Apollo vs Instantly.ai: Cold Outreach Showdown (2024)

Last Updated on
May 23, 2024
Jason Gong
App automation expert

This article dives into comparing Apollo and Instantly.ai, specifically focusing on their cold outreach features to aid you in selecting the most suitable tool. It offers a detailed comparison aimed at guiding your choice and provides an analysis of how these tools perform beyond their primary function. Despite both tools offering a range of features, this comparison is centered on their cold outreach capabilities. As someone with firsthand experience using these platforms, I bring a practical perspective to the comparison.

The goal is to not only compare Apollo and Instantly.ai on their cold outreach tool features but to give you the insights needed to choose the best option for your sales strategy.

Campaign CreationOffers automatic/manual email tasks, social media integration, phone/action tasks. Mixed Reddit sentiment.Linear sequences, easy step addition, template/variable support. No Reddit sentiment.
DeliverabilityManages multiple mailboxes, rate limits, no direct email warming. Mixed Reddit experiences.Included email warming, spam avoidance, rate limits, multi-mailbox management. Mixed Reddit experiences.
PersonalizationDynamic variables, normalized fields, rich media content, extensive data for personalization. No Reddit sentiment.Template variety, placeholder variables, rich content options. No Reddit sentiment.
AIGenerates personalized emails, records/transcribes video calls for sales review. No Reddit sentiment.No AI functionality for sales sequences. No Reddit sentiment.
Native EnrichmentNative data enrichment for buyer signals and personalized outreach. No Reddit sentiment.Enrichment of added leads, manual upload, provides buyer signals. Positive Reddit sentiment.
Social AutomationAutomates LinkedIn tasks like messaging and connection requests. No Reddit sentiment.Lacks direct social automation, requires third-party integration. No Reddit sentiment.

Campaign Creation: Comparing Apollo and Instantly.ai

Apollo has a slight edge with its ability to integrate both email and social platforms like LinkedIn into its sequences, offering a more versatile approach to reaching leads.

Apollo's sequence step options show integration of emails and LinkedIn tasks

While Apollo's sequences are mostly linear, they are complemented by the platform's AI capabilities which can assist in campaign creation. In contrast, Instantly.ai offers only basic linear sequences, ideal for very straightforward outreach campaigns without the need for complex conditional logic or branching.

Instantly.ai's simple sequence creation interface

For users wanting to enhance personalization and targeting, Bardeen can enrich your lead data with fresh insights, using AI to browse websites and gather information. This can help to tailor your outreach, potentially improving open and response rates for your sequences.


Selection of automatic and LinkedIn-specific tasks in Apollo Sequences.

Apollo's Sequences feature allows you to create campaigns that send emails and messages, as well as queue tasks to engage with sales leads effectively. While the tool supports basic sequences of emails and actions, it's important to note that advanced conditional branching isn't a strong point, with a focus on mostly linear sequences.

  • Automatic and manual email tasks: You can set up emails to go out automatically or as manual tasks that need editing before sending.
  • Social media integration: Reach out to leads via LinkedIn with options to send connection requests and messages.
  • Phone call and action item tasks: Include calls to prospects and custom actions in your campaign sequence.

Reddit users have shared their experiences with Apollo's campaign creation, indicating a neutral to negative sentiment.

😐 "Apollo has its own email sequence function and they’ve recently added email warm up too. So really, all you need is Apollo, and nothing else." - r/Emailmarketing
👎 "schedule emails to be sent out it doesn't work or it works so badly that it is useless" - r/LeadGeneration


Simple campaign setup in Instantly.ai's Sequences.

Instantly.ai's Sequences feature offers a straightforward solution for setting up email campaigns designed for simple outreach. The linear nature of the sequences allows you to focus on sending emails and queuing tasks without the complexity of forking, conditionals, or branches.

Key aspects of campaign creation:

  • Linear Sequences: Follow a straight path without branching, ideal for simple campaigns.
  • Add Step: Easily insert additional steps to extend your campaign as needed.
  • Add Variant: Introduce variations to your emails for A/B testing or personalization.
  • Templates and Variables: Access pre-written content and insert dynamic fields to streamline your workflow.
Bardeen Logo Icon
Pro Tip:

Deliverability - Boosting Email Reputation and Inbox Placement

Instantly.ai stands out with its email warming service included even in the most basic package, offering an integrated solution for deliverability issues.

Integrated email warming settings in Instantly.ai's interface

The service simulates email opens and reads to help avoid spam filters and improve sender reputation. Unlike Apollo, which requires an additional product for email warming, Instantly.ai provides a full-featured service, directly addressing key deliverability factors like spam avoidance and rate limits.

For users looking to enhance their email campaigns and maintain good deliverability, Instantly.ai’s integrated approach makes it an attractive option.

To further boost your email effectiveness, consider using a tool like Bardeen to craft personalized one-liners that can help increase open and response rates while reducing the chance of being flagged as spam.


Overview of multiple mailboxes management in Apollo for deliverability.

When it comes to deliverability, Apollo offers features like managing multiple mailboxes to spread out your email sending and avoiding rate limits that could affect your email deliverability. However, users looking to improve deliverability through email warming will need to integrate an additional service, as Apollo does not provide this directly.

