November 26, 2022

6 Steps to Write Cadence Templates for Inbox Placement

The ultimate 6 Steps to Write Cadence Email Templates for Inbox Placement. To help make sure your templates get past the spam filter and into the primary inbox.

6 Steps to Write Cadence Templates for Inbox Placement

Content is one of the main factors impacting if your cadence emails land in the spam folder or primary inbox. While writing cold emails, you need to have a different mindset compared to general marketing. This is because you have significantly fewer opportunities to receive engagement from a contact before your inbox placement declines as a result of the emails you’re sending. 

We’ve analyzed over 30 million emails, and created guidance (top to bottom) on how to maximise the engagement you receive from prospects. This will help make sure your emails reach the primary inbox, not the spam folder. 

The 6 steps we’ve outlined include guidance on optimizing for two different types of spam filters:

1. The Literal Spam Filter - So your email's subject line does not resemble emails which have been associated with spamming, and instead resembles emails which recipients tend to be engaged with. 
2. The Mental Spam Filter - So when your prospect sees your email land inside their inbox or opens it, they are more likely to actually read the entirety of it. Passing this is 100% necessary to generate engagement. 

With the above in mind, it’s important to be aware of both spam filters and realise that they overlap because campaigns which have the highest engagement rates will be the least detrimental to your overall sender reputation making your outreach more sustainable. 

The 6 steps to optimize your email cadences for inbox placement can be summarized as:

Step 1 - Subject Line Optimization

Optimized subject lines are critical to getting your email to land in the primary inbox (rather than the spam folder) and increasing the number of prospects who actually choose to open your email once it arrives in their inbox. 

The primary mistake to avoid is subject lines which try to ‘sell’ the content of the email in any way. Our motto for subject line writing at Allegrow is ‘boring is better ’, if you try to be emotive in the subject line, the vast majority of prospects will mentally filter your email, or you’ll get caught in spam jail for resembling past marking emails which received low engagement. 

Here’s an example of a good vs a bad subject line choice for cold email:

To help you put this into action, here’s a bullet point check-list to apply to your subject lines:

  • 3 words or less - This helps to keep your subject lines more ‘boring’ and implies the content of the email will be concise.
  • Avoid punctuation - Punctuation is more heavily used in the subject lines of marketing emails that in internal emails or communications to people we already know. So cut those question marks and exclamation points! 
  • Related to the content - A ‘misleading’ subject line will lead to manual spam reports, which hurt your sender reputation. Therefore, an easy way to reduce the likelihood of this is to attempt to use the same keywords in your content that are in the subject line. 
  • Plain word choice - Your subject needs to look like an email from ‘someone who knows me’, to get past the mental spam filter. So attempt to use plain words which aren’t emotive, as these tend to perform better. 
  • Try title case - using title case - meaning The First Letter of Every Keyword is Capitalised, has been shown to see marginally better open rates in general. But this can vary based on your target audience (so feel free to A/B test it). 

Step 2 - Pattern Breaks on Preview Text

Using a pattern break in the opening few words of your email is vital to generate the intrigue which is required to get consistent opens on your emails. In this example, you’ll see how a pattern break is created by using an urgent keyword and removing ‘Hello {{FirstName}}’:

To help you put this into action, here’s our bullet point check-list on ways to create pattern breaks and hyper-relevance:

  • Starting with negative keywords - Negative keywords at the beginning of your email can help to break the pattern of most sales emails and catch attention. This means you can experiment with words like the following to start your email; ‘Didn’t’, ‘Couldn’t’, ‘Wasn’t’, ‘Haven’t’ and ‘Shouldn’t’.
  • Starting with urgent keywords - Keywords which imply urgency can also help to increase open rates if used at the start of an email. Examples of these keywords to experiment with are; ‘Just’, ‘Got to’, ‘Now’, ‘Saw’, ‘Realized’, ‘Missing’ and ‘Noticed’
  • Experiment with removing Hi {{FirstName}} - Almost every sales email starts off with a variation of ‘Hello {{FirstName}}’, this essentially makes the content redundant, so you can experiment with removing this and placing the ‘first name’ tag somewhere else in the email.  
  • Mention a colleague’s name - Including a prospects colleague's name in your email's opening line can help improve engagement. We’d recommend picking a colleague from the same department by selecting additional contacts from the relevant department in your data provider's system or another target job role. 

Step 3 - Hyper-Relevance / Trigger Explanation in the First Lines

Using ‘hyper relevance’ or a  ‘trigger explanation’ answers every prospect's initial objection to an outbound email: ' Is this email actually relevant to me?’. 

