[METHOD] How to sell your SEO service to SMBs through cold emails (by BloodyNinja)

BloodyNinja

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I've got a private message from a respected BHW member asking to review his e-mail sequence. This member is trying to sell SEO services to small and medium businesses (SMBs). What I am going to teach you here below can and should be applied to any industry, be it web design, web development or maybe an offline thing like book printing.

Why should you listen to me?

Because I have 7 years of experience in international B2B sales, mostly conducted through e-mail. For a number of companies, I engineered sales processes that started from the first exposure of the brand to potential customers and ended with "bribing" existing customers with gifts to support the relationships. Setting up sales in multiple industries from ground zero gave me a unique experience and an unfair advantage over "regular salesmen". Continue reading to learn everything I know about cold e-mail outreach in less than 10 minutes of your time.

The case

I mentioned before that I received a full e-mail sequence utilized by a respected BHW member to sell SEO services. Although I am not going to reveal the text of e-mails, I will describe you the sequence and the general idea behind it.

The very first e-mail had a generic headline, which included customer's website address. I think this was made due to automation requirement. The member mentioned that he was sending these e-mails through a contact form on a potential customer's website. I assume he was using software like PaighamBot (this is not an endorsement and I don't recommend that software).

His reply rate for this e-mail was around 0,5%, so 5 replies out of 1000 e-mails sent.

Two most common replies were clients asking either for more details or the price. In the first case, he would provide prices for two service plans. In the second case, he would provide more details about services being offered while being supportive and offering also to perform a background check on his company by visiting his website (it was worded differently, of course).

To the date, his approach hasn't resulted in any completed sales.


The analysis

So, what do you think, guys? Was the e-mail sequence described above effective? What do you think I think about it?

I think it's irrelevant. The whole outreach and sales process, in this case, is royally flawed. There's no point in discussing e-mail copy, neither e-mail sequence, until the business process behind it is set right.

What's wrong with it may you ask, everyone does that!

And you are absolutely right! That's why everyone is poor and struggling to pull their businesses out of economic doom and gloom. 99% of SEO businesses are doing this. This is why I as a business owner press "delete" or "spam" button every-fucking-time I receive an e-mail like this. You may send those e-mails manually, it doesn't change a thing as long as they look generic and convey the same meta-message: "PLEASE BUY FROM ME! PLEEAAAAAASSEEEE!!!!!"

The core problem

The first thing you should remember, professionals never beg. NEVER EVER. Don't ever send any e-mails that have a meta-message "please buy from me". You only should ask for a sale when you think the client is ready to buy. You will make many mistakes but over time you will become better at guessing the right moment. Until then, just avoid begging.

Begging is asking a client to do something that requires a significant effort before he
a) either has got enough value from you to justify the asked action
b) or trusts you enough to believe he will receive enough value with 100% certainty after he took action

Sale = Trust + Authority

Remember this formula because you will need it later.

When a client trusts you and your authority is high, a sale just happens. You don't need to beg for it and oftentimes the client is the one who is asking you to sell him your stuff. Welcome to the world of the flipped script!

What would a professional sales engineer do

In this part, I am going to reveal you the exact steps how I would improve the outreach and sales process if I was selling SEO services through cold-emailing. Keep in mind, we are not discussing the effectiveness of this channel in comparison with other marketing channels. I take it as a given variable and show you how to max out the result it can produce.

Warning, this process will require TONS of work but it has the potential to produce amazing results:

1. Stop sending spam through contact forms.

Such letters just go to trash or spam in most cases. Getting 0,5% response rate as in the case described above won't lead you anywhere even if your process is fully automated. The best salesman in the world will convert 5% of those leads, which yields 0,025% conversion rate from prospect to customer. This is 1 customer from 4000 e-mails. And if you are not the best salesman in the world, the number will be significantly lower. Don't fight against mathematics, use it to boost your sales instead.

What you should do is start using a lead nurturing software with e-mail automation. An example of such software would be LEADMASTER or ACT-ON but you can find many other solutions out there.