  • Multiple Mailboxes: Manage several mailboxes to distribute sending volumes.
  • Rate Limits: Set daily and hourly limits to prevent being marked as spam.
  • Deliverability Score: Although not shown in the screenshot, typically such a feature would help monitor your sender reputation.

Reddit feedback suggests that while Apollo's features can be effective, users have had varied experiences, and there are recommendations for best practices in email deliverability:

🤔 "Allowing link tracking adds some inherent risk when sending emails" - r/Emailmarketing
🤔 "Make sure to limit the number of emails going out each day" - r/sales


Email warming settings and multiple mailbox management in Instantly.ai's Sequences Deliverability.

Instantly.ai's Sequences feature takes a proactive approach to deliverability issues by incorporating unlimited email warming in even its most basic package. This service is designed to improve the sender's reputation and inbox placement by simulating genuine interactions like email opens and reads.

  • Email Warming: Integrated into the product, promoting better deliverability.
  • Spam Avoidance: Implements practices to reduce the chance of emails being marked as spam.
  • Rate Limits: Configurable settings to control the volume of emails sent, preventing sudden spikes that might harm deliverability.
  • Multiple Mailboxes: Manage and warm multiple email accounts simultaneously.
😕 "Been doing the warm up for almost 2 months now and still even basic messages going to spam" - r/Emailmarketing
Bardeen Logo Icon
Pro Tip:

Personalization - Tailoring engagement for optimized results

When it comes to personalizing emails, Apollo takes the lead with its extensive enrichment data and dynamic variables that can be effortlessly incorporated into the email body.

Dynamic variables in Apollo allow for personalized email templates

Instantly.ai provides a good range of customization options, including pre-made templates and various campaign settings, but lacks the depth of Apollo's data enrichment capabilities.

For those looking to enrich their outreach further, Bardeen's integration with OpenAI can help craft custom messages, taking advantage of Apollo's data and other automation tools.

Apollo's ability to personalize content using AI-generated openers and a rich set of data points gives it an edge for users seeking deeper customization in their email sequences.


Preview of email personalization with dynamic variables in Apollo.

Apollo's Sequences feature shines in personalization, making sure your emails to sales leads feel unique and catered to them. Here's how you can customize your emails:

  • Dynamic Variables: Inject any field from Apollo's database into your email using {{ }} brackets to personalize your content.
  • Normalized Fields: Apollo provides normalized references for a natural feel in emails.
  • Email Preview: Check how your email looks by previewing it with an existing lead's data or sending a test to yourself.
  • Rich Media Content: Enhance your emails with meeting invites, Vidyard recordings, and images.
  • Extensive Enrichment Data: Access a wide array of data points, as Apollo specializes in data enrichment.


Email customization with variable placeholders in Instantly.ai Sequences.

With Instantly.ai's Sequences, you can create highly customized emails for each lead. The personalization features offer a strong blend of templates, placeholders, and additional options to tailor your outreach for maximum impact.

  • Template variety: Start with pre-made templates or create your own.
  • Placeholder variables: Insert {{placeholders}} for personalization.
  • Preview function: Easily preview emails before sending.
  • Rich content: Add links, emoticons, and images to emails.
  • Advanced options: Track emails and set daily limits for sending.
Bardeen Logo Icon
Pro Tip:

AI - Generate Personalized Emails Efficiently

Apollo clearly leads with its AI capabilities, letting you generate and customize email content, including subject lines and one-liners, specifically tailored to your company and audience.

Apollo's AI assistant allows for personalized email generation

Instantly.ai, despite its name, does not offer AI features for crafting sales sequence content, which may limit the level of personalization and efficiency in your outreach efforts.

Using Apollo's AI to create relevant and personalized emails can potentially increase engagement rates, which is crucial for successful sales sequences.

To further boost your sales process, consider integrating Bardeen, which can add more detailed context about leads and automate tasks, enhancing the power of Apollo's AI features.

For sales teams seeking to leverage AI for better personalization and efficiency, Apollo is the superior choice as it provides robust AI tools that Instantly.ai lacks.


AI-generated email with customization options in Apollo Sequences.

Apollo's AI in Sequences offers impressive capabilities for creating personalized outreach. You can guide the AI to generate one-liners, subject lines, and even entire emails by providing information about your company, product, and target persona. Additionally, the tool provides the unique feature of recording, transcribing, and analyzing video call meetings, which can be invaluable for sales review and training purposes.

  • Guided AI Generation: Direct the AI to craft messages aligned with your brand and target audience.
  • Customization: Modify one-liners, openers, subject lines, and full emails for a tailored approach.
  • Recording and Analysis: Automatically record and transcribe video calls, analyzing them for improved sales strategies.


When evaluating the AI capabilities of Instantly.ai's Sequences feature, it's important to note that, unexpectedly, the tool does not offer AI functionalities for crafting sales sequences. This could be a potential drawback for users looking for AI assistance in writing sentences or using custom signals for each lead.

