Getting barely any replies to your cold emails? Don’t take it personally.

Fact is, even if you genuinely knew the secret to eternal youth or the true location of El Dorado or next week’s winning lottery numbers and promised to share your secret with anyone who replied to your latest cold email, you still wouldn’t get a 100% response rate.

Nowhere near.

Your prospects are busy — plus we live in a skeptical world. So you’re never going to get everyone to reply.

However, there are practical steps you can take to improve cold email response rates. In this article, we’ll show you how to leverage the unique features and analytics tools in QuickMail to maximize your replies, leading to more positive conversations, booked meetings, and sales.

Let’s get into it…

What Are Cold Email Reply Rates?

Simply put, your cold email reply rate is the proportion of people who respond to your email campaigns.

If you send 100 emails and get 10 replies, you’ve got a response rate of 10%.

As such, it’s one of the most important cold email metrics. Because if no one responds to your emails, your campaigns aren’t going to generate any sales.

What Is the Average Cold Email Reply Rate?

We analyzed millions of emails sent through QuickMail and discovered that the top 25% of cold outreach sequences generate 20%+ reply rates of 20%+, while about half of sequences see response rates of 10% or less.

QuickMail Average Cold Email Reply Rate Graph

So if one in five prospects respond to your cold emails, you’re clearly doing something right.

This aligns with separate research from Backlinko, which discovered that 8.5% of cold emails receive a response. Or, to put it another way, 91.5% of cold outreach messages end up being ignored.

Kinda bleak, huh?

But lots of our customers are seeing spectacular results from cold outreach.

Customers like Avadel, which added $347,000+ in monthly recurring revenue using QuickMail.

So it’s clearly possible to increase your cold email response rates to way beyond what most sales teams are seeing.

7 Tactics To Improve Cold Email Response Rates

At QuickMail, we’re all about helping you strike up more positive sales conversations with prospects.

And every one of those conversations begins with an initial reply.

That’s why we offer a bunch of advanced analytics tools geared toward improving cold email response rates. Here’s how to use them…

Leverage Send-Day Attribution

One of our favorite analytics features is send-day attribution, which helps shorten the feedback loop when optimizing your cold outreach campaigns.

Send-day attribution is exactly what it sounds like: we track all of your outreach activities right back to the day on which the email was sent. So if a prospect is sent an email on Sunday then opens it and responds on Monday, the open (and the reply) will show for Sunday.

That way, you can instantly tell which emails are delivering the best results, and which days tend to generate the most replies (more on the best time to send emails later…).

Not only that, but send-day attribution also helps you keep on top of your email deliverability rate. 

Let’s explain how by describing a campaign with three prospects, producing the following results:

ProspectEmail Send DayResult
Prospect 1SaturdayEmail opened on Monday
Prospect 2SundayEmail opened on Monday
Prospect 3MondayEmail landed in spam

With every other cold email platform on the market, you’d see the following metrics:

  • Saturday: 0% activity (no one opened your email)

  • Sunday: 0% activity (no one opened your email)

  • Monday: 66.67% activity (2/3 prospects opened their emails)

Which would suggest Monday is the best day for email open rates.

But with QuickMail and our send-day attribution, you’d see a very different picture:

  • Saturday: 100% deliverability (1 email sent, 1 confirmed received)

  • Sunday: 100% deliverability (1 email sent, 1 confirmed received)

  • Monday: 0% deliverability (1 email sent, 0 confirmed received)

Here, you know when your deliverability problems began — on Monday. So you can dig in further to find out what changed. Maybe prospect #3 was just out of office on the Monday. Or perhaps it’s something bigger; maybe it’s time to wave goodbye to an inbox or repair your domain.

Of course, this is a massive deal when it comes to boosting your reply rate. Because no one’s going to reply if your emails keep landing in spam.

Understand Performance Using Cohort View 

With QuickMail, we let you see a cohort view for the following key outreach metrics:

  • Open rate

  • Click rate

  • Reply rate

  • Positive reply rate

  • Negative reply rate

  • Bounce rate

  • Unsubscribe rate

This means you can see those metrics broken down by the date when you first reached out to a prospect.