In this software, you need to create a follow-up e-mail sequence based on rules. Here's an example:

a) you sent a letter, 2 days no answer -> folllow-up template 1
b) no answer for 24 more hours -> follow-up nr 2, the customer moved into the category "follow-up after 1 month"
c) If there was an answer, categorize the answer
d) answer category "contact me later" -> schedule a future e-mail

and so on... there could be tens or even hundreds of different rules, which you will create over time based on your first-hand experience. This is how professional outreach and lead generation is performed in a time-effective manner.

2. Are you a giver or a receiver?

In the previous paragraph, we discussed the technical side of the lead generation process. It's important but even more important is the content of your communication.

The rule: in every e-mail you must be providing value of some sort.

Feel like your e-mail might be leeching client's time or attention? Don't send it. Rework it to provide enough value to justify reading and answering it.

Here's an example based on the previously discussed case. You can adopt it for any industry:

E-mail 1:

RE: page about oil drilling platforms on your website

Hello Bill,

I know you’re very busy, but browsing your website I've got a vision how I could bring you more clients from the internet because this is something I already did before for a company like yours.

If 15 minutes of your time isn’t too much to ask, then maybe we could jump on a quick Skype call to discuss this?

Thanks for consideration,

John

skype id "john.doe"
phone...
email ...
company ...

I see you jumping out of your chair asking "THAT's IT?" Yes, guys, that is it. Don't treat the first e-mail as a major thing. It's only a tiny cog in the grand scheme of things. It means no more than a first thing you say to pick up a girl. If it's awful, you will repel a client. Otherwise, almost everything is good enough. Remember, all businesses want to grow. All businesses buy things. They just don't want to buy things from dorks. Don't be one.


E-mail 2:

I will skip the part where you are not getting a response. In this case, proceed with a follow-up sequence. You can find follow-up examples from the resource I will link to in the last part of this method.

Let's say, you've established a contact either through e-mail, phone or instant messaging software.

Guess what's your next step? Make an offer? HELL NO! Forget about the price. Starting any negotiation from telling your price is a sure way to lose.

Your strategy: offering value.

Example:

Hi Bill,

Thanks for getting back to me! I know you are a professional and I won't waste your time.

I want to offer you a free audit of your website. If you have someone doing internet marketing for you, this will allow you to control their work. If you don't, you might discover new opportunities to bring more business to your company. Win-win either way.

Anyway, the audit is provided for free as per our company rules. If you don't like it, I will send you a starbucks coupon for a big cappuccino as my apology for taking your time :)

Let me know if this works for you.


Warmest regards,

John


Whoaaa??? A free coffee?

Yes, guys, a free coffee that will make you a ton of cash. This little humorous part will make you stand out from 99,9% salesman, make your potential client laugh and relax. And the best part, almost never you will actually have to send the damn coupon.

E-mail 3:

Once again, it's not guaranteed you will get a response to your offer immediately. People are busy and most of the time you will have to persist. Persistence is what distinguishes a professional from a rookie. But remember to always provide value in every e-mail you send. Otherwise, your persistence will be perceived as annoyance. Providing value could be as simple as making a joke in the follow-up e-mail. Jokes like my coffee example set the right communication frame from the very beginning, which later allows you to build more new jokes around that.

When your client has accepted the free analysis offer, perform the analysis and send results along with the following e-mail. It's even better if you can communicate the same through a phone call.

Hi Bill,

we have finished analyzing your website, please find the results attached to this e-mail.

Judging by my vast experience, I see here a great potential to achieve X if we start doing Y. I don't want to be pushy but I really believe we could achieve impressive results together. This is why I decided to take a step aside from my regular sales routine and offer you to perform Z task for free. You may view it as a demo-version of my work but I assure you it won't come with any obligation on your part and it will only require a minimal time investment from you.

Sounds fair enough?

John.

Free service? Once again? NOOOOOO!!!!!!

Did I guess your thoughts right? :)

Let me explain this part. It doesn't matter much what you will do for him. It could be as simple as installing google analytics on his website, fixing H1 tags and so on. Don't be greedy at this point as you are investing in multiple things at once. First, you are building a long-time relationship. And when I say long, I mean years or decades. Second, you are earning referrals from this client before you even provided him any significant amount of service. How cool is that?

