Episode 93: Josh Starr’s 7-Figure Cold Outreach Strategy for Freelancers & Agencies

By Zach Swinehart

In this episode, Zach talks to Josh Starr from https://joshstarr.co

Josh has started several different agencies, each of which gets clients from cold email. (He also has an agency where he does cold outreach for other agencies — how meta eh?)

His various agencies have generated over $2.3 million in lifetime value, and they’ve worked with over 3,500 clients including big brands like Walmart, Kellogg’s, Coke, and Pepsi.

Josh works with clients using his cold email strategies to create massive value for B2B prospects.

On today’s episode, you’ll learn the exact cold email strategies Josh uses that you can implement as a freelancer or agency owner to connect with new clients and have a consistent pipeline of new clients.

Get Josh’s Free Consultation!

Follow Josh:

AI-Generated Summary:

  • 0:00 – 2:00 — Zach introduces Josh Starr from joshstarr.co, discussing the focus on cold email and Josh’s success in generating over $2.3 million in lifetime value from cold email for his graphic design subscription service.
  • 2:00 – 4:00 — Josh confirms the success of his agencies with over 3500 clients and notable projects like Walmart.com. The conversation shifts towards exploring Josh’s cold email strategy in detail.
  • 4:00 – 6:00 — Josh shares his journey in cold email, starting about three years ago due to the need for new client acquisition methods when referrals dried up. He emphasizes the experimental nature of his early strategies and the effectiveness of email for high-ticket sales.
  • 6:00 – 8:00 — Zach clarifies that Josh’s cold email approach targets end clients directly, not through agency partnerships. Josh explains that he began using cold email to grow his own businesses and now offers it as a service to others.
  • 8:00 – 10:00 — Josh outlines his cold email strategy, stressing its suitability for B2B and high-value products or services. He provides insights into his process, including targeting, messaging, follow-ups, and leveraging analytics for campaign effectiveness.
  • 10:00 – 12:00 — Josh discusses the low churn rate of his services, emphasizing the importance of qualifying clients to ensure a good fit, leading to high customer retention and stable business growth.
  • 12:00 – 14:00 — Zach inquires about other agencies Josh operates and his use of cold outreach for them. Josh mentions starting a new graphic design service for healthcare companies and managing cold email campaigns for other clients.
  • 14:00 – 16:00 — Josh explains that Pixel Painters’ lead sources are primarily cold email outreach, referrals, and organic search results, with no reliance on paid ads.
  • 16:00 – 18:00 — Zach asks about Josh’s involvement in the cold outreach process. Josh reveals he personally handles all aspects of sales and marketing, including lead research and initial emails.
  • 18:00 – 20:00 — Josh highlights the effectiveness of targeting a specific customer profile for successful cold email campaigns. He shares his strategy for Pixel Painters, focusing on churches, and explains why he hasn’t delegated the email outreach process. Josh enjoys the challenge and satisfaction of acquiring new clients himself.
  • 20:00 – 22:00 — Zach discusses the benefits of delegating repetitive tasks in cold outreach to scale lead generation. Josh emphasizes the importance of understanding and mastering a process before delegating it to ensure success.
  • 22:00 – 24:00 — Josh suggests a metric for successful cold outreach: booking 2.6% of total emails sent as sales calls. He explains that the conversion rate varies depending on the offer and target list quality.
  • 24:00 – 26:00 — The conversation shifts to the strategy of cold email campaigns. Josh describes his approach to compiling email lists, either through bulk purchasing or manually scraping websites like Product Hunt.
  • 26:00 – 28:00 — Josh explains his email customization process, using automated messages with minimal individual customization. He highlights the importance of having a clear ideal customer profile for effective targeting.
  • 28:00 – 30:00 — Josh advises on defining a targeted customer profile, emphasizing the need for a high enough lifetime value to justify the cost and effort of cold email outreach. He suggests focusing on established businesses in specific verticals for better results.
  • 30:00 – 32:00 — Josh discusses the ideal size of an email list, recommending 10,000 to 20,000 people for effectiveness. He mentions using services like replied.io and instantly.ai to access demographics and build targeted lists.
  • 32:00 – 34:00 — Josh shares that his cold outreach strategy focuses solely on email, finding it more effective than incorporating other channels like LinkedIn or cold calling.
  • 34:00 – 36:00 — Josh explains the ideal customer profiles for his businesses, Josh Star and Pixel Painters, and how understanding these profiles aids in effective targeting for cold email campaigns.
  • 36:00 – 38:00 — Zach inquires about the viability of cold email for someone without an established network. Josh acknowledges cold email can be cost-effective for testing different customer profiles, even for those starting from scratch.
  • 38:00 – 40:00 — Josh discusses his approach to semi-customized cold emails, aiming for a balance between personalization and scalability, and avoiding overly generic or recognizable email templates.
  • 40:00 – 42:00 — Josh describes using Response.io to create personalized videos for cold emails, automatically generating thousands of videos featuring the recipient’s website, creating a sense of customization.
  • 42:00 – 44:00 — Zach discusses the potential higher conversion rates of highly personalized emails. Josh explains he primarily uses bulk email strategies, reserving highly personalized approaches for direct, individual outreach.
  • 44:00 – 46:00 — Josh details the technical setup for cold email campaigns, emphasizing the need to use multiple domains and email addresses to avoid being marked as spam and to manage a high volume of emails effectively.
