Back to Lead Generation

The Guide to Cold Email Statistics

Written by:

Sean McAlindin, a business and arts writer, has a decade-long experience in music and culture journalism and recently ventured into business writing.

Edited by:

Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.

The Guide to Cold Email Statistics

The Guide to Cold Email Statistics

We all get it every day. Unsolicited email. But how often do we open it? And how effective are the messages we receive?

As always at Making That Sale, we’ve done our due diligence. To prepare this article and make it as informative as possible, I’ve sifted through a sea of statistics, articles, and research to discover what questions you might have about cold email statistics that I can answer for you. I’ve left no stones unturned. I’ve vetted all the usual and not-so-usual sources in my efforts to uncover the truth for you.

So what’s the truth? How effective are cold emails? Which types of cold emails work, and which don’t? And what is the secret to succeeding with this popular marketing method? 

This comprehensive guide to cold email statistics will answer all these questions and more. 

Key Takeaways

  • Cold email is the most popular and effective of the three major cold outreach methods: email, phone, and social media.

  • The key to success in cold emailing is to personalize your message for every customer.

  • Following up on your cold email, whether the customer responds or not, can greatly increase your chances of eventually making a sale.

  • The words and phrases you use, the length of your message, and the way you approach the conversation all make a difference in whether or not your prospect will work with you.

What’s a Cold Email?

Much like a cold call, a cold email is an unsolicited email sent to a prospect you’ve never met before. In sales, a cold email is a way to contact a potential customer for the first time, hopefully with the end result of making a sale.

Unlike sales emails sent en masse, a cold email is usually well-researched and personally tailored to the recipient. While it might use an email template or outline, it will contain more detail than your average copy-and-paste bulk email.

Beyond sales, cold email is also used for job prospecting, networking, offering to collaborate or partner up, and just about any other type of professional connection.

Why Do People Write Cold Emails?

So what’s the story? There has to be a reason why cold email is the most popular way to reach out to professional contacts you haven’t met before. 

Sales consultancy Rain Group’s 2023 Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research report set out to find what works and what doesn’t in sales prospecting, according to both buyers and sellers. The study included 488 buyers representing $4.2 billion in purchases across 25 industries, and 489 sellers who conduct outbound prospecting.

Want to know what they learned?

  • 80% of business buyers say they are more comfortable receiving cold call emails than phone calls.

Better yet, they discovered that a separate 8 out of 10 agreed to meet sellers who took the initiative to contact them first. Combined, these facts mean that sending cold emails is a smart way to make a good first impression on leads and move them down the sales pipeline

Out of the big three cold outreach methods — phone, email, and online message — email is often the best choice for a variety of reasons. While social apps are too casual for first impressions and a phone call possibly too forward, email strikes the right tone of connection, information, and respect. 

There’s little limit on how much information you can include in an email. Plus, your recipient can open, read, and refer back to your email at their leisure. Maybe they’ll see it on Friday, open it and give a quick glance on Monday, and then finally read it thoroughly on Wednesday, when they have a little more time. 

Considering this, it’s no wonder the vast majority of prospects prefer to be contacted by email. 

Let’s get into the statistics!

Cold Email Response Rates

When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, cold email is the king of cold outreach. It is far and away the most popular and effective way to drum up fresh business or make a new professional connection.

  • 77% of buyers report responding favorably to a cold email in the last 12 months.

So, there’s definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. But how do we get there? Let’s break it down. 

First things first. How likely are prospects to even open a cold email in the first place? 

According to email marketing researchers, Campaign Monitor:

  • A good cold email open rate should be between 17-28% depending on the industry. 

That means around three in four emails never get opened. Okay, that’s discouraging. But let’s focus on the positive. Say the email does get opened, what are the chances your prospect will write you back? 

In 2019, SEO gurus Backlinko analyzed 12 million outreach emails to answer this question. Here’s what they found.