If the client answered "yes"

If the client answered "yes", he is basically in your pocket. There's a 90% chance of converting him into a paying customer. Now you need to show your skills. But what is even more important than doing work is how you will present your work. At this point you have trust but you still need to earn authority. Authority is mostly earned through explaining the client what are you doing and demonstrating him how are you doing it. I don't mean demonstrating technical details. I mean how are you communicating; are you always available to him; how do you handle problems and so on. This is your time to show the best version of you. If you succeed with that, the client will forgive you many pitfalls for years to come. Make a good first impression while you can.

After you finish demonstrating your skills, it's time for the price talk. My advice: until you have lots of experience and can estimate the exact price a client is willing to pay, don't play the edging game. Don't try to estimate the highest possible price. Likewise, you must never sell yourself short. What you have to do is to offer a small volume of your service for a relatively high price.

I don't know what's the average price in your area. Let's say, providing SEO services costs $100 / hour and the usual package is 30 hours. In this case, offer 5 hours for $200. The lesser amount you can offer and the higher unit price you can offer, the easier it will be to max out your profit in future. Keep in mind that at this point your high unit price is already justified. You are already better than 99,9% salesmen that your buyer was talking to before. But the client may still get a "high entry price" objection.

There's a concept called "tripwire sale" or "tripwire marketing". In short, it boils down to the idea that it's easier to sell something expensive to a person, who has previously bought anything from you. But according to my experience, it's quite hard to increase the unit price over time in b2b sales. This is why I suggest starting from a cheap offer but high unit price. Frame it as "let's try working together and see if we match" (this also puts you in a buyer's frame, which means not only a client chooses you but also you choose a client)

If the client answered "no"


If the client answered "no", this is not the end of all. Treat his answer as "not yet". Imagine a little virgin girl, who is afraid of possible consequences of saying yes to you. Clients don't say no because they don't need your service. They say "no" because they don't trust you. Think about your communication, find a mistake that led to a diminished trust, then fix it.

3. The last bits


I haven't got much time to get in all details, hence I will provide a few tips and link to a blog, where you can continue learning.

a) E-mail title - make it personal. Never put an e-mail address or a website address in the title. A good title would be "RE: page about oil drilling platforms on your website"

b) Try avoiding sending letters to generic e-mails like [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] and so on. You will run into gatekeepers and they won't let your message forward. There are many tools for e-mail discovery. Just an example - https://etools.io/ , you can google up much more. Oftentimes SMB owners use their primary e-mails for domain registration, that might be your goldmine.

c) Always try being a bit funny but not a clown. This will make you stand out from the crowd and relax the client.

d) Persistence, persistence, persistence. If you don't persist, you are basically fucked. The only place where sales happen and you don't have to persist is McDonalds.

e) If you are not sure, whether your e-mail is good or not, send it to a friend, who owns a business. In most cases, he will be able to give you a proper feedback. Spammy e-mails give an unpleasant vibe to 90% of people.

f) Don't just copy my e-mail templates. Remember, that I just pulled them out of my ass based on my experience and character. Not every person has the same vibe. Rewrite them to match your vibe, your humor, and your character. This will ensure your template will work in the best way possible.


4. Further reading

Putting out every single detail of my knowledge in this area would require me writing a book. And I have neither wish nor motivation to do so. But I still have something for you. This is a blog of a company, whose whole business is lead generation for other companies: http://righthello.com/blog/

While I have no affiliation of any kind with them and I don't even know those guys, I can vouch for their content. I agree with most things they write on the blog and can assure you that you can rely on the advice provided there. Read it and improve your cold communication.
 
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Jeffersontalks

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Thanks for the detail write up OP. My question here is how do we generate the lead to even send out the first email in the first place?
 

b1step-ahead

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This is solid gold. This post ranks up there with Tactikals and the holy grail the 7878 method. I can say this stuff works and after 6 years of grinding away I defiantly pulled some gold out of this.
 

b1step-ahead

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Hey quick question - How do you feel about using linkedin for the first contact? It's worked well for me.
 

