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Cold Email vs Cold Call: Which is More Effective in 2024?

30 min read
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Deciding how to reach your potential customers can be confusing.

Should you just pick up the phone and start calling your prospects one by one or send a cold email first?

Both cold emailing and cold calling have their pros and cons (and we will discuss it in detail later)

But one thing is for sure — Cold outreach is essential to increase sales and grow your business.

So, how do you know which outbound sales technique is more effective in 2024?

In this post, we’ve finally addressed the cold email vs cold call debate. 

After reading this post, you’ll gain a clear understanding of which cold sales technique you should pick for your business.

Cold Email vs Cold Call – Table of Contents

What is Cold Emailing?

Cold emailing is a sales technique that involves sending emails to leads or potential customers that you haven’t had previous contact with. 

The goal is to introduce your business, your product/service offerings, and ideally get a response back from the recipient.

An effective cold email quickly communicates:

  • Who you are
  • What value you can provide
  • What action the recipient should take next (CTA)

It should make your prospects want to open, read, and respond to your email. 

This way, you can begin a conversation and build a relationship over time, which would eventually lead to a sale.

In a nutshell, cold emailing can be a powerful tool for customer acquisition and lead generation

However, it needs to be done strategically and with careful targeting to increase open and response rates.

What is Cold Calling?

Cold calling means calling people you don’t know with the goal of pitching your product and setting up a meeting or making a sale. 

Typically, you make cold calls without any advance notice, taking your prospect by surprise.

The cold call process is simple: 

Pick up the phone and reach out to potential customers whom you’ve identified as a good fit. 

Next, introduce yourself and your business. 

In real time, you will be able to figure out if your prospect is interested or not.

Just like cold emails, an effective cold call quickly communicates who you are, and the value you can offer, and includes a compelling reason for the prospect to have a conversation.

When done right, cold calling can help you generate new leads faster, foster relationships with potential customers, and increase sales for your business. 

Cold Email vs Cold Call: What Sets Them Apart?

Both cold emailing and cold calling involve outreach to potential customers you haven’t contacted before. 

However, there are some key differences between these lead-generation tactics that are important to recognize.

The following table highlights the most important key differences between cold emailing and cold calling.

Cold Email vs Cold Call Comparison

What Are the Pros and Cons of Cold Emailing?

Let’s look at the most important pros and cons of cold emailing to figure out if this is the right cold outreach sales technique for your business.

Pros of Cold Emailing

Cold emailing has certain key advantages that make it a highly effective outbound lead generation and sales tactic.

Pros of Cold Emailing

1 – You Can Scale Cold Emails More Easily

With email automation tools, you can send cold emails to hundreds or even thousands of prospects in a short period of time. 

This is possible because these tools let you connect multiple email accounts so that you can send more emails in a day without surpassing the daily email-sending limits.

For example, if you’re planning on sending 200 cold emails, you can connect 4-5 email accounts to an email automation tool. 

Similarly, if you want to send 10,000 emails per day, you can connect 200 email accounts and send 50 emails per day from each account.

Some of these tools even have a feature to automatically rotate your accounts. 

Here’s why it works: 

It increases your daily email sending capability, while also maintaining a good sender reputation and deliverability.

Compared to cold calling where you call each prospect one by one, cold emailing is quicker to reach your prospects at scale. 

2 – Recipients Can Respond on Their Own Time

Cold emails allow your prospects to read and respond at their convenience, not just when you’re available. This gives them more flexibility and control compared to a cold call, which interrupts their day. 

Moreover, because people can reply when it’s convenient, cold emails are typically opened and answered more frequently than cold calls.

In simple terms, cold emailing lets your prospects choose when to read and respond to your message, without feeling pressured like during a phone call.

3 – You Can Include More Details

Unlike cold calls, cold emails let you include more detailed messages about what your business offers. 

You can explain why your product is good, showcase stories of happy customers, and provide data. This gives your prospects extra context to understand what you do. 

On the other hand, when you make cold calls, you have to be quick and straight to the point. This makes it harder to give them the full picture. 

Besides, the prospect might not fully understand what you’re offering from just a  quick phone call.

4 – You Can Track Key Metrics

Email tools provide detailed data on your cold emails. You can see how many people opened them, clicked on your links, and replied.

This lets you track the performance of your email campaigns closely. Then you can use that data to improve your campaigns and make them more effective.

With cold calls, you only get data on who you contacted and whether or not they responded. On the other hand, email tools give you much more comprehensive data, obtain useful insights from your outreach efforts, and tweak your email message to get better results.

