How to Use Cold Email to Grow Your Startup

And why content creation is the key

The first issue of Houck’s Newsletter was about how to send good cold emails to investors.

To wrap up our first full calendar year I’m revisiting the topic of cold email but through a different lens. This time we’re talking about how to effectively use it as a growth channel for your startup.

I’ve gone deep down this rabbit hole in the last few months and was surprised to learn how effective it can be since cold email gets a bad rap. It turns out the key is to not send cold email but, instead, cold content.

I’ve done my fair share of cold emailing but my friend Sam Claassen is a master. After leading growth for the YC-backed startup SafetyWing for a few years and helping them reach a Series B, he founded Startup Cookie and now helps founders build outbound engines.

We caught up this week to talk about how I can use outbound to grow Megaphone, and I realized it’d make sense to pass along what we talked about to other founders.

In this deep dive you’ll learn

  • How to stand out with cold email

  • The difference between cold email and cold content

  • What types of content work best for outbound campaigns

The Next Evolution of Cold Email

Let’s get this out of the way: cold email has a perception problem.

We feel it every day as we suffer through endless spam messages in our inboxes. Outbound email has spammy and oversaturated, with 99% of it being complete garbage.

The problem is that anyone can now set up dozens of inboxes and send thousands of cold emails a day, at a very low cost. Predictably this has led to a huge rise in low-quality emails.

But, if you know what you’re doing, the channel works for many businesses including what Sam does with Startup Cookie. If you do it right you can acquire almost 100% of your users through outbound email.

So cold emailing is far from dead. In fact, the rise of low quality email has actually lowered the bar and made standing out easier than you’d think.

Email’s Bad Reputation

In recent years, tools have emerged that allow the setup of unlimited inboxes for less than $100 a month. Obtaining email contacts and leads is also cheaper and easier than ever before with tools like Opps, Gravity, and Apollo.

Anyone with something to sell has realized they can just play a volume game where a poor conversion rate barely even matters. Instead, you’ve got unlimited emails — the strategy can be to just increase the volume until you hit your goals.

This is the essence of "spamming," and it's, unfortunately, effective — which is why the volume of poor cold emails has increased dramatically in recent years.

Even with deliverability penalties meant to protect inboxes, like the new ones Gmail is rolling out in Q1, It's still quite easy to land in someone's inbox. You just have to be good enough to catch their attention.

How to Stand Out with Cold Email

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