  • The average response rate for outreach emails is only about 8%.

Still, that’s a higher response rate than cold calling which hovers meekly between 1 and 2%

Keep in mind that optimizing your email for mobile devices is essential. According to research by Super Office:

  • While only 27% of all emails were opened by mobile devices in 2011, that number climbed to 81% in 2020.

The message here — if you don’t cater to mobile readers, you’re going to lose out on a lot of potential customers.

The Best Times to Cold Email

Let’s dive deeper into the science of it all. Email response rates may be under 10%, but there are steps you can take to increase your likelihood of getting a positive response. 

Let’s start by talking about the days of the week. 

  • Tuesday is the best day to send cold outreach emails with and 21% open rate. Saturday is the worst at 17%.

Unlike cold calling which sees significantly lower success on Mondays and Fridays, researchers haven’t found an especially large difference in response rates between the different days that emails were sent. That is probably because people can open them on whatever day work best for them.

How about the time of day? 

AI-powered email and subject line generator Get Response analyzed almost 7 billion messages sent by their customers in 2021. They found that:

  • The best open rates are for emails sent between 4 and 6 a.m. and 5 and 7 p.m.

“If you want to improve your opens and clicks, you’ll want to send your emails right before your recipients wake up or as they’re about to finish work for the day,” says Get Response marketing head Michal Leszcynski in their 2023 Email Marketing Benchmark report. “At these times, the inboxes are usually less cluttered, and you’ll have a higher chance of capturing your audiences’ attention.”

How to Personalize Cold Email

So, now we know that cold email can be effective. But how can you use it to make yourself, your company, or your product/service stand out from the crowd? 

Research shows that the key to getting through to potential customers is customizing your emails. The following three statistics prove my point. 

  • Only 5% of sellers say sending bulk emails is effective.


  • 31% of sales reps say sending one-to-one emails manually after doing research and customizing the message is very or extremely effective.

Furthermore, a 2013 study by Experian Marketing Services found that:

  • Personalized emails generate 6x higher transaction rates.

So, it’s clear that personalized emails are the way to go. They are well worth the extra time and effort. 

But what other touches can we put in them to stand out? What does the research say?

The first step is to get your subject line right. 

  • 33% of recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on the subject line alone.
  • Personalized subject lines boost response rate by 30%.
  • Outreach emails with long subject lines have a 25% higher average response rate compared to those with short subject lines. Subject lines between 36 and 50 characters get the best response rate.

Now that we’ve nailed the subject line, how about the email itself? How long should it be?

Considering that recipients spend maybe a minute reading each email,

  • The ideal email should be 50 to 125 words long.

So, now we know we need to cut extraneous words to ensure your email is easy to skim through. Also, it’s a good idea to include a specific call to action at the end to give the reader a simple step to follow if they’re interested. Remember, the real key to success is personalization. 

  • Emails with personalized message bodies have a 33% better response rate than those that don’t personalize their messages.

Now that we’re moving into the body of the email, we now know personalized messages are better than non-personal messages. And, research shows that another good practice is to add links to your social media profiles in the email signature. This can actually boost engagement a lot!

  • Twitter was correlated with an 8.2% increase, LinkedIn was an 11.5% increase, and Instagram was a 23.4% increase.

How to Follow Up on Cold Email

So you’ve sent a personalized email and you feel good about it. But you don’t hear back from your prospect within a couple of days. When and how should you follow up?

First and foremost, follow-ups significantly improve response rates, so you should never be afraid to follow up. 

Outreach consultants Woodpecker found that:

  • Sending just one follow-up email could improve your reply rate by up to 22 percent.

And Backlinkco says, 

  • Emailing the same contact multiple times leads to 2x more responses. 

Yet, according to a study of 500,000 emails by YesWare:

  • 70% of sales representatives give up on sending cold emails if they don’t get a response after the first attempt. 

So if at first, you don’t succeed, according to these statistics, it is well worth your time to try, try again. 