5 – It is More Cost-Effective Compared to Cold Calling

When you rely on cold calling, you need dedicated salespeople to call potential clients and speak with them directly. 

Each call takes time, and a salesperson can only make a limited number of calls in a day. 

This means if you want to reach more people, you might need to hire more salespeople, which can get very expensive.

On the other hand, with cold emailing, things become much simpler and cost-effective. 

Once you set up an email campaign, you can automatically send out emails to a large number of potential clients at once. 

No need for extra hands on the deck. 

With emails, you can reach thousands or even millions of people, at a fraction of the time and cost it would take to call them individually.

Cons of Cold Emailing

While cold emailing offers a lot of advantages, it also has its fair share of disadvantages as well. Let’s take a quick look at the main disadvantages of using cold emailing.

Cons of Cold Emailing

1 – Cold Emails May Not Always Get Immediate Attention

People receive tons of emails daily. 

They receive newsletters, promotional offers, personal messages, and more. 

Because of this, emails from unknown senders may not get their attention. 

In fact, many people just overlook emails from unknown senders or immediately delete them to declutter their inboxes. 

Unfortunately, this makes it harder for your cold emails to stand out and be effective. 

So, when you send cold emails, there’s a good chance only a small number of recipients will actually open them and even fewer might respond.

2 – Lack of Personalization Can Make Them Less Effective

When you send the same email to a bunch of people with no personalization, it often comes across as a generic, blast email. 

Many email service providers have systems in place that can automatically identify these emails as suspicious and put them in the ‘spam’ or ‘junk’ folder. 

So, your prospects might never see it. 

That’s why it’s critical to personalize your cold emails for each prospect. 

With personalized emails, you have a lower chance of being identified as suspicious. 

But how do you do it?

Include details like their name, their company’s name, or even mention something recent or relevant about them.

3 – It Can Take Extra Effort to Convey Complex Information

When you send cold emails, it’s hard to explain complicated stuff. 

You only have a short space to get someone’s interest, and if they get bored or confused, they might just delete your email or ignore it. 

To make cold emails work, you have to learn how to write cold emails in an engaging manner. 

Your cold emails should strike a perfect balance between providing information and holding their attention. 

Now, compare that to phone calls. 

When you call someone, there is a two-way channel of communication. 

The person on the other end can ask questions right away if something isn’t clear or if they want to learn more about a specific point.

4 – Your Cold Emails May Not Always Reach the Primary Inbox

When you frequently send out cold emails, especially ones that seem too pushy or use certain spammy words, it can raise red flags for email service providers (ESPs). 

Most ESPs have built-in guards known as ‘spam filters’ to protect users from unwanted emails. 

If your emails trigger these filters, they immediately send them to the ‘spam’ or the ‘junk’ folder. 

Many of the people you’re trying to reach might not see your emails because they don’t regularly check these folders.

Even if you put a lot of effort into an email, if your email message is not personalized, most prospects will perceive your email as generic, which may lead them to mark your email as spam.

If too many prospects report your email as spam, it can hurt your email deliverability.

👉 Check out15 Best Practices to Improve Email Deliverability in 2024

What are the Pros and Cons of Cold Calling?

Now that we’ve covered the pros and cons of cold emailing, let’s also look at the pros and cons of cold calling pros.

Pros of Cold Calling

Cold calls, in the same way as cold emails, have certain benefits that one just can’t (and shouldn’t) ignore. Let’s check them out one by one.

Pros of Cold Calling

1 – You Could Have Two-Way Communication in Real-Time

Cold calling allows you to have a live chat with your potential customers. And if they have questions, doubts, or concerns, they can voice them immediately.

Plus, you also get the chance to respond to them instantly. 

This immediate back-and-forth creates a sense of understanding and trust.

That’s because the person on the other end feels heard and their questions are answered promptly.

On the other hand, while emails can provide information, they miss out on this instant, human interaction. 

Hearing someone’s voice can make the conversation feel more genuine. It helps in building a stronger rapport between the caller and the recipient. 

This warmth and personal touch can sometimes be hard to capture in written emails.

2 – You Can Understand Voice Cues

During a call, you have the advantage of listening to the other person’s voice. You can tailor your responses based on their reactions. If you listen carefully, you can pick up on subtle hints or tones in their speech. 

This allows you to adjust your cold outreach approach in real time. 

For example, if they sound interested in a particular topic, you can focus more on that. Or if they sound confused, you can clarify or explain things differently.

