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Cold Email Open Rates: Stats & How to Supercharge Your Performance in 2024

By Leah Clark Last updated: 17 minute read Marketing Guides

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.

To put this into perspective – a study by Gartner proves that only 23.9% of sales emails are opened worldwide. And according to Backlinko, only 8.5% of these emails are read!

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.

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    What Are Cold Email Open Rates?

    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.

    Cold Email Open Rates: The Good, Average, and Ugly

    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:

    The Top 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 Average Open Rates

    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. 

    The Lowest Open Rates

    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 delves further into cold email outreach, and offers some great tips to improve your campaigns:

    Cold Email Open Rate Benchmarks

    A 2024 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.

    Average Email Open Rates Graph from HubSpot
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    In addition to cold email open rates, consider the following email marketing benchmarks across all industries:

    cold email open rates_benchmarks
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    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:

    Cold Email Open Rates

    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:

    • Media: 6.33%
    • Blogger: 5.98%
    • Architecture and construction: 5.68%

    Cold Email Click-Through Rates

    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:

    • Government: 46.30%
    • Medical, dental, and healthcare: 46.29%
    • Animal care and veterinary: 45.84%

    Cold Email Response 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:

    • Government: 46.30%
    • Medical, dental, and healthcare: 46.29%
    • Animal care and veterinary: 45.84%

    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.

    Cold Email Unsubscribe Rates

    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:

    • Telecommunications: 0.07%
    • Media: 0.09%
    • Government: 0.10%

    Cold Email Bounce 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:

    • Publishing companies: 0.19%
    • Media: 0.20%
    • Telecommunications: 0.20%

    7 Ways to Increase Your Cold Email Open Rates

    Now that we’ve explored the current cold email open rates, let’s focus on actionable strategies to boost these rates in 2024. 

    From crafting compelling subject lines to advanced personalization tactics, we’ll cover proven methods to increase email engagement.

    1.Craft Captivating Subject Lines

    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: 

    1. Higher Open Rates: A compelling subject line increases the likelihood of subscribers opening your email. Your subject line must grab the recipient’s attention and stand out in their inbox. 
    2. Optimized Engagement: When recipients are intrigued by the subject line, they are more likely to be engaging in your message, read the content, and take the desired action, such as making a purchase, signing up for a webinar, or clicking on a link.
    3. Conveying Value: A well-crafted subject line communicates the value or benefits the recipient will gain by opening the message. It should create curiosity, generate interest, or offer a solution to a problem, making the recipient more inclined to engage with the content.
    4. Establishing Brand Identity: Consistently creating compelling subject lines helps build brand recognition and identity. It sets a tone for your communications and establishes a positive impression of your brand in the minds of recipients.
    cold email subject lines
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    2.Personalize Your Email Content

    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: 

    1. Improved Engagement: When recipients feel that an email is tailored to them, they are more likely to open it, read it thoroughly, and engage with the content. Personalization helps establish a connection and makes the recipient feel valued.
    2. Enhanced Relevance: Personalized emails are more relevant to the recipient’s needs, interests, or preferences. By tailoring the content, you can provide information, offers, or recommendations specifically suited to the recipient, increasing the chances of a positive response.
    3. Strengthened Relationship: Personalization helps build trust and strengthens the relationship between you and the recipient. It shows that you have taken the time to understand their needs and preferences, fostering a sense of loyalty and long-term engagement.

    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 to learn more about personalization for cold email outreach:

    3.Send Cold Emails at Optimized Times

    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: 

    1. Increased Click-through Rates: Timing your emails can lead to higher click-through rates. When recipients are more likely to check their inboxes, they are more likely to click on links or call-to-action buttons within your emails.
    2. Reduced Competition: Timing your emails helps avoid sending them during peak times when recipients’ inboxes are flooded with other messages. By sending emails during less busy periods, you can reduce competition and increase the chances of your message standing out.
    3. Improved Deliverability: Email service providers monitor and analyze recipient engagement with emails. If your emails consistently receive low engagement, it may impact your deliverability rates. By optimizing timing, you improve the chances of your emails landing in the primary inbox instead of the spam folder.

    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.

    4.Target The Right Audience

    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:

    • Consider audience timezones: Taking into account time zones can help ensure that your message reaches recipients when they are most likely to be available and engaged.
    • Segment your leads: Not all your outreach email campaigns will suit the needs of all your targeted leads. Consequently, segment your subscribers based on the relevant campaign and whether they match the outreach email’s intent. 
    • Monitor recipient behavior: Analyzing your recipient behavior over time is ideal if understanding how subscribers interact with and respond to your cold emails. This data will reveal what strategies engage your subscribers, how to format your content to optimize your CTR rates, and what subject lines perform best. 

