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What’s the Average Cold Email Response Rate in 2021?

average email response rate

Curious about what the average cold email response rate is?

Most cold emails have one simple objective:
To get the recipient interested enough to engage with you.

And tracking your response rate, which is the number of replies you receive, is one of the easiest ways to evaluate how well your campaigns are doing.

In this blog post, I’m going to cover what the average cold email response rate is, what influences it, and five simple tips to boost it easily.

This Article Contains:

(Click on the links to jump to a section.)

Let’s begin!

What is your email response rate?

Before I break down some stats showing what the averages are, first I want to cover what your cold email response rate actually is. After all, the more you know about what you’re tracking, the easier it is to make sense of it!

However, if you’re already familiar with the term, feel free to skip ahead to the “average response rate” section.

Your email response rate is the number of replies you’ve received against the total number of emails you’ve sent, expressed as a percentage.

For example, if you sent 100 emails and received 5 replies, your response rate would be: 5/100 = .05, also expressed as 5%.

What is your email open rate?

If you were interested in learning about email response rates, chances are, you’ve come across the term email open rate, too.

And for good reason.

Both your response and open rates are key campaign metrics that you should track.

Your open rate is simply the number of unique people who opened your emails. For example, if you sent the same email to 100 different recipients and 50 of them opened it, your open rate would be 50%.

The key word here is “unique” because it counts the number of individuals who opened your email, not the number of times your email was opened — as including the number of times the same recipient re-opened your emails would skew your results.

Note: Some email marketing tools track total email opens (including re-opens) instead of unique opens. That’s why it’s always important to verify what your email tool is tracking before analyzing the data.

How to connect your open and reply rates

Ideally, you don’t want too big a discrepancy between your open and reply rates when cold emailing.

Why?
While your average open rate will always be higher than your reply rate, there shouldn’t be too big a discrepancy. If you’re barely getting any replies, despite a large number of opens, it’s usually a sign that your outreach isn’t engaging enough.

Think of it this way:
If you owned a store, your open rate would signify how well you were able to attract a potential customer to visit the store. Your reply rate would reflect how well you engaged them while they were inside your store.

If you have tons of customers simply visiting but not engaging or buying anything, something’s wrong — right?

What is the average cold email response rate?

The short answer?
The average is around 1-5%.

The long (and more accurate) answer?
The average response rate varies. Considerably.

I analyzed thousands of email campaigns sent via GMass to determine the average cold email response rate.

From the cold outreach data that I analyzed from email campaigns sent via GMass, I saw campaigns with response rates under 1% and campaigns that had reply rates over 25%!

So, where did I get the 1-5% average response rate figure?
While that’s a generally accepted figure online, I’d take it with a grain of salt because your response rate is influenced by a ton of different factors.

Let me walk you through each one:

What influences your cold email response rate

Here are the different factors that play a significant role in what your response rate could be:

1. Personalization

Here’s something on which every sales and marketing professional can agree:
More personalization = more engagement.

It’s simple, really.

If your cold emails are personalized and look like they’ve been tailor-made for your recipient (instead of looking mass-produced), you’ll increase your chances of getting a reply.

Over time, I’ve found that personalized emails receive more than twice as many replies as non-personalized ones!

What do I mean by personalized?
Personalizing your outreach refers to creating a personalized subject line that includes their name and an email body that references something they do or where they work. Essentially, it is about adding anything to show your recipient that the email you’ve sent was made for them and nobody else.

Why does this cold emailing technique work?
With personalized emails, you’re showing your recipients that you actually took the time and effort to tailor this outreach email to their needs and wants. And as a result, you’ll be able to better connect with them, increasing your chances of getting a reply.

2. Your industry and offering

One of the mistakes that most digital marketing professionals make when looking at cold outreach data is ignoring the context of that data, as certain industries have higher response rates than others.

What causes this?
A variety of unique factors influence the reasons that certain industries have higher averages than others. For example, factors like the nature of the industry, the level of competition, and the nature of your product/service, etc., can play a massive role.

What’s important to understand is that using a standard reply rate benchmark for all industries can be very misleading. That’s why you should always tailor your cold emailing expectations and goals to align with the field in which you’re marketing.

3. The intended call to action

This is one of the most impactful factors in determining your response rates.

Before analyzing your reply rates, ask yourself this question:
“What did I want my cold emails to achieve?”

  • Generating a sign-up?
  • Scheduling a meeting?
  • Alerting them to a social media campaign they should check out?

Answering this is very important, as sometimes, getting a response isn’t a part of your cold email’s goal in the first place!

For example, if your lead generation emails included a sign-up link, you weren’t looking for a reply. You just wanted them to click on the link and be redirected.

However, if you were sending out outreach emails and wanted to carry on a discussion about how you could build on this relationship, you’re definitely expecting a reply.

As a result, these two types of emails are going to have very different average reply rates.

5 simple tips to boost your response rate

You now know what response rates are and what influences them.
But how do you go about ensuring that your reply rate remains high?

1. Personalize them…a lot

As I mentioned before, personalization is a key factor in determining your reply rate.

Always try and include your recipient’s name in your email’s subject line and greeting. You could also reference their company, their designation, or something they’ve accomplished recently to show them that this email was really made for them.

