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Cold Email Case Study: How Cold Email Drove Dramatic Growth For These 8 Startups

Can you guess what keeps marketing executives around the world up at night? It’s the pressure they have on their marketing budget. According to a survey among CMOs, marketing budgets have climbed to 9.5% of total company revenue in 2022, a significant increase from 6.4% in 2021. Budget increases however don’t always translate to increased revenue that’s why it’s so crucial to focus on marketing activities that maximize your budget. There are many ways on how you can spend (or blow) your marketing budget but email marketing remains to be one of the most cost-effective and high-leverage marketing channels out there, with an astounding 3600% ROI or $36 for every dollar spent according to a survey among marketers.

Today, we’re going to take a look at how these 8 B2B cold email case studies have helped unlock massive growth for startups.

Let’s dive right in. 💦

1. A Single Cold Email Was All It Took To Get Mark Cuban To Sign A Deal Worth $500,000 🎯

First on our list is the story of Dhruv Ghulati, the founder of Factmata. Ghulati had a big problem to solve, rampant fake news, and hate speech has been plaguing the internet causing around $78 million worth of damages per year, according to their estimates. He knew he needed funding, not just from anybody, but from billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban. He then set out to write the perfect cold email to see his need through.

On his first try, he immediately nailed the pitch within a day of sending the email. To his amazement, Cuban responded favorably by asking him to send over more information.

Cold Email Template

Here’s the exact cold email text Ghulati used.

Cold Email Strategy

Mark Cuban receives around 750 to 1,000 emails every day. So what made this cold email so effective?

  • No nonsense pleasantries and straightforward.

  • He presented a pressing problem and provided a clear value proposition.

  • The message catches the attention of its reader because of how personal it was - Ghulati mentioned in the email that Mark Cuban had been vocal about the topic.

Cold Email Results:

About 9 months later, his powerful email message successfully led to a $500,000 investment from the billionaire himself. That’s just one email though, imagine how much more can a perfectly written, and targeted cold email achieve when done scalably over thousands of leads. 🤯 Related: Wondering how to stand out the way Ghulati did with Mark Cuban? Check out our killer guide on this topic.

2. How This Struggling Startup Leveraged Cold Email To Scale From 1.5k to 100k MRR in 12 Months 🚀

Nathan Barry of ConvertKit tried everything from content marketing to webinars to partnerships but nothing seemed to make his startup grow past $1500 MRR. He then realized that these marketing strategies weren’t paying off. He ditched the inbound approach and pivoted to an outbound marketing strategy in the form of cold email marketing.

Cold Email Template:

Here’s the exact email he used.

Cold Email Strategy

He was targeting his competitor’s existing client base, it’s no easy feat to grab the attention of your competitor’s clients. Here’s how this cold email template won them over.

  • His email focused on his reader’s frustrations and not on the “pitch”.

  • He made the email personal by mentioning respected bloggers that were in the same space as the readers.

  • The email ditched the fluff, by being short and punchy. Exactly how a good cold email ought to be.

Cold Email Results:

Scaled his startup from a plateau of 1.5k to 100k MRR in 12 months with minimal ad spend.

Related: Cold email has gotten a bad rap because of bad cold email practices. Check out our guide on cold emailing tips to get you on the right track.

3. The Cold Email That Started A $100 Million Empire 💸

You probably wouldn’t believe it if we said that a humble email helped put Jason Cohen of WP Engine on the path to a $100 million empire. But that’s exactly what happened. Cohen had a brilliant idea but needed to reach a very specific audience, in this case, he was targeting WordPress consultants. Through research, he used their pain points to address a need, and so he wrote a winning cold email that would later set the stage for his eventual success.

Cold Email Template:

Here’s the cold email template he used.

Cold Email Strategy:

The email was extremely successful, he achieved a stellar 100% response rate. Let’s break down how irresistibly good this email was.

  • Because he only had a few minutes to make a good impression, he opened with a no-frills intro. Cold emails are like elevator pitches, don’t waste time by beating around the bush.

  • The email is brilliant because notice how he doesn’t reach directly into the prospect’s pockets by jumping straight into the pitch.

  • He personalized the email by mentioning how he understood, valued, and respected how busy WordPress consultants are.

Cold Email Results:

Today, WP Engine is a well-loved, and thriving business with more than 500+ employees earning about 100 million dollars per year. And all of this began with a humble cold email campaign.

4. “The Greatest Cold Email Ever” Helped This Startup Stand Out From Its Competitors 🏆

Neil Cocker of Ramp T-Shirts produces personalized t-shirts. While the startup doesn’t sound as cool as anything with “AI” in it, nor is it groundbreaking, it’s really their cold email strategy that helped them stand out from a mundane and saturated industry. Neil Cocker could probably go down in email history as the writer of one of the “greatest cold emails ever”.

