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Cold Email Outreach vs. Paid Ads: What’s the Better Option?

February 14, 2023

You’re a savvy marketer, so you know it’s crucial to stay ahead of your lead generation game and garner the best ROI for your efforts. You’re trying to figure out the best way to do that and narrow your options.



So, you face two options: cold outreach or paid ads. Which one should you choose?



In this article, we’re taking a deeper look at the pros and cons of cold emailing and paid advertisements to determine which is best for your lead-generation campaigns.



What is Cold Email Outreach?


Cold email outreach campaigns involve sending emails to prospects who probably haven’t heard about your business or had prior contact with you, and the goal at the end of the day is to land beautiful relationships that grow prospects into committed clients.



But, cold emailing isn’t all butterflies. Here are the pros and cons of cold email outreach:



Pros of Cold Email Outreach


The best part of cold emailing for reaching your business goals is that the strategy shows a stable growth trajectory—by 2025, the number of emails sent daily can grow to 376 billion from just 293 billion in 2019!



Here’s some more:



It’s Very Cost-Effective


One of the main advantages of cold emailing is that it benefits your bank account and your time big time. The stats say cold emailing can reach 4200% ROI—that’s $42 for every $1 spent.



The returns are higher than sky-high because you don’t have to pay for any space or airtime to talk with your prospect. You only need an internet connection, a working email address, and the light of day (or nighttime if that’s your zone) to craft engaging and attractive emails.



Using cold emailing instead of paid ads as your campaign strategy allows more creativity because no one’s controlling your email content field—you can write whatever message you want without worrying about restrictions like you would doing ads on platforms like Google Ads or Facebook Ads.



It’s Highly-Targeted


The beauty of cold emailing is that you can target your messages to the right people. You can be more specific about who you send to with emails, whereas using paid ads forces you to restrict your targets by demographics.



Filtering your email targets isn’t out of the question, though. You can filter by job title, location, industry, or organization size to ensure your cold emails land in the inbox of the most relevant people. And then, you can even craft and personalize your messages to each email list.



And, of course, cold emailing will never stop you from reaching business people hidden away in their castles. Good cold emails get straight to the inbox without filtering and are likely to be seen by the recipient themself and not the bellboy. That means you can reach out to CEOs, founders, and stakeholders through email, and include a little product pitch, and likely wind up getting an appointment confirmation with them.



It Lands Winning Pick-Up Lines


Cold emailing allows you to establish trust and rapport with potential clients. All the things you know you should do are welcomed here—a genuine approach, personalized message, a little something to show your gratitude, and your wise answers to common FAQs.



With all the personalization and genuineness and tailoring… it naturally goes that your emails will get seen by people who don’t know about you but know you were a match made in heaven.



And ads, well, there isn’t much room there for dialogue between marketers and their audience.



Cons of Cold Email Outreach


But, here we go. Cold emailing is anything but a walk in the park (sometimes).



It Can Take Ages


One downside to cold emailing is that it often requires much more effort than paid advertising. 



For example, you’ve got to spend time researching contacts, writing emails, tracking responses, following up after initial contact, and so on and so forth. You’ll also need to manage all customer responses manually—tedious, to say the least.



Feeling defeated yet? We would, especially if most recipients didn’t open or read our emails. Unread emails mean your campaign wasn’t successful and didn’t provide you with much ROI—even if you thought your content was pretty the-shit.



The Competition Is Massive


Cold emailing is competitive and saturated. Most prospects receive so many emails per day that it can be challenging to stand out. That’s because anyone can send mass emails these days (even spam emails or poorly written ones).



It only takes seconds for prospects to delete your email. Worse, sending irrelevant and poorly written content can turn your email into a victim of spam filters and bury it far from your prospective’s eye forever. 



Nailing the Words Isn’t Everything


Sending a cold email can be like breaking your boyfriend’s self-pottered mug and saying, “I’m sorry babe,”  and then sitting down to your cup with the pieces and his brew on the floor and expecting him to not give you the backwards look. You apologized, yes, but your message has to resonate—timing, space, and his current outlook on life. 



