The Secret To Cold Emails: Offer Value

By James LePage
 on January 6, 2021
Last modified on January 7th, 2022

The Secret To Cold Emails: Offer Value

By James LePage
 on January 6, 2021
Last modified on January 7th, 2022

So, you’re a digital agency desperately searching for new clients. You’ve tried everything from paid ads to cold email, and nothing works. What do you do now?

This article is a part of the BizOfAgency Series, a collection of articles and resources by the Isotropic Agency discussing the business aspect of web design.

Previously published on Entre.Agency, which has been merged with the Isotropic Blog to make BizOfAgency.

Despite what many claim, cold emails are still one of the best ways to reach decision makers, specifically in the digital services industry. With that being said, many people know this, and because of that, businesses are barraged with dozens of cold emails per day.

I run a digital agency that builds websites, and I’m still being blasted with at least five web design proposals per day.

The competition is stiff, but if you can figure out how to stand out, you will definitely get emails back. With sales prospecting, especially in the digital agency world, you must understand that it is a numbers game. Constantly improving your pitch, and sending it consistently to businesses that you know actually need your services will always result in a good outcome.

Many people get unmotivated after sending 100 emails and getting no response. What do you need to understand is that you need to send 1000 emails, and even with that time investment, if you get one response which leads to a new client, you’ll have made your money back (time=money) and more.

Think of cold email prospecting as an investment in your digital agency. Becuase it is.

Over the years of prosepecting for my agency, I have refined and experimented with cold emailing. This includes testing out different subject lines, email links, tones, and more. In some emails I was brutally honest, and others, they only consisted of 3 to 5 words.

That's the name of the game – cosisitant improvement based on data like conversion and open rates.

I obviously have not found the perfect combination, because there is none. Each client and industry is different, and your cold emails will vary based on the product that you have to sell. Search engine optimization and website design fall under the same umbrella, but your marketing to completely different needs and desires. Search engine optimization is focused on return on investment, where is web design can be focused on that, but also credibility building, digital presence in general, and more...

Whatever you're selling and however you spin it, there IS something that is bound to increase your response rate. This is on top of the tried and true techniques of consistent follow up, solid subject lines, and a spotless email reputation.

The name of the game with it comes to cold emails trying to sell a service (web deisgn, seo, copywriting... you name it), is value. if you’re lucky enough to get your recipient to open the email, you sure as hell better be providing them value, or else you’re ending up directly in the trash bin (or worse, getting reported for SPAM).

This is how you stand out from other cold emails. Display that you understand their business, have spent more than three seconds in creating the cold email, have identified several pain points, AND THEN OFFER SOMETHING THAT HELPS THEM FIX IT.

By offering initial value, you not only stand out from other canned emails and auto responders, but you actually help the real live human being on the other end. If you can help them with that one thing that you’ve identified, then chances are they’ll be more receptive to purchasing your service.

Here's an example of offering value in an email. Use a SEO tool (SEMRush) to idnetify broken links on a prospects website. Let your prospect know that these broken links on their website are a hindrance to their SEO, and could be resolved pretty easily. Attach a full SEO audit to your email, which offers even more value.

Then, when the contact responds, sell them your service, which includes fixing those broken links. Obviously, not everybody is going to bite, but if you can provide them value, identify pain points, and let them know how your service will fix them and make them more money in the long run, chances are they’ll end up working with you.

Vslue is a sure fire way to get somebody to respond to your cold emails. In my experience, this type of value comes in the form of understanding the business, meaning that you need to spend a bit of time doing some research about what they do and their customers, and including something that the prospect can't easily get.

A SEO Audit report from a paid service is perfect. Another value device that I've used in the past (I sell custom websites) is a 3 minute website video audit. Here's how that value device works.

In my initial cold emails, I tell the prospect that I have identified a couple of issues that they could focus on regarding their website, and then link to a three minute video on it which is privately accessible on YouTube.

That video audit is a screen recording with me running through the website, and identifying areas that could be improved upon. This works for me and my future clients in a few ways.

It personalizes the pitch, as there is a humans voice on the end of the video. It offers value to the website owner, as I’m identifying actual areas that could be improved, and letting them know how this could help them get more sales/revenue. It’s also essentially an elevator pitch, as I wrap up the video all it’s saying that my agency has fixed this before for other clients.

Also, by privately hosting the video on YouTube, I can access the analytics, and see how many times the prospect has viewed the video audit, and how long they have watched it for.

Because I’m actually investing time into creating the video, it shows my potential client that I actually value their business and want to work with them.

I’m not just sending out 400,000 canned emails to a list that I bought online, I’m identifying an individual company, and offering my services to them. This is how every cold email should go, offer value in exchange for a response and future business.

The final benefit that you get when you offer value to a prospect through a cold email is the fact that you can "hold this over them" during your follow up process. If the prospect opens the email and doesn’t respond, you can follow up by saying "I spent some time creating this report for you, I would appreciate if you look at it". The client will be more obliged to do so, especially if they see that this really does offer them something that they didn’t have before.

Even better, if you incorporate follow up phone calls, which you should, and actually get to the person you want to speak with, you can say that you spent some time creating a video audit it, or an SEO report, or anything else of value, and would appreciate if they reviewed it and got back to you via email. People get impressed!

Cold emails need to offer value. That's the secret sauce. Nowadays, everybody is personalizing their content. that doesn’t make you stand out anymore. Everybody is following up five times throughout the month, so that doesn’t make you stand out anymore.

The only thing that will make you stand out is a small time investment in to value creation for your target business. This means that you’ll send out less cold emails, but they’ll have a higher conversion rate, which is worth it in my opinion.

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Article By
James LePage
James LePage is the founder of Isotropic, a WordPress education company and digital agency. He is also the founder of, a venture backed startup bringing AI to WordPress creators.
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