Back in 2017, Cocker had a clever idea that would make his company stand out from the competition. The plan was to send cold emails that included photos that had a mock-up of what the company t-shirt would look like if Ramp T-Shirts had printed it out. They did this for over 50,000 companies.

Cold Email Template:

Here it is below, photos grabbed from the original post made by Cocker on Medium.

Cold Email Strategy

It’s not too hard to see how extremely well-made this email template is. Here’s why we think this email is a cold email masterclass.

  • Their email begins with the subject “I’m wearing a {company name} t-shirt!”. This is what we call a “pattern interrupt”. It's essentially an eye-catching sentence that compels them to literally stop scrolling. The subject was effective and intriguing that they got a consistent 50% open rate from it. By using a clever subject line, they perfected the first cardinal rule of writing effective cold emails, making sure leads open your email. No matter how excellent and persuasive your copy is, if your recipients never make it inside the email itself, then everything else wouldn’t matter.

  • The icebreaker was simply immaculate, by beginning with “nobody likes cold emails, do they?” it immediately lowers the reader’s guard by coming off as charming, informed, and not “salesy”.

  • It’s the photo that truly takes the cake. Who wouldn't keep reading if you saw your own company’s logo printed on a t-shirt worn by someone who isn't your employee, right? The photo is witty, charming, and downright effective. The personalized photo was so effective at grabbing the reader’s attention that it keeps them engaged for the rest of the email.

  • Always seek to back up your claims. In this case, a screengrab showing a testimonial establishes credibility and trust. Social proof makes their pitch sound more persuasive.

  • As in all B2B cold email case studies, personalization consistently ranks as the top differentiator if you want to stand out from the hundreds or thousands of cold emails your readers get.

Cold Email Results:

According to them, their cold email campaign was such a success that they would often receive responses along the lines of “best cold email ever!”. The campaign resulted in an impressive 25% click through rate, and although they didn’t reveal how much revenue it generated, they did say “let’s just say — Tens of thousands of pounds, dollars and euros! 😉”

Like Ramp T-Shirts, we’re firm believers in the power of an effective icebreaker, in fact, it's a standard feature of The Scale Lab’s cold email strategy; we carefully research prospects in order to craft bespoke icebreakers that “hook” them in, and keeps them interested throughout the email.

5. How Cold Emails Drove $20 Million In Sales For This Marketing Agency 💡

From a humble apartment office 15 years ago to having about 250 employees, Gabriel Shaoolian of Blue Fountain Media has truly come a long way. Before his success, Gabriel tried to increase his company’s revenue through a variety of sales and marketing tactics but the one strategy that has really worked for them, and helped change their fortunes was cold emailing. The move proved to be extremely profitable, in fact, they were able to amass $20 million in revenue directly attributable to their cold email campaigns.

Cold Email Template:

Blue Fountain Media certainly kills the cold email game, and in his blog post, Gabriel gave an example of what a great cold email would look like. Here’s his template.

Cold Email Strategy:

We’re pretty sure that Blue Fountain Media uses a more custom template depending on the prospect but this general template gives us an idea of how they do it. Here’s why it works.

  • By beginning with a strong icebreaker, the email sets itself apart from all the other generic emails by mentioning something specific and relevant to the prospect.

  • The second paragraph establishes credibility and expertise by mentioning how they’ve had “similar” success with other related companies. The phrase “help boost our clients’ results” piques the reader’s interest. Of course, who wouldn’t want to be more successful at what they do?

  • In a cold email avoid friction words that make you sound like a salesman, even though you are trying to sell something. The clever use of the word ‘share’ in the sentence “I’d love to share these successes with you…” comes off as friendlier, and not “salesy”. It certainly sounds way better than the word “present”, apart from your boss, almost no one would want to hear your “presentation”.

Cold Email Results:

Drove over $20 million in agency revenue directly attributable to their cold email campaigns.

6. This SaaS Company Got 60,000 New Signups Thanks To Cold Emails ✍️

It’s a well-known fact that the cost of acquiring a new customer is significantly higher compared to retaining existing ones. Signups are the lifeblood of any SaaS company, and when growth marketer Dunja Lazić of Toggl wanted to expand their user base, she turned to cold emails to get the job done.

The strategy was to send a cold email to convince companies like Zapier, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Capterra, and ProductHunt in an attempt to feature their product through traffic referral deals, and PR partnerships. Take note that these companies receive hundreds of pitches from SaaS companies every day, so her emails had to stand out from the crowd.

Cold Email Template:

In her Medium post, Dunja shared tips on how she successfully crafted her cold emails that eventually led to 60,000 new signups during the campaign.

Cold Email Strategy:

Here are our favorite takeaways.

