How can poor targeting affect the results of a cold email campaign?

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A lot of sources is stating how important it is to make sure you are choosing the right target audience when selling your products and services. We already covered a topic around how to find the best target audience that will convert. In this article, we’ll focus more on the importance of targeting the right audience, supported by an analytical example.

If you would be selling ice, would you be selling it to an Eskimo or an ice sculpture creator?

It’s a bit of a silly question, isn’t it? It’s usually not a question of – if you are able to find the right target audience. More often it happens that we falsely believe that we do have the right one. In order to answer the question from the title correctly, we need to assess the following points.

  1. Making sure you really KNOW what your audience needs
  2. Make segmentation of your audience
  3. Plan the cold email campaign with a segmented targeted audience in mind
  4. Find the trigger your audience will respond too faster
  5. Find the best-targeted audience with best conversion rates
  6. Scale

Let’s start with data supported example so we understand what are we dealing with, following with improvement suggestions you can apply to your cold email campaign.

Targeted audienceOpen rateReply rateClosing deal rate
1000 highly targeted audience8001608
1000 poorly targeted audience500502
Example of a highly targeted and less targeted audience for your cold email campaign

Above you can see an example of an effect of how a highly targeted audience responds in comparison to a poorly targeted audience. You can immediately see that your closing deal rate can drop significantly just because of it. It’s important to understand that if the message you are trying to get to your potential clients is not relevant to them, they will respond accordingly. That means, they will not respond at all =)

Relevant messaging in subject lines of your emails will make sure that your open rate is high. It can get as high as 90% if used correctly. The most important part you need to focus on is the message inside of the body of your email. It needs to be clear, personalized and it needs to ask a question that will trigger a recipient to reply.

Relevant messaging in subject lines of your emails will make sure that your open rate is high. It can get as high as 90% if used correctly.

Make sure you really KNOW what your target audience needs

But you already know that, right? Before you answer ask yourself when was the last time you spoke to one of your customers (paying customers). Our humble opinion is, you should always assume there is something you don’t know yet. Have an initiative that will help you understand your customers better. Not just through data you have about them but also via personal interaction.

The importance of being user / consumer-oriented was already being defined by big fish like Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos, etc. It’s true that sometimes users don’t know what they want, but it’s still your job to continuously discover the needs (which can be changing and challenging) of your target audience. That requires a systematic approach within established communication channels between you and your customers.

Jeff Bezos and Amazons believes that being consumer oriented is a key part of their strategy. (Source, 2021)

Continuous learning will bring you to a better understanding of WHO your target audience is and where to find it. As an addition to that, you’ll know better how to form your email subjects and copy of your email in order to reach a high open-rate and reply rate and/or click rate.

Make segmentation of your target audience

You’ll soon find out that the target audience you focus on can be segmented even into smaller groups based on their interests, geographic location, the industry of work, age, etc. One of those segments will convert better than the other. When you figure out which one – you win. Your conversion rate results will show you the answer.

For example:

A lead generation company has a tool that can generate prospects with emails. Their best customers are small business owners, email marketers, recruiters and sales personas. It’s easy to generate a list of people with those roles, find their emails and trigger the outreach campaign, is it? But which one converts better?

Plan segmented cold email campaigns with A/B testing

Make sure to personalize the content! If you are running an A/B campaign, try to use a similar copy of the email (subject and content) in order to eliminate the possibility that the copy affects the conversion rates. Remember, you are trying to figure out what targeted audience converts best. Make sure you don’t make a different campaign for different segments. You’ll get best results, if you compare those segments without mixing the content, call to action or anything that would significantly differentiate the campaign itself.

If doing A/B testing with cold email campaigns keep in mind the following:

  1. Use the same number of recipients in both tests. Make sure the volume is high enough
  2. Make only one change/differentiation per test (e.g.: Test only different subject line, different audience, a different paragraph of text,…)
  3. Run the test at the same time
  4. Measure the key metrics (Sent, delivered, open rate, reply/click rate, unsubscribed)
  5. Consider statistical significance for the results. You can use an online calculator to confirm it.

Find the trigger your target audience will respond too faster

Sometimes you might find your target audience on other channels. For example:

  • Linkedin groups
  • Linkedin events
  • Facebook groups
  • Online events
  • etc…

In such case you have a good reason to expose a common thing you might have with your audience. If you mention it in your emails it can be a nice ice breaker to start a conversation and therefore, have a higher chance to get reply.

You can test multiple triggers in different ways. You can test it’s effect with changes in your copywriting or you can test it’s effect with position of that copy (It can be in the subject line or in different places in the main content in the emails).

Once you find something that works, you want to try the same approach multiple times in order to really master it.

Find the best-targeted audience with best conversion rates

After all the testing you might have done, you have a nice data-driven foundation to analyze what performs best. You’ll realize that email campaigns can be a complex topic to master but also; mastering such channel of acquisition is one of the best things that ever happened to you. The customer acquisition cost is way lower in comparison to other acquisition channels.

When you find your best converting audience(s) you just need to make sure that you get a sufficient supply of leads coming into your pipeline.


After all being said, scaling is your next logical step. Increase your volume of the audience and use the campaigns that worked in the past. Scaling an email campaign can be a tricky thing and it does require some experience to master it in a way that yields the best performance metrics. You soon face the questions such as:

  • Will my open rate stay the same if I start sending more emails? How many emails should I be sending?
  • Will my emails land in the spam folder? How can I avoid that?
  • What are the best tools to use for cold email campaigns?
  • etc.


Targeting the right audience with your cold email campaign can make all the difference in your performance. Making such a mistake at the beginning is quite common and because of it, people quickly make a judgment that cold emails don’t work. Taking your time and properly do the testing of the campaigns can bring you closer to metrics you would like to see.

Also note that good targeting itself will not make your campaign successful. Cold email outreach needs to be made the right way. Unfortunately every details can “make or break” your project. We’ll make sure we address them all.

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Executing cold email campaigns offers opportunity for learning every single day. What have you learned so far? Share you experience with our community.


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Product manager 

Creator of Prospect Role. Product manager during the day and content writer overnight. Growth focused all day long =)