In a recent blog post, we talked about the three components of a highly effective cold email: research, relevance, and request.

In this blog post, let’s focus a little bit more on how to research and personalize sales email outreach.


Here’s a quick consideration before we go on:

If you’re buying a public list of data, spraying and praying to get sales appointments, stop it.

In email outreach, a good rule of thumb in email outreach is this: garbage in, garbage out.

Choosing quality over quantity in your cold email outreach will do lot more for your sales pipeline than less thoughtful outreach.



Researching and personalizing cold emails at scale

Imagine you’re sending a cold email to one person, say a journalist.

It’s very easy to do a thorough research about her work, read some articles she has written and even go through her social profiles to find relevant content.

Although it will take time, you know it’s worth it.

You give it a shot. And it works

Now imagine again that, you have to send cold emails to 1,000 or even 2,000 people over a short period of time.

You’re right, that will be a lot of work when you have researched every single one of them.

How do you systematize your research?

How do you make that process a lot more effective?


Three levels of prospect research and personalization

We like to think about research from three different levels:

  1. Basic: Who’s the lead?
  2. Contextual: What did you notice?
  3. Deductive: Why did what you noticed matter?

cold email research and personalization


1) Basic research

It’s really basic. This is where you identify the details of your ideal persona. For example:

  • Title
  • Company
  • Number of years at the company
  • Number of years in current position
  • Location
  • Email
  • Phone Number
  • Social profile URL

Now, this is really basic because all things being equal, this batch of information will enable you to effectively personalize your outreach.

Anyone can find an email. Or the list of titles.

So you don’t want to stop there if you want to add value.

Think about the vertical axis (in the illustration above):

The higher up you move the more value you can actually add.

And it takes a lot more time as well.

The advantage of Basic research is that it does not take a lot of time.

It’s easy. It is straightforward.

But the impact in terms of personalization is really low.

So you would want to move up and when you want to move up would want to think about the second thing which I would like to call “contextual”.


2) Contextual research

So what is the context? The context means what did you notice?

I’m going to give you an example.

Let’s assume I am a facility manager for a manufacturing company and you want to sell me something regarding solar energy.

You have a tech platform for that.  

What would you notice?

So let’s say Iowa recently passed a regulation that allows farmers to get tax breaks when they go for wind energy or when they go for solar energy.

That is something you’ve noticed.

That is a great context because that for me as a facility manager, you know that I am actually in that location, operating in that market.

That’s what we mean by context.

When researching prospects, identify a context that will make sense for the conversation.

Here are some ideas:

  • Location-based industry report
  • Recent announcement or press release by the company
  • Company attending a tradeshow, conference or event
  • Decision maker’s recent interview in the media
  • Article or blog post decision maker wrote

Reaching out with a solid context position you as a professional ready to add value.

We don’t advice including points of religion or politics as a context – unless of course, you’re selling a product or service for that purpose only.

Having a solid context also shows that you’ve done your homework as a professional and is bring something to the table.

But context itself doesn’t drive the ultimate value.

You’ll have to intelligently deduce something from it.


3) Deductive research

Deductive research answers the question: so what?

Why did what you’ve noticed matter to the decision maker and her company?

Why should she, at that point in time, care about it?

Remember our previous example of the solar energy?

So you noticed that Iowa has some new regulations that give a lot of tax breaks.

Great! But why is it important to me?

One way it matters is cost savings.

The plant facility manager can take advantage of the tax break from solar to save some money on your energy bill.

You can actually write it off as a tax benefit.

Does saving cost matter to a business?

You bet!

It’s not enough to see something – you’ve got to say something too (just had to use the New York MTA subway slogan at all cost).

Seriously though, noticing something about the prospect and her company is not enough, it’s imperative to articulate why she should care.

This is about the prospect. Not you.

Your new features, updates and new clients you’ve signed doesn’t count. why should the prospect care?



Putting it all together: personalize sales email outreach

Here’s an example of how it all works together (ps: this example is related to partnerships, not sales):


cold email example


Now, assuming you have a hundred people and you want to research using this framework, it really helps you to systematize the process.

You know you actually just have three columns in a Google sheet, where you have the basic data, contextual and the deductive.

You can write the sentence for all of them when you are sending using any email tool or whichever outbound platform you use.

Insert the fields and systematically your emails will be personalized at scale.

So each and every single email will be personalized for the thousand people you’re reaching out to, or 2000 or whichever number you actually targeted.  

Of course, it takes time to do the research and personalize sales email outreach.

But that’s why you’re a professional.

Implement this and let me know if it’s working for you and the successes you have in the comment section below.


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Kwesi Sakyi-Gyinae

Kwesi is the Founder at Katallyze. exists to help you get qualified leads and grow your business
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