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Cold Email vs Cold Call: 6 Key Differences (2021 Guide) 

The cold email vs cold call debate continues, with some arguing that cold calling is a technique that firmly belongs in the past.

Despite that, there are still situations where cold calling reigns.

However, regardless of which cold outreach method you use, the end goal is essentially the same: ensuring that it converts as many leads as possible.

In this article, I’ll highlight six key differences between the two outreach methods and help you decide which outreach strategy works best for your needs. I’ll then offer some actionable tips on improving both your cold calling and cold emailing efforts.

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Let’s get started.

Cold Email vs Cold Call: 6 Key Differences

Both cold emailing and cold calling can be effective at generating leads for your business.
However, there are several differences between the two outreach efforts.

Let’s look at six of these differences now:

1. How Personal the Experience Is

Creating a personal experience for the lead or prospect is critical to a successful sales pitch.
While both emails and calls lend themselves to personalization, they aren’t on equal footing.

A. Cold Calling

While the mere mention of a cold call is enough to turn off some prospects, many experts argue that cold calling is still valuable for a prospecting B2B sales team. This is because cold calling a potential customer could create a more personalized experience for the recipient.

How is cold calling more personal?
Simply speaking with someone on the phone is a personal experience that allows the cold caller to create a small individual connection with the recipient. On the other hand, it’s challenging to achieve the same connection through email.

Moreover, cold calling offers a more dynamic experience since you can adjust your strategy to fit your prospect’s needs as the conversation happens.

B. Cold Emailing

In comparison, cold emails don’t achieve quite the same level of intimacy.

However, you can (and should) always send personalized emails. Doing so can dramatically increase the efficacy of your cold email outreach.

Another benefit of cold emailing is that it’s possible to automate much of this personalization through software. This way, cold emailing outreach is considerably more effective and scalable, especially since you can personalize your outreach to multiple recipients.

2. How Disruptive it Is to the Prospect

It’s important to consider how your outreach will impact your lead. You’re off to a bad start if your cold outreach annoys a warm lead by disrupting their routine.

A. Cold Calling

While it may be a more personal experience, cold calling is considered the “old-school” approach for several reasons. One of those reasons is that receiving a cold call out of the blue can be invasive and disruptive to your prospect.

That’s why many people aren’t receptive to receiving cold calls.

As a cold caller, you may also find that the lead becomes frustrated at an unwanted interruption.

However, that’s only if they pick up in the first place!
It takes an average of 8 cold call attempts before you connect with a prospect.

B. Cold Emailing

By comparison, cold emails are far less disruptive.

And you don’t need to get lucky and catch the recipient at their desk as you do when cold calling. Additionally, recipients have the flexibility to open and respond to emails at their convenience.

Emails are also far less time-consuming, unlike cold calls. Consider that phone calls tend to last for several minutes, while even the most informative email takes only a couple of minutes to read.

3. Gathering Information

Gathering relevant information is one of the more common reasons for cold outreach.
When communicating with cold leads, consider which method is best for gathering valuable information.

A. Cold Calling

While both methods can effectively gather valuable information, such as the prospect’s pain point and what they hope to accomplish, cold calling might be the better approach.

Why?
The sales rep can use cold calling to gather relevant info about the lead while making a human connection at the same time.

When you call someone and talk to them then and there, you may find they’re more willing to provide valuable information. Moreover, an experienced salesperson might be able to coax more information from a prospect with a well-scripted sales pitch.

Moreover, you can use the call as an opportunity to gain valuable insights that’ll help you down the line, such as the prospect’s personality — which can be more challenging to establish over email.

B. Cold Emailing

Since emails are entirely text-based, it’s that much more challenging to make a persuasive argument. Having said that, if you’re only reaching out to ask a simple question, email is surely the way to go.

Additionally, keep in mind that, from the prospect’s point of view, it can be easier to make good decisions with an email.

How?
When calling, you might catch them off-guard with a question, and the recipient might feel pressured since you are waiting for their response.

But when emailing, the prospect has an opportunity to word their response correctly if they’re not interested in the offer. This way, cold emailing can be a more effective means of gathering valuable information about the lead.

4. Success Rate

Here’s how cold calling and cold emailing differ on their success rate:

A. Cold Calling

While cold calling can drum up new business, the results can be inconsistent.