  • No AI functionality: Despite the name, Instantly.ai does not provide AI features for sales sequences.
  • Custom signals: There's no option to leverage AI for custom lead signals.
  • Sentence writing: Users cannot use AI to write entire sentences within the tool.
Bardeen Logo Icon
Pro Tip:

Native Enrichment - Detailed Lead Insights for Personalized Outreach

Apollo has the edge with its comprehensive native enrichment database, offering a wealth of data for personalizing communication with leads.

Apollo provides detailed lead insights for targeted outreach

Instantly.ai, on the other hand, can enrich lists of leads but does not offer the same level of native enrichment, which might limit the depth of personalization without additional resources.

For those seeking to integrate Apollo with Bardeen, this can streamline workflows even further by automating the enrichment of leads in other apps and gathering additional information from platforms like LinkedIn and company websites.

If deep data enrichment is a priority for your sales sequences, Apollo's built-in capabilities make it a more robust choice.


Overview of Apollo's data enrichment for actionable lead insights.

Apollo's Sequences feature offers native enrichment that gives you valuable buyer signals and data from various sources about your leads. This helps you personalize your outreach with enriched data parameters, making your engagement more targeted and informed.

  • Data Enrichment: Access detailed lead profiles including job changes and buyer signals.
  • Personalization: Use enriched data to customize emails and increase relevance.
  • Lead Insights: Gain actionable insights with real-time data on lead activities.


Enrichment options and filters in Instantly.ai's Native Enrichment feature.

Instantly.ai's Sequences feature includes a Native Enrichment sub-feature that provides additional insights into your leads. While it does not have its own enrichment database, it allows you to enrich a list of leads you've added by pulling data from various sources. This can give you more information on your leads, such as buyer signals, to enhance your sales efforts.

  • Enrichment of added leads: Use data from external sources to add details to your leads.
  • Manual upload required: There is no inbuilt database; you need to add leads manually.
  • Buyer signals: Gain insights into potential interest and readiness to buy.
👍 "Try instantly.ai — it’s the best for leads and verification" - r/LeadGeneration
Bardeen Logo Icon
Pro Tip:

Social Automation: Optimizing LinkedIn Interactions

Apollo has a clear upper hand in terms of social automation with its capability to automate tasks on LinkedIn directly within the platform.

Apollo's task list showing LinkedIn automation options

This includes sending messages, connection requests, and even interacting with posts without leaving the app. On the other hand, Instantly.ai lacks the feature to automate social platforms like LinkedIn, requiring users to integrate with additional platforms such as Dripify or Hey Alfred for such functionalities.

When using Apollo, you can prioritize tasks, adjust due dates, and take advantage of the platform's AI to streamline social engagement processes.

If you're looking to extend your social automation beyond LinkedIn, Bardeen's integration with LinkedIn is in Beta and can help you to automate your workflows across various platforms.

For users who rely on LinkedIn for business development or recruiting, the convenience of Apollo's built-in social automation could be a game-changer.


Overview of Apollo's social automation tasks for LinkedIn.

Apollo's Sequences feature includes social automation that simplifies your engagement with leads on platforms like LinkedIn. You can create tasks for various actions, schedule them according to your priority, and even automate interactions without manual input. This is a significant time saver for anyone looking to enhance their social selling efforts.

  • Task variety: Create tasks for emails, phone calls, or LinkedIn interactions.
  • Custom scheduling: Set task priority and due dates to your preference.
  • LinkedIn automation: Automate messages, post interactions, and connection requests.


When using the Sequences feature in Instantly.ai, it's important to note that social platform automation, especially for LinkedIn, is not directly available. You might need to integrate other tools like Bardeen to fill this gap. This could be a consideration for those who rely heavily on social automation for their sales processes.

  • Social Automation Limitation: Direct automation for LinkedIn and other social platforms is not built-in.
  • Third-party Integration Needed: To automate social tasks, you will need to use additional tools like Bardeen.
Bardeen Logo Icon
Pro Tip:



Bardeen Logo Icon
Pro Tip:



Bardeen Logo Icon
Pro Tip:



Bardeen Logo Icon
Pro Tip:



Bardeen Logo Icon
Pro Tip:

Which is Better for Your Outreach, Apollo or Instantly.ai?

Apollo and Instantly.ai serve different needs in the realm of cold outreach. Apollo's integration with social platforms like LinkedIn, combined with its AI capabilities for crafting personalized emails, makes it a powerful tool for those looking to engage leads across multiple channels with a high degree of customization. Apollo's strength lies in its ability to offer detailed lead insights and versatile campaign sequences, catering to users who need a comprehensive, data-driven approach to outreach.

Instantly.ai, on the other hand, excels in simplicity and deliverability. Its built-in email warming feature and straightforward campaign setup are ideal for users seeking a focused, efficient method to reach out to leads without the complexity of managing multiple channels or crafting highly personalized messages. Instantly.ai is best suited for straightforward email campaigns that prioritize inbox placement and ease of use.

In conclusion, choose Apollo if your outreach strategy demands deep personalization and multi-channel engagement. Opt for Instantly.ai when simplicity and email deliverability are your top priorities. Both tools offer valuable features, but the best choice depends on your specific outreach objectives.