The Anti-Template – How I Got a Meeting With Drift’s VP of Marketing With a Super Long, Bespoke, Cold Email

I have sent a lot of emails in my life.

If you run content marketing or SEO at a large enterprise org or very hot startup, you may have gotten an email or two from me.

I’ve sent some bad ones and I’ve sent some good ones. Right now, I’m going to talk about one of the good ones.

If you are sending outbound emails and your response rate is hovering around or below 3%, you can use this strategy to make real connections with real people, instead of just sending out more mail merges.

A few months ago, I was able to book a meeting off of a single cold email with one of the hottest startups out there: Drift. They are a rocketship and just raised their Series C. They have a strong brand and their messaging is very, very clear – which makes them much easier to appeal to and connect with. I targeted their VP of Marketing, Dave Gerhardt.

Before you go thinking this approach is going to turn around your quarter, there’s something you should know… this approach doesn’t scale. At all.

Great minds think alike

Don’t worry, it’s not supposed to ???

Even while doing something that’s “unscalable,” for this particular campaign, I was able to hit my lead quota every month for my client, Fractl a leading content marketing agency, without a problem. It just required some critical thinking, a little effort, actually following my prospects on social, engaging with them online, and taking the time to learn their brand.

Helpful Background:
I provide very targeted marketing, lead gen, and sales development for B2B services and software businesses targeting mid-market and enterprise businesses. I take interesting projects at innovative companies.

Why go the extra mile with email personalization?

Everyone in sales and marketing that I deal with (and sell into) understands that email is a scalable communication channel that can be automated. By sending emails that are in no possible way a template, demonstrating I have researched and understand my prospects and their challenges, I’m able to get more meetings.

I’m sure others will get different results with this approach, and I don’t think anyone who needs a repeatable process would be cool with this method. But – I’m able to get more meetings this way. Semi-personalized templates only work so-so for me, so I am sticking with this. Even when I create industry and role-specific templates, the bespoke emails drastically outperform templates.

Without further ado, here is the cold email I sent Dave:

Hi Dave,

I’ve been following Drift for ~2 years now and I’m
a big fan of the recent write up from Andy Raskin about your sales deck. Implementing chat has been one of the biggest growth levers I’ve pulled in my career. I am a believer.

The two big focuses for Drift’s strategic narrative that I really identify with are:

     1. Helping buyers get down to real conversations faster so they can make informed decisions in real time.

     2. Forms – they gotta go. They are bad news, slowing down the sales process and telling your most engaged leads to hold their horses when they may be ready to buy.

Both of these ideas are big shifts for B2B buyers and
its going to be a lot of work to make this vision become a reality.

Your team is building a movement with a message, my team wants to help further that message with intelligent, data-driven content marketing that earns B2B press, traffic, and links for Drift.

Specifically, I’d like to talk about running some large-scale surveys on B2B buyers to get data on their feelings regarding:

     • Desire to talk to a real person/get answers quickly when making B2B purchases online.
     • Willingness to engage with online chat reps vs picking up the phone.
     • How long buyers are willing to wait to have product questions answered by reps before moving on to other solutions.
     • How purchase behavior is influenced by availability/communication style of sales reps.
     • How much consumers dislike forms and hate filling them out.

No topic is set in stone, just kicking around some potential ideas. My team can use this kind of survey data and tell engaging stories with shareable graphics and persuasive narratives that earn press, drive traffic, put leads in your CRM and further the Drift brand. If promoted the right way, the data we unearth and the visuals we produce for Drift will be finding their way into conference presentation decks and blog posts for years to come.

Our last campaign earned [case study metrics with link to case study]. These results were great – but not unusual. We’re in the business of generating predictable press and have plenty of B2B examples.

If you see the value in furthering Drift’s message of real conversations and no forms with marketing that’s designed to get in front of your ideal customer profile – I would like to talk this week, learn more about Drift, and then get back to you with some ideas we have for some potential campaigns.

Let me know whatever time works for you?


Dave’s response?

Dave goes on to quote some of the case study metrics that were redacted from the version above. After a little back and forth and a reschedule, I was able to get the meeting and have a great conversation. It turned out that Drift wasn’t a fit for the services we were offering, however, still had a great chat and who knows, my client could be a fit for Drift in the near future.

The (near) future of B2B email

I think this is where B2B is going. I see a rejection of the highly scalable on the horizon, followed by a move towards the humane and authentic. This requires a certain level of business acumen and research on the part of the rep. The research can be outsourced, but when it comes time to get on the phone – if they don’t have a clue about the brand the call isn’t going to go well. It doesn’t matter if reps can reach more people with tools and tech and services, if the outreach isn’t authentic, if the attempt at human connection isn’t there – it isn’t going to fly much longer.

John-Henry Scherck

John-Henry Scherck is the owner of Growth Plays, a B2B content strategy and SEO consultancy based in Los Angeles. He works with founders, marketers, and investors to plan, build and refine growth marketing initiatives using a common sense approach.