How to Build a Cadence and Best Email Practices with Will Allred


In his presentation, Will shares the success that he has found while he has built cadences and personalized emails. Will shares the tips that he has used in order to get a stronger email response rate.


Will Allred is Co-founder and COO at Lavender, an AI sales email assistant. 


“You have to recognize where your readers are coming from and where they are in their day to day. We think about our prospects a heck of a lot more than they think about us and so you have to remember you are not top of mind.” 

“People are busy. You have to follow up until you’re gonna reach out for a reason. It’s a short sprint, it’s not a long marathon.” 

Key Points

  1. Your only goal as you build out that cadence is to continue to try to get a response
  2. The power of personalized emails and how to configure them
  3. Emails must have a personalized reason for reaching out


Hey there, we got a limited amount of time so I’m going to jump right in.

The point of today is we’re going to build out a cadence from scratch and it
starts really with a reason for reaching out. So that research but all the way
from the cold email to the end of the cadence. We’re going to talk through
every single one of those emails.

Now, who am I to talk about this? Well, I’m Will Allred. I’m one of the
co-founders at a company called lavender. We help sales reps write better
emails faster. I’ve sat down with 1000s of sellers at this point, giving
advice. That advice is based on the millions of emails that we see going
through our system. Right now. We process about 2 million emails per month, and
I share a lot of that stuff On LinkedIn. It’s why they gave me a monthly top
voice in sales last year.

Now, what are we going to talk about today? Today, I’m going to talk about
how I build a cadence, really just walking you through. What’s the mentality
behind the way I approach cadences, which is really like a sprint not
necessarily the marathons that you might be used to building out research. Why
are we reaching out is really what I’m trying to answer here but showcasing a
process for how you can go about doing this yourself so that you can integrate,
why you’re reaching out throughout your cadence. Then I’m going to briefly hit
on the best practices behind email- think of these as like the guiding
principles that are going to help us shape part four here, which is the emails
themselves so we’re going to talk about the cold emails, the follow ups, how to
write a non cringy breakup email, and all that stuff is going to be guided by
those best practices, but then we’ll finish up by reviewing the cadence.

We’re literally going to build a cadence today. So how do I think about
cadence? How do I design them? Well, you need a cadence and the reason for that
is because most of your emails aren’t going to get a response. You have to
follow up. It’s inevitable, right? But when you’re thinking about that, you
also have to think about what is the goal of your cadence? What is the goal of
each email within the cadence? And until you get a response, your only goal
with those emails is to get a response. And this is contrary to a lot of what I

What I see is people trying to continuously stack up and build out
information, right? Your mindset is like, Oh, they didn’t respond to that. Let
me dump more information on them so that they can learn more about our product.
And that’s not necessarily what you should be doing. You have to recognize
where your readers are coming from and where they are in their day to day. We
think about our prospects a heck of a lot more than they think about us and so
you have to remember you are not top of mind. And so, as you watch this cadence
unfurl, you’ll recognize that we’re continuously reminding them why we showed
up in the first place.

Now, we’re going to remind them, but we’re not going to continuously remind
them until the end of time. In fact, you’re only going to see in a cadence that
is designed around three to five emails, and those are going to be sent over a
pretty short period of time. I prefer to send them much quicker than a 30-day
period, but say you’re looping in other channels, then maybe we push some of
those back to not overwhelm the reader.

Now, this is sort of what it looks like. Day one, you send your cold email
and by the end of day 30 you’re breaking up and so what you’ll see there is I
have it spread out because I have this vision here like you’ll be using other
channels. Say I wasn’t using other channels. This would probably accelerate to
maybe like 20 days. At that point, that breakup email comes in. But we’re
actually going to dive into each of these email types. And don’t worry, I’ll
showcase this again before we jump into them so you can see what order they’re
coming in. But the thinking behind them is very simple.

Now. People are busy. You have to follow up until you’re going to reach out
for a reason. It’s a short sprint, it’s not a long marathon. And more channels
you use are going to boost your response and so that will stretch out how long
that sprint goes but it’s still a sprint. Right? And regardless of what
touchpoint we have within that cadence. The only goal here is not necessarily
to build out enough of a story that they’re going to say send me the contract,
right? Your only goal as you build out that cadence is to continue to try to
get a response.