Why?
Aside from the gatekeepers (like voicemail, caller ID, or secretaries) you need to get past, you also have to catch the lead at their desk. Even then, there’s no guarantee if you’ve caught them at a good time.

In fact, 58% of prospects admit to finding sales calls useless, while another study found that 87% of prospects feel that salespeople don’t properly understand their needs.

And it gets worse.

According to a study, of the 6,264 cold calls made over two weeks, only 19 appointments were made. That gives cold calling a success rate of 0.3%!

B. Cold Emailing

On the flip side, cold emailing has a success rate between 1-3%.

You can even take the right steps to significantly increase the number of successful cold emails you send. For instance, sending targeted emails can increase your response rate to between 15 and 25%.

Additionally, cold emails provide the opportunity to include some social proof, like user testimonials. Social proof serves as a powerful means of advertising, with 88% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

You can also include additional material you feel could benefit the recipient, such as a link to a blog post.

If you’d like to learn more about cold emailing, check out my Cold Email Insights page.

5. Trackability

Both cold calling and cold emailing have good trackability, and you can use the right software to help enhance your outreach efforts.

A. Cold Calling

By tracking your cold calls with the right tools, you can improve your lead generation by tracing the source of a call to a specific campaign. You can also gain valuable insights into KPIs like the number of outgoing calls, the average call time, answer rate, and more.

Most cold calling tools also offer automated dialing, call recording, and access to analytics to streamline the process.

Some popular cold calling software includes Myphoner, VanillaSoft, and Toky.

B. Cold Emailing

Since emails are entirely digital, they’re far easier to distribute and monitor.

This makes it easy to track important email metrics like open rate, click-through rate, number of unsubscribes, and more.

By tracking your sales emails, you can gain valuable insights into what works well and what needs improvement for future email campaigns.

Fortunately, email automation software like GMass helps you accurately track vital email metrics with ease. The tool also lets you personalize and automate various cold emailing aspects, making the outreach process effortless.

6. Scalability

Here’s how both cold outreach methods differ based on scalability:

A. Cold Calling

Not every salesperson will be equally skilled at making cold calls. Sure, you can train your salespeople to improve their skills, but this costs time and money.

Additionally, to effectively scale your cold calls, you need to expand your sales team. This can be expensive, especially if you hire people who need further training.

B. Cold Emailing

Cold emailing is cheaper and more efficient, making it much more scalable than cold calling.

In the time you’d need to make one sales call, you can send several sales emails. Additionally, you don’t need to hire and train new salespeople to scale your cold emailing efforts.

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Now that we’ve covered six primary differences between cold calls and cold emails, let’s look at some factors contributing to the success of each outreach method.

Cold Email vs Cold Call: Which Sales Strategy Should You Choose?

Rather than deciding between one or the other, you might find that both cold outreach methods have a place within your sales cadence. Combining the best of both approaches can have a dramatic impact on your sales and marketing campaign performance.

However, the method you use for each situation should depend on:

1. The Goal of the Outreach

Are you looking to schedule a meeting or get answers to a few questions?
Determining your ask will help you decide whether to cold call or email.

It’s also worthwhile categorizing your ask as either weak or strong.

A strong ask could be something that requires commitment from your lead, such as a request for a product trial. Whereas a weak ask is more straightforward, like asking your lead for feedback.

Now, if you’re going with a strong ask, pick up the phone.

Since these requests will be asking more from the prospect, it’s an excellent opportunity for sales reps to use their closing skills to secure a “yes,” which is much easier over the phone.

But if you’re not asking for much, draft an email.
It’s best to avoid unnecessarily taking up the prospect’s time when a short email can do the job just as well.

2. The Buyer Persona

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal buyers, based on market research and real data gathered from your existing customers.

Some buyer personas will have a communication preference that you should take into account. Many factors can influence their preference, such as age, their job, and more.

Generally, most millennials prefer email communication, with 75% avoiding phone calls because they’re unnecessarily time-consuming.  If your target audience is younger buyers, this is something to keep in mind.

On the other hand, older leads or professionals in customer-centric roles might be more comfortable speaking over the phone since that’s what they’re typically used to. People in these roles are also less likely to be intimidated by a B2B sales call.

Cater to whichever preference the potential client has, and you’ll find it much easier to communicate your value proposition effectively.

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Now that we’ve looked at some situations where one outreach method may be preferable over the other, let’s see how you can improve your cold outreach.