    5.Keep Your Subscriber List Clean

    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:

    • Regularly remove inactive subscribers: Identify subscribers who haven’t engaged with your emails for a significant period, such as six months or a year, and remove them from your list. Inactive subscribers can negatively impact your email deliverability and engagement metrics.
    • Implement double opt-in: Use a double opt-in process where subscribers confirm their email addresses before being added to your list. This ensures that only genuinely interested individuals are added and reduces the chances of fake or mistyped email addresses being included.
    • Keep an eye on bounce rates: High bounce rates indicate outdated or invalid email addresses. Regularly remove bounced email addresses from your list to maintain its cleanliness.
    • Provide easy unsubscribe options: Ensure your subscribers can easily unsubscribe from your emails. This helps prevent spam complaints and ensures that your list only consists of engaged subscribers who genuinely want to receive your content.

    6.Test Different Email Formats

    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: 

    1. Audience Preferences: Different audiences have unique preferences for email formats. By testing various formats such as plain text, HTML, or a combination of both, you can determine which format generates the highest engagement and conversion rates among your specific audience.
    2. Mobile Responsiveness: With many email recipients accessing their emails on mobile devices, testing different formats helps ensure your emails are optimized and responsive across various screen sizes. This enhances the user experience and increases the chances of recipients engaging with your content.
    3. Visual Impact: The visual appeal of your emails can significantly impact engagement. You can experiment with various design elements, layouts, and imagery to determine what captures your audience’s attention and drives desired actions.

    7.Optimize for Mobile Devices

    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. 

    In fact, over 30% of emails are opened on mobile devices. Furthermore, a study by SaleCycle confirms that 42.3% of recipients will delete an email if it is not mobile-friendly. 

    Here are a few aspects to consider to optimize your cold email campaign for mobile devices:

    1. Responsive Design: Mobile optimization involves using responsive design techniques to ensure that your emails adapt to different screen sizes and orientations. This allows recipients to view your emails comfortably without zooming in or scrolling horizontally, providing a better user experience and preventing frustration.
    2. Readability and Scannability: Mobile screens are smaller, making it important to prioritize readability and scannability. Optimize your email content by using legible font size, clear headings, concise paragraphs, and bullet points. This way, recipients can quickly grasp the key points of your message even when viewing emails on smaller screens.
    3. Loading Times: Mobile users often have limited bandwidth or slower internet connections, so optimizing your email elements, such as images and media, for faster loading times is crucial. Compress images, use web-safe fonts, and minimize the use of heavy multimedia content to ensure your emails load quickly and efficiently on mobile devices.
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    7 Ways to Increase Your Cold Email Open Rates

    1. Craft Captivating Subject Lines
    2. Personalize Your Emails Content
    3. Send Cold Emails At Optimized Times
    4. Target The Right Audience
    5. Keep Your Subscriber List Clean
    6. Test Different Email Formats
    7. Optimize for Mobile Devices

    Common Mistakes to Avoid if You Want to Increase Your Cold Email Open Rate

    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:

    1. Misleading or Spammy Subject Lines: Avoid using deceptive or overly promotional subject lines that may mislead recipients or trigger spam filters. Be transparent and concise while still offering value or generating curiosity. 
    2. Generic Sender Names: Using generic or unfamiliar sender names can reduce trust and discourage recipients from opening your email. Instead, use a recognizable and relevant sender name, such as your name or your company’s name, to establish credibility. 
    3. Poor Email List Quality: Sending cold emails to a poorly targeted or outdated email list can result in low open rates. Ensure that your email list is accurate, up-to-date, and segmented based on relevant criteria, such as industry, job role, or geographical location.
    4. Poor Quality Content: Poor quality content can quickly defer potential leads from opening or interacting with your cold email. If your subject line is vague, general, or too salesy, this may cause distrust among recipients. 
    5. Targeting the Wrong Subscribers: Once subscribers see your cold email, they should feel the content aligns with their purchasing intent and is valuable. Otherwise, subscribers won’t open your outreach emails, let alone read or act on them. 

    Common Mistakes to Avoid to Increase the Open Rate

    1. Misleading or Spammy Subject Lines
    2. Generic Sender Names
    3. Poor Email List Quality
    4. Poor Quality Content
    5. Targeting the Wrong Subscribers

    Is Your Cold Email Open Rate Important?

    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!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the top, average and lowest cold email open rates?

    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!

    How can I improve my cold email open rates?

    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 2024.

    What mistakes should I avoid for cold email open rates?

    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.


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    Hyperise: Best Time to Send Cold Emails: See What Works the Most

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