Hyper-relevance can not simply be the prospect's job title or industry. Instead, you’ll want to customize your data set to be built on aspects such as; the content they engaged with on Linkedin or a review they left describing a challenge. Mentioning a specific trigger like this in the opening lines of your email will frame you as someone who’s done their homework and isn’t shooting spam out of a cannon. 

This example shows how referring to a target accounts Glassdoor reviews to creates ‘Hyper Relevance’:

To help you build hyper-relevance or triggers into your email campaigns, here’s a rundown with some of the potential data sources you can consider using:

  • Content they’ve engaged with Linkedin/Twitter - This could be specific content from thought leaders in your niche discussing the problem you address and can be attributed on a logo basis rather than just a per-contact basis. 
  • Glassdoor reviews - You can refer to key themes or specific pros/cons mentioned by the own companies' employees on glassdoor. 
  • Job postings - You can refer to and search for companies which are hiring in specific roles, which means they’re likely to be addressing/experiencing the problem you solve. You could also consider new key hires which have been made in the same way. 
  • Changes in technology - As businesses move from one technology to another, this can signal specific challenges/needs. Their current tech stack is also a way to make your account selection more targeted. (BuiltWith is the best data source for this).
  • G2 Crowd Reviews / Other reviews - Either specific reviews people at your target account have submitted on other technologies/services or reviews your target business has received can signal key initiatives, point points and differentiators which create hyper-relevance. 

Step 4 - Clear Problem Statement 

Framing the pain point you can help resolve correctly is a must-have inside your cadence. This will help to make sure your prospect can quickly understand what value they might receive if they chose to engage with you. 

This example shows how the same problem statement can be explained in two different ways. Removing jargon/exaggeration and not using the term ‘challenge’ to avoid being as  presumptuous in the second version is better optimized:

To help optimize your problem statement, you can apply the check-list points below to your description of a pain point in cold emails:

  • Remove any jargon or words which exaggerate the issue - Try to use words which are as simple as possible when describing a pain point, and avoid using emotive words (this is the first time the prospect has ever engaged with you - they’re unlikely to admit all the hardest issues they’re facing internally). 
  • Don’t be presumptive - Always frame the problem as something you aren’t 100% sure is impacting them. As if you’re too presumptive, prospects are more naturally inclined to disagree with you. 
  • Keep it short - Any more than a few lines, and you’re going into way too much detail. The easiest way to decrease the friction involved in getting a response from a prospect, is to decrease the length of your email. 

Step 5 - Optimized Call To Action

The specific call to action you use is one of the core areas that will impact your cadence's success. Keeping this clear and low commitment for the prospect to respond is critical to increasing your campaign's reply rate. 

The example below compares a poorly optimized call to action and one which is likely to receive a far higher reply rate:

To optimize your call to action, check and apply the following points to all your templates:

  • Only have 1 question in your email, which is the call to action - The more questions you ask, the less answers you get over cold email. Therefore, only have one clear question as your CTA.  Even if you have other questions grammatically in your email, only have one of them with a question mark next to it. This helps to emphasize the CTA. 
  • Do NOT ask for time / a meeting - Research has shown that asking for time with the prospect will instantly decrease your success rate by 50% compared to asking for interest or another CTA, which isn’t based around a meeting. 
  • Keep your call to action short - Reducing the length of your call to action will help keep your ask concise and improve your response rate. In order to do this, keep your call to action as a stand-alone statement and shorter than 1 line. 

Step 6 - Optimized Footer

No footer has ever been so beautifully designed that it convinced a prospect to respond to your cold email. In fact, many of the fancy footers people use nowadays can hurt your deliverability by adding unnecessary links and images to your email, making it more likely to be filtered into spam. 

The example below compares one of the fancy footers in question with one which is plain text and optimized for deliverability:

We’d recommend reviewing your footer quickly to improve deliverability with the following:

  • Try ditching the HTML footer - generally speaking, plain text emails have better deliverability than emails which include rich HTML and images. Therefore, convert your signature to a boring plain text one specifically for your cold email cadences. 
  • Include these basic details - Name, Job Title, Company Name, Website link and HQ address. 
  • Remove any unnecessary links - You want to have 2 links max per email for deliverability (including the footer), so you’ll want to remove any which aren’t critical. 
  • Remember, your footer isn’t a sales pitch - Your footer is designed to transparently show the prospect who you are and what company you work for. So remove that catchy marketing tagline for cold emails, as this can make the rest of your email come across as more self-interested. 
  • Maybe consider removing that job title I asked you to add - You’ll want to steer clear of keywords which are heavily associated with marketing and sales or cold emails in our cadences. So if you’re job title has the keywords ‘sales’ or ‘marketing’ inside it, you might want to experiment with dropping that from the footer.