choose the right people to reach out to, and what you will ask them to help you accomplish.

Then you will begin the hunt to find their email address. Once you find their email address, you may want to verify it with a tool like Voila Norbert to limit too many emails that bounce.

Finally, you will want to write a clear and concise message. The subject line should compel your recipient to open the email, without burning their trust.

Once they’ve opened your email, give a brief message to let them know why you are sending them an email. Be clear what you are asking for, and what’s in it for them to reply back.

With the right blend of research, personalization, and follow-up, you should aim for a 5% reply rate within 48 hours of starting your outreach. If your numbers are lower, you should optimize your email copy. Once you’ve optimized your email, you can safely scale your outreach.

If I can do it, with grit, tenacity, and a willingness to learn through failure, so can you.

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Jason Quey

I am the CEO and Founder of Growth Ramp. I enjoy serving early-stage startups and later-stage scale-ups on their journey from idea to scale.

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