Everything You Need to Know about Email Response Rate

You track your email response rate, right?

Monitoring your email response rate is a critical aspect of effective outbound sales strategy, especially when supported by pertinent outbound sales tools.

Why? Because it will help you understand if your cold email strategy actually benefits your company or not.

The question is, how do sales reps calculate their email response rates? Which factors affect email response rate the most? I'll answer both of these queries for you. Then I'll share a few proven strategies you can use to improve this KPI.

Understanding Email Response Rate in Sales Context

For sales professionals, the email response rate calculates the percentage of emails in a cold email campaign that reach their intended recipients and receive direct replies.

It's an important metric in sales because it helps sellers understand which leads are legitimate prospects and which should be removed from their sales funnels.

How so? Well, recipients who respond negatively to your emails—or don't respond—probably won't buy anything from you soon. Why waste your time on them?

On the other hand, those that respond favorably graduate to the next stage of your sales process because they've expressed genuine interest in the products and/or services you sell.

While average open rate and bounce rate may also be important email metrics to track for digital marketing, it’s the responses that really matter in sales.

In our article about 12 B2B Cold Email Templates, we delve into the nuances of creating a high-converting B2B cold email template.

How to Calculate Cold Email Response Rates

Knowing the email response rate and calculating it for your cold email campaigns are two different things. Fortunately, if you know the formula, the latter activity isn't too hard.

All you have to do is divide the number of responses your cold email campaign achieves by the number of emails that reach their intended recipients. Then multiply that number by 100.

Here's what the actual formula looks like:

(Responses / Delivered Emails) x 100

For example, if you send 100 cold emails during your next campaign and receive 25 responses, your email response rate will be 25 percent: (25 / 100) x 100 = 25 percent.

Why Email Response Rate Matters in Sales

Email response rate, at its core, measures prospect interest.

The more interested a prospect is in the products and/or services you sell, the more likely it is that they'll positively respond to your cold emails.

When you know who's interested, you'll know who to focus your time on. Doing so will help you close more deals, drive more revenue, and ultimately, achieve more success.

Your email response rate will also help you optimize your cold email campaigns.

Ask yourself: What kind of messages produce the best response? Which messages produce the worst responses? Which messages don't produce any responses at all? Once you answer these questions, you'll know how to craft better cold emails that result in future sales.

What is the Average Cold Email Response Rate?

So, how often should your cold emails get replied to?

It's difficult to say because every industry is a little different. But here's what I know: your email response rate is a referendum on the effort you put into your messages.

Stellar cold email subject lines and multiple follow-ups will almost always perform better than sloppy, one-time messages. So, keep that in mind.

Looking back at the average response rate, according to Backlinko, only 8.5 percent of outreach emails receive replies. Email generates $36 for every $1 spent, on average. Use these numbers to benchmark your email marketing strategy and decide if it’s effective or not.

5 Factors That Affect Your Email Response Rate in Sales

If you're going to send cold emails, you want them to be as successful as possible.

Well, my friend, success in this area relies on five things: your subject line, sales pitch, timing, level of personalization, and call-to-action. Let's take a closer look at each of these factors:

1. Subject Line

When it comes to cold outreach, first impressions are everything. That's why your email subject line is so important. It's the first thing your potential customers see.

According to recent studies, 47 percent of prospects open emails based on the subject line alone, while 69 percent use subject lines to report emails as spam.

The question is, how can you ensure your subject lines make a favorable impression?

First, keep them short and sweet—preferably under five words and 60 characters. Then, decide on your hook to address your prospect's problem and create a sense of urgency. These two things will grab their attention and make them need to open your email.

Always remember, your prospects are busy. Countless other sales reps have emailed them, hoping to get a reply. Work hard to make your subject line stand out.

2. Email Content and Pitch

What happens after your prospect opens your email? They read through your pitch.

Guess what—if it isn't up to snuff, they will delete your message, not respond to it. The opposite is also true. If your pitch is spot on, they'll be intrigued and write you back.