So, the most important thing that you can do when you’re building out a
cadence is to do good research and have a reason for why you’re showing up
there. Because if your only reason is because they’re a good fit, quote on
quote, right? Oh, they’re in marketing, and thus they need my software. That’s
not a good reason for showing up. And when I talk about research, you’re going
to start to recognize that I’m talking about the topic of personalization. But
when I think about personalization, I think about personalization as a process,
right? It’s not a checkbox that you’re slapping on top of a template. It’s
something that you weave into the entire cadence. And why should you weave it
into the entire cadence and not just slap it on top? Well, because it works,
right, you’re more likely to read an email if it’s written to you. And so
personalized emails get two times the amount of response sales off put stated
together. And so why wouldn’t we want to weave that throughout the entire
narrative? It doesn’t mean that this is a time-consuming endeavor.

So, what is this quote, personalization. And what are we researching? Well,
what you’re really trying to find is a valid reason for reaching out. And that
requires setting context for the end reader on the other end, right? You can’t
just drop, hey, yeah, I know you have this problem. You have to set the context
for them for why you believe that and so a great framework for creating that
context is to give them an observation. State something that’s clearly true.
And then tie that back to an insight that you can derive or a problem that
you’re likely seeing based on that observation. It’s a fairly simple framework.
And what I’ll tell you is we’re going to reuse it multiple times throughout the
cadence. And so how do you find this context?

Well, I always tell teams, you have to start with what you do. Because if
you like you just start talking to somebody about a random topic. It’s not
going to be a relevant discussion. It’s not going to help you out. And so,
start with what you do, think about what problems you solve for with that
solution, and who you solve those problems for, and then look for external
indicators that those problems exist, right? It could be their hiring, it could
be that they got funding, it could be any number of things. Maybe it’s a public
comment from the CEO, but those external indicators tell you the problems
there, right. And so now it’s about building a process. The process for where
you find those indicators, base them on reliability, relevance, and click path,
right. Like I know our product makes that click path a lot easier. We bring a
lot of that research into the inbox so that you can find it faster. But at the
same time, you have to think about what your pieces of information are and where
you’re going to go and in what order. What are you looking for? Because what
you really need to do is be able to tie that thing back to an insight or
problem that you derive right just because they have XYZ experience doesn’t
mean it’s a good reason for showing up today.

It’s more about actual context for what you can solve and do for them. And
you’re going to weave that throughout the entire cadence. Now. We’re going to
personalize more than just the template, right? You’re personalizing the entire
cadence. You know why you should reach out; it is about solving their problem.
And that’s based on something that you have externally validated, right? It’s
Hey, I see you’re hiring. Hey, I see you just scaled up the team after raising
that big round. There’s something that indicates to you that there’s a good
reason for being there. And you reuse that throughout the process. So, let’s
talk about the data. Because this is going to guide what goes into those
emails. Right.

So now we have some of the content that’s going in, but let’s put some
guardrails on how we actually write those emails based on the millions of
emails that we see going through our system. So here are the top best
practices, we’re going to talk about all of them. I have to put in personalization
because literally personalizing your emails makes it two times more likely that
you’re going to get a response. But let’s start with subject lines, right.

So, the data and subject lines would say use a two-word subject line. It
would say use title case, it would tell you to not use words like better,
certainly not first name token I think SalesLoft data on that right now shows
that if you use a first name token, your chance of getting a response goes down
about 18% You’re going to want to use pretty much boring language, right? You
don’t want numbers; you don’t want question marks. In fact, numbers are going
to decrease your chance of getting an open by about 80%. Using a question mark,
asking a question reduces your chance of getting an open by about 56%. And so
be mindful of these things. So you basically want your subject line to read two
words that are kind of bland. So instead of saying better replies or would you
want to get better replies, I would write a subject line that says email
cadence. Very clean, but it explains the content of the email.

Okay. So, it’s a simple subject line. Simplicity within your writing is
hugely important in fact, 70% of emails are written at or beyond a 10th grade
reading level. Every example I’m going to show you is written below a seventh
grade reading level. Sixth is the highest we go here; everything’s a fifth or a
sixth grade reading level. And the reason for that is that a fifth grade
reading level is optimal. What we see when we read a fifth grade reading level
compared to a 10th grade reading level, is that you get 50% More replies. It is
the simplest thing to do. And all you have to do is just use short common words
and very short choppy sentences. The commas are basically a giant red flag that
says you’re going on too long.

