Apollo vs Smartlead: Cold Email Tools Face-off 2024

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

This article dives into a detailed comparison between Apollo and Smartlead, focusing on their cold outreach capabilities to help you choose the best tool for your needs. While both tools offer a wider range of features, we'll specifically compare them based on their performance in cold outreach. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive breakdown of both options. As someone who has spent considerable time reviewing and testing various sales and marketing tools, I bring firsthand insights into how these tools stack up against each other.

Campaign Creation Linear sequences, email & LinkedIn integration Linear flow, unlimited email account rotation
Deliverability Multiple mailboxes, rate limits, spam avoidance Email warming, spam avoidance, rate limits
Personalization Dynamic variables, extensive data, preview feature Unlimited custom fields, simple mapping
AI Guided content creation, customization, video call features Uses custom values for tailored content, limited AI writing
Native Enrichment Buyer signals, data enrichment, integration Integration with Clay for lead data
Social Automation LinkedIn tasks, automated social tasks SMS, Twitter, WhatsApp messaging

Campaign Creation: Balancing Multichannel Outreach and Volume Management

Apollo has the edge in campaign creation due to its support for both email and social platforms like LinkedIn.

Apollo's interface showcasing various sequence steps including LinkedIn tasks

However, the sequences are mostly linear, with limited support for conditionals and branching paths, which could be a drawback for complex sales strategies. Smartlead, while also offering simple, linear sequences, provides unlimited auto-rotating email accounts, which can be a significant benefit for high-volume campaigns.

For users looking to enhance personalization and improve open and response rates beyond what Apollo offers, Bardeen can enrich leads with detailed, AI-gathered insights to tailor outreach more effectively.

When choosing between Apollo and Smartlead for sequences, consider the importance of multi-channel outreach versus the need for managing large email volumes efficiently; Apollo serves the former, while Smartlead caters to the latter.


Apollo Sequences: Email and LinkedIn actions for campaign steps.

Apollo's Sequences feature allows you to set up campaigns that send emails and engage with leads on platforms like LinkedIn. However, the sequences are largely linear without strong support for branching paths or complex conditionals. This makes it straightforward for creating basic sequences but may limit more advanced users who need detailed workflow customization.

  • Linear Sequencing: Focus on straightforward email and task sequences.
  • Email & Social Platform Integration: Includes LinkedIn actions to connect with leads.
  • Automatic & Manual Tasks: Options to send automatic emails or create manual tasks for more control.

Reddit Reviews

😐 "What are some better options for cold emailing?" - r/Emailmarketing
👎 "schedule emails to be sent out it doesn't work or it works so badly" - r/LeadGeneration


Interface for setting up email sequences in Smartlead.

Smartlead's Sequences feature for Campaign Creation is a straightforward tool for setting up sales campaigns that involve sending out emails, messages, and scheduling tasks. Its simplicity makes it easy to use, with a focus on linear progressions rather than complex branching sequences. The ability to rotate through unlimited email accounts is particularly useful for managing larger campaigns or distributing the workload across multiple team members.

  • Linear sequence flow: Simplifies the setup process for users.
  • Unlimited email account rotation: Allows alternating between different email accounts for sending campaigns.
  • Automatic and manual steps: Combine automated emails with manually scheduled follow-ups.
  • Variable placeholders: Personalize emails using dynamic content such as recipient's name or company.
"So i prefer Smartlead.ai to instantly. It’s better for warmup, everything else in between in my opinion." - r/Emailmarketing
"Better be safe than sorry. Avoid using HTML if possible make plain text. Consider using SmartLead for sending instead of Apollo they have small accounts." - r/Emailmarketing
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Deliverability: Boosting Email Success Rates

Smartlead takes the lead with their unlimited mailbox warm-ups and auto-rotating email accounts to bolster deliverability.

Email warming and spam avoidance clearly displayed in Smartlead

Their commitment to managing rate limits and supporting multiple inboxes without the need for additional products provides a strong foundation for successful email campaigns. While they lack email accuracy checking, the emphasis on deliverability through automated features is a significant plus.

To further improve deliverability, consider using Bardeen to craft personalized emails as part of your strategy, which can enhance open and response rates.

For those prioritizing a robust internal solution to deliverability challenges, Smartlead offers a comprehensive toolset, making it the preferred choice.


Managing multiple mailboxes in Apollo to distribute sequence load.

Apollo's sequences feature offers the ability to manage multiple mailboxes, helping to distribute the load of email sequences and potentially improve deliverability. However, users need to complement Apollo with additional tools for email warming to further prevent emails from landing in the spam folder.