To help achieve the latter outcome, keep these quick tips in mind:

  • Cut the fluff: Your prospects don't want to read a novel. If your message is long and drawn out, it will earn a one-way ticket to the trash bin. Only include information that needs to be there. Everything else can be covered at a later date.
  • Know your purpose: Why are you sending this cold email? If your answer is "to make a sale," then you'll never find success with this strategy. Instead, aim to build a relationship. You can do this by introducing yourself and asking for a meeting.
  • Structure your message: The best cold emails follow a proven format. Tell the prospect who you are, address a problem they likely struggle with, and provide a solution that the prospect will want to implement. That's it.

Of course, this entire article is about email response rates. So end your cold email with a question or next step. (I'll discuss this in more detail in the CTA section below.)

Here's a quick example of a well-crafted cold email:

5 Factors That Affect Your Email Response Rate in Sales - Email Content and Pitch

Notice how the message doesn't end with a generic ask, like booking a meeting or product demo. Rather, I ask the prospect to reply with a single number, which cuts friction.

3. Timing and Frequency

When you send your cold email is almost as important as what your email says.

Search the internet, and you'll find a dozen "perfect times" to send your messages. Don't trust any of them. Instead, do your own research and experimentation.

Just send a bunch of emails on different days and at other times. Then see which garner the most responses. Double down on those time frames. Easy peasy.

Frequency is also super important. If you send your prospects one cold email, then pretend like they don't exist when they don't respond, your cold email campaigns will tank. Of course, following up regularly takes time, so I let Close handle this for me.

You can do the same if you sign up for the tool (start your free 14-day trial here) and then build an automated email workflow that follows up with prospects on autopilot.

Workflows in Close empower you to design and automate your sales cadences with precision. You can set up specific steps, assign tasks, and control the timing of each interaction, ultimately enhancing your team's productivity and engagement.

Set up automated follow ups with Workflows in Close

4. Personalization and Relevance

If your cold messages are generic, you will get few responses. Personalized emails work like gangbusters, which is why I always recommend this step.

How important is personalization? Take a gander at these stats:

  • 96 percent of businesses say personalization improves email marketing success
  • 80 percent of consumers prefer companies that personalize their experiences
  • Personalization can lower acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent, while boosting revenue by anywhere from 5 to 15 percent

To personalize your cold emails, include your prospect's name, company name, specific pain points they might deal with, and/or personal information related to them. (Like if you grew up in the same town or graduated from the same university.)

5. The Call to Action

Effective sales CTAs are crucial to the success of your cold email campaigns.

Without them, your prospects won't know what to do next. Should they respond to your message? Click on a link? Spin around in a circle three times? Let them know.

The key to a killer CTA is clarity. If your prospects get to the end of your message and think, "Wait, what am I supposed to do now?" they won't do anything. But if you tell your prospect exactly what to do—and make it easy for them to accomplish—your response rates will soar.

Strategies to Improve Your Email Response Rate

The better your email response rate, the more successful your cold outreach campaigns will likely be. That's why you should always look for ways to improve.

The tips below will help you craft messages that earn responses more often—guaranteed.

Rigorously Qualify All New Leads

One of the best ways to improve your email response rate is only to message people who want what you sell. In other words, qualify new leads before you add them to your email list.

When you receive a new lead, ask yourself, "Does this person or company match my ideal customer profile?" If the answer is yes, shoot them a message. If the answer is no, move on.

(Note: this tip will help you improve your email open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates, too. So if you track those metrics regularly, definitely implement this tip.)

Make it Easy to Respond

If your target audience has to jump through hoops to respond to your sales emails, they won't.

You need to make it as easy as possible for them to reply, so I recommend "1, 2, 3 emails" like the one I shared earlier. Salespeople should ask prospects to identify their biggest challenge out of three options, then reply with the corresponding number.

