We all want to go back to the days where customers read through every email, but times have changed. Customers can easily spot spam or a direct sales pitch. So how do you fight the battle between personalizing and trying to build email campaigns at scale?

Answer: do both. Segment your customers into the stages of the buying cycle (based on customer engagement with your content) and then cross-segment those customers again with the prospective value of the customer. Those customers that are low-engagement and low lifetime value should receive different targeting than the high lifetime value customers who have high engagement.

This article targets leads of all engagement levels and value who have, for one reason or another, gone cold. They no longer interact with your brand and probably wouldn’t take your call if you tried to reach out. The good news is that you can use marketing automation software to build outreach campaigns that “warm up” some of these disengaged prospects.

To truly engage cold prospects, you need to launch a well-crafted email marketing automation campaign. A single email with a CTA won’t cut it here. They’ve ghosted you before, so they won’t think twice about deleting your email and unsubscribing now. Tread lightly. Below are five ideas for warm-up campaigns to get you started.

1. Free Education

Offer free, educational content related to the prospect’s job role or industry, and continuing content if the prospect clicks through the first email. Gauge response on these (open rates, clicks, etc.) for further segmentation. Remember that these types of emails need to add value: give your customer actionable insights and useful knowledge that answers a pain point they might struggle with.Ideas for a continued education offers:

Ideas for a continued education offers:

  1. A free e-course
  2. An email cadence with daily doses of information over 3/5/7 days
  3. A blog series delivered to their inbox (send article previews with links to the blog so you can measure engagement)

Why it works: Those who stick with you during the cadence or who interact with your content will take some time to warm up to your offer before. When you provide education and actionable insight, you build trust with potential buyers, which can turn into dollars later. Follow this campaign with a purchase or offer, and ask for feedback. Everybody likes free stuff, and if the content you give them is helpful, they’re more likely to believe that your product and your team are helpful.

Use this to contact: Casual content browsers — those who come to you for research and ideas, but don’t buy into the real need for your product yet.

2. Usage Statistic

This email uses your case studies and customer tests to prove results from your product. When you build these cold emails, you’re trying not just to prove that your product works, but also prove value to the buyer, so think about the pain points and the particular problems you can demonstrate that your product solves.

Why it works: Numbers are eye-stoppers. When you add statistics to your copy, your readers are more likely to sit up and pay attention than they would if you confronted them with a wall of text. Use bullet points and short, concise sentences to keep the eyes moving.

Use this to contact: Prospects who have strayed from the pack. When a lead goes cold, it’s for a reason. You need to engage, and quickly. Giving statistics provide evidence that your product works, and helps those leads remember why they came to you in the first place.

3. Action-Based Emails

This one takes a little more segmenting and lead tracking, and it can go awry faster, but sending a “We noticed you downloaded this” email or something similar has the possibility to engage a distracted lead.

Why it works: They realize you’re paying attention. When you mention their specific download/click/read, they see something familiar in your email and are more likely to keep reading. You can combine this outreach tactic with an educational drip to move the customer closer to buying, but keep these emails short and informative.

Use this to contact: People who lurk on your website and use your content but haven’t pulled the trigger yet.

4. Apology Campaign

Use an apology email to re-start the conversation with customers you lost due to negligence or bad policies. Think of this like an “Under New Management” sign, and discuss with the customer how you’ve changed or how you’d like to renew the relationship. Use these emails to further segment your lost customers: those who respond can move toward warm-up emails while those who ignore you can go to your ice cold segment.

Why it works: When you humble yourself, it pulls on your customer’s heart strings. In return, give the customer immediate and specific terms that prove you’ve changed. Not all customers will respond to this particular tactic, so use it sparingly.

Use this to contact: Customers you lost through bad policies, negligence, or an unforeseen event.

5. Meeting Request Cadence

The customer has browsed your content, keeps visiting your site to check out your latest posts, and maybe even liked some of your social media posts. You want to take this relationship to the next level, but the customer shies away from contacting you. It’s time for your salesperson to move toward a meeting.

Caveats here:

  1. Make the first email or two are about the lead. What pain points do you see, and how can you address them?
  2. Don’t ask for the meeting in the first email. While your goal is to set an appointment, you want your prospect to show interest, and the fastest way to scare them off is by being forward.

Why it works: Think of this one as a true campaign targeted at a single customer. If you play your cards right and stay persistent, this campaign has the power to build a long-term, highly engaged customer.

Use this to contact: Engaged but skittish customers who need personal attention. This works well for high-value accounts that will give you the big payout if they’re engaged and cared for.

Closing Thoughts

Work on your subject lines. You should A/B test every part of the email, but a good subject line will make customers open your emails more than any other factor.

We all know what a sales email looks like, so have some self-awareness when you write these emails. You don’t have to disguise your email as something else, but you’ll definitely want to stay away from the “Buy Now!” mentality.

Cold leads can be disheartening to a sales team because they seem like a lost opportunity. But if you’re willing to get creative with outreach, you can engage — and possibly salvage — a significant number.