How We Helped Exectras Warm 4,500 Cold Leads With Email Drips


Total sends across 10,000 contacts.


Warmed contacts.


Average open rate for drip campaign.

You can buy email contacts. But you can’t buy attention, and trust is never for sale. However, you can earn them both. We helped Exectras whittle a purchased list down to the most qualified, engaged contacts.

Exectras provides companies with membership-based access to heavily discounted business services ranging from insurance, to payment processing, to identity-security programs, and everything in between. You name the professional service. Exectras can likely provide it.

They initially approached Brafton for help creating video content and blog posts. Like this one:

This branched into one-pagers, white papers and eventually email marketing strategy.

Defrost a Cold List of Emails

After a little over a year spent working on content creation campaigns, Exectras brought us a purchased list that contained 10,000 email contacts.

Our mission was simple: Help nurture these cold contacts into a warm list of engaged mailable contacts.

Create email templates.

Write emails.

Run A/B tests.

Set up automated drip logic.

Schedule and launch drips.

Qualify database contacts.

The Solution: A Strategic Email Drip Campaign

The key when it comes to mailing a cold list is to fail fast. Your goal should be to root out the most, and the least, engaged users as quickly as possible. Why?

  1. Email sender reputation: Hard and soft email bounces and user-reported spam cause damage to your email domain’s reputation. Once you end up on ISPs’ bad sides, it’s hard to find your way back into their good graces. A smart strategy for cold email lists is to remove bouncing addresses ASAP, while whittling away the unengaged contacts. Too many unopened emails scream spam to email providers, and worse, increase the likelihood of user-generated spam.
  2. Good email marketers double down: Conversely, you want to quickly identify who your most engaged contacts are, and the types of content they engage with the most.

We created our campaigns with these considerations in mind, and we managed it using Mailchimp. We built the email templates, wrote all the copy, and scheduled and managed the sends.

This list of 10,000 contacts was primarily made up of health care merchants who frequently process credit-card payments. We mapped out an automated drip cadence of 8 total sends over the course of 8 weeks, conditional upon opens, and relied heavily upon A/B testing.

Email logic can be somewhat difficult to follow. But here are the core takeaways from the data visualized below:

  • Email 1 of the series went to 10,000 business contacts, and got an 8% open rate.
    • We sent Email 2 to the 8% of folks who opened Email 1; it got open rates of 33% (well above the industry average of 20%).
  • Email 1A went to the 9,177 contacts who didn’t open Email 1. It got an open rate of 7.62%.
    • We sent another email to anyone who opened Email 1A; this email had an open rate of 49.60%.
  • For the 8,468 contacts who did not open Email 1 or 1A, we sent Email 2. This email had an open rate of 48.90%.
  • Emails 4 and 5 went out to anyone who opened emails 1 & 2, so only the most qualified leads.

By the end of the drip, we had a final tally of 4,500 qualified contacts. 389 of those contacts were considered “hot,” meaning highly engaged and ripe for sales prospecting.

Averaged out, the campaign had an open rate of nearly 47%.

Email 1Email 1A (didn’t open email 1)Email 2 (opened email 1)Email 3 (opened emails 1 & 2)Email 4 (opened emails 1 & 2)Email 2 (didn’t open 1 or 1A)Email 2 (opened 1A)Email 5 (opened 1 & 2)
SubjectNow entering a cashless world*|FNAME|*, your business can get MORE VALUE for lessSay goodbye to credit card processing feesHow can your employees benefit from Exectras?*|FNAME|*, how can you benefit from Exectras?Say goodbye to credit card processing feesSay goodbye to credit card processing feesSpecial offer for business owners like you
Open Rate8.07%7.62%32.83%75.97%78.61%48.90%49.60%70.18%

Key Takeaway: You Need to Earn What You Buy

It’s why we rarely recommend upfront that our clients purchase lists.

However, bought lists can have value to your company and quickly bolster your database if, and only if, you qualify the pulp out of them. Nothing does a better job of this than a drip campaign.

This process of “earning” your purchased contacts will cull down your list, sometimes substantially. How much of that list you’re able to warm, and how much you lose, depends partly on the quality of your drip campaign, which is within your control. But it also depends on the quality of the list you’ve bought, which is mostly out of your hands. Yes, you can buy from reputable vendors such as ZoomInfo. But you’re ultimately working with whatever they give you.

In this sense, the larger the list, the bigger the risk, and we’re not always able to salvage 40+% of a cold list.

Nevertheless, you can significantly improve your odds if you strategize and launch a killer drip campaign. It won’t always work. But it’s the only method that ever does.

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