More Tips to Improve Your Cold Email

Gong Labs analyzed over 300,000 sales emails to uncover the hidden laws behind irresistible sales emails. They distilled their findings into the following statistics. 

1. Using ROI language in cold emails decreases success rates by 15%.

Don’t talk about return on investment in your cold outreach. Buyers need to understand the “why” behind your ROI before they’ll believe them. Focus instead on the customer’s goals and initiatives. Once your prospect is in the sales pipeline, then it’s the time to ask for a meeting. 

2. Confirming your prospect is interested before asking to set a meeting is 2x more effective than regular outreach. 

Don’t ask for anything specific, just ask for interest. Rather than trying to pin down a meeting or a sale, the most effective call to action in cold email is simply asking whether they care or not. Don’t sell the product, sell the conversation. Once you get the prospect talking, your chances of success go way up.

3. Group email response rates are typically highest with two recipients per email. They decline as you add more people to the group.

Generally speaking, the fewer people you write at one time the better. It takes longer to get a response when you ask a group because everyone assumes someone else is handling it. If you do reach out to a large group, it’s wise to follow up with individual participants to highlight the next steps that are relevant to them. 

Studies have shown that two recipients is the magic number for a group email. Perhaps, it’s because it takes a buddy to keep us honest and responsible. But as you continue to add three or more, response rates begin to decline. 

4. Healthy deals see a 753% increase in engagement between the sales rep and the prospect as they zero in on a signature. 

The best indicator of whether your deal will close is email engagement. It will go up, up, up as you get closer to a deal. Tracking it can give you a great idea of the best sales prospects to focus on. 

5. Top reps use “you,” “your,” and “your team,” 29% more than their average and underperforming peers. 

For you grammar nerds out there, second-person tense with a focus on pronouns is the way to go. For example, you might say “You’ll improve your rates with this simple conversion.” This type of language tends to draw the reader in and make them feel understood. 

6. While including a request for “your thoughts” may increase reply rates, it decreases your chances of booking a meeting by 20%.

Don’t ask for your prospect’s thoughts. This is just a sneaky and lazy way of attempting to create a dialogue. It’s neither specific nor intelligent. Generally speaking, asking for someone’s opinion can be effective, as it taps into the human need to be heard. But when it’s used to get a reply from a prospect in a cold email, asking for “thoughts” is just a gimmick.

7. While saying “I never heard back” increases reply rates, it decreases meetings booked by 14%.

Don’t guilt your prospects. It’s not a good look. And while they may get back to you, it will probably be just to say “no thanks.”

8. The phrase “Hope all is well” correlates to increased meetings booked by an impressive 24%.

Do be nice! While this may seem like a lame attempt to build a relationship with your prospect, expressing this sentiment really does work. For example, you might say, “Hey Brad, I hope all is well since you took your start-up public. I’m sure it’s been exciting!” The numbers don’t lie – manners still matter.


Hopefully, this guide has given you plenty of insight into the world of cold email statistics. Knowing and understanding these numbers can help you plan and execute a successful approach to your cold email campaigns. Remember, the secret to success is all about personalization. So make yourself stand out from the crowd and do the work you need to beat the numbers today.



Cold Email Statistics FAQs

What should I avoid in a cold email?

Avoid using a generic or overly salesy tone, making false or exaggerated claims, and using a generic subject line. Also, don’t send attachments without permission or ask for too much time or information upfront.

How can I build a targeted cold email list?

To build a targeted cold email list, start by identifying your ideal customer or recipient profile. Look for relevant industry groups, conferences, and publications where you can find their contact information. You can also use social media and online directories to find potential leads.

How can I measure the success of my cold email campaign?

You can measure the success of your cold email campaign by tracking the open rates, click-through rates, and response rates. Use A/B testing to optimize the subject line, body, and call-to-action of your emails, and leverage analytics tools to track your results.