Research has shown that simply including a recipient’s name or the name of their company in the email can boost the average response rate to over 9%!

Interestingly, research has found that while it doesn’t have a large effect on open rates, personalized subject lines result in twice as many replies as unpersonalized ones.

However, most of all, always ensure that your promotional email is tailored to their specific needs and wants. Remember, as with cold calling, your recipients never asked to be contacted, so you need to show them why your marketing and sales emails are something they should bother with (and answer).

Concerned that creating personalized emails will take forever?
With an email marketing tool like GMass, you don’t have to worry!

With GMass’ Automatic Advanced Personalization, you won’t have to personalize any of your sales outreach emails manually.

GMass’ marketing automation can directly insert a recipient’s name and company into your email and even automatically include personalized paragraphs, attachments, images, and links!

Average Cold Email Response Rate - Personalize them

2. A/B test your emails

As there are so many variables that affect your reply rate, what works for someone else’s target audience may not work for yours — even if you’re both part of the same industry!

That’s why it’s always important to A/B test your emails to determine what works best for you.

What’s A/B testing?
A/B testing involves sending variations of the same email to different segments of your email list.

For example, if you were sending prospecting emails, you could send an email with Subject Line A to one segment while you send the same email with Subject Line B to another segment.

Then you can compare how each variation performed to determine which one (Version A or Version B) resulted in more replies. Use that one for the rest of your cold outreach campaigns.

A/B testing has been shown to increase open rates by 49%, which is why it also bodes well for your reply rates!

And if you want an easy way to track how your email variations do, look no further than GMass’ Campaign Report!

It’s automatically generated after every email campaign, and you can access it right inside your inbox. It highlights handy metrics like your open rate, reply rate, click-through rate, unsubscribes, and more!

Average Cold Email Response Rate - AB Testing

3. Filter your email lists

Is it possible to get a reply from someone who doesn’t exist?

Probably not, right?

Unfortunately, many email marketers put themselves in that predicament — marketing to people who aren’t there.

If they don’t regularly update their mailing lists, they may be sending emails to IDs that either no longer exist or have already blocked them!

Not only is sending emails to these addresses a waste of time and effort, but it can also:

  • Lower your sender reputation — leading to your emails heading straight to the spam folder
  • Disrupt your reply rates by skewing the data to reflect lower engagement levels

For example, you’re not going to get a reply from someone who has zero interest in what you’re offering — so why send them tons of follow-up emails?

Similarly, if an email address is no longer valid, you’re not going to get a reply — all that’s going to do is increase your bounce rate!

That’s why it’s always important to segment your email lists to ensure that:

  • You’re sending emails to people who are actually interested in what you’re offering and might reply.
  • You’re sending emails to valid email addresses.

In fact, research has shown that targeted cold emails can receive average response rates of 15-25%!

Luckily, creating email lists has never been easier with GMass.

You can quickly build an email list within your inbox using the Gmail search feature or even use a Google Sheets spreadsheet to conduct a quick mail merge.

You can even edit your email list in real-time based on opens, clicks, replies, and bounces!

Average Cold Email Response Rate - Filter Email Lists

4. Always include a strong CTA

Including a CTA (call-to-action) at the end of your email is always a good idea.

Why?
It draws your prospect’s attention to the fact that you want them to do something — like reply — after reading the email.

Sure, a marketer or salesperson can still get a reply without a CTA, but if they don’t include one, there’s a good chance the potential prospect may not know that they have to reply.

Why take that risk when all it takes is a few lines to drive the point home?

Adding a simple line such as “looking forward to your reply” or “please let me know if you’re interested in taking this forward,” can make all the difference when it comes to increasing the efficiency of your sales process.

Need proof?
Adding just one CTA to an email can increase click-through rates by over 53% — so who says it can’t do the same for your replies?

Tip: Here’s my guide on how to end an email for better engagement.

5. Follow the KISS principle

Keeping It Short and Simple is a fundamental cold email principle.

Why is it so helpful?
It ensures that the information you want to convey is easily accessible — making your outreach campaign as reader-friendly as possible.

Remember, cold emails are like cold calls — they aren’t something your recipient has asked for — so if they decide to open it, your sales rep needs to get their foot in the door and get their point across quickly.

If your email is too long and its purpose is unclear, they’re not going to bother reading through it or replying. Research shows that cold emails that are 50-125 words long receive reply rates of around 50%!

But don’t worry, your email doesn’t have to be lengthy or uninteresting. Check out my guide on how to start an email properly to avoid that from ever happening!

Note: These are just five of the hundreds of helpful things that can help you improve your cold email campaigns.

If you want to stay updated on new developments about how to boost your campaigns, why not check out my Cold Email Insights Guide? It has actionable insights that can help you build better email campaigns today!

Wrapping Up

While it’s hard to pinpoint what the actual average cold email response rate is, it’s clear that it depends on a variety of factors. And when you manage those factors effectively enough, you’re sure to boost your reply rates in no time!

However, remember that if you truly want to boost your email campaigns and maximize their engagement, you can’t do it alone.

You need a tool that can help you along the way.

And that’s where GMass comes in.

With features like automatic personalization, scheduling, and a spam solver, it’s got everything an email marketer needs!

So why not download the Chrome extension today and experience it for yourself?

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