The cold email vs. cold call debate may not have a clear winner, but here’s a quick way to figure out which might be better: drop an email when you don’t have too much convincing to do. If you’re making a complex pitch and your prospect needs to be persuaded, pick up that dial. Although somewhat reductive, this reasoning is logical enough to be effective.
At the end of the day, choosing between a cold email and a cold call will always be a bit of a gamble. Both have their unique appeal. At the same time, neither is foolproof and both are appropriate in different situations. Categorically saying that a cold email is better than a cold call or vice versa is therefore incorrect.
Your choice should always be informed by your immediate goals.
Sounds confusing? It doesn’t have to be.
Cold Calling vs Cold Emailing At a Glance
|👍Pros||👎Cons||🟢When should I use it?||🔴When should I NOT use it?|
|It is a tried and tested method for lead generation Cold emails offer incredible ROI It is time and cost-effective It helps generate brand awarenessIt is easy to track and analyze ||It does not generate spontaneous resultsIt can end up as spam It is difficult to differentiate and prevent them from being generic It may be difficult to generate leads with just one email||When you want to reach out to a brand new prospect who is unaware of your business||When you need your prospect to take instantaneous decisive actions about your proposal|
|Cold Calls📞||It provides a personal human touch It helps you make a direct sales pitch It allows you learn important details about your prospect It has a much higher likelihood of receiving a direct response||It may come off as invasive It may get lost in intermediaries It is time- and effort-intensive It has a low ROI if not performed correctly||When you have a pre-established relationship with your prospect and need to convince them to make the final decision||When your prospect is unaware of your business and has never heard of what you do|
While this table gives you a glimpse at what each of these prospecting techniques entails, let’s try and end the debate between cold, direct email vs cold calling. To do so, it’s important to understand the difference between the two.
Decoding the Difference Between Cold Calls and Cold Emails
Cold calling and cold emailing have been an integral part of internal marketing strategies for small to medium businesses for as long as one can remember. Why is that so? Because when done right, both are effective in lead generation.
You may be thinking, “Since lead generation and conversation are the shared goals of both, surely, these two must be the same.”
Why the cold call vs cold email debate, then?
Despite sharing the same goal, there are marked differences between both in terms of:
1. Response Time
When you call a prospect, you can expect an immediate response. It may be favorable or unfavorable, but you do not have to sit and wait for your prospect to reply.
In the case of an email, you have to indefinitely wait for a response. In some situations, you may never get one because it ends up in the spam folder while others can easily ignore the email. If your cold emails are part of an email campaign ( like it usually always is), not getting a quick response can affect your campaign’s success entirely.
You could argue that even calls don’t always get through, or that your prospect may not pick it up. Even then, you learn that your prospect is disinterested or busy at the time you called them. Either way, you’ll know how to try and connect with them next time without having to speculate about their reaction.
Prospecting is all about making an impact. While making a phone call may not have a lasting impression on your prospect (unless you have exceptional orator skills), you can create an email that grabs their attention. As Gumroad CEO Sahil Lavingya says, “A well-written cold email can change your life.”
You can supplement it with data points, videos, and a gamut of visual elements to make it work. Even a good subject line can prompt your prospect to click on the email.
Because of these factors, cold emails can feel more intimate and “alive” to your prospects. This can work in your favor, especially if you know how to play the game.
If prospecting is all about making that instant connection, what’s better: cold calls or cold emails?
It’s hard to pick a side.
While some people may prefer a call because of the human touch involved, others may prefer to read an email. In this case, both choices have equal chances of succeeding or failing. However, it’s best to attempt to understand what your target audience prefers when you’re doing your market research.
For example, say your target audience is Gen Z. Most of them spend lots of time on their mobile devices and they are not generally keen on talking over a call. So, a prospecting email has more chances of being successful than a live conversation. On the contrary, if you’re targeting older generations, cold-calling might be more effective than flooding their inboxes with emails.
Calls may feel invasive to some prospects, simply because you’re talking to them when they have not shown interest in your offering. Additionally, you may be calling at an inconvenient time. If your target audience values their privacy, a cold call won’t cut it. In fact, you may end up losing that prospect forever if you insist on getting them on the phone.
An email, on the other hand, is far less intrusive. It lives in your prospect’s inbox which they can access at their convenience without interfering with their privacy.
Cold calling is always more expensive than sending a cold email. While you can send emails to hundreds of prospects in one click, you have no choice but to make personal calls one at a time. Now, take into account the time you’ll spend on each call and you already know it’s far more labor-intensive than dropping an email.