Now, the formality of your message. Don’t come across robotic, don’t come
across overly formal because it’s going to read kind of cringy to the other
person. The way you should think about this as you’re writing to a friend that
you just haven’t met yet, brevity. So, the average amount of time someone’s
going to spend with each of these emails. So, I mentioned that they don’t think
about you well, they’re going to spend about 11 seconds reading your email. And
if you think about what that means, from a word count perspective, you have
about 25 to 50 words to get your point across, in fact, going from a 125 word
email, to a 25 to 50 word Email 100 To 125 to 25 to 50. It’s going to increase
your chance of a response by 65%.

That’s Huge- it’s just taking a lot of the fluff out of your writing and
removing unnecessary things from your writing. And you’ll notice I remove a lot
about what we do when I’m trying to figure out what to cut down. We ask. The
data around us which showcase that you should have a very simple clear task
that’s not about getting time, it’s not that it doesn’t change as the cadence
goes on. Right? Your only goal is to get a response out of the email. So, you
want something that’s easy to respond to. And you really only want one clear,
ask the entire email and then last, but certainly not least, if it’s
personalized, meaning it’s focused back on that reason, the whole reason we did
all that research, right so that we can weave it into every single touch point.
And so it’s important and we’re going to do it throughout every single email. Let’s
talk about the emails.

So we’ve got cold emails here, I’ve got a framework that I’m going to show
you got follow ups that are going to follow along to that cold email, and eventually
it’s going to end in a breakup. Remember this example. We’re going to walk you
through step by step how to write each email in this cadence. So first email
the first touch. This is my favorite framework to start with. You start with
context, you are kicking it off with your research, you’ve got an observation,
you’re going to tie that observation back to a challenge. You’re going to lend
credibility to you being able to speak to that problem. You’re going to start
to lead into what you do to solve that and then you’re going to call for
conversation. So, here’s what that looks like on paper. George, I saw your
hiring for STRS. I imagine you’re thinking about how the ramp, usually our
customers focus on phones, but email results lag. We’re helping reps that
Sendoso ramp faster they continue improving with our inbox assistant worth the
chat. What I’m doing there is breaking up longer sentences. A lot of these
could have been compound sentences, and so I break them up into their short
choppy bits there. And what that does is it makes it easier to absorb.

You’ll also see I don’t really talk about much of what we do in the event
that I’m bringing it up. I’m doing it under the context of how we’ve helped
somebody else other than just me trying to inform them about what we do. And
then I try to open it up for dialogue. Just like hey, is this worth a
conversation to know? They don’t respond a couple of days later, I’m coming in
with a third-party resource. And the reason I’m doing that is because if I send
them a blog that I wrote, they’re inherently going to be thinking that it’s
biased information, right.

So let’s talk about how you frame this up. So the first thing you bring
up the name of the publication, right? You show them that we’re going
neutral, and then you reuse that original context, right? See talk about that
observation and why it’s keeping you coming back and then explain what the
article is right? Give it the TLDR and then make a nod back to the original CTA
in case they want to go check out what you originally sent, right? Why is this
person sending me this article? You’re replying to every single email within
the thread. There are no new threads getting started so you don’t have to worry
about a new subject line or anything. And you know, what the subject line would
be for an email thread like this to be something like an email ramp, right ties
back to the context of what’s going on here. So, let’s give an example.

So, when I write this neutral insights email, I actually have an article
that I love to lean on. Lauren Wadsworth, who was VP of sales over at segment
before the acquisition, well, she wrote a great article about how her team
scaled to a $3.2 billion acquisition without ever using a canned template. They
used outreach in a very different way. And so it’s a really interesting article
for sales managers to dig into. And it ties directly back to hey, you’re
ramping reps. I thought you’d find this interesting. So I just said, Hey, I use
George’s my go to example. Do you read his Outreaches blog? Given your likely
ramping reps, I thought you’d find it interesting. The VP of sales at segment
wrote about how she scaled her team to a $3.2 billion acquisition. They did it
without using canned templates. Check it out. It’s a link. And then any thoughts?
My last note, what I’m doing there is I’m basically saying like, hey, this
isn’t going to be an overly aggressive pushy thing. I’m here to help and so I’m
finding interesting things and bringing them to the table. I’m creating
reciprocity by doing that and it’s, it’s a pattern breaking as well, right?
Most people are used to people just hounding them with like, hey, buy my stuff.
Now I’m saying no, I’m going to change that. I’m going to bring something
interesting to the table.

Now. After that, what do we do? They haven’t responded. Give it a couple
more days. Well, why don’t we bump something back up to the top of their inbox,
right? We’re all familiar with that, like, thoughts. Question mark, follow up
email. There’s a better way, a more thoughtful way to approach this instead of
just saying thoughts, remind them of why you’re there and then do your bump.

