The challenge many email marketers face for successful cold email marketing campaigns is optimizing their cold email open rates.
While you can send targeted leads loads of outreach emails to captivate and convert them, your efforts will be futile if they do not open these emails.
But how do email marketers improve their cold email open rates? And what mistakes should they avoid to prevent no responses?
To find out how the experts do it, we consulted the cold email outreach specialists behind Woodpecker, a leading cold email outreach platform.
Having worked on thousands of cold email campaigns and with access to a vast amount of data, they know a thing or two about increasing your cold email open rates!
This guide will explore the top, average, and lowest cold email open rates, strategies on how to optimize your campaigns and improve your open rates, and the common mistakes to avoid along the way.
Ready? Let’s go!
Before delving into the specifics, it’s crucial to understand what the cold email open rate represents.
Your cold email open rate measures the percentage of unique recipients who open an email they received as part of your cold outreach campaign.
This rate provides valuable insights into the initial engagement level of your audience but its important to make sure this figure is based on unique opens (the first time a recipient opens the email) and not overall opens, which include each time the same reader re-opens the same email.
Cold email open rates can vary widely depending on several factors, including the quality of your email list, subject lines, personalization, the quality of your preview text, email sender reputation, and the timing of your emails.
What Are Cold Email Open Rates?
Cold email open rates indicate the number of recipients who open your outreach emails.
As we mentioned, cold email open rates greatly vary depending on several factors. However, to make your email campaign easier to measure, we have included an overview of the top, average, and lowest average industry open rates:
Research proves that 8% of cold email campaigns boast an open rate of 80%! Yep, you read that right. This research confirms that one-third of campaigns have an open rate of 60%. We consider this benchmark as a positive performance.
The same research states that the average cold email open rate across all industries is 44%. While marketers don’t need to panic if their cold email campaigns produce an open rate around this average, they must ensure it does not fall below 44%, as this would threaten the success of your campaign.
Around 20% of cold emails have poor performance of 20%. However, if your campaign has consistent open rates below 40%, you must employ strategic methods to solve this. Otherwise, your performance could fall into the 20% performance ballpark.
Fortunately, we’ll look at a few of those methods further below!
Cold Email Open Rates: The Good, Average, and Ugly
The top cold email open rates across all industries are 60 to 80%, and the average cold email open rate is 44%. On the other hand, the lowest open rates are 20%.
This fun video by Woodpecker.co delves further into cold email outreach, and offers some great tips to improve your campaigns:
A 2023 survey determined the benchmark for cold email campaigns across various industries, including real estate, insurance, retail, finance, health and fitness, and media.
Among all 21 industries evaluated in this report, the sectors with the top five open rates for cold emails are real estate, finance, health and fitness, manufacturing, and media, respectively.
In addition to cold email open rates, consider the following email marketing benchmarks across all industries:
To ensure the success of your cold email campaign, measure your performance against these benchmarks. Ultimately, doing this will determine whether your cold emails need immediate adjustments that could help you take your rates to the next level.
That said, it’s very unlikely that your open rates will be on par with industry benchmarks right away. It takes time to get all the different aspects involved ironed out, so don’t be discouraged if your initial results are way off the average.
Let’s take a look at these cold email benchmarks in detail:
Your cold email campaign open rates describe how many subscribers click on and open your emails. In 2021, the average open rate across all sectors was 3.75%, and this figure decreased to 3.36% in 2022. Evidently, it is becoming more challenging for businesses to convince subscribers to click on and open their emails.
However, by employing a few of the methods to optimize cold email open rates, which we will discuss below, you can address this concern.
Furthermore, the industries with the most promising click rates for cold email campaigns include:
Your cold email click-through rates (CTR) reveal how many leads clicked on a link or as within the body of your email. Unlike your open rate, the CTR defines how many subscribers opened and engaged with your content enough to take an action and click on a link or ad with your email content, whereas the former describes how many people opened the email.
Between 2021 and 2022, cold email CTRs have fallen – in 2021 the benchmark was 12.89%, and in 2022 it was 8.93%.
These are the industries with the best CTR cold email rates:
Of course, the average email reply rate is critical to consider. This average doesn’t only define how many subscribers are interested in your content enough to only click on your emails, or click through them, but they have made the effort to respond to these emails.
Because cold email outreach is about gaining potential buyers, your response rate is the top benchmark to evaluate.
The average email reply rate was 27.91% in 2021, which grew to 37.65% in 2022.
The top sectors with the highest response rates are:
But what about the average B2B cold email response rates?
Based on data from Gitnux, the average open rate for B2B cold emails with subject lines of at least six words is around 21%. Additionally, the success rate for these B2B campaigns is between 5 and 10%. By using proven B2B cold email templates, you have an improved chance of increased success!
Despite the open rates, no specific data indicates that B2B cold email response rates differ from B2C companies. However, as the open and success rates for B2B brands seem to be much lower, we can only believe companies in this sector need more tailored approaches for high-performing campaign outcomes.
Your cold email campaign unsubscribe rate is paramount to define whether your content is engaging or targeting the correct audience. A high unsubscribe rate creates an urgency to adjust your campaign, whereas a low rate means you’re on the right track! Fortunately, the subscriber rate for cold emails was 0.33% in 2021 and decreased to 0.24% in 2022.
