Cold call - snowy phone box
Photo attribution:

One of the issues you’ll get as your website becomes more popular is random requests. In the good old days these were referred to as “cold calls”. Someone you don’t know contacts you with an offer. As a new website owner how do you deal with this ?

Some of the emails are easy to deal with. For example:

  • Please help me transfer $1 million from my country to your country. Just put $100 into my bank account and send me your bank account number.

These most people just delete.

Other contact you get will try to sell you a new website, or web hosting or analytics or design services or almost anything. Fairly regularly my small and medium sized clients ring or email me asking if these sorts of things are a good deal. As a general rule they are not. But as an example here is one I got today

Hi Dorje,

It’s Duke from FirstSiteGuide. I found a bit older post that you wrote on how to use WordPress properly for administrating a website and I couldn’t agree more with you that having a backup means that data will be saved if something unexpected happens.

Therefore, I would like to introduce you to our educational website made for web beginners where we’ve included in-depth online guides together with downloadable PDF’s, WordPress video tutorials and web development resources in order to help newbies establish their online identity.

You can check it out for yourself here:

If it’s not too much to ask, would you consider mentioning our site within your post as an additional resource for your readers who don’t have a website yet and then they could follow the tips that you provided?

Hope to hear from you.

Best Regards,

Duke Vukadinovic 

My approach in this case is to go through the following

Cold call email assessment framework

  • Do they use my name ?
  • Is the spelling correct ?
  • Is it a reasonable request ?
  • Does it interest me ?

If the answers to these four items are Yes then I do the following

  • How much time will I put into investigation ?

I write down the number of minutes I will put into investigating this email. Usually no more than 10minutes, because time is money. Next I do the following

  • Is the person who sent the email a real person ?
    Generally I use LinkedIn or Google to try and find evidence of the person in the real world. Often this shows up running results or some other personal interest. If their name is common this can be quite hard. And it may be that I go to their website and look at the About section.
  • Is the website they’ve sent me to littered with disreputable adverts and crazy claims ?

If they are real and not trying to scam the people who visit their site then I try and work out if I want to be associated with them and what they are asking me to do ?

  • In the FirstTimeGuides example above this meant I looked at some of their free material for website owners and a couple of videos. In this case they were useful for people starting out with an online presence.
  • I then try to find out where the people are from and the business is based. In some cases this is easy using LinkedIn, in other cases I lookup the domain name and see if there is information about who owns it  in the DNS record or other public information source. In New Zealand I use the Ministry of Business Industry and Innovation website to look up the people and company

If all this seems like it is legitimate then I contact them and or decide if I want to do some work with them.

In the example above, it spurred me to create this blog post because I often use my cold call email assessment framework to answer questions from my clients. Duke’s email also prompted me to put a link on my blog post to the First Time Guides website.

How do you work out which cold calls are worth your time ?

Let me know what you look for.



How to assess cold call emails