Cold email outreach is one of the best ways to find new customers. But before you can start emailing people, you need their email addresses.
So how do you build a targeted list of prospects for your cold email outreach campaign?
In this guide, I’ll walk you through the basics of cold email outreach and introduce you to some of my favorite tools for the job.
Table of Contents
- Renting / Buying a List vs. Building Your Own
- Creating Your Ideal Customer Profile
- How to Build a Targeted List of Prospects for Cold Email Outreach
- Tools to Build a Targeted List of Prospects for Cold Email Outreach
Renting / Buying a List vs. Building Your Own
Sure, you can buy or rent a list of email addresses. But this is a bad idea for many reasons.
For starters, there’s no guarantee these emails will be real, active, and relevant. The list could even include email addresses known as “spam traps” which are meant to catch spammers in the act.
If you’re sending too many emails that end up bouncing or falling into spam traps, your email address or even your entire domain could be blacklisted. This would result in all your emails going right into recipients’ spam folders.
So if you’re doing cold email outreach, use a targeted list that you build yourself – and be sure to validate and clean it before you send any emails to it.
Need more reasons to build your own email list rather than buying or renting one?
- Better customer fits. You’ll have much better customer fits. The people you reach out to will be much more interested in your products and services. And of course, they’ll be much more likely to buy.
- Higher response rates. This one’s a no brainer. If your target is a good fit, they’ll be much more likely to respond to your email. If you throw together a list of email addresses with no thought to the people who own those email addresses, you’re going to get ignored.
- Less wasted time. Sales success is partially defined by efficiency. Cold email outreach can be a tremendously beneficial way to spend your time—or it could be a total waste. The difference is the quality of your leads. A better list, with better defined targets will result in less wasted time.
- Fewer spam complaints. Emailing a stranger about something they have no interest in is a great way to get flagged as spam. Emailing specific targets will help you reduce those spam complaints, so you can keep emailing consistently with no fear of being email blacklisted.
- A better understanding of your customers. Finally, the research you’ll do when building your list is a great opportunity to better understand your customers. Who are they, and how can you help them?
Creating Your Ideal Customer Profile
Before you can start building a targeted cold email outreach list, you need—you guessed it—a target.
You have to build your ideal customer profile (ICP) by considering the following (and more):
- Age/gender/etc. If you’re looking for individuals, you might consider demographic factors like age, gender, and level of education.
- Company position. More commonly, you’ll be looking for someone in a specific company position. What is their job title? What are their responsibilities? Are they a specific type of decision maker?
- Industry/niche. What about the company—what industry is it in? What kind of niche does it serve?
- Company size. How big is the company? How many employees does it have? What kind of revenue does it generate?
- Location. Oh, and where is the company? That seems important.
- Current circumstances. You can also define a target customer based on their current circumstances. For example, are they struggling with a specific problem? Are they in a specific phase of company growth? Is there a specific type of product or solution they’re looking for?
How to Build a Targeted List of Prospects for Cold Email Outreach
Okay. So you’ve got your ideal customer profile.
Now you have to go through the steps to build a list of emails of people who match this profile.
There are two main ways to do this.
1. Hire a lead generation agency
First, you could try working with a lead generation agency. There are pros and cons to contend with here.
You’ll be practically guaranteed to get a list of emails to work with—after all, that’s what you’re paying them for. And if you work with a reputable agency, you can probably be confident that they meet your criteria.
But at the same time, lead generation agencies can be expensive. And you’ll have minimal control or oversight in the process.
2. Build the list manually
Alternatively, you could build the list manually.
I know what you’re thinking. That sounds like a lot of work. And it can be. But you’ll save money, you’ll get better leads, and you’ll have a much better understanding of the leads you ultimately generate.
And if you use the right tools, it’s much faster and easier to get the cold email outreach leads you want.
You can even use some of these tools to automate the lead prospecting and outreach process entirely. Check out our guide to email lead generation for help.
3. Hire an assistant to build a list for you manually
Tools to Build a Targeted List of Prospects for Cold Email Outreach
Alright, let’s get to the tools!
You’re probably rolling your eyes right now, and thinking to yourself, “Yeah, everyone knows about LinkedIn, but I’m here to discover tools I don’t already know about!”
Don’t worry, I got you. The secret with LinkedIn (and LinkedIn Sales Navigator) is to use third-party tools that automatically scrape the search results and find email addresses for everyone in the search results. How do they do it? I don’t know. Maybe it’s magic. But it works. I tested a bunch of tools that do it, and these are the three best:
Wiza is awesome. You conduct a search in LinkedIn, and a little button will appear next to every person’s name that says “Get Email.” You click it and it figures out their email address, verifies it, and adds it to a list that you can export to CSV. Or, you can click “Export emails with Wiza .csv” and it’ll scan all the search results and export as many email addresses as you want.