In addition, you may need to hire a professional caller or have a calling team in place that’s dedicated just to cold calling. After all, you probably don’t have enough bandwidth to make the calls yourself, especially if you’re a small business owner. If you’re serious about telemarketing, you may even need to implement some kind of system for quality assurance so that’s an additional expense.
However, you can send group emails by signing up for any of the many email marketing apps out there. Even though some of these apps have paywalls, cold emailing is still cheaper than cold calling.
6. Scale of Operation
When it comes to lead generation, the more, the better, right? Hence, you need to consider how scalable your lead generation method is and if it’s worth the money. By that measure, cold emails are easily scalable, and, as mentioned above, do not require a significant investment.
Although conducting cold calls on a large scale is possible, it’s often expensive. To make it happen, you need to plan and budget for it.
Emails also give you easy access to your prospect’s behavioral data that you can analyze as you plan your next move. You can easily A/B test your prospecting emails. That’s tricky to achieve if you’re calling someone.
You can, however, get to know your prospect’s preferences much better over a call if they decide to spend that much time with you.
So, to sum up, cold emailing differs from cold calling in multiple ways. These differences aren’t always disadvantageous, but they will surely help you make a choice.
Cold Emailing vs. Cold Calling: Which One Should You Choose?
That depends on several factors because a one-size-fits-all approach does not work here. Below are a few factors you should consider when picking a side in the cold email vs cold call argument.
Lead generation may be an umbrella term, but ask yourself why you want to connect with your prospect. You may want to:
- Offer a new service or solution that can solve their problem
- Gain more information about your prospect
- Share an update with them
- Arrange a virtual or in-person meeting with them
There could be many reasons why you want to connect with your target audience. However, you need to identify if your reason is urgent and immediate, long-term, or “weak.”
Cold emailing works very well when you’re introducing a new offering or requesting a meeting. Calls, on the other hand, can help you convert a disinterested prospect into a lead.
Choose calls or emails depending on your business requirements.
2. Target Audience
As briefly mentioned above, your target audience also determines which mode of outreach will be most effective. Create an ideal buyer persona to understand whether your prospects prefer calls or emails. While older generations may feel comfortable talking to you over the phone, those belonging to younger demographics will most certainly prefer emails.
This one might come as a surprise but the time and the day of the week matter. Studies show that people are far more likely to pick up calls as the day and the week progress.
An email may work its magic when sent on a Monday before lunch, but you have a higher chance of connecting with your prospect if you call them later in the day and week.
If you have a set schedule for prospecting, the time and day of the week should help you decide which to go for.
4. Industry and Buyer Profile
Rules of prospecting vary between B2B and B2C clients.
If you’re a brand that directly sells to end consumers, emails should be your top priority, irrespective of your industry. Your prospect may get annoyed at receiving calls about savings plans and credit cards from more than one banking company so a creative email may be far more enticing to them.
In another scenario where your prospects belong to C-suite audiences, a call is exactly what you need to make your pitch.
Knowing your customers is therefore just as important as knowing your purpose.
5. Position in the Sales Funnel
Understand where your prospects are in your sales funnel. If they are aware of your offerings but have refused to take concrete action, a quick call to convince them won’t hurt. However, if they’re oblivious to your business’s existence and you need to break the ice before making the first move, an interesting email sounds far more fetching.
Choose your prospecting method based on how far along your lead is in the sales funnel.
The key thing to remember after taking all these factors into consideration is you need to iron out all the nitty-gritty details before choosing one over the other. Once you know your purpose, target audience, when you should reach out to leads, who they are, and where they are in the sales funnel, it suddenly becomes easier to see which is more appropriate at different junctures.
When Should You Do Both?
Want your sales and marketing efforts to be effective? Try a combination of cold emailing and cold calling. Together, these prospecting tactics can help capture the interest of your lead and convert them into a buyer, provided you play your cards right.
It can usually unfold in two scenarios:
When You Get No Response
Begin your marketing campaign with a cold email instead of picking up that phone. Introduce your business and talk about what you’re offering. The trick to making a cold email work is cutting straight to the chase — tell them what you can do to solve their problem.
If your first email gets no response, schedule another follow-up email for the next day. But make sure to send it during the second half of the day or at a different time. Business representatives get flooded with marketing and promotional emails all the time. So, you need a plan of attack to make an impact and be relevant.
Even your follow-up email may not solicit a response. In that case, it’s best to pick up the phone and try to have a conversation with your prospect. Having an intimate conversation may be more convincing than sending them email after email.