So here’s an example. Hey, George, given your growing sales team, I thought
this would be worth a discussion. Did you have any feedback on my note? It’s
super simple, super clean. And I’m giving them a reason for why they should go
engage them saying, Hey, I did my homework. This isn’t just a canned automated
sequence. It’s going off right? It’s me saying like, listen, I saw this thing
that made me think this. Call me crazy. Did you have feedback? That’s really
what you’re getting across. There’s another way you can approach this. And it
sort of leans into that tentative nature of why you’re following up is what I
call the clarification. And it’s essentially a rephrase of the original
framework, right?

So you restate why you showed up and then you seek to clarify, and you start
with what you do when you seek to clarify, and then you explain why what you do
is relevant, that ties it all back up to the context and then you call for
conversation, right? You open it up for dialogue. Hey, George, given you’re
growing the sales team, I thought coaching might be top of mind. I thought I
should clarify. We’ve built a sales email coach that sits right inside their inbox.
High Growth teams get great results and peace of mind. You get a much better
sense for what reps are sending without hovering over their shoulder. If this
could help your team, right? Very clean, very simple. I’m just basically
restating why I reached out and I’m giving it some more context around what we
do as opposed to trying to use customers to create that context.

Now. Say that doesn’t work. Say we’re continuously falling up here. The next
email that will come across. So maybe the first couple you bought a little time
in between so this one’s come in four or five days later, and it’s an Ask for a
referral and this is a form of a breakup email. In this case, I’m going to
showcase it as it’s not a breakup email. And the reason I’m doing that is because
I have a specific breakup that I want to show you, but the point of this email
is basically to say I’m trying to reach out to you clearly not relevant to you.
So, I think this person might be interested. Can you put me in touch with them?
And here’s how that comes to life on paper.

Hey, George would Ashley be a better person to talk to you about email
coaching. I saw she likely manages the tech from your careers page. It’s well
researched for me to hold this account, and I’m being thoughtful about it. I’ve
tried reaching out to you but it’s not working. And so you drop this in a bit
after all of those other original notes. Now, you can either end the cadence
here and start reaching out to Ashley or you can send a breakup. And trust me
when I first thought about writing a breakup email, I hated the idea, but one
of our advisors Christina has really changed my perspective on it. And it’s
because she refers to it as a buy for now. If you’ve researched a prospect, and
you’ve been very thoughtful about how you’re reaching out, and it’s not just me
trying to talk about all the things that we can do, and just overwhelm you with
info about ourselves, Well, all of a sudden, you recognize that you can have a
really valid breakup with somebody which is, hey, I’ve been reaching out and
you explain why you reached out and then you just say, Hey, listen, the timing
is clearly off. People appreciate this and when we’ve put it into our cadence
it gets a really good response.

So here’s what it looks like. George, I’ve reached out a few times, given
your hiring so many reps. I thought our email assistant could help. I’m going
to chalk it up to my timing being off. Let me know if I’m wrong, but I’ll stop
my outreach from now. Now, one other piece about this breakup email that works
really well is adding a gif, but you have to be careful, because the tone of
the gift can overpower a lot of what’s going on here and let me show you. So,
we’ve used this GIF within our outreach really well. But say you’re raising red
flags. And or say you’re trying to put a GIF into your outreach, and you don’t
recognize that you’re raising flags. Look at these two by comparison. One of
these says, Hey, is it a bad time? Very different tone, right? The one on the
right is like hey, please respond to me. Have you gotten eaten by an alligator?
This is how to use gifs to create cringe. Is this sort of, please mentality?
That’s not what you’re looking for. What you’re looking for is just to restate
the message in a visual format. And your message should never come across as
please, please, please. It should just say hey, not a good time, right? You’re
not trying to be cringe worthy. That’s okay. That every email that you saw
there hits on best practices, we’re leaning into brevity, we’re leaning into

Every single email wove in that personalization, that reason for reaching
out, and what you have is a cadence that is very thoughtfully crafted and is
going to see a really strong response rate. And you’re able to run these very
quickly. And you can set them up pretty fast, especially if you build out that
strong research process.

Now, hopefully this was helpful, I’m Will Allred, again, please feel free to
get in touch with me. LinkedIn is sort of referred to as the hub of where you
can get a hold of me. It’s where you can find access to Twitter, I publish
every Sunday. I’m also on Twitter as well.

But hopefully you enjoyed this. And this was helpful as you think about
building out your next cadence.