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Cold Call vs Cold Email: Which Is Better?

Updated: February 22, 2024
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Among the myriad of marketing approaches out there, a new debate has arisen: cold call vs cold email. While cold calling is a time-tested strategy, cold emailing is a clear up-and-comer. But is this new-fangled solution worth it for your business?

Both methods stand out as prominent ways of initiating contact with potential customers. However, understanding the nuances between these two techniques is crucial for crafting an effective outreach strategy. Join us as we explore cold calling vs cold emailing methodologies to unlock valuable insights for your marketing endeavors.

The Contenders: Cold Call vs Cold Email

Before we take this fight to the ring, let’s take a closer look at these marketing methods individually.

Cold Calling: A Tried and True Marketing Method

A cold call refers to an unsolicited phone call made by a sales representative or business to a potential customer who hasn’t previously expressed interest in their product or service. In essence, it’s a proactive outreach attempt aimed at initiating contact, generating leads, and ultimately making a sale.

A typical cold call process starts with research. Before making the call, the sales representative often gathers information about the prospect’s industry, company, and potential pain points. This helps tailor the conversation and offers to the specific needs of the prospect. Once they make a call, if the line gets picked up, they introduce themselves, the company, and the purpose of the call.

Cold calling requires confidence, persistence, and effective communication skills to navigate potential rejections and objections. With a well-trained and talented sales rep, cold calls can be extremely powerful—given the right opportunity.

Of course, having that team trained and available to make those calls can be costly. So when it comes to cold call vs cold email, is this the best method for your business?

Cold Email: Taking Your Marketing into the Digital Age

As you might guess, cold email is a lot like cold calling—just over the internet instead of the phone. Cold email involves reaching out to potential customers or leads via email without any prior relationship or interaction. Unlike warm or hot leads, who’ve already shown some level of interest or engagement with your business, cold leads have had no contact with your company.

Like with cold calls, cold email usually starts with some research. The first step is to build a list of potential leads or prospects. Once you have your list, you’ll craft and send out personalized email messages to introduce your product, service, or offer. These emails are designed to pique the recipient’s interest and encourage them to take action, such as visiting your website, downloading a resource, or scheduling a call.

It’s also common practice to follow up with recipients who don’t respond to your initial email. Follow-up emails can then provide additional information, address objections, or simply remind the recipient of your offer.

When constructed properly, cold email can be a powerful and hands-free way to market your company… if you know what you’re doing, that is.

Why Use Cold Call vs Cold Email?

Although cold email can look attractive and on-brand, especially to small businesses that don’t have as much time and resources to devote to making phone calls all day, cold calling can still be a powerful marketing tactic. After all, 92% of Americans own a smartphone of some kind. With that kind of individual access, cold calling should at least be a consideration.

Let’s talk about a few more specific reasons why, when it comes to cold call vs cold email, picking up the phone remains a good strategy.

Some Prospects Still Want a Call

Some people still appreciate a good ol’ human voice on the other end of the line. In fact, cold calling remains effective in plenty of marketing scenarios due to its ability to establish personal connections, provide immediate feedback, and navigate complex sales processes. It’s also great for generating high-quality leads, especially in longer sales cycles, niche markets, or industries where relationship-building is paramount. That’s why cold calling is still critically important for many business-to-business (B2B) offerings.

Here are a few other top areas where cold calling is a prime marketing strategy:

  • Financial Services
  • Real Estate
  • Education and Training
  • Home Services
  • Recruitment and Staffing

When executed strategically and complemented by other marketing efforts, cold calling can still play a valuable role in driving sales and fostering customer relationships. That is, of course, if you can invest time, effort, and funds into making that happen.

Your Sales Team Is Great at Pitching

Having a great value proposition in writing is a good thing. But if you’ve got a charismatic and highly competent crew of salespeople, you don’t have to waste their talents behind a keyboard. With the right conversation, they can get way more detailed information about this lead than one-sided research can. And they can continually refine their pitching process over time, so they’ll get more effective the more calls they make.

If you’ve already got a great team, this marketing methodology can work well. But you should first ask yourself if these team members’ talents (and your funds) are best used sitting behind a desk making cold calls all day.