3 – You Can Communicate More Effectively

When you speak to someone directly over the phone, they can hear the excitement, energy, and genuine passion in your voice. 

It’s like when someone tells you an exciting story, and you can sense their emotions through the tone of their voice. This kind of connection is really hard to build through written words in an email. 

Through cold calls, your prospects can learn about your product or services and experience your enthusiasm for it. 

This can make a big difference. 

People are more likely to be interested in something when they can sense that the person talking to them is genuinely passionate about it.

4 – You Can Convey Simple Messages More Quickly

When you’re promoting something that’s easy to understand, making a phone call can be super effective. In just a few words, you can share your main message and get an immediate reaction from the person on the other end.

However, with emails, it’s a bit different. 

Since you don’t have the advantage of real-time interaction, you often need to add more details or context to ensure your message is clear. 

You may have to write a longer email, provide some backstory, or use examples to help the reader understand and feel connected to what you’re saying. 

But the problem is — You can’t write long cold emails. Nobody has the time or attention span for it.

That’s why cold calls can be more effective in conveying simple messages quickly.

Cons of Cold Calling

Just like cold emails, cold calls too have their disadvantages. 

If you’re planning to leverage this cold outreach technique, it’s super important to learn about its drawbacks.

There are four key disadvantages of cold calling you should know about before using this outreach tactic for lead generation and sales.

Cons of Cold Calling

1 – Most People Dislike Cold Calls

When someone receives a phone call out of the blue, especially during a busy day, it can feel like an interruption. 

Imagine you’re in the middle of something, and your phone rings with a number you don’t recognize. Then, you answer it, and it turns out to be someone trying to sell you something you weren’t thinking about. 

For most people, receiving such unsolicited calls feels intrusive. 

Hence, they’re likely to be less receptive or just cut the conversation by hanging up.

As a result, it becomes a hundred times tougher for salespeople to achieve their goals or even make a good first impression, to begin with.

2 – You May Not Get Many Responses

A lot of cold calls go unanswered or are redirected to voicemail. 

The reason is simple: Most people don’t like cold calls, especially during business hours.

Even when you do get someone to answer, it’s pretty rare that they’re eager to chat. Maybe they’re busy, not interested, or just not in the mood for a sales conversation.

The result? – Out of a long list of cold calls, you’ll have meaningful conversations only in a few of them. 

3 – It Can Be Expensive to Scale Your Cold Calls

If you want to call a lot of potential customers, you’ll need to hire a lot of people to make those calls. But hiring more people isn’t as simple as just paying them a salary.

First, you’ve got to spend time and resources to find the right people. 

Once you’ve got them on board, there’s the cost of setting them up – things like providing them with a workstation, necessary tools or software, and maybe even a phone line. 

Then, there’s the training part — New employees typically need to learn about the product or service they’re selling.

They also need to understand the company’s approach to sales, and learn any software or tools they’ll use. 

When you add all these things up, it becomes clear that growing a team dedicated to making these cold calls can be a heavy financial commitment.

4 – It May Be Hard to Reach Decision-Makers

For many businesses, receptionists or assistants answer incoming calls and they filter who gets through and who doesn’t. 

When you’re making cold calls, these ‘guards’ are often the first line of defense against unwanted interruptions.

Their role is to ensure that the key decision-makers, like managers or bosses, are not constantly bombarded with calls they’re not expecting. 

They might ask questions, put you on hold, or even decline your call before it ever reaches the prospect you’re trying to talk to.

If you’re trying to make a sale over the phone, it can feel like a challenge to get past these gatekeepers.

What’s the Ideal Success Rate for Cold Emails and Cold Calls?

The ideal success rate for cold emails and cold calls varies depending on the industry. 

But if you want a quick overview, here are some general benchmarks you can consider shooting for:

Ideal Cold Email Success Rate:

  • Open rate – 40-50% is considered good
  • Click-through rate – 10-15% is decent
  • Response rate5-10% is solid

So for example, if you send 1,000 cold emails, expect 150-250 opens, 20-50 clicks, and 20-50 replies.

Ideal Cold Call Success Rate:

So if your team makes 500 cold calls, expect 25-100 answers, 10-30 promising chats, and 5-15 booked meetings.

However, it’s important to note that success largely depends on factors like the quality of your prospects list, email templates/cold call scripts, and timing as well.

But, at the same time, if your numbers do not match the given benchmark numbers, it simply means that you need to improve your strategy.