BloodyNinja

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Hey quick question - How do you feel about using linkedin for the first contact? It's worked well for me.

If you succeed in making a connection on Linkedin, send the letter there. I've got much better success rates on LinkedIn with cold communication. An executive might get ~200 emails a day while only 5-10 messages a day on Linkedin and sometimes even less
 

Dopp

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Mate - thank you for posting this. Cold emailing and cold calling are the toughest tasks for non-sales guys. Your methods will help people get started.

Thanks!
 

patriotnews

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So I am working up my process for selling a consulting service, where I have to come to their business and audit them for government regulations.

My thought was to provide my first email with primarily a link to a guest post on an authority site about concerns the business owner should be concerned with. Example: post on Huffpo about ADA compliance costing SMBs millions annually. The guest post would link back to my site in the author credit.

If they respond I was going to offer a personalized response, along with a link to my site, where I have a resource list of many of the things they would have to know about to do the audit themself. Sort of showing my value.

I was going to respond back finally with another link in my personalized message, a guest blog on an authority site about how consultants are completely tax deductable, along with my pricing, and being aggressive (a tiny bit) about scheduling a meeting.

Sound viable? I figured giving them value in every message, would help foster the relationship.


I haven't put thought into the "haven't responded", but will start brainstorming over that.
 

BloodyNinja

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So I am working up my process for selling a consulting service, where I have to come to their business and audit them for government regulations.

My thought was to provide my first email with primarily a link to a guest post on an authority site about concerns the business owner should be concerned with. Example: post on Huffpo about ADA compliance costing SMBs millions annually. The guest post would link back to my site in the author credit.

If they respond I was going to offer a personalized response, along with a link to my site, where I have a resource list of many of the things they would have to know about to do the audit themself. Sort of showing my value.

I was going to respond back finally with another link in my personalized message, a guest blog on an authority site about how consultants are completely tax deductable, along with my pricing, and being aggressive (a tiny bit) about scheduling a meeting.

Sound viable? I figured giving them value in every message, would help foster the relationship.


I haven't put thought into the "haven't responded", but will start brainstorming over that.


This is not good. You should focus their attention on the single most important thing: hitting the "reply" button and answering you. This converts a prospect into a lead.

What you suggested doing might work but it is more suitable for the next phase, where you establish trust. Your suggestion in its essence is trust building by the mean of social proof. However, I've got a feeling that you are somehow sneaky about it, which you shouldn't be. When the initial contact got established, just send them an e-mail pursuing the next goal (to move them down the funnel) and add this:

"By the way, here's one Huffington post article related to our topic, which you may find interesting. I am proud that it links to our company's blog :)"

With this wording, there are no reasons to believe you are trying to trick them into something. Even though they will see it as a mild bragging, the social proof will work as it should. It's the same as if a dentist said to you "Don't worry, mate, I studied in the best college for dentists, you are in good hands"
 

patriotnews

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This is not good. You should focus their attention on the single most important thing: hitting the "reply" button and answering you. This converts a prospect into a lead.

What you suggested doing might work but it is more suitable for the next phase, where you establish trust. Your suggestion in its essence is trust building by the mean of social proof. However, I've got a feeling that you are somehow sneaky about it, which you shouldn't be. When the initial contact got established, just send them an e-mail pursuing the next goal (to move them down the funnel) and add this:

"By the way, here's one Huffington post article related to our topic, which you may find interesting. I am proud that it links to our company's blog :)"

With this wording, there are no reasons to believe you are trying to trick them into something. Even though they will see it as a mild bragging, the social proof will work as it should. It's the same as if a dentist said to you "Don't worry, mate, I studied in the best college for dentists, you are in good hands"
Thanks man.
Yeah, I don't want to appear sneaky, since I want to build trust and relationships.
I'll start working on the top of my funnel again.
 

Blackgal

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Thanks for your post.

I have a question about your first email template:

"RE: page about oil drilling platforms on your website", are you faking a reply to a nonexistent first email to raise the interest of your potential client or there is something I didn't get?
 

BloodyNinja

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Thanks for your post.

