How do you find email addresses for people that you want to send cold emails to?
The key word in your question is “people". It begs the question, WHO are these people? If you are just emailing random people, it can be difficult to collect email addresses, and also illegal as that sort of activity would be considered spam.
I'm thinking you are likely referring to business people of a particular industry - but what people? in what industry? That has to be accounted for first, because the method of lead data acquisition will change based on that..In other words, getting the email address of a pizza shop owner is different than getting the email address of a Fortune-500 CEO.
There are software applications and databases that offer contact info based on various data points and filtered criteria but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We use proprietary software when acquiring data lists for clients, but building custom apps is extremely expensive and shouldnt be considered until there is a good reason to. Cold email is tougher today than ever in history because of spam filters preventing delivery, and recipients not caring enough about your email, (as compared to the countless others in the pile), to actually open it.
My advice is to use email as a remarketing or metrics tool, and always accompany with a phone call. By remarketing I mean that the lead prospect already expressed interest elsewhere in what you are offering. Your email follows that up; therefore it is no longer cold. Your opens will be much higher as a result. By metrics I mean you can test a campaign on a particular audience by tracking opens, and clicks, to determine a next move.
The biggest mistake anyone can make during a cold email initiative is thinking that someone will buy something the first time they see it. It would be nice but unfortunately the world generally doesn't work that way.
Question originally asked and answered at Quora; Quora.com