Cold emailing can be a very effective method for drumming up new business. Equally, it can be really frustrating. If you don’t get your outreach quite right, it can feel like you’re sending emails into the void. 

So, how can you improve your cold email response rate

The best cold email campaigns are based around key principles and specific techniques that are proven to encourage replies. If you implement them all, you’re almost guaranteed to unlock better results.

Finding this knowledge online can be a time-consuming task — so we decided to collect all the best tactics in one place. Keep reading to discover how your response rate compares with the competition, and how you can improve it.

What Is a Good Cold Email Response Rate?

If you can break the 10% barrier with your cold email response rate, you are doing something right.

Naming an exact figure as a benchmark response rate is difficult, because the number of replies you receive always depends on a variety of factors. We can see this in the data.

Taking into account multiple sources, the average cold email response rate is currently between 1% and 5%. However, this figure includes many campaigns that see very few replies, or none at all. 

At the other end of the spectrum, analysis from QuickMail shows that one quarter of cold email campaigns see a reply rate of 20% or higher. These are the most successful. 

Below that, another quarter of the campaigns fall somewhere between 10% and 20%. 

The remaining 50% of campaigns muster 10% and below.This is why 10% is a good, ambitious goal. Hit this number, and you will be in the top 75% of all cold email campaigns.

Ratio of cold email campaigns with given response rate

What Factors Affect Cold Email Response Rate?

There are many different factors that influence response rates in cold emailing.

Some are obvious, like subject lines and the content of your pitch. Likewise, it’s pretty important that your messages reach the right person.

Other factors are less clear. For instance, cold emailing works better in some industries than others. The demographics of your audience will also play a part, and campaigns with poor open rates are always going to struggle to earn replies.

Even the strength of your brand can have an influence on the number of responses you receive. And if your emails are ending up in secondary inboxes or (*shudder*) spam folders, your chances of hearing back are next to zero.

How to Improve Your Cold Email Response Rate

In spite of all these variables, there are certain tactics that are proven to boost cold email response rates across the board.

Let’s take a closer look at them now:

Do Your Research

Before you send out any more cold emails, we highly recommend getting to know the people you’re trying to reach

Being well informed means you’re more likely to make contact with the right decision maker. It also allows you to craft a subject line and pitch that is truly targeted.

In combination, these factors are likely to boost both your open rate and your response rate.

For each target prospect, try to answer the following:

  • What is the role of your contact?
  • Do they have the authority to make purchase decisions?
  • What are their likely pain points?

It’s also a good idea to find a conversation starter, like a shared alma mater, or some recent news from the target company. Datanyze can help you to gather all of this information with minimal effort. With one tap, our Chrome extension will find key data for any individual on LinkedIn, including company insights and up-to-date icebreakers.

Get email addresses, mobile numbers and more directly from LinkedIn

Verify Email Addresses 

If your cold emails never reach the inbox of your target prospect, there is literally zero chance that you will receive a reply. To ensure this doesn’t happen, it’s good practice to verify each address in your email list.

Datanyze can streamline this process, because our database holds accurate contact information for over 120 million professionals.

Use Your Subject Lines Wisely

We all know that subject lines are pretty important in terms of email open rate. However, they can play just as important a role in your response rate.

You see, a subject line sets the expectations for the email to come. While it’s often possible to get more opens by using gimmicks and clickbait, potential customers may be put off by the apparent misdirection.

When you write cold email subject lines, make them:

  • Clear and concise
  • Personalized
  • A fair representation of your email

You may want to include your value proposition here, as well. In return, you should see more responses from hot prospects.

Craft a Personalized Pitch

There’s nothing wrong with using cold email templates. But far too many sales teams make the mistake of using exactly the same pitch for every prospect.

Unsurprisingly, these sales emails feel pretty generic — almost robotic. And as a general rule, people don’t reply to automated messages. 

On the flip side, the stats show that personalization is worth the effort. Studies show that personalized email has a median ROI of 122%, while personalized CTAs are 202% more effective than a generic call to action.