You Can Qualify Leads and Refine Your Strategy in Real Time

The other benefit of having an actual conversation with your cold calls is that you can qualify your leads faster—or think more creatively about how your business can help them. Essentially, you can refine each pitch to meet the needs and pain points of the individual on the other end of the line.

This is great when you’re dealing with a complex sales or purchasing process. For example, say your company specializes in providing customized software solutions for large enterprises. In this case, a phone call with a prospect will allow you to target your outreach to their needs. They can ask questions about your offerings, and you can respond instantly. Then, once they’re interested in what you have to say, they can run the idea up the ladder and come back to you with more questions.

Arguably, this is the best use of cold call marketing. However, if you’re spending all your time in meetings that could have been emails, you should ask yourself if that’s the most fiscally responsible use of your day.

What About Cold Email vs Cold Call?

While we’ve seen plenty of advantages (and disadvantages) for cold calling, cold email is still a contender—for good reason. Especially if cold calling isn’t really an option for your business, it’s important to take a closer look at your other options for finding and pursuing leads that haven’t connected with you before.

In Our Digital World, People Expect Emails

Face it: cold calling is an inherently time-consuming and manual method of mining for leads. And it can be incredibly disheartening to have call after call ignored by people who could seriously benefit from your offerings.

The great thing about email is that people feel less pressured to think about your value proposition as soon as you call in. They can take their time—not yours—to consider your message. And according to the data, many of your potential customers may actually expect to receive emails from businesses like yours rather than phone calls. So when it comes to cold calls vs cold emails, it’s easy to see already how email has an advantage.

Email Can Be Personal, Even at Scale

The other advantage of email is that you can send multiples of messages at the same time—to many potential customers. Instead of spending an unspecified amount of time per call, you could be connecting with hundreds or even thousands of people the moment you click “send.”

At the same time, you don’t have to repeat the same stock message to all those folks. With personalization, automation, and segmentation, you can tailor your message so that it feels like everyone is getting the same personal touch as a phone call might. Just because you’re sending thousands of messages at a time doesn’t mean your email has to look like a machine made it. You can get the same interpersonal effect out of your cold emails as you might with cold calls.

Work with a Leaner Team for Cold Email vs Cold Calls

The bottom line is that having a team of cold call salespeople can cost a lot more cash than utilizing cold email. That’s where cold email has an obvious advantage. If you’ve got a growing business and you want to make the most of your people power, cold email has you covered. By automating much of the outreach process, your business can achieve significant cost savings on personnel while still reaching a large audience.

Scale Your Sales as You Grow

The scalability of cold email marketing is a game-changer for businesses of all sizes. As your business expands and your target audience grows, cold email marketing allows you to level up your outreach effortlessly. Whether you’re reaching out to hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of prospects, cold email marketing platforms offer the tools and automation features needed to manage large-scale campaigns efficiently. Plus, with cold email, the only thing you really need to get started is your computer. (And maybe some help from the experts.) You’ll have the opportunity to generate sales opportunities—and scale those efforts—with comparatively little work up front and minimal time overall.

Capitalize on Quantifiable Digital Metrics

Data plays a crucial role in optimizing cold email marketing campaigns for maximum effectiveness. By closely analyzing metrics such as open, click-through, conversion, and response rates, you can gain valuable insights into the performance of your emails. These metrics provide actionable feedback on what elements of the campaign are resonating with recipients—and where improvements can be made.

Although you can gather much of the same data with over-the-phone conversations, automation makes this so much easier. That’s where the digital method has an advantage when evaluating cold call vs cold email. Studying the metrics and implementing improvement strategies results in higher engagement, better conversion rates, and ultimately greater success.

Cold Call vs Cold Email: Who’s the Winner?

If you’re still not sure which cold marketing method is best for your business… you’re right. Cold calling and cold emailing each have their own unique advantages and disadvantages as marketing strategies.

While cold calling has its advantages in certain situations, when it comes to cold call vs cold email, cold email clearly has the leg up. Cold email offers scalability, efficiency, and the ability to reach large audiences with minimal effort—and cold calling simply doesn’t. Frankly, it’s the new best thing since door-to-door sales for a reason.

Of course, there’s no reason you can’t also occasionally get someone on the phone for your business. But in the end, you can maximize your business’s reach, engagement, and success when generating leads and driving conversion by leveraging the power of cold email.

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