  • Multiple mailboxes: Support for using several email accounts to send sequences.
  • Rate limits: Users can set daily and hourly limits to avoid triggering spam filters.
  • Email accuracy: No specific feature mentioned for checking email accuracy.
  • Spam avoidance: Users should carefully manage email content to prevent being marked as spam.

Reddit users have shared mixed experiences regarding Apollo's deliverability, stressing the importance of users' email management strategies.

🔍 "Allowing link tracking adds some inherent risk when sending emails" - r/Emailmarketing
🔍 "Has anyone on this sub seen success with the feature?" - r/sales


Email warmup and deliverability settings in Smartlead Sequences.

Smartlead tackles email deliverability head-on with a set of features designed to keep your emails out of the spam folder and in the inbox where they belong. Email warming, spam avoidance, and rate limits are crucial, and Smartlead seems to understand this well.

  • Email Warming: Unlimited mailbox warmups to improve sender reputation.
  • Spam Avoidance: Randomization of warmup emails to mirror human behavior.
  • Rate Limits: Automated rate limits for email warmups to prevent over-sending.
  • Multiple Mailboxes: Support for numerous email accounts to diversify sending sources.

Reddit users share their experiences and opinions on Smartlead's deliverability features:

👍 "So i prefer Smartlead.ai to instantly. It’s better for warmup, everything else in between in my opinion." - r/Emailmarketing
😐 "SmartLead is tool for cold email, I use it regularly it is very good." - r/Emailmarketing
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Personalization - Tailoring Emails for Lead Engagement

Apollo has the edge in personalization capabilities, offering a vast array of enrichment data and dynamic variables easily inserted into emails.

Apollo's dynamic variables for personalized emails

Smartlead, while supporting unlimited custom fields, may not match the depth of Apollo's enrichment database. To further personalize outreach, you can integrate OpenAI with Apollo using Bardeen to craft unique messages, ensuring a more targeted approach.

The ability to preview emails with Apollo's placeholders and the inclusion of advanced features like Vidyard and meeting invites also contribute to its superior personalization tools.

For users requiring comprehensive personalization with enriched data, Apollo is the preferable option.


Previewing personalized email content with Apollo's AI assistant.

Personalization in Apollo's Sequences feature is a game changer when it comes to customizing emails for each lead. With a vast database of enrichment data at your fingertips, you can make every email feel like it was written just for the recipient.

  • Dynamic Variables: Insert any field from Apollo's enrichment database into your email using {{ }} brackets.
  • Normalized Fields: Apollo has normalized fields to make your emails sound natural.
  • Preview Capability: Check how your email will look by selecting an existing lead or sending a test email to yourself.
  • Additional Content: Enhance your emails with meeting invites, Vidyard recordings, and images.
  • Extensive Data: Apollo offers a wide array of enrichment data to choose from.

We found that these features make it easier for you to create emails that connect with leads on a more personal level. By using the right details, you can improve your chances of getting a response and ultimately closing more deals.


Mapping custom fields for personalized email campaigns in Smartlead.

Smartlead's personalization feature for sequences allows you to create highly customized emails. You can use unlimited custom fields for each lead, providing a significant advantage when crafting personalized messages for your sales campaigns. This level of customization is not only crucial for engagement but also for making each lead feel uniquely addressed.

  • Unlimited Custom Fields: Add personalized details like name, job title, or any custom data you have on leads.
  • Simple Mapping: Easily link data from your CSV files to email variables for dynamic content.
  • Customized Campaigns: Improve your connection with leads using information that matters to them.
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AI: Crafting Personalized Emails with Ease

Apollo's AI-powered features provide a significant edge by enabling entire email creation and leveraging custom signals for each lead.

Apollo's AI Assistant offers personalized email suggestions

In contrast, Smartlead relies on predefined custom column values for personalization, which may not match the versatility and depth of AI-generated content. Apollo not only allows for the customization of one-liners, openers, subject lines, and entire emails but also includes the valuable feature of automatically recording, transcribing, and analyzing video call meetings.

For those looking to further enhance their email sequences with additional context about leads, Bardeen can complement Apollo's AI features by providing insights such as social activity and company information.

Overall, if you need sophisticated AI capabilities for crafting detailed and highly personalized emails, Apollo is the clear choice over Smartlead.


AI-generated email customization options in Apollo Sequences.

Apollo's Sequences feature leverages AI to help you craft personalized emails and messages. You can input details about your company, product, and target persona, and the AI will generate content tailored to your needs. It's a helpful tool that can save time and improve the quality of your outreach.

Key aspects of the AI sub-feature:

  • Guided Content Creation: Input your company and product information for AI-generated content.
  • Customization: Tailor one-liners, openers, subject lines, or entire emails to fit your campaign.
  • Video Call Features: Automatically record, transcribe, and analyze your video call meetings.