How to Boost Your Cold Email Success Rate

Here is how you can get more prospects to open, read, and reply to your cold emails:

  • Make It Personal – Always use the prospect’s name, their company’s name, and any other details you know about them in the email. It makes the email feel special to them, not like some generic, promotional blast email.
  • Use Attention-Grabbing Subject Lines – Make your email subject interesting. Maybe ask a question, mention their name, or point out something valuable. Whatever you write, make sure it doesn’t sound like a direct sales pitch.
  • Use a Verified Prospects List – Ensure the list of email addresses you have are accurate, verified, and sorted into specific groups. 
  • Keep It Short – People are busy. Make your point clear in just a few lines. No one likes reading a wall of text.
  • Try Different Approaches – Mix things up! Maybe offer a discount one time, a free download another time, or even a free trial. Find out what gets people interested.
  • Send Follow-Ups – If someone doesn’t respond, it’s okay to send a few follow-up emails. But change your message a bit and don’t overdo it. It can be annoying if you send too many follow-up emails.
  • Track Your Results – Keep an eye on how many people open, click, or reply to your emails. This data will help you see what’s working and what’s not.

👉 You Might Also Like11 Proven Tips to Improve Cold Email Response Rate (+ Free Templates)

How to Boost Your Cold Call Success Rate

Just as with cold emails, we also have a few key tips for you to keep in mind if you’re going with cold calling for your outreach. 

  • Know Your Prospects – Before you make a cold call, learn about each prospect as much as you can. What do they like? What problems are they facing? Based on your research, you offer something they’ll genuinely care about.
  • Start Strong – Begin your call in a way that makes them want to listen. It could be a question that makes them think, a fun fact related to their interests, or even a compliment.
  • Highlight What’s in It For Them – During cold calls, quickly communicate the benefits. Explain, in simple words, how their life can be better with your product or service.
  • Pay Attention to Their Tone – During cold calls, carefully listen to their tone. This is important because if they sound bored, you might want to change your approach in real time to match their mood and continue the conversation.
  • Ask Questions – After you’ve briefly introduced yourself, the purpose of the call, and conveyed your value proposition/offerings, ask questions and encourage them to share their thoughts too. 
  • Don’t Be Pushy – At the end of your conversation, remember not to be too forceful or pushy to make a sale. Instead, you can ask the prospect for another call or schedule a demo to help them learn more about your product or service.

If you keep these tips in mind, your cold calls will become more like friendly chats, and more prospects might get interested in what you have to say or offer.

When Should You Use Cold Emailing?

So far, we’ve learned the pros and cons of cold emailing and key tips to make them effective. 

But we still haven’t clarified exactly when to use cold emailing as your primary outreach strategy.

This section will answer that question.

Criteria #1 – When You Need to Contact Many Prospects

If you want to reach out to a large number of potential customers, cold emails are the way to go. 

Instead of picking up the phone and calling each person one by one, which can be really time-consuming and tiring, you can use cold email software.

These tools let you send personalized cold emails to a big group all at once, making the process much quicker and more efficient. 

On the flip side, trying to call thousands of cold prospects is neither practical nor efficient. 

So clearly, cold email is a smarter and more cost-effective choice for contacting a large number of prospects.

Criteria #2 – When You Want to Include Attachments

Emails offer a unique benefit over phone calls: You can send additional materials along with your message. 

Think about it like this — When you send an email, you can attach documents, share presentations, add videos, or even entire books related to what you’re talking about. 

This isn’t something you can do on a call. Plus, when you give people all this extra information in an email, it helps them get a clearer picture of what you’re offering. 

And the more they know, the more likely they are to be interested.

Criteria #3 – When You Don’t Need an Immediate Response

Emailing allows people to respond at their own pace, without feeling pressured for an immediate reply.

For a phone call, both people need to be free at the same moment. 

But with email, someone can receive your message now and decide to reply later when it’s convenient for them. 

This flexibility is great, especially when you’re reaching out to someone and don’t need an immediate conversation. 

They can take their time to understand your message and get back to you when they’re ready.

Criteria #4 – When You Want to Track Your Email Campaigns

Another big plus point of using cold emailing is that you can know how your emails are doing. 

Using cold email tools, you can check how many people opened your email, clicked on links inside it, or responded back.

Furthermore, you can even A/B test your subject lines, opening statements, CTAs, and other elements to see which ones get better results. 

Pro Tip: For A/B tests, change only one element at a time to find out exactly which version of a particular element worked better.

Criteria #5 – When You Want to Contact Prospects Across Different Time Zones

When you’re trying to reach people in different parts of the world, cold emails make things simpler. 