When You Get a Response
What should you do if your prospect suddenly stops responding or puts off making the final decision? You may have already initiated a conversation with a prospective client, but that does not guarantee you will be able to convert them into a buyer. If that’s the case, supplement your emails with a call and have a frank conversation.
It’s advisable that you send a follow-up email after your call even if it’s just to remain top of mind.
These scenarios tell you that using a combination of both can yield better results for your sales and marketing efforts than having an either/or approach.
Cold Email vs. Cold Call by the Numbers
Even though cold calls and emails both have their benefits, which of the following is a good marketing tactic for reaching out to cold prospects? Well, one has a far more impressive ROI than the other.
- 8 out of 10 buyers prefer marketing and sales emails over calls.
- Personalized emails have a 17% response rate while cold calls have a success rate of 2%.
- Every 3 out of 4 outreach emails are opened within the first hour and 4 out of 10 of them get responses within the hour.
- Cold emails have an open rate of 23.9%.
- Making a cold call on a Wednesday increases its chances of being picked up by 50%. Cold emails have a wider window for success: those sent between 9:00 AM and 12:00 PM from Monday to Wednesday have more chances of being successful than emails sent on other days.
As you can tell, cold emails definitely fare better than cold calls on multiple occasions. So, if you’re just going by the numbers, cold emails come off as the better strategy when looking at the big picture. However, deciding which one to use boils down to you and your requirements.
Cold Emailing Best Practices To Boost Your Response Rate
SafeGraph CEO Auren Hoffman said, “Most CEOs and VCs personally read every well-formed email they get, even if they don’t know the sender.”
This only goes to prove that an email, when optimized for performance, can be highly effective. The only caveat is you need to play the field as tactfully as you can to be successful.
So, here are some cold emailing best practices that you can implement to get the ball rolling:
- Write a great subject line. Remember the longer, the better — more characters allow you more freedom to express your intentions and specialty. Emails with long subject lines have a 24.6% higher response rate on average than those that don’t.
- Always personalize your subject lines by adding the receiver’s name or doing something similar. Outreach emails that practice personalization have 30.5% higher response rates.
- Carefully pick the day and time for sending cold emails. Since you’ll most likely end up pre-scheduling your email campaign, this should not be a problem.
- Use visual elements in your email. Emails with graphics have a 27% higher open rate than ones that don’t have any. Just ensure that the size of your email is not so large that it takes too long to load.
- Be relevant, don’t rant. No one has the time to read fluff that does not add value to their day or solve their problem. Be precise and go straight to business to leave an impression.
- But don’t overdo it and sound robotic. Always maintain that human touch in your emails. At a time when the popularity of generative AI-based content is growing daily, emails that possess the human touch have an advantage over emails that don’t.
- Verify your data before hitting the send button. When it comes to outreach emails, you cannot make the mistake of sending them to people who don’t require your products or services.
- Always strategize your cold email campaigns before executing them. Most marketers make the mistake of rushing the process. This only leads to a failed campaign that does not yield the desired results.
- Make use of email marketing tools. Automating your cold email campaign will help you save time, effort, and money.
- Establish credibility because it can make you stand out from the sea of marketing emails your prospect receives. Adding a referral from a contact your prospect knows can be one of the easiest and most convincing ways of showing that they can trust you.
Ultimately, it’s the approach you take to writing emails that will differentiate you from your competitors. So, go that extra mile and put some effort into the content of your email for it to work.
Cold emails that usually go unnoticed are the ones that are too generic and fail to make a connection with the prospect. Don’t be that person. Instead, be the savvy entrepreneur or manager who makes an effort because it does make a difference.
To learn more about how to send an effective cold email, visit our Ultimate Guide to Cold Emails.
Summing Up: Cold Email or Cold Call?
As Aaron Ross shared in his book Predictable Revenue, cold emails and cold calls work best in tandem. He advised using cold emails to secure appointments and then making cold calls based on those email responses. Depending on the needs of your business, budget, and other relevant factors, you could try this method too.
Naysayers may say cold calling and cold emails are outdated. However, when done right, both can be an immense help in prospecting. Be calculating but don’t be afraid to give them a go.
Tools like Mailtrack can be extremely useful for executing cold email campaigns. Available as a free extension on Chrome, it lets you schedule up to 10,000 outreach emails at a time from your Gmail account and monitor the interactions of each email. It also provides real-time insights into email campaigns that you can use to optimize your strategies. Learn more about Mailtrack’s capabilities by visiting the website today.