LeadLeaper does the same thing as Wiza, but it’s a bit less user-friendly. It is, however, significantly cheaper, and gives you better bang for your buck. Check out this list of over 2,000 leads I generated with LeadLeaper in about 15 minutes, on near full autopilot:
That’ll keep my cold email outreach pipeline full for weeks! 😀
Apollo is my latest addition to this list and my new favorite. I like it because it has its own database of people for you to browse, but also has a Chrome extension that lets you perform the same lead extraction tricks on LinkedIn as Wiza and LeadLeaper. It takes a little more manual work to get leads through the Chrome extension compared to LeadLeaper, but it organizes them in a better way than Wiza or LeadLeaper.
What makes it my favorite of the three options is that it gives you unlimited email credits for a flat $49/mo, which is a fantastic deal compared to the other two. Wiza gives you 300 credits for $50/mo, and LeadLeaper gives you 3000 credits for $29/mo. So for roughly the same price as the other two options, you get unlimited email credits.
It’s more user-friendly than LeadLeaper, and about as user-friendly as Wiza. So as a total package, Apollo is my new favorite between the three.
Staying with the theme of leveraging LinkedIn, I’d like to introduce you to Alfred. MeetAlfred is a LinkedIn automation tool that automatically visits profiles of people in your target market, sends a connection request, and even sends follow-up messages on a schedule you define. You just give it a search results URL from LinkedIn, and it’ll take care of the rest. It’s fantastic for growing your LinkedIn connections on autopilot, and sending automatic messages to your new connections to start conversations that can turn into leads.
And when you connect with someone on LinkedIn, you’ll usually get access to their email address (find it in the “Contact info” on their profile). Add that email address to your outreach list!
3. Anymail Finder.
Next, let’s look at a basic tool—Anymail Finder. With this tool, you can enter a person’s name (or their job title) as well as their company (or a website), and immediately conduct a search that can find that person’s email address. It’s a great alternative to using Wiza or LeadLeaper (see above) if you prefer a more manual process. If you’re willing to put in some effort, you can generate cold emails in bulk—and benefit from the database’s impressive 97 percent accuracy.
LeadFuze can actually automate your list building process. It’s essentially a huge database of people and their contact & job info. You can use it search for potential leads based on an impressive range of criteria—even down to how much the company is currently spending on advertising.
It relies on information from many different sources, and can automatically add leads that meet your criteria to your list every day, and then send them (automatically) to your cold email outreach platform of choice, such as Lemlist or Mailshake. This is the best way I know of to actually automate your list building and outreach process.
Seamless.ai functions similarly to LeadFuze. It’s an AI-based service that allows you to compile contact lists, verify emails, verify phone numbers, and even help you create targeted messages. You can also use it to search various social media platforms (including LinkedIn), and integrate with Salesforce, Gmail, and other major platforms. You can generate up to 25 leads for free, or pay for a plan that allows you to generate unlimited leads.
UpLead is another similar tool to LeadFuze and Seamless.ai. It relies on a database of more than 46 million individuals and companies, spanning more than 200 different countries. But don’t worry; you’ll have an easy time finding the cold email outreach leads you want with the platform’s 50 different filters.
It also integrates directly with your CRM of choice, making it easier to manage those leads and follow up once you generate them. Paid plans start at $79 per month for 200 leads.
7. Voila Norbert.
Norbert is an artificial intelligence (AI) driven digital assistant that was created to help companies find more valuable leads. You’ll enter some details about who you’re looking for, and Norbert will help you find thousands of email addresses of people who match your criteria.
You can get 50 leads for free right now, with 98 percent accuracy, or you can purchase packages for up to 50,000 generated leads each month. You can also use Norbert to scan, verify and clean lists that you’ve already generated from other tools.
Albacross takes a slightly different approach than some of the other tools on this list. With it, you’ll be able to identify and track the people who visit your website. You’ll be able to figure out where they work, the size of their company, their average revenue, and even information about decision makers in that company. This is ideal if you’re getting a sizable stream of traffic on your website but you’re still struggling to get a consistent stream of leads for your business.
Intercom seems to make just about every tools list I make, but it’s for good reason. It does everything, and it does it well! In this case, you can use Intercom to capture website visitor contact info. Intercom is that little blue bubble icon in the lower-right of your screen. It welcomes new visitors and provides them with a way to communicate directly with us, and leave their email address so we can follow-up with them!
HelloBar serves a similar purpose, but in a different way. We use it here at EmailAnalytics to serve exit-intent popups. It’s our last chance to get someone’s contact info before they leave the site. You can use it to display just about any kind of pop-up on your site, and it’s a lot cheaper than Intercom.
Building a list of targeted prospects for cold email outreach can be tough. So can cold email outreach itself. But it’s even tougher if you don’t have a way to measure your progress.
That’s why we created EmailAnalytics.
With EmailAnalytics, you’ll be able to get an in-depth look at your Gmail account activity. You can track how many emails you’re sending, your average response time, and how many responses you’re getting. You can also track dozens of other important metrics, and see them visualized in graph form so they’re easier to understand.
It’s probably better to see it for yourself. So sign up for a free trial today!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.