When using the AI feature in lemlist's Sequences, it's important to understand its limitations and capabilities. While the tool doesn't craft full sentences autonomously, it effectively uses custom column values to add a personalized touch to your emails.

Key aspects of the AI feature:

  • Personalization: Custom column values used for tailored content.
  • Automation: The AI assists with inserting personalized elements, but not with writing complete sentences.
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Native Enrichment - Insightful Lead Data for Effective Sales

Apollo takes the lead with its inbuilt native enrichment features, giving you direct access to buyer signals and data from various sources for lead insights.

Detailed lead profile with native enrichment in Apollo

Smartlead, by contrast, requires integration with an external tool like Clay for similar capabilities. This may be less convenient for users seeking a streamlined workflow within a single platform.

For enhanced sales intelligence and workflow automation, consider using Bardeen in conjunction with Apollo to automate the manual aspects of information gathering from platforms like LinkedIn or company websites.

If native data enrichment within your sales sequence tool is a priority, Apollo's offering will likely serve your needs better than Smartlead's reliance on third-party integrations.


Detailed lead information with buyer signals in Apollo's Native Enrichment.

Apollo's Native Enrichment feature is a game-changer for those who need to understand their sales leads better. It offers buyer signals and data from various sources, allowing you to personalize your outreach effectively. Their main product shines by providing in-depth enrichment on companies and leads, which is critical for crafting tailored emails.

  • Buyer Signals: Get insights on lead behavior, like email engagement.
  • Data Enrichment: Access comprehensive lead data for personalization.
  • Integration: Use enriched data directly in email sequences.


Integration options within Smartlead for lead enrichment.

Smartlead's Sequences feature does not provide direct native lead enrichment, but it does offer a built-in integration with Clay. This connection allows users to enrich leads with additional data, which can be crucial for understanding and engaging with potential customers more effectively. Here's how you can benefit from this integration:

  • Integration with Clay: Connect Smartlead to Clay to pull in detailed lead information.
  • Enhanced Lead Data: Access a broader range of data on your leads to inform your sales strategy.
  • Buyer Signals: Use enriched data to identify key buyer signals that indicate lead readiness.
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Social Automation: Multichannel Engagement Simplified

Apollo's social automation capabilities are more comprehensive, particularly with its LinkedIn automation for tasks like sending messages and interacting with posts.

Apollo's interface showing LinkedIn automation tasks

While Smartlead does enable outreach via SMS, Twitter, and WhatsApp, it lacks the LinkedIn integration that many sales and recruiting professionals rely on for building connections and generating leads. If LinkedIn is a key platform for your sales strategy, Apollo has an edge by automating tasks directly within the app, saving you time and effort.

For enhancing your LinkedIn presence and automating tasks, consider using a tool like Bardeen which integrates with LinkedIn for various sales and recruiting workflows.

Overall, Apollo's built-in functionality for LinkedIn automation makes it a stronger choice for sales professionals focusing on social selling and engagement on this platform.


Overview of social automation tasks in Apollo's Sequences.

Apollo's Sequences feature brings social automation to the forefront, making it easier for us to engage with prospects across different platforms like LinkedIn. It allows us to create tasks such as sending connection requests, messages, and even interacting with posts without having to do these actions manually. This helps us to stay active on social media and maintain relationships without investing a lot of time.

Key features of social automation:

  • Task creation for emails, phone calls, and custom actions
  • LinkedIn integration enables sending connection requests, messages, profile views, and post interactions
  • Adjustable priority and due dates for each task
  • Automated social tasks save time and improve efficiency


Social Automation within Smartlead Sequences, including SMS, Twitter, and WhatsApp steps.

Smartlead's Sequences feature offers a robust social automation capability that allows you to connect with leads through various channels. While LinkedIn outreach is not directly supported, the tool compensates by offering message sending options through SMS, Twitter, and WhatsApp. This multi-channel outreach can be critical for reaching leads where they are most active.

  • Multi-channel messaging through SMS, Twitter, and WhatsApp
  • Manual and automated steps to maintain engagement
  • Customizable wait periods between actions
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Which Tool Wins for Cold Outreach Campaigns?

Apollo and Smartlead both offer unique features for managing cold outreach campaigns, but they cater to different needs. Apollo excels with its strong email and LinkedIn integration, making it ideal for campaigns that leverage multi-channel outreach. It's straightforward but might limit advanced users seeking complex workflows.

Smartlead, on the other hand, shines with its unlimited email account rotation and emphasis on deliverability. It's the go-to for managing large volumes of emails or distributing workload across teams.

If your strategy relies heavily on engaging leads across both email and social platforms, Apollo is your best bet. For those prioritizing email volume management and deliverability, Smartlead offers the tools you need. Both platforms have their strengths, so choose based on what fits your campaign requirements best.