  • 46:00 – 48:00 — Josh advises on choosing domain names consistent with the main brand for the email campaign, suggesting variations that make sense with the business name.
  • 48:00 – 50:00 — Zach inquires about Josh’s experience with highly personalized cold emails. Josh shares that his approach has always been more bulk-focused, reserving customization for direct, individual outreach via LinkedIn or phone calls.
  • 50:00 – 52:00 — Zach asks about the effectiveness of highly personalized cold emails. Josh shares his experience, noting limited success due to the time-consuming nature of research and the uncertainty of whether recipients are in the market for his services.
  • 52:00 – 54:00 — Josh emphasizes the challenges of highly personalized cold outreach, noting the low likelihood of response if recipients are not seeking his services, leading to a shift towards bulk cold email strategies.
  • 54:00 – 56:00 — Zach and Josh discuss the technical and financial aspects of setting up email addresses for cold outreach, with Josh preferring Google Workspace for its integration with cold email tools.
  • 56:00 – 58:00 — Josh outlines the time investment required for effective cold email campaigns, including domain purchasing, email setup, warming up emails, and campaign management.
  • 58:00 – 1:00:00 — Josh describes the process of refining messaging for cold email campaigns, highlighting the initial months of trial and error before finding what works, and the potential for scaling up in subsequent months.
  • 1:00:00 – 1:02:00 — Zach and Josh discuss scaling cold email campaigns, emphasizing the need for a large enough leads list. Josh explains that once the system is set up, it requires minimal daily maintenance, mostly just responding to email replies.
  • 1:02:00 – 1:04:00 — Josh states the financial viability of cold email campaigns depends on having an average lifetime value of more than $2,000. He explains that recurring revenue models like subscription services are particularly suitable due to their high lifetime value.
  • 1:04:00 – 1:06:00 — Discussing costs, Josh suggests using instantly.io for its all-in-one cold email service, including lead generation and email warm-up system. The estimated monthly cost is around $250 to $275, including domains and Google Workspace email setup.
  • 1:06:00 – 1:08:00 — Josh details the importance of warming up new email addresses to avoid being marked as spam. This process involves automated email exchanges between newly set up accounts.
  • 1:08:00 – 1:10:00 — Josh shares his successful campaign metrics with a 63% open rate and 14% click rate, emphasizing the significance of a targeted email list and avoiding generic email formats like “quick question” subject lines for better engagement.
  • 1:10:00 – 1:12:00 — Josh suggests using friendly email subject lines, such as a greeting with the recipient’s name and the day of the week, to create a more personal connection and avoid appearing overly salesy. He emphasizes using animated GIFs in the body of the email to engage recipients.
  • 1:12:00 – 1:14:00 — The email body should contain an introduction, value proposition, and an inquiry if the recipient is interested in learning more. Josh prefers offering help and showcasing results he has achieved for similar clients to prompt a response.
  • 1:14:00 – 1:16:00 — For Pixel Painters, Josh targets churches with specific pain points, like needing help with graphic design due to time constraints or volunteer limitations. He offers his services as a solution and asks if they need help.
  • 1:16:00 – 1:18:00 — In the discovery call, Josh focuses on assessing if cold email would be a good fit for the client, addressing their past marketing experiences and discussing potential growth strategies.
  • 1:18:00 – 1:20:00 — Josh describes his follow-up email strategy, sending a sequence of three emails, with the second email following 7-10 days after the first if there’s no response. This sequence is designed to re-engage recipients who may have missed or overlooked the initial email.
  • 1:20:00 – 1:22:00 — Josh explains his follow-up email strategy, using a threaded response to reiterate his initial message. The second email is similar to the first, with slight adjustments, and the third email acts as a final attempt to engage the recipient.
  • 1:22:00 – 1:24:00 — He emphasizes compliance with cold email laws, such as including an opt-out option and a physical address in each email. Personal touches like adding a GIF of the sender’s headshot can also enhance the email’s effectiveness.
  • 1:24:00 – 1:26:00 — Josh advises focusing on the service offering before starting cold email campaigns, as the effectiveness of cold email is contingent on having a clear, desirable service.
  • 1:26:00 – 1:28:00 — To optimize cold email campaigns, Josh suggests considering volume as the most significant conversion lever, followed by case studies and personalization, in that order.
  • 1:28:00 – 1:30:00 — If faced with low conversion rates, Josh would first try to increase the volume of leads before adjusting other elements of the campaign, like the case study or personalization.
  • 1:30:00 – 1:32:00 — Josh discusses optimizing the offer and pricing, suggesting testing different pricing strategies, like halving the price temporarily, to gauge market response and adjust the value proposition accordingly.
  • 1:32:00 – 1:34:00 — The conversation shifts to ensuring the target audience is accurately identified and has the budget for the service offered. Josh emphasizes the importance of having testimonial videos from past clients to strengthen the case studies.
  • 1:34:00 – 1:36:00 — Josh shares his appreciation for the DYF resources and how instrumental they have been in growing his businesses. Zach acknowledges the impact and value of such feedback.
  • 1:36:00 – 1:37:49 — The episode concludes with Zach highlighting Josh’s offer of a free consultation on cold email marketing strategies and the benefits of DYF’s accelerator community for gaining expert insights and one-on-one coaching.