Cold Emailing vs Cold Calling: The New Great Debate

“Hello. It’s 2000 calling. We want our cold call outbound marketing strategy back.”

In all seriousness, are cold calls still a thing? After all, what businessperson even answers his or her phone anymore? 

I can see where a cold call might still have a place in an outbound marketing program. But the challenges to this old-school form of outbound are intense. In fact, cold calls are so 20 years ago that there isn’t even any updated research on them. 

While you may still think you have a chance with a cold call marketing campaign, the reality is that it will be difficult and maybe even impossible.

Let’s look at the three main challenges of cold calling today and where it might — in specialized circumstances — have a place in your outbound marketing campaigns — with caveats!

3 Leading Outbound Cold Calling Challenges

No one answers the phone anymore.

As mentioned above, this is the leading problem with cold calling now. As caller ID and smartphones replaced the phone systems of the past, people can see who’s calling them. Nine times out of ten, they won’t answer a number they don’t recognize, because they’ll assume it’s spam.

How do you even find cell phone numbers?

In the old days, it was easy to find a company’s phone number. You just looked it up in the Yellow Pages or online. When you called, you either got a receptionist who would direct your call to the person you wanted to reach or you’d have to navigate an automated telephone answering system, punching the right numbers until you reached your target. 

But these days, everyone has their own smartphones — and those numbers are nearly impossible to find unless the person gives it to you. What’s more, new privacy laws have increased the difficulty of finding people’s phone numbers. 

Cold calls can ruin your reputation.

Let’s say you successfully leaped the first two cold calling hurdles. You actually have the cellphone number of the person you want to reach; you call and they answer. Now what?

You had better have an excellent pitch that the person really wants to hear, or they can become irritable quickly at the interruption. They may even ask, “How did you get my number?” If they are really frustrated, they might say something like, “Take my phone number off of your call list and never call me again!” 

Is that really the experience you want to have with someone with whom you want to do business? Even one negative exchange could create a lasting negative impression. 

How to Cold Call Today -- If You Must

There may be times when, despite the challenges, you think cold calling is an important feature of your outbound marketing campaign. Two reasons come to mind: to conduct research and to support an outbound marketing campaign. 

But be forewarned, these services are not cheap, and they could be borderline illegal. Regarding the potential high cost, it can be expensive to hire people to spend the time conducting call calls today. Regarding legality issues, many dubious phone service operations have found ways to either call randomly generated telephone numbers or to access a database of phone numbers that were illegally gathered from third-parties. 

Here are two options available today for both tactics.

For Research

If you want to cold call companies to conduct market research, there are companies you can hire to do it for you. Even if they get a low response, at least you don’t have the headache of making the calls yourself. And you may even get something worthwhile out of the effort, for example, insight to better understand your target customers.

For Outreach

If you really want to reach certain businesspeople by phone call, there is software you can buy that automates the whole process, including leaving an automated voicemail message. The problem with this approach is two-fold. For one thing, it’s also expensive, so you will need to factor in the cost and work it into your marketing budget. 

Secondly, you cannot dictate who exactly will be calling your potential customers. This means, for example, the service may employ people from different countries who have accents that are difficult to understand. That alone will create a bad first impression. You may do your business more harm than good if the recipients of your voicemails do not understand the accent of the person leaving the message.

3 Reasons Why Cold Emailing is More Powerful

In the face of a mountain of problems with outbound cold calling today, we contend that cold emailing is by far the  better, more successful option. Here are three key reasons why.

Cold emails are less intrusive.

Everyone gets emails all day long. The difference is that they have a choice in when they open and read them. This makes emails far less interruptive in the life of a busy business owner. They can read their emails when they have time. As a result, your chances of them opening your cold email at some point are better than the chances of them answering your cold phone call. 

People will open the email if your subject line speaks to them.

Your cold email recipients don’t even have to open your email to get a piece of your message — if you write compelling subject lines. In fact, a well-written subject line is one of the best ways to ensure your emails are viewed as valuable versus being viewed as spam. 

To give you an idea of what we are talking about, here are a few of our best subject lines for our clients all producing 30 - 50%+ open rate on a regular basis - notice how personalization plays a part in all these subject lines:

  • - Personal Introduction (31%)
  • - Reconnecting (52%)
  • - Wanted to reach out (53.82%)

If you’re curious to learn even more about writing powerful email subject lines, check out our post on achieving better cold open rates.

If people click on your email, they may keep reading.

If your subject line has caught their attention, and people click open your email, you have a chance to deliver your full message, but only if it is also well written. This means speaking directly to their pain points right off the bat. Then, continue your email message with the kinds of details, facts and stats that will keep them engaged.

So, have we convinced you yet on the great cold call versus cold email debate? We’d love to have a chance to show you the difference by launching your next (or first!) cold email marketing blast.

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