I have a question about your first email template:

"RE: page about oil drilling platforms on your website", are you faking a reply to a nonexistent first email to raise the interest of your potential client or there is something I didn't get?

Not exactly.

You need to make the title look personalized and provoke interest at the same time.
Think how many times a day they receive e-mails with titles like this:
"You’re missing out on hundreds of visitors each day"
"Become number one in Google with XYZ SEO service. 100% guarantee!"
"Get hundreds of new clients"

But how many times a day they receive an e-mail regarding something they have actually put work in?
You may try different titles but all they should boil down to the same:
a) personalized
b) interest-provoking

When they see the title, a question should arise in their head: "what's inside?"

I use Re: as an attention catcher. Cannot say why but it works.

Here are some alternative examples of what a good title looks like:
"Re: GREAT article about oil drilling platforms"
"Re: really appreciate your article about oil drilling platforms"

In the case of such titles with personal judgment, I would also modify the body of e-mail a bit:

Hi!

I studied your website thoroughly. While my work is only indirectly related to the oil industry, I found really interesting the information you provided in the article about oil drilling platforms, keep up the good work!

I know you’re very busy, so let me get straight to the point. I specialize in promoting oil service companies on the internet. While analyzing your website, I got a few ideas how I could help you. If 15 minutes of your time isn’t too much to ask, then maybe we could jump on a quick Skype call to discuss this?

Thanks for consideration,

John

skype id "john.doe"
phone...
email ...
company ...
 

Blackgal

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Not exactly.

You need to make the title look personalized and provoke interest at the same time.
Think how many times a day they receive e-mails with titles like this:
"You’re missing out on hundreds of visitors each day"
"Become number one in Google with XYZ SEO service. 100% guarantee!"
"Get hundreds of new clients"

But how many times a day they receive an e-mail regarding something they have actually put work in?
You may try different titles but all they should boil down to the same:
a) personalized
b) interest-provoking

When they see the title, a question should arise in their head: "what's inside?"

I use Re: as an attention catcher. Cannot say why but it works.

Here are some alternative examples of what a good title looks like:
"Re: GREAT article about oil drilling platforms"
"Re: really appreciate your article about oil drilling platforms"

In the case of such titles with personal judgment, I would also modify the body of e-mail a bit:

That's a brilliant idea. The receiver certainly feels more concerned if he thinks that he already took part to the discussion. It would definitely work on me.
Do you have any tips to scale this method up without having to study precisely the profile of each of the prospects?

Always a pleasure to read your post.

Blackgal
 

The Curator

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Nice method, personalization always works best, it's why it's used least because of the extra time involved.

Anyone can use these free tools to do the analysis of the websites and their competitors for free:
http://seorch.eu/html/seo-site-comparison.html
http://seorch.eu/html/website-crawler.html

I would recommend fixing errors on the site first, it get's you back scenes access, plus you can easily do something for free out of the list above. Also because it's best to fix a leaky boat before building backlinks...
 

BloodyNinja

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Nice method, personalization always works best, it's why it's used least because of the extra time involved.

The time issue is easily solved through using VAs, whose time is cheaper than yours (unless you are just starting out of course) They should analyze websites and send the initial message. Even this part can be half-automated by preparing several types of e-mail templates with blanks to fill manually.
The next phase, which is usually following up, happens almost fully automatically under the supervision of your VA.
When finally the contact is established, your VA reports it to you and you can start with the hard part.
 

spectrejoe

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Nice method, personalization always works best, it's why it's used least because of the extra time involved.

Anyone can use these free tools to do the analysis of the websites and their competitors for free:
http://seorch.eu/html/seo-site-comparison.html
http://seorch.eu/html/website-crawler.html

I would recommend fixing errors on the site first, it get's you back scenes access, plus you can easily do something for free out of the list above. Also because it's best to fix a leaky boat before building backlinks...


If only they allowed exporting as reports.
 

ThatSEO

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I got no idea how I'd export from the website itself and then import that into excel though, I'm a fucking retard regarding excel lol

I'll make a quick video tomorrow for you. I'll probs forget
 
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