One good email can break the ice for a million dollar business. Or, it can catch the attention of those busy CXOs who have been ignoring your calls.

Of course, with the new GDPR privacy rules in motion, you should be more careful with who you email. It’s an age of permission marketing now – consent is crucial for your marketing outreach.

But cold emails are still okay to do, as long you as you keep it highly personalized and targeted, and – here’s the critical bit – offer the recipient a clear way to opt out from further correspondence. Emailing people who have unsubscribed could get you liable to pay a heavy fine of up to 20 million Euros or 4 percent of your organization’s annual global turnover. So refresh your email list and remove all emails from people that are not likely to participate in your business offers.

Once you have filtered your email list to be GDPR-compliant, you can use these email marketing hacks to get your audience to respond to you.

Hack 1: Build Credibility By Adding Value In Your Recipient’s Life

When you are sending a mail to a person for the first time, you need to build your credibility before you pitch for your business. That’s what we did with our “A Friendly Heads Up” email campaign – we did an audit of our prospect’s website using our SEO tool and notified them of an existing problem that had their rankings down. Not just that, we even told them how they could fix it on their own.

The campaign was a huge success. Many of the recipients replied back to us, appreciating the info and inquiring further on our services. We even piqued Zoho’s interest with this email pitch and won them over as a client at a $20k monthly subscription package.

What worked:

  • We made the prospect aware of an issue with their website SEO and also told them how they could fix it. All that for free. We didn’t do any hard sell here. That free advice helped us build our credibility and positioned us as an SEO expert that Zoho could trust and invest on.

People appreciate useful information. Ensure your emails provide immediate value to your recipients.

Hack 2: Use Ego Baits To Catch The Attention Of The Big Giants

Ego baits are powerful. It can help you persuade the industry experts to engage with you.

While ego baits are most popular for getting featured people to share your content, it can also be used to start a conversation with those busy influencers, who would otherwise fail to notice your emails.

We put this concept into action, and emailed one of the experts, Neil Patel, to contribute answers to our “Future of SEO” opinion survey, where we were going to feature 25 SEO experts.

It took a week but Neil got back to us with his answers.

  • What worked:
  • With this mail, we acknowledged Neil as a leading marketer, which he is. That paved the way to ask for his opinion on the current state of SEO. In a way, this mail tactic is about recognizing people’s authority and then asking them to do you a favor.
  • We had also subtly mentioned that Rand was participating. This could have been a tipping point too in getting the other 20 experts to respond to our mail. Thanks, Rand!

The email survey was a success, and we then created an Infographic on the “Future Of SEO” presenting the insights and answers from the top 25 SEO experts, including Rand Fishkin, Neil Patel, Barry Adam, Julie Joyce and other notable names in the industry.  All these experts have huge followings. Here too ego bait helped our infographic bag in 10k+ likes in just 24 hours.

Hack 3: Explainer Video In Cold Mails To Warm Up Leads

With cold pitches, you have got just about 1-3% success rate of getting an initial appointment with the client. That’s the market standard.

But if you were to add an explainer video in your cold pitch, the numbers can go high.

Take the case study of Jellyfish, a freight company. They made an explainer video and added it in their cold email pitch. It was a cold call, so the client had never heard about the company before.

However, before the sales guy at Jellyfish could even do a follow up (which is standard with cold emails), the client reached out to them. A meeting was arranged, and Jellyfish closed an $800k deal in just seven days.

What worked –

  • Part of this success is credited to the explainer video. Most cold email pitch is all text, and you wouldn’t be able to educate the prospect in-depth about your business. With a well-crafted explainer video, JellyFish was able to present how their business can help the client and persuaded them for an interaction.

We used this “video in email” strategy to promote NotifyFox, a browser push notification platform that we had developed. This SaaS tool lets you send a message to your subscribers directly on their browser, even if they don’t have your website open.

Push notification is a fairly new concept. So we added an explainer video of NotifyFox in our email pitch to ensure prospects understood what we were selling them. The NotifyFox email promotion campaign got us 18% new account signups.

Also, here’s one additional note that you should be aware of. If you add a Youtube video link in your email, instead of a standard link, it will appear as a playable video attachment in Gmail. What this means is that your recipient doesn’t have to go outside the mail to see the video. Ergo, more clicks. Plus, your email won’t be heavy in size as well.

You can also use the word “video” in your mail subject line. It can help improve your open rate. Stats say that adding the word “video” to your subject line can boost your email open rates by 19%, and click-through rates by 65%. It also helps reduce the unsubscribes by 26%.

Hack 4: Use GIFs to delight your recipients

If you don’t have the budget to make a video, try GIFs.

Consumer credit agency Experia reported that over 70% of their clients that used GIFS in their email saw jumps in their transactions-to-clicks rate.

We also ran some email campaigns, including GIFs as a humor bait. Apparently, making your recipient smile can encourage replies.

What worked:

  • Humour is a powerful emotion. Using those funny GIFs helped us delight our prospect and get them to reply. All in a good mood.
  • The best thing about GIFs is their autoplay trait. Unlike a video, your recipient doesn’t have to click it open to play it. It will grab your email recipient’s attention, and get them to read your email with more interest. You can even build short explainers showing your email recipient how to use your product.

Hack 5: MailTrack & Social Follow Up

Even your best emails may not get a response sometimes. Your recipients may be going through a busy week or you might have sent the email at a wrong time. So the next step would be to do a follow-up.

Depending on your email and subject, the wait time for sending a follow-up email can vary. For most cold email pitches, it’s a standard to wait 3-5 days before sending your first follow up email. Second follow up a week later, ideally on Monday or Tuesday. Third, follow up can be done the same week on Thursday.

One little hack is to use MailTrack or other email analytics tool to check if your recipient has seen your email.

In case they opened your email but didn’t bother to reply, you should send out a follow-up email the next day.

What time? MailChimp says that you should be sending the mail in the morning – ideally the time between 10 am to 12 pm of their respective time zone. You can use email scheduling tools like Boomerang to time your emails.


But don’t just do simple “hey, just thought to follow up to get your thoughts on my previous mail”. Add further information related to your pitch or what you can do for them. If your prospects see value in your message, they would be more willing to respond.

Other than using email analytics tool to time your follow up emails, another strategy you can use to encourage interaction is through a social follow up. That is, reach out to your prospect either via LinkedIn or Twitter.

If you are not already connected, send a LinkedIn invitation with a personalized message. Once they connect with you, that’s your cue that they have seen your profile and are ready to network with you.

On Twitter, you can send direct messages or tweets to your prospects to get their attention. Once you are connected and have built a rapport with your prospect, you can talk business, and take the conversation to email.

What worked –

  • With MailTrack, you can check if your prospect has seen your email or not. You can use the insights to time your follow up email and the message.
  • With “social follow-ups”, you must first ensure that your social profiles – LinkedIn and Twitter – are updated and reflect your authority. Once prospects see what you are like and accept your connection request willingly, that gives you the cue to talk business. You are no longer a stranger now.


Every day, people get tons of emails. Most of these are business promotions and pitches trying to get the prospects to spend their money on this or that product. While sales are the objective, we would rather suggest you try building a rapport with your customers first or provide helpful information. Such emails would be welcome by your prospects and that would also help you be GDPR-compliant.

About the Author: Vaibhav Kakkar heads Digital Web Solutions, a globally trusted agency with a full suite of digital marketing and development services. Vaibhav believes in building system over services and has helped scale agencies from scratch to niche-leaders with million dollar turnovers.