Top 12 Cold Email Mistakes to Avoid for SaaS Outreach

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Audience and Goals for this Post: Early Stage SaaS Companies looking to build pipeline through their first outbound efforts.

Overall Outbound Trends

  • B2B Buying Process - more and more research by B2B prospects is done online, before agreeing to demo, trial, reply, etc. This means B2B marketers need to provide relevant and useful content to their accounts and buying personas. See "How to Build Social Proof for SaaS - Social Proof Checklist" for a primer.
  • Outbound Sales Noise - With he proliferation of tools and data it is becoming harder and harder to cut through the noise due to cluttered inboxes
  • Changing rules from email providers like Google and Microsoft are also making it tougher for your emails to land in your recipient's main inbox vs. spam or promotion tabs.

But, outbound can still be done. And really needs to be part of a GTM strategy for early stage SaaS companies to grow and reach their goals and ideal customers. Relying on inbound alone can result in mostly small deals or customers that

Here are the Top 12 Cold Email Mistakes to Avoid for SaaS Outbound. For each mistake - we provide an explanation of Why this is Bad, What to Do Instead, and Resources (tools, links, software) to help.

1. Using your own domain for cold outreach

Why is it bad to use your own domain for cold email outreach?

Can do damage to your Main Domain - SEO, Deliverability. Can even get blacklisted from ISPs.

How to set up separate domains for cold outreach:

Buy separate domains (example - you instead of, use,,, etc.)

Redirect to main domain

Set up SPF, DMARC, DKIM records (DNS)

Tools, Tactics Resources for setting up separate domains for cold outreach:

Blog post on Cold Email Best Practices for SaaS Companies

Free Domain Health/DNS Checker

Google Workspace

NameCheap/Godaddy etc.

2. Not warming up, monitoring health of domains

Why is to bad to not warm up your domain for cold outreach?


Accounts shut off..waste of time, $, lists

How to warm up your domain for cold outreach:

2 email addresses per domain

Use an email warmup tool

Limit # of emails per mailbox (30-40/day)

Unibox (central inbox for “reply as”)

Monitor domain health

Keep an unsubscribe list/process

Don’t include links, images in initial cold emails

Consider not tracking open rate

Verify Emails

Tools, Tactics Resources for email warmup and deliverability:


Email Finder | Findymail for clean B2B data and email verification

3. Not defining your ICPs (Accounts)

Why is it bad to not define your ICPs (Accounts)?

Messaging, targeting, data, lists, everything ties back to this. Spray and Pray does not work

It’s ok if it is not 100% known - can run experiments

Waste of time, sales, at bats, deliverability, etc.

In B2B we sell to Accounts, not only a single person usually - buying teams.

How to define your ICPs (Accounts):

Firmographic Targeting (company size, industry, geography, etc.)

Technographic Targeting (technologies installed)

Intent Data Targeting  - Accounts In market researching for solutions in your niche

“Trigger” Events - new funding round, hiring for a specific role, % headcount growth, etc.

“Lookalike” Accounts of your Customer List

Build multiple Account Lists for Campaigns

Build Custom Account Scores - can be refined over time

Tools, Tactics Resources for defining ICPs:


Apollo, Lusha, Seamless, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Cognism, LeadGenius, Uplead,, Zoominfo ($$), etc.

Technographic - Apollo, Builtwith

Intent Data - Bombora, Leadsift (Apollo)

Web Scraping

How to Build a Custom Account Score in Apollo

4. Not defining your Personas (Contacts) for outreach

Why is it bad to not define your personas?

Right Message to the Right Person at the Right Time - Marketing 101

Building out Personas sets us up to run targeted campaigns with much higher response rates; experiment

Message for a CIO is different than the message to an IT Manager

How to define your Personas (Contacts) for cold outreach:

Build out a matrix of buyer personas at different account sizes (SMB likely different than enterprise)

Build out lists in Apollo or similar tool to use for personalization, targeting, reporting, messaging/content

Tools, Tactics Resources:



5. Not understanding your prospects buying journey, content needs

Why is it bad not to understand your prospects buying journey?

Wil result in poor response rates

Slower sales cycles

B2B buyers are going to do lots of online research on your site and 3rd party sites before engaging with a rep or agreeing to a call/demo or even responding

How to better understand your prospects buying journey:

Content Map/Matrix by Account ICPs, Personas, sales stage

Minimum Content

Social Proof - Case studies, get listed on Software Directory Review sites like G2, Capterra

Tools, Tactics Resources for understanding your prospects buying journey:

How to Build Social Proof for SaaS - Social Proof Checklist


6. Broad, General Messaging

Why is broad, general messaging bad for outbound?

