When you’re looking for new clients, promoting something new within your business, or you’re doing a cold prospect outreach, how you do things initially is important. What you do in the early stages of contacting a prospect or promoting something is going to set the tone for everything else that happens with you and the person you reach out to.

There are different ways to initiate that original contact, but how do you know which one is right?

“Email outreach is one of the most important steps in any marketing strategy,” writes Ajay Goel of Gmass.

So, does that mean that emails should come first or should you cold call a prospect before reaching out by email?

The following are some things to consider if you’re wondering whether to call or email prospects for the first time.

Consider Timing

If you’re weighing whether or not to initiate contact by phone, think about the timing. Research shows that people are more likely to answer their phones and take a call later in the day, and also later in the week.

So, if you want to get in touch with someone by phone, think about doing so either on a Thursday or Friday. Also think about calling them later in the day, but not too close to the end of business.

Even if the prospect doesn’t answer during these times, you can leave a voicemail because this may be the time when someone is most likely to listen to those as well.

So what about emails? Is there a time to send emails that’s better than another? Sometimes sending an email at the start of the business day can be a good idea, because this is when people are sorting through their messages and prioritizing how they’ll spend their day.

Sending an email at the end of the day can be good too, since the prospect is likely to be wrapping everything up and that can often include going through emails.

Sending emails in the middle of the day can cause them to get lost in the shuffle of everything else going on.

Think About What You’re Asking For

If you’re asking for something specific that requires a decision and a definitive answer from the prospect, it might be best to call. For example, if you want to set a meeting, sometimes calling is best because then you’re getting immediate feedback.

However, if you’re just starting out and you’re not asking for something as strong or definitive as a meeting or something that needs a decision, go with email.

Who Are You Contacting?

While a phone call can work well in some situations, for a lot of people the phone is no longer the preferred way to communicate.

Think about who you’re going to be contacting. Will they be annoyed or turned off by a cold call? A lot of people are, and we’re almost all inherently more used to communicating digitally at this point, so sometimes an email is less intrusive, less annoying and generally more accepted.

At the same time, if you’re contacting someone who you feel might like talking or who might have a more old-school mentality about making deals and communicating, maybe a call is best.

You Can Perfect Your Message Via Email

Sometimes one of the downfalls of calling versus emailing is the fact that calling gives you more opportunity to approach things in the wrong way, or say things in a less-than-ideal way. It’s easy to get tripped up when you’re talking to a decision-maker, particularly if you’re nervous.

An email does give you more control over your message and allows you to craft it in the right way without worrying about being put on the spot.

There are a lot of variables that can cause a phone call to go wrong, and that’s not the case with emails.

Decision Makers and Screen Time

Finally, if you’re deciding between a call or an email, be aware of the fact that most decision-makers are ultimately spending more time in front of a screen, whether that’s their computer, their phone or their tablet than they are by the phone.

People are constantly staring at their phone, making it more likely that they’re going to see your message and that it’s going to resonate with them, as compared to leaving a voicemail.

There’s not one answer that’s right or wrong in every situation when you’re deciding between calling or emailing, but when you’re starting cold, an email may be the better option in many cases.