With cold calls, you have to consider time zones and call at a suitable hour for the other person’s location. But with cold emails, you don’t have that problem. People from anywhere can read and answer your emails whenever they want. 

This means you can easily talk to people all over the world without worrying about time differences.

When Should You Use Cold Calling?

Cold calling, like cold emailing, also has a set of criteria to understand if it’s the right cold outreach strategy for your business.

Here are the top 5 criteria to consider before deciding to use cold calling for lead generation and outbound sales.

Criteria #1 – When You Need An Urgent Response

When you need to talk to your prospects in real time and get their immediate feedback, you need to pick cold calling over cold emailing. 

So, if you’re in a situation where you need an immediate response, relying on cold emailing might not be the best plan. 

Emails can easily get buried, overlooked, and skipped, while making a direct phone call ensures you get that instant conversation you’re looking for.

Criteria #2 – When You’re Selling Complex Products or Services 

If what you’re offering is complex, using cold calls can be a wise choice instead of trying to explain it all in an email.

This is because some products or services have many details that just can’t be captured fully in a brief email. 

But on a call, you can explain everything in detail while keeping the conversation interesting.

You can even answer any questions that pop up in your prospects’ minds, and guide them on how things work.

Criteria #3 – When You Need Feedback or Answers Immediately

Unlike cold emails, when you make a cold call, you can easily get an idea about what your prospect thinks about your offerings right away. 

The best part? 

If they have questions or are a bit hesitant, you can do it right there and then. 

In contrast, with emails, you send your message and then you’ve no other choice but to wait. This doesn’t give you the same chance to instantly clarify things or handle any concerns they might have.

Criteria #4 – When You Need to Give an Enthusiastic Explanation

When you reach out to your prospect over a phone call, you can bring special energy and excitement that just isn’t possible to convey in written words. 

Simply put, cold calls give you the chance to share all the awesome things about your product or service in a vibrant, engaging way. It’s like painting a vivid picture with your words and energy. 

This can make the person on the other end sense your genuine excitement and become more interested in what you’re offering.

Can Cold Emailing and Cold Calling Work in Harmony?

Saleshandy users often ask us if they can use both cold emailing and cold calling at the same time.

Can both approaches work in harmony?

Short Answer – YES.

Both strategies can easily complement each other in your overall cold outreach strategy.

Ideally, here’s how your combined cold outreach workflow should be:

  1. Send an email to introduce yourself. Next, follow up with a phone call to establish real human contact.
  1. Regularly send emails with helpful content or limited-time offers like industry whitepapers, blog posts, or tools to nurture your leads
  1. After sending a few emails, call your prospects and answer their questions.
  1. For prospects who respond positively to your cold emails, call to schedule follow-up appointments and move the relationship forward. Use calls to advance them down your sales funnel.
  1. Continue using both cold emails and cold calls in your follow-up sequences. 
  1. First, use automated emails at scale to establish broad reach. Then, make personal calls to engage promising prospects from the emails for more focused discussions.

Remember, the key is to coordinate your cold emails and cold calls together. 

You can use email automation to scale your efforts and make cold calls for more personal & targeted outreach. 

With this combined strategy, you can cast a wide net and then begin building strong connections to the most promising prospects. 

Final Verdict!

To wrap this up, it’s clear that both cold emailing and cold calling have their unique strengths and weaknesses. 

While cold emails provide flexibility, convenience, and scalability, cold calls give you the opportunity to have instant and energetic conversations that spark interest on the spot. 

The best approach? 

Use both cold outreach tactics in harmony and you’ll maximize your chances of reaching and engaging potential clients.

FAQs

1) Are cold emails better than cold calls?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to cold outreach. Both cold emailing and cold calling have their fair share of pros and cons. So which cold outreach strategy is right for you depends entirely on your industry, business, and end goals.

2) Should I cold call or email first?

If your product benefits from personal and real-time interaction, call first. If that’s not the case, email first to establish broader initial contact. Ideally, you should use both methods as follow-ups to each other until your prospects turn into warm leads. 

3) Who uses cold emails?

Salespeople, recruiters, marketers, PR professionals, fundraisers, consultants, realtors, lawyers, HR, and non-profits – everyone uses cold emails. It helps everyone connect with their targeted prospects and build new relationships at scale.

4) How many cold emails should you send per day?

There is no single ideal number of cold emails to send per day, as it depends on your goals, industry, and team size. However, you shouldn’t send more than 50 cold emails per email account in a day.

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