How to Improve Your Cold Outreach Efforts

Irrespective of which approach you prefer, you still need to fine-tune your efforts to ensure you’re getting the best results.

A. How to Improve Your Cold Calling Response Rate

While some may argue that cold calling is a thing of the past, the fact is a well-trained sales representative can use cold calling to hold the prospect’s attention effectively.  A study found that more than half of the high-level buyers prefer receiving a cold call.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at three practical tips to improve your cold calling:

Tip #1: Narrow your target audience

Cold calling is much less time-efficient than cold emailing, with the average sales rep spending seven minutes on a cold call.

As such, you want to ensure you’re speaking to the right person and not someone who has no intention of making a purchase.

To avoid this, spend adequate time researching the potential customer and build a list of phone numbers belonging to only high-quality leads. Doing so can have a considerable impact on your conversion rate.

Tip #2: Get the Timing Right

Cold calls get a bad rap because they can be extremely disruptive to the recipient. As a result, getting the timing right is critical in building an effective sales cadence.

To avoid voicemail and annoying the lead, ensure you’re calling at the best possible time. Generally, the most effective time to make a cold call is right before lunch or closer to the end of the day on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

However, tons of factors contribute to the chances of having a lead convert to a prospect.

As such, you should experiment to find which times and days work best for your business and target audience.

Tip #3: Listen to the Prospect

Effectively listening to your lead goes a long way in building trust. It allows the prospect to feel heard and valued and can provide the opportunity to learn more about their pain point.

In fact, studies have shown that there’s a ratio the sales representative making cold calls should follow — the sales professional should speak 43% of the time and listen for the remaining 57%.

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Next, let’s go over a few tips to improve your cold emailing.

B. How to Improve Your Cold Emailing Efforts

Cold emailing may have a bad reputation, thanks to the plethora of spammy and poorly written emails out there.
But when done right, cold emailing remains one of the most effective means of generating sales.

Here are three straightforward tips to improve your cold emailing campaigns:

Tip #1: Make It Personal

The most important thing you can do when cold emailing is to use personalization.

If you don’t include any personalization, it’s a safe bet to say your email is going directly to the trash or spam folder the minute it hits your prospects’ inboxes.

Instead, each potential client will feel like they’re more than a name on a list when you send them personalized emails, boosting your response rates. In fact, one study found personalization increased click-through rates by 139%.

You can personalize an email body by mentioning the lead’s name or company name, your name, and how you found them.

You should also ensure your email is about the recipient and how you can help them with their unique goals and challenges. This shows them that you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested in helping them out.

Pro Tip: If you’re confused about how to compose a great cold email, you can always use some cold email templates to get started quickly.

Tip #2: Have a Compelling Subject Line

With so much spam and clickbait emails going around, people want to know immediately that opening your email is worth their time. And about 35% of people decide whether to read an email based on the subject line alone.

That’s why you need to ensure you craft a subject line that can grab the prospect’s attention.

Ideally, you need to convince the lead to open your email in about six to 10 words. Research found that subject lines of this length generated an open rate of 21%.

If you’d like to know more, have a look at my article on cold email subject lines for some best practices and examples.  

Tip #3: Use Cold Email Software to Eliminate Tedious Tasks

There are tons of email tracking software available to the modern salesperson, helping them automate the more mundane aspects of cold emailing, like mail merges and follow-ups.

And GMass is one of the best cold emailing tools available today.

Gmass

GMass is a powerful cold emailing and marketing automation software that works entirely inside Gmail. It’s widely used by employees in tech giants like Google and Uber and social media platforms like Twitter and Linkedin.

GMass is also perfect if you’re a small business owner, working in a startup, or an individual sales professional.

GMass helps boost your sales activity by letting you:

To get started with GMass, download the Chrome extension and sign up for free using your Gmail account.

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Wrapping Up

While some experts argue that the cold call is dead, there are still some situations where a cold call is preferable, like creating a personal experience or reaching out to decision-makers or the business owner.

But generally, sending a cold email is a safer bet.

However, there are still some things to keep in mind to make your emails stand out. Including personalization in the subject line and body of your email is a great place to start.

And when it comes to cold emails, using tools like GMass is a surefire way to streamline your outreach efforts. From auto-personalization to sending behavior-based campaigns, GMass can help you every step of the way.

Why not try GMass today and see the results for yourself?

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