It's really easy to type a number into an email. If that's all prospects have to do, you'll receive replies more often.

Use (REAL) Urgency

Here's a wild idea: give your prospects a legitimate reason to respond to your emails.

You can add a sense of urgency to your messages: "Respond in the next 24 hours to receive your free report" or "Respond for a free consultation—only ten available."

Now, you need to be careful with this strategy. False urgency will rub your prospects the wrong way. Brainstorm real reasons for your prospects to reply now, not later. Then sprinkle them into your email copy like habanero peppers in a fresh salsa—sparingly.

Use Segmentation to Get Super Personal at Scale

As mentioned earlier, a good email is a personalized email.

Fortunately, personalization is easy to achieve in email marketing, thanks to segmentation.

Just split your recipients into groups based on demographic information, whether they've responded to your cold emails before, or some other data point.

Then send a different type of email to each segment: cold prospects get Email A, warm prospects get Email B, existing customers get Email C, and past customers get Email D.

One more thing: you can create email templates for each of these messages that auto-populate with key information. That way, you don't have to type each one by hand. Win!

Be Obsessive about Email Deliverability

Your prospects have actually to receive your emails to respond to them.

I know deliverability isn't the sexiest topic in the world, but if you want your email marketing campaigns to succeed, you must take it seriously.

Fortunately, deliverability is pretty straightforward. Start by warming up your email. Then, only message verified addresses, always giving recipients a chance to unsubscribe.

(Yes, I know there's more to it than that. But these three tips will get you pretty far. For other ideas you can use to avoid the spam folder, read this comprehensive article. You're welcome.)

Add Social Proof to Your Emails

You work hard to verify your leads, craft baller subject lines, and ensure your email copy is concise and relevant. You always include clear CTAs, too, so your prospects know what to do after reading your message. Still, you can't achieve a good email response rate.

I might know the problem: your prospects don't trust you and/or your company. Lucky for you, I also know the solution: add social proof to your email outreach campaigns.

A well-written case study or glowing testimonial will improve your email reply rate. Why wouldn't it? Your prospects will want to respond when they see that your company has helped a bunch of other people in the past—people just like them.

Wondering where to put social proof in your emails? Towards the end is probably best, right before your CTA. But I encourage you to experiment with different placements.

Use the Right Tech to Maximize Your Efforts

Finally, invest in a quality sales and marketing tool to increase your email marketing efforts.

Close, for example, will help you build full-fledged email workflows, ensuring you follow up with prospects promptly. You can even infuse your workflows with automation so that they run on autopilot. Who doesn't want to make sales while they sleep?

Close is also equipped with a robust analytics dashboard. Use it to track your email response rate and determine how to improve it. Maybe you craft an A/B test, for instance, to evaluate two different subject lines. The one that performs best gets sent to the rest of your leads.

The point is that Close can help you connect with more prospects than ever before. But don't take my word for it. Sign up for a free 14-day trial to experience the power of Close for yourself.

Strategies to Improve Your Email Response Rate - Use the Right Tech

Are you struggling with email tracking and analytics for sales campaigns? Our guide on technical email setup covers the tools and methods to measure success effectively.

In addition to these strategies, incorporating advanced tools like our AI Email Writer can significantly elevate your email campaigns. This tool aids in creating highly personalized and compelling email content that resonates with your target audience.

By analyzing key elements of your sales strategy and the specific interests of your prospects, the AI Email Writer ensures your messages stand out in crowded inboxes, thereby boosting your response rates.

Supercharge Your Email Response Rate

You work hard to craft compelling cold emails. A higher response rate will ensure your efforts aren't wasted. That's why you should take the time to optimize yours regularly.

Remember, it all comes down to your subject line, sales pitch, timing, level of personalization, and CTA. If you nail these five things—and implement the best practices mentioned above, you should be able to achieve a good response rate and succeed with cold emails.

Looking for a tool to simplify the email marketing process? Try Close free for the next 14 days!

Table of Contents
Share this article