  • Strike a conversation with your prospects. In a cold email, the last thing you want is for the prospect to feel like you’re pitching them something. Dunja made sure her emails were very engaging, and conversational as compared to salesy.

  • Always think about what’s in it for them. Resist the temptation to make the email all about what you can offer because that’s the fastest way for your prospect to hit the delete button - or worst, the dreaded mark-as-spam button. Focus on providing value, and clearly state what is the benefit for them.

  • Find something in common. Think about the last time you met someone new, chances are you were trying to find something in common. Having something in common acts as a great conversation starter. Mentioning things in common in your icebreaker will help increase your chances of getting a response.

Cold Email Results:

Drove 60,000 new sign ups for their SaaS startup.

Related: Wondering how you can generate 60,000 leads for your company? Check out how we create thousands of warm leads at The Scale Lab.

7. This Agency Consultant Swears By Cold Emails, In Fact He’s Made Over $1 Million Worth Of Contracts Through It 🙌

To say that Ty Frankel of Agency Empire swears by the power of cold email is an understatement. The 24-year old former music producer and 7-figure agency owner’s portfolio has been built on cold emails.

His cold emails helped him land hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of contracts with industry giants like Mercedes-Benz, Red Bull, Sony, Warner, and The Super Bowl to name a few.

Cold Email Strategy:

Here’s his advice on nailing the cold email game.

  • Create systems, and automate everything. Ty is a firm believer in having systems in place that run like clockwork. Email marketing worked well for him because it is scalable, and he had a framework that enabled him to scale up without affecting the performance of his agency. Email marketing tools like Lemlist have automation built-in for this purpose.

  • The money is in the follow-up. Cold email campaigns are Ty’s bread and butter, but his first cold email doesn’t always get him a reply. His email campaigns would contain anywhere from 4-7 follow-up sequences. As an example, it’s not uncommon for him to sign a big-ticket contract eventually after 6 follow-ups.

  • Continuous improvement is key in email marketing. Once you’ve run your first few campaigns, study what worked and what didn’t, then double down on the wins. Cold emails have a lot of moving parts, from your list of leads to the email itself. Even the world’s greatest cold email won’t help you one bit if you get your prospecting off. Try to A/B test subject lines, different email body templates, and icebreakers to see what works well. A campaign with bad results shouldn’t be viewed as a failure, but rather as an opportunity - take it as feedback.

Cold Email Results:

Drove over $1 million worth of contracts for his agency.

8. How A Cold Email Led To This Startup’s 2.5 Million Seed Round 🌱

Allie Janouch of Mapistry certainly knows that there is wisdom behind failures. Her first attempt at cold emailing a VC did not turn out as she had expected, so instead of giving up, she did her homework, and went back to the drawing board. She studied what went wrong with her first email, and went on to revise the cold email template.

Thankfully, she got it right this time around. The cold email was noticed and went on to eventually secure seed funding to get her company on the path to growth.

Cold Email Template 1:

Let’s take a look at her first attempt, all photos were taken from the original post on Medium.

Cold Email Mistakes:

So what went wrong here?

  • Vague value proposition. She casually mentions Mapistry but failed to put her company in the best light possible.

  • Weak CTA

  • Overall tone lacks self-confidence

This is a primary example of why most people think that cold emails don’t work. Many cold emails don’t work because of how poorly written they are. In this case, although it was personalized, and her icebreaker was great, everything else went downhill after it.

Cold Email Template 2:

Now let’s take a look at her second attempt.

Cold Email Strategy:

Let’s break down what makes this email effective.

  • No frills intro, she immediately engages the reader by pointing out the problem. Take note, this was a VC pitch, so she had to hit hard in the first few lines to keep the reader engaged.

  • She establishes credibility by showing impressive facts about her company.

  • The email was very personalized. Allie went the extra mile by researching about the investor, Jason Lemkin, and going through some of his posts to find a relevant piece of information she could leverage. Notice how she mentioned the name “Peter” in the last paragraph, she was referencing an interview that Jason had done with Peter before.

  • This time her CTA was solid. Instead of assuming he had time for this, she used a low friction question by saying “do you have any time the week after next?”

Cold Email Results:

Generated their first $2.5 million seed round

Final Thoughts 🧠

Cold emails are wise and cost-effective investments that generate an unprecedented amount of ROI when done well, and these 8 B2B cold email case studies are proof that cold emails deliver results. The crux of the matter is are you doing it right? Setting up an effective B2B cold email system is not just hard work, there’s also no guarantee of working at the onset if you don’t know what you’re doing. We’ve helped B2B companies meet their sales quotas by taking the guesswork out of lead generation by doing the heavy lifting for our clients. We take care of the tedious prospecting and outreach, so that you can focus on closing more deals. Want to learn how we can consistently fill your sales pipeline with sales qualified leads? Come and say hello or drop us a line at Over to you. 😇

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