How to turn your cold outreach list toasty warm

How to Turn Your Cold Outreach List Toasty Warm
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Jack Bowerman
by Jack Bowerman

2 Min. Read

It’s quiz time. Question: what do cooking your dinner in the oven, running a marathon, and cold outreach all have in common? 


Answer: they’re all better if you warm up first. 

Here’s the thing. You could put your dinner into a cold oven, but it’s not going to taste very nice when you take it out. You could run a marathon without stretching, but you’ll be pretty sore at the end. And you could reach out to your leads when they’re icy cold, but you’re not going to have much success. 

None of the above sound that good? Simple: preheat your oven, do some mobility, and read this article. We’ll be running through why warming up your cold outreach list is a necessity when it comes to moving your leads through the sales funnel, and covering actionable techniques such as:

Do you want to be out in the cold for the rest of your life? No? Better get reading. 

Research and personalization

What would you rather receive? A message that you can tell has been copy-pasted straight from Chat GPT – or a message that referenced a clever post you wrote on LinkedIn, or offered a resource to help you with work?

No brainer, right? 74% of people hate being shown irrelevant content  – and we’re sure you don’t want to automatically discount three-quarters of the people you message. 

Personalized content is essential to warming up a cold outreach list. The best part? It doesn’t have to be difficult. Here’s how to find out what will make your leads tick.


Start with research 

Researching your leads can be on: 

LinkedIn: you can get the basics here – like their name, role, and how big the business is – as well as finer details like the type of content they engage with and what the best email to contact them on is.  

The company website: here, you can find out what your target business does really well, what they might need help with, and where your product might help. For example, if you’re offering SEO services, you may do a quick audit of the site to see how it’s currently stacking up. 

Industry publications: sales pros should be industry experts who can add value to their prospects’ working lives. Check out industry publications for information that’s going to make your outreach even more useful – if they feel like you’ve helped them, they’re more likely to want to help you back.


Craft personalized messages 

#We all know that you have minimal time – like, a couple of seconds at most – to grab your prospect’s attention. 

Start off with a brief introduction that messages something personal – whether it’s the clever post of theirs you liked on LinkedIn or the piece of content you think they’ll find helpful. 

Then move into how your business can help them. The more specific and relevant to the prospect’s role and their likely pain points, the better the job you’re doing. 

Let’s take a closer look at compelling messages.

Crafting compelling messages 

So, you want to write a message so dazzling your prospect will have no choice but to reply instantly? Keep reading: 

Effective email formulas 

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach here; you’ll have to play around and find out what works for you. These formats might be a good starting point: 


  • BAB (Before-After-Bridge): this formula starts by describing the prospect’s current situation (the Before), and then moves onto how this situation could be improved (the After). At this point, your prospect will be daydreaming about an easier, better life – and that’s where you jump in with the solution (the Bridge) which, shock, involves your product.  
  • PAS (Problem, Agitation, Solution): similar to BAB but slightly different. You want to jump in with a Problem, Agitate it to make it more critical, and then present a shiny Solution to relieve them. For example, you might describe the problem now, and then move onto the longer-term implications. Scary, then scarier – before you swoop in to resolve things with what you’re selling.


Whatever formula you land on, you’ll want to follow best practices: 


  • Length: repeat after us – short and to the point. Nobody wants your life story, no matter how warm they are. 4-5 sentences max. White space over paragraphs.
  • Topic: one per post. If you jump from problem to problem, benefit to benefit, your prospect’s not going to be impressed. They will, however, be confused.
  • Them, not you: this one’s simple. Make prospects feel special by keeping the bulk of the email about them; what their problems are and how they can be solved.
  • Don’t make it look like marketing: marketing messages can be personal, but they’re not personal enough for cold outreach. Avoid sending cold emails from email platforms that use HTML – it won’t look like you’ve written it yourself. 

Subject lines and openings 

Think of subject lines and openings like experiments, and you’ll be successful and have fun while writing them.


Things you want to avoid in your subject line: 

  • Overly salesy language
  • Words that put too much pressure on your recipients
  • Phrases that have nothing to do with what’s inside


Things you want to include in your subject line (not all at once, that would be a bit much): 

  • Teasers to pique their interest about what’s inside 
  • Exactly what value you’ll be adding (for example ‘One tip to improve [pain point]’) 
  • A question about how they do things today 
  • A statement about how they might be doing things wrong. Tip: don’t make this personal – don’t call them by their name or use ‘you’ here
  • Their first name – a really, really simple way to personalize 

Providing value 

We’ve touched on this briefly before, but for those of you not paying attention: if you help your prospects, they’ll be more inclined to help you. Wondering how much value you can provide in just one or two lines? Try: 

  • Industry reports: this could be something your marketing team’s created, or something shared in your favorite publication. Bonus points if it’s about what other people do: everyone likes snooping on their peers!
  • Relevant articles: if you find something you think will help them with their job, pass it on! This could be an industry update or a new way of thinking about a common problem, for example
  • Personalized business advice: for example, if you work for an SEO software company, you might give them a tip on where their own site falls short before offering a free audit
  • Event invitations: running a webinar or an industry breakfast they might be interested in? Share it! 
  • Engage on LinkedIn: got an opinion on the piece of content they just published? Comment and let them know! People post on LinkedIn to generate interest – respond, and you’ll be fulfilling this need 

As well as triggering a principle of reciprocity with your prospects, you’ll also be presenting yourself as an expert they can trust.

Multichannel outreach strategies 

Feeling warm yet? Great – things are about to get even hotter. 

If you’re reaching out to your prospects on just one channel, you’re missing out. It takes an average of eight touches to get a meeting with a prospect, and you’ll have far more success if you use multiple channels to hit this quota. 