Here are sectors boasting the top cold email unsubscribe rates:
Cold email bounce rates describe how many messages were not delivered to your subscribers. This figure impacts your email deliverability, and a high bounce rate often means the subscriber’s email address is no longer valid (and your email list needs cleaning!). The benchmark for cold email bounce rate was 0.30% in 2022.
The industries with the top cold email bounce rates include:
Now that we’ve explored the current cold email open rates, let’s focus on actionable strategies to boost these rates in 2023.
From crafting compelling subject lines to advanced personalization tactics, we’ll cover proven methods to increase email engagement.
Crafting compelling subject lines means creating attention-grabbing and engaging phrases or sentences used as the subject of an email. The purpose of your email subject lines is to entice the recipient or reader to open the message or click on the content.
It’s critical to craft engaging cold email subject lines to achieve:
Personalizing your email content means customizing the content and subject line to make your emails more relevant and tailored to each lead. It involves using the recipient’s name, specific details, or other information to create a more personalized and engaging experience.
There are three primary reasons to personalize your cold email content:
In addition, using personalization tactics in your subject lines alone, such as including the subscriber’s name can skyrocket cold email open rates by 22%!
According to the experts at Woodpecker, the level of personalization you use in your cold emails has a huge impact on how effective your cold email campaigns are, and the more advanced your email personalization is, the better!
Check out this video by Woodpecker.co to learn more about personalization for cold email outreach:
It’s critical to send cold emails at the most effective times for maximum impact and engagement.
The goal is to increase the chances of recipients opening, reading, and taking action on the email content. Timing plays a crucial role in email marketing campaigns and can significantly impact the success of your communication efforts.
In general, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to send outreach emails.
The average open rate for cold emails on Tuesdays and Wednesdays is around 17%, and Thursdays, 20%. On the other hand, during the weekend, this rate falls to less than 5%.
The reason for this is that Mondays and Fridays are days where people are generally more focused on their core work activities, rather than opening cold emails, and Saturdays and Sundays are used more for personal activities.
A separate study shows 53% of emails are opened between 9 am and 5 pm, excluding lunch hours, so choose your timing wisely, and remember to adjust it for the recipient’s timezone.
The main benefits of sending cold emails during peak times include:
Remember that optimizing email timing is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires continuous testing, monitoring, and adjustment based on your specific audience and campaign goals.
Different audiences have different habits and preferences regarding when they check and engage with their emails. As a result, it’s vital to understand your target audience to ensure they open and read your cold emails.
To achieve this and accurately define your target subscribers, consider these tips:
Keeping your email list clean is indeed crucial for effective email marketing campaigns. By maintaining a clean list, you can improve deliverability, engagement rates, and overall campaign performance. Consider the top strategies for cold email copywriting to further understand how to manage your subscribers and craft content that converts.
Here are a few important practices and examples to help you achieve that:
Testing different email formats is a valuable practice in cold email campaigns. You can understand what resonates best with your audience, optimize your campaigns, and improve your overall email performance.
According to the experts at Woodpecker, cold email A/B testing or split testing is one of the most important things to master if you want your cold email campaigns to perform better and keep performing well over time.
Here’s why testing different email formats is important:
With a significant portion of email opens on smartphones and tablets, ensuring your emails are mobile-friendly is essential for delivering a seamless user experience and maximizing engagement.
Here are a few aspects to consider to optimize your cold email campaign for mobile devices:
7 Ways to Increase Your Cold Email Open Rates
Understanding what to avoid in cold email campaigns is as important as knowing what to do for your cold email marketing strategy. We’ll delve into common mistakes that can lead to lower open rates and how to avoid them to maintain a positive sender reputation.
Here are some points to avoid:
Common Mistakes to Avoid to Increase the Open Rate
Yes! Your cold email open rates are a critical metric to consider when evaluating the effectiveness of your email outreach campaigns. It measures the percentage of recipients who open your cold email compared to the total number of emails sent.
While a high open rate indicates that your email subject lines and sender information are compelling enough to grab recipients’ attention, it doesn’t guarantee success. More often than not, there will be a lot of trial and error in curating outreach emails that positively impact and captivate prospects.
Cold email open rates vary hugely and are dependent on many different factors. The top cold email open rates range between 60 and 80%, while average rates are around 44%, and the lowest open rates are under 20%.
To ensure you do not find yourself in the lowest bracket, use a proven cold email outreach solution, like Woodpecker, and employ the best strategies to improve outreach campaign open rates. For instance, you should write compelling subject lines, personalize your email content, target the right subscribers, send emails at optimized times and keep your subscriber list clean.
Avoid using misleading information, generic sender names, poor-quality content, and email lists, and targeting the wrong subscribers. By following these tips and methods, you can optimize your open rates in no time!
The top cold email open rates are between 60 and 80%, whereas the average rates are around 44%. The lowest rates are 20%, and email marketers should employ the best strategies to avoid falling into this bracket. Read this guide for more on outreach email campaign open rates, the benchmarks and more!
To optimize your cold email open rates, you should craft compelling subject lines, personalize your email content, target the right audience, keep your subscriber list clean and segment subscribers based on each campaign's intent. Check out this guide for more on how to optimize cold email open rates, and the top benchmarks and stats in 2023.
To ensure your cold email campaign is successful, you should avoid spammy or misleading information, targeting the wrong subscribers, poor quality content and email lists and using a generic sender name. Read this article for all the information on cold email open rates.