You’ve done the work of defining ICPs, Personas, Content, and setting up a technical email infrastructure- Put it to work to drive results

What to do instead of using broad, general messaging:


Persona Benefit Content
CIOs Care about shadow IT, security Industry Analyst Reports, Trends
CFO Cost Savings ROI Calculators, Payback Reports
IT Operations Manager Saving time, provisioning resources, supporting internal users Demos, technical details, videos

Tools, Tactics Resources:


7. No Personalization for Outbound

Why is it bad to not have personalization for outbound?

Drive more results, book more meetings

How to do personalization for outbound:

Spintax - don’t send exact same message to everyone

Do some additional research, particularly for highly scored accounts/targets

Tools, Tactics Resources for personalizing outbound:

ChatGPT, integrations with Google sheets, etc. - Combine 50+ data providers, real-time scraping, and AI to send 1-1 personalized campaigns that book more meetings.


8. No experimentation, A/B testing

Why is it bad not to experiment or A/B test for outreach?

Spray and Pray, Broad Approach is Bad

Early stage SaaS companies may still be searching for product/market fit, nailing down messaging, sales cycle, etc.

How to experiment and A/B test for outreach:

Experiment, Measure, Refine

Meet periodically with sales, marketing

Tools, Tactics Resources:


9. No formal ROI tracking for Cold Outbound

Why is it bad not to have formal ROI tracking for Cold Outbound?

Flying Blind - need to make adjustments as data comes in. Get rid of the losers, double down on winners.

How to track ROI for cold outbound:

Set up granular reporting

Check in on a regular schedule and make adjustments

Run reports by industry, job title, personas, ICPs, lists, sequences, offers, etc.

Integrate with your CRM or at least have contact and account stages to inform reporting

Tools, Tactics Resources:

Apollo pre-built and custom reports

10. Relying on only one channel (Email) for outbound

Why is it bad rely on only one channel (Email) for outbound

Surround the account and the buyer - especially highly scored or engaged accounts

How to use multiple channels for outbound:

Tie in LinkedIn, Phone, other social depending on your audience niche


Prospect opens email 3X, a call task is created

Highly scored contacts, accounts - Multistep campaign w LinkedIn connection request, email, phone, etc.

Tools, Tactics Resources:

Expandio for Linkedin automation - very detailed, if/then logic, cold rampup, etc.

11. Not marrying your inbound with outbound (allbound)

Why is it bad not to marry your inbound with outbound (allbound)?

90+% of your website visitors will not fill out a form or otherwise raise their hand or engage in your “process”. These are wasted opportunities if no outbound strategy is in place.

How to do allbound marketing:

Capture Anonymous First Party Data, Automate Targeted Outreach

Example of a “Play” in Apollo: Visitor from your pre-defined ICP hits your website (or page on your site), is added to an Apollo Account List, Apollo searches for contacts that match your personas, adds those contacts to specific Campaign Sequence with targeted messaging.

Tools, Tactics Resources for allbound marketing:

How To Identify B2B Website Visitors for Sales Follow Up

Clearbit (aquired by Hubspot) - Robust Free Plan for Account Visitor ID with ICPs, target account lists, tagged pages, Slack/email notificiation, etc.

Leadfeeder/Dealfront, others.

12. Relying on manual processes for outbound

Why is it bad to rely on manual processes for outbound?

Goal is to build an automated lead engine

If the system relies on pure manual inputs it will die

How to automate outbound:

Create Plays in Apollo or automations. Examples:

  • Target new hires in roles at target accounts (more likely to consider new technology or change.
  • Convert Anonymous website visitors (using Dealfront or Clearbit integration)
  • End sequences for outdated data or contacts that have changed jobs
  • Find contacts at accounts that are showing research intent around your keyword topics (using Leadsift intent data)

Use a Shared Calendar Scheduling Tool to make it easy on your prospects to book time once qualified

Tools, Tactics Resources for automating outbound:

Automating Outreach with Plays

Hopefully this guide has given you some ideas on some of the top Cold Email Mistakes to Avoid for SaaS Outbound and what to do instead. Need help setting up an outbound motion? is an Certified Agency Partner. We can help with Strategy, Setup and Managed Services.

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Get Expert Advice and Guidance in Setting Up an Automated Cold Outreach Lead Engine Powered by Apollo Onboarding Document - Using ICPs, Personas, Messaging, Signals to Set Up an Automated Outbound Engine

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