Why? Well, sending eight emails in a row might seem a bit repetitive at best, and relentless at worst. And what if your prospect just doesn’t look at their emails that much? 

On the other hand, a LinkedIn connection request, followed by an email and a voicemail, followed by a DM, and so on, feels less overbearing – and you’re more likely to meet prospects where they’re at. 

Coordinating across channels 

The exact combination of channels and timeframes will be unique to your business, and what you find works best. 

Broadly speaking, you’ll probably be looking at some combination of calls, social media, emails, events and voicemail. 

As for timing? Double touch on the first day, and leave breathing space. You’re aiming for gentle reminders – the last thing you want is your prospect to feel claustrophobic. Not getting anywhere? Your prospect should eventually be transferred into a low-touch cadence. 

Building credibility and trust 

You’ve got the building blocks right – now it’s time to add in that sprinkle of credibility and trust to seal the deal. 

Use social proof to your advantage 

Once you know your prospect’s aware of who you are, follow up with some social proof. This could be a quote from a happy customer (bonus if it’s a well-known or super-relevant brand), a link to a case study about their exact problem, or a press mention or industry award. 

Content marketing and thought leadership

You should already be best friends with your marketing team – if not, now’s the time to start. They’re the best source of the type of content your prospects will find interesting: blog posts, industry reports or webinars, for example. 

These pieces can be a great conversation-opener and also position your business as a reputable player in the industry with something to say. 


Consistency and persistence 

We’ve touched on giving your prospects breathing space, and not jumping down their throat on day one of your outreach sequence. 

Getting this right is important – but just as important is not giving up. There’s no point in sweating over your outreach strategy and then being shy about getting in touch. 

No brainer, you might say – to which we say, 44% of sales reps give up after one follow-up. Don’t be one of those sales reps. Be one that’s brave enough to keep going until you have an answer (or until it really is time to push the prospect into nurture). 

A tip we really like here is to make sure your message has a CTA; something for your prospects to click on, or read. You’ve then got a reason to follow up ready and waiting. That’s if they don’t respond with how helpful they found your content, of course.  

Email list management and warm-up techniques 

Email’s one of the most important weapons you have – but like a sourdough starter, you’ve got to take care of it. 

Maintaining a clean email list 

There’s no point in crafting a killer email only to have it bounce or arrive in the inboxes of people who don’t care. 

Keep your email list clean by removing contacts that don’t engage or bounce. This should get easier over time – particularly if you’re using a data enrichment tool (ahem) to help you find your contact data in the first place. The best ones (no idea which ones we could be talking about) will find accurate data and automatically update your CRM when needed. No effort for you. 

Warming up new email accounts 

Have you got a new email address? You might be raring to go, but going in guns blazing and sending a million emails is a road to a negative sender reputation. 

Instead, gradually ramp up the emails you send and make sure they’re high-quality and well-received. This process should take between two to three months on average. You can use tools like Sender Score to help you keep track of the process. 

Metrics and continuous improvement 

Want to know the secret to getting really good at warming up your cold outreach list? 



Tracking and analyzing performance 

You need to keep track of everything to see how you’re performing, and what you could do better. 

For emails, for example, use open rates to improve your subject lines, and click-through rates to improve your content and what you share. Bounce rates might tell you you need to clean up your email list. 

For cold calling, you might track how often your prospect picks up against how often they do not – and use these data points to figure out the best time to reach them. 

Have a tracking process in place for every channel, and you’ll soon figure out what’s working and what your next steps should be. 

A/B testing and optimization 

The second piece of the metrics and continuous improvement puzzle is A/B testing. You could test two subject lines, for example, and see which one gets the most open rates. 

Or try a different pain point on LinkedIn DM, and see how many prospects respond to you for each. 

The more you’re able to test and experiment, the more you’ll learn about your prospects. And the more you learn, the more you’re able to appeal to them, shorten that sales cycle, and so on and so on.

Let’s wrap it up! 

Got to the end of this blog post? You should be feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Your dinner smells delicious and you know exactly what to do before your next workout. You’re crafting well-researched, well-written messages and sending them over the right channels and at the right times. You’ve got more interested prospects than you know what to do with. Life is good. 

Happy? We hope so. Can we have some of your dinner? 

Surfe is trusted

Ready to start warming up your cold outreach list?

Make sure you’ve got the right contact details first. We know a tool that can help – it’s called Surfe, and it’s about to make your life a LOT easier. Plus, it’s free!

FAQs about warming up your cold outreach list 

How to warm up email for cold outreach? 

To warm up a new email account for cold outreach, you need to protect your sender reputation. Do this by: 

  • Making sure your email list is clean from the very beginning 
  • Writing high-quality, relevant emails that feel personal to the recipient 
  • Gradually increasing the number of emails you send a day 
  • Using an email sender reputation tool to help you keep track of the process 

How do I warm up an email list?

Warm up an email list by using a multi-touch, multi-channel approach. Only email your prospects, and you’re missing out on the opportunity to meet prospects where they’re at. Use social media, phone calls and voicemails as well as email to increase the amount of touchpoints for your prospect, and spread things out to make sure you’re not overdoing it. 

How to improve cold outreach emails? 

The best way to improve your cold outreach emails is to focus on data. Look at the performance of your previous emails, and use these metrics to improve. For example, if you have low open rates try switching up your subject line. If you aren’t getting any click-throughs, then perhaps try a new piece of content or pain point to address. 

How long does it take to warm up an email address? 

It should take anywhere between two to three months to warm up an email address. Be patient, and you’ll be rewarded further down the line.