It’s challenging to say the right thing to the right person when they’re in the right mood over email without sounding creepy, irritating, or insensitive. If your prospect thinks it’s just not a good time, it’s in the trash in seconds. A really snappy subject line might at least get your email opened on a day when the whole world feels grumpy, but that doesn’t get you profits. It gets you enemies.



But the saving grace here is to be straight. Say it just like it is. Deliver what you know you should and leave it up to the recipient to say “today’s not the day.” Maybe tomorrow will be. 



Paid Ads


Paid advertising is an online promotion where advertisers can showcase their products or service on specific platforms and time slots. It works based on a bidding system where advertising agencies bid in real-time auctions to whoever is willing to pay more money to win space.



At the rate we’re going, by 2023, ad spending in the digital advertising market will likely reach $701 billion. There are definitely some good reasons to climb aboard. And, as always, things to watch out for. 



Here’s the rundown:



Pros of Paid Ads


One of the winning factors in campaigning with paid ads is that the algorithm is great—you’ll very likely get attention without having to get out of bed.



Meet More Faster


Social media networks worldwide have over 3.6 billion users. It can be hard to reach your target audience organically, but running paid ads helps you reach more users quickly and easily.



Plus, you don’t have to spend time researching contacts, list building, writing emails, tracking responses, or following up after initial contact. Instead, you can simply create an ad campaign and let the algorithm take care of the rest.



Reaching a bigger audience like this ups your opportunities to convert prospects into paying customers.



Get Results Super Fast


Organic promotions may take months or even years to garner significant results. But, with paid ads, you can quickly evaluate the efficiency of your campaign after the launch. For example, if you’re promoting your product on Twitter, you can instantly see its reach and engagement.



More than that, most platforms, like Google Ads, come with reliable analytics and tracking features. These features help you track your ROI, understand how much you’re spending per lead, and customer feature campaigns according to what works.



Strengthen Your Online Presence


When you advertise your products or services online, interested clients can see them through keyword searches or relevancy in the algorithm. Therefore, the more people see your ads, the better you can build a presence and awareness for your brand.



For example, if you’re an online retailer of electronic gadgets, people can see your ads when searching for or purchasing them online. Plus, running paid campaigns on social media can bolster the word-of-mouth promotion of your brand.



Cons of Paid Ads


It Can Be Expensive


The main downside to paid ads is that they are usually more expensive than other marketing methods, including cold emailing. You will need to spend a large amount of money if you’re targeting highly-competitive keywords or want maximum exposure through multiple channels like search engines or social media platforms.



Plus, the average ROI of paid ads is only $2 for every $1 spent. Is it a bang for your buck? Not quite.



It’s Not Highly-Targeted


Reaching a large audience doesn’t always guarantee results; even with massive ad campaigns, there’s no guarantee that people will click through or even pay attention to them in the first place.



Most platforms provide you with targeting options to help you reach your desired audience, but the level of customization is limited. Even after using all available filters and settings, there’s a chance that some irrelevant people may still see your ad. This fault can result in higher costs with fewer conversions.



You’ll Heavily Rely on Algorithm


Paid ads depend heavily on keywords and algorithms that are constantly changing. This dependency means that you constantly have to keep up with the updates and adjust your campaigns accordingly. Otherwise, you can’t make the most out of your investments.



So, there’s always a risk that your ad won’t reach its intended audience, no matter how much money you spend on it. And if no one sees your ad because it wasn’t properly targeted or optimized for search engines? Well, then, you would have wasted all those dollars.



Which One’s the Clear Winner for You?


There is no clear winner, as the choice depends on your particular situation.



Suppose you have the time and resources to execute a successful cold outreach campaign. In that case, it’s the best option for building long-term relationships with potential customers—all while achieving success in terms of ROI. But, if your goal is to reach more people faster, then paid ads might be the best choice. The only downfall is that you’ll be getting a lower ROI with your leads.



But if you ask us, cold outreach campaigns are the best way to generate more leads and increase your conversion rate. Of course, if you don’t have the time to strategize the whole campaign, you can always turn to cold email professionals like ScaleUpSales.



With ScaleUpSales, you don’t have to worry about perfecting your email content and getting on top of your lead generation efforts—we can do that for you easily. Contact us today!