How to Cold Email the Right Way Based on Statistics (w/ Infographic)


Andy Cabasso

February 10th

Cold email can be an extremely impactful tool to help a business generate sales leads, get press coverage, improve its search engine rankings, and build partnerships.

But, cold email outreach campaigns are not always successful.

They might leave you thinking, “Cold email can’t work for my business.”

Well, hold on for a second!

It might just mean that you either did not send the right types of emails, sent them to the wrong people, or sent them at the wrong day / time.

Thankfully, quite a few studies have been done measuring different aspects of cold email outreach campaigns to see what works and what doesn’t work.

And we read through the studies and put together this cold email infographic to share the important findings.

Here is what the infographic touches on:

  • What are benchmarks for cold emails and conversion rates?
  • What are some things you can do to improve your response rates?
  • How do subject lines affect open and response rates?
  • When is the best day and time to send cold emails?
  • If I am doing outreach for sales or link building – is there a better day/time to send my emails?
  • What should I do about follow-up emails?
  • What kind of call-to-action works best in a cold email?
  • How does A/B testing impact conversion rates?

And more!

So, let’s check it out. And then after that, we’ll share some of our favorite takeaways.

What Can You Do With Cold Emails

cold email statistics

Cold Email Study Take-Aways

Personalization and Segmentation

Maybe to no one’s surprise, cold email outreach that includes personalization perform much better than emails that are not personalized. If your email mentions your prospect’s name, at the very least, it shows them that you know who they are and that they are the person you are intending to reach.

Interestingly, with segmentation, batching cold email outreach campaigns in a smaller email list makes getting a reply much more likely. It could be that having your cold email campaigns smaller sized ensures that they are more targeted and that your cold email pitch is more relevant to the recipient, so that affects your response rate.

Subject lines

Having personalization in your subject line helps. That makes sense – using personalization in your subject line lets your prospect know that you have done some research, and this person they don’t know who just emailed them has something to share specifically with them. It makes them think you are not some spammer sending generic emails or irrelevant junk mail.

When to Send Cold Emails

NOTE: Check out our full guide to the best time to send cold emails for full overview of what are the best days and times to cold email.

Here, I was surprised about the difference in the best-performing days for cold emails for sales vs. link building. While sales emails should be sent on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, link building emails should be sent on Monday or Friday. Friday is not a particularly effective day for sending cold emails for sales, so that was interesting to see. And it seems that, regardless of your type of cold email, Monday is a good day to send.

For cold email, the optimal times were 6-7am, 9-11am, and 1-3pm. Sending emails that arrive before work starts ensures you get to their inbox so the potential customer / recipient sees it when they start their day. Same goes for sending emails early in the day. Sending at 1-3pm I found particularly interesting. I would have assumed that early-morning emails perform better, as emails sent later in the day be less likely to be read, but it seems that people check their emails either during or right after lunch, and so that is why it can be effective.

So, if you are using cold email software, your sales team should consider scheduling your cold emails to send early in the morning so they arrive perfectly on time for the workday to start.

Follow-up Emails

Depending on the type of cold email campaigns you are sending, you should be sending a few, or a lot, of follow-up emails. Follow-up emails are more important than you think.

People respond to follow-up emails, as a follow-up reminds the potential customer / prospect who may have missed your last email.

Interestingly, response rates to follow-up emails do not drop off significantly compared to the first email. So, follow-ups do have value.

But, depending on the type of outreach you are doing – cold selling vs. link building – there is a difference in the amount of appropriate emails to send before your start to see really diminishing returns, and potentially wind up getting sent to the spam folder.

With cold selling emails, you can expect some responses even up to the 10th email, but for link building, it seems like the 4th email is where you would want to stop at the latest.

Call to Action

What I found surprising was that specific calls to action were not as impactful as interest-based calls to action. For example – asking “do you have free time at 12pm on Tuesday?” is less effective than asking “is this something you are interested in?”

While cold selling can have a reputation for being pushy, it’s important to establish first whether your prospect is even interested in what you are selling.

Here are a few more tips on how to avoid the most common call to action mistakes.

Cold Email Infographic Data

For easier accessibility, here is a transcript of the text included in the infographic:

What Can You Do With Cold Email?

Link Building

  • Guest posting
  • Link exchanges
  • Link insertions

Sales

  • Lead generation

Digital PR

  • Press coverage
  • Product reviews
  • Offer expertise

Podcasting

  • Invite others
  • Get invited

Collaboration

  • Co-marketing
  • Connect with affiliates

How Well Do Emails Convert?

2018: 18.49%

2021: 15.11%

How Does Segmentation & Personalization Affect Responses?

0-200 prospects:18% reply rate

200-1000 prospects: 11% reply rate

1000+ prospects: 8% reply rate

Should You Personalize Your Cold Emails?

Without personalization: 7% reply rate

With personalization: 17% reply rate

Tip: Personalize your emails

What Subject Lines Get Better Open Rates?

With personalized subject lines

  • 18.3% open rate with prospect’s name
  • 15.7% open rate without prospect’s name
  • 22.2% better open rate with prospect’s name in subject line

When Is the Best Time to Send Cold Emails?

  • 6-7 AM
  • 9-11 AM
  • 1-3 PM

When Is the Best Day to Send Cold Outreach Emails?

For Sales

  1. Monday
  2. Tuesday
  3. Wednesday

For Link Building

  1. Monday
  2. Friday

How Important Are Follow-up Emails to Getting Replies?

For Sales – which email gets a reply?

  • Email 1 – 30%
  • Email 2 – 21%
  • Email 3 – 18%
  • Email 4 – 14%
  • Email 5 – 13%
  • Email 6 – 11%
  • Email 7 –  11%
  • Email 8 – 10%
  • Email 9 – 6%
  • Email 10 –  7%

75% of successful deals come from follow-up emails

For Link Building – Percentage of total links earned by follow-up email

  • Email 1 – 12%
  • Email 2-  48%
  • Email 3 – 22% 
  • Email 4 – 18%

Up to 3x better reply rate with follow-up emails

Pro Tip: Follow-ups have a huge impact on your outreach wins

What Kinds of Calls to Action Are Most Effective in Cold Emails?

  • 15% Specific (“Can we chat at 12pm tomorrow?”)
  • 13% Open-Ended (“Do you have time to meet this week?”)
  • 30% Interest (“Are you interested in learning more?)

A/B Testing Can Increase Email Open Rates by 49%

Try testing out different subject lines, email text, sending day/time, and follow-up emails to see what performs best. Cold email A/B testing might be a pain but it can improve your responses significantly.

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