To unlock numbers like these in your own outreach campaigns, make sure that every email includes:

  • The name of the email recipient and/or the company name
  • An explanation of how your product or service solves their pain point
  • Relevant social proof for their industry

If you don’t want to write every email by hand, use a template that has spaces for customization. You may even be able to automate certain parts with tags that draw data from your CRM.

Keep It Snappy

There’s a fair chance that your ideal customers are pretty busy. You can spend hours writing the most heartfelt, personalized pitch — but if it’s more than a few paragraphs, they are simply not going to read it.

The most effective cold emails are usually direct, almost to the point of being a little abrupt. All you should include is: 

  • A one-line introduction
  • Why your product could be valuable
  • A sprinkling of social proof
  • Your personalized CTA

If your current pitch contains any more, consider trimming away some of the excess. You can also improve readability by creating a new paragraph for each sentence, and reducing big ideas into bullet points.

This leads us nicely onto the next tactic…

Make It Visual

Another way to get more people to read and later respond to your emails is by making each message a feast for the eyes.

You can do this in several different ways. You could start by providing social proof in the form of a mini infographic, or perhaps a screenshot of a customer quote.

Visual content for cold email

Jazzing up your pitch with colorful emojis can also help with readability, and personalized video messages are a great way to seal the deal.

Use Personalized Video

In fact, personalized video is now one of the hottest trends in email marketing. Reps who use this technique get an average response rate that is 8x higher, relative to open rate

There is something compelling about a real person pitching to you on video — and unlike text, it can’t be created through automation. 

While the recording videos may be overly time consuming for lower-value prospects, most B2B sales reps are likely to see a great ROI by using this form of advanced personalization.

Add a Strong CTA

So, you’ve crafted a great pitch, recorded a personalized video message, and thrown in some social proof. Why is no-one replying?

It might be because your call to action isn’t strong enough.

To solve this issue, start by making your CTA really clear — both visually, and in terms of your offer. Set the effort bar low enough for your prospect to think “why not.”

One way to make your CTA more difficult to miss (or resist) is by including a button just above your email signature. 

This small improvement in usability alone boosts click-through rate by 371% on average, leading to an overall uplift in sales of 1,617%. It can have a similarly explosive effect on your average response rate.

(Quick tip: This service lets you add buttons to Gmail drafts with a click.)

Always Follow Up

Most of us regularly check our emails on the go. We look for the important stuff, take a glance at anything interesting, and everything else is ignored.

Cold outreach generally falls into the interesting or ignored categories. Even if your email is read, the chances of someone replying on the spot are relatively low.

If your first email doesn’t attract a reply, be sure to send at least one follow-up. Stats from Woodpecker indicate that follow-up emails earn 40% more responses on average than the initial wave. 

While you don’t want to irritate potential clients, far too many salespeople lose out by not persisting enough. 

Utilize A/B Testing

In all likelihood, you will need to experiment to find the perfect formula for your cold email outreach. 

Metrics can tell you whether your changes are generally moving the needle in the right direction. But the only way to know for sure which methods work best is through A/B testing.

Before committing to a new style, run a trial comparing the new and the old, making sure that the sample size is big enough to be statistically significant.

Benchmarks for A/B testing

You may discover that a change that should work in theory actually doesn’t resonate with your target audience. This might cause a temporary setback in your thinking, but that is far preferable to wasting your time on tactics that clearly don’t work.

Start Improving Your Response Rate Today

Implementing any of the tactics mentioned above is highly likely to improve your email reply rate. But if we had to choose one as the first priority, we would point to research.

Why? Because until you understand the people you are trying to contact, you can’t optimize your subject lines, your email copy, or even your CTA. You can’t create personalized video messages, either.

If you want to upgrade your research without spending a whole lot of time on searching the web, Datanyze can help.

Our Chrome extension gives you near-instant access to detailed information on 120 million professionals, including accurate phone numbers and email addresses. 

All the data is compliant with GDPR and CCPA, and you can easily export all your data to any CRM.

Sign up today to take Datanyze for a test drive, and see how easy it can be to upgrade your sales process.