QuickMail Metrics Open Rates ImageThe week-over-week data shows how your response rate grows over time. So, in the above screenshot, we can see that emails sent in the week starting January 15 had a 70% open rate, and that a further 5% of emails were opened the following week.

You can break this view down in two ways:

  1. By emails sent

  2. By campaign journeys

The campaign journey view shows you how far along in the campaign a prospect is likely to respond. Use this information to optimize your campaigns for replies, such as determining how many touchpoints to add to your campaign, or when to segment your follow-up emails.

Learn more: 6 Key Strategies for Elevating Email Conversion Rates 

Run A/Z Tests To Maximize Replies

A/B testing is all about pitching different versions of a cold email against one another to see which generates the best results.

For instance, you might test two subject line variants so you can understand which is most likely to be opened.

Of course, this is hardly revolutionary — any cold outreach platform worth its salt features some sort of A/B testing functionality. But QuickMail takes things much further by offering A/Z testing, which allows you to test multiple variations at the same time.

A/Z testing sample

So if you’ve written five different subject lines, you don’t have to run several tests to measure their effectiveness — you can assess them all against your control variant in a single test. That way, it’s far quicker (and easier) to understand what resonates with your prospects.

Now, let’s consider some A/Z testing ideas to improve cold email response rates:

VariablePurposeWhat To Test
Subject lineHigher open rate = more opportunities for replies- Adding personalization - Asking a question - Adding a CTA
Body copyMore engaging copy = more replies- Adding personalization - Highlighting key information with bullet points/bold text - Shorter vs longer
CTAMore compelling CTA = more replies- Adding personalization - Adding calendar link - Changing CTA location
Email cadenceLearn how different wait times between emails affect reply rates- Test different wait times to see if response rate is affected by time intervals between emails

Learn more: 8 Best Practices for A/B Testing Email Outreach

Create Unique Follow-Up Email Variants Using Conditional Sending

Sending at least one follow-up email can increase average response rates by 44%, so it’s fair to describe follow-ups as a key element for boosting your cold email reply rate.

But not all follow-up emails are created equal.

Some feel human and engaging. Others are basically automated spam. If you’re going to increase replies, you definitely need to do more of the first option and less of the second.

Again, QuickMail has a solution to help with this process: you can build a follow-up list after three touch points, then split-test your approach based on how individual prospects engaged with your previous emails.

Learn more: 8 Cold Email Follow-Up Best Practices to Increase Replies

Test Channels With Different Audiences

Sure, we think cold email is the best thing since sliced bread.

But not every prospect will agree.

That’s why QuickMail users can also reach out via LinkedIn, allowing them to target potential customers beyond the inbox.

Test Channels With Different Audiences image

You might even find that sending a LinkedIn connection request improves your cold email open and response rates by making your name more recognizable.

Go Beyond Measuring Standard Reply Rates

Reply rate is an important metric for gauging the success of your cold outreach campaigns.

But it isn’t flawless. 

Why? Because it incorporates both positive and negative replies. If you somehow achieved a 100% reply rate, but every response told you to get lost, you (probably) wouldn’t consider that a successful campaign.

That’s why, with QuickMail, you can view data on both positive and negative responses to truly understand what’s resonating with prospects:

Measuring Standard Reply Rates Image

But that’s not the only issue with using reply rates as a metric.

When you think about it, there are two main reasons why people don’t reply to cold emails:

  1. They read your cold email but didn’t find it relevant or compelling enough

  2. They just didn’t bother to open it

For that reason, you should also keep a close eye on your adjusted reply rate — the percentage of email openers who respond.

To demonstrate why this matters, let’s compare these scenarios:

  • Campaign A: You send 100 emails, generate 20 opens, and 10 of those openers reply

  • Campaign B: You send 100 emails, generate 50 opens, and 10 of those openers reply

In both cases, the reply rate would be 10%. But your adjusted reply rate would be 50% for campaign A and 20% for campaign B. That’s a big difference, suggesting prospects found the email copy in campaign A a whole lot more engaging.

Send Emails When Prospects Are Most Likely To Reply

Conventional wisdom insists that emails sent in the middle of the week are most likely to attract a response. But is that really true?

In a word: No.

When we analyzed our platform data, we discovered that the highest average response rate is actually generated by emails sent on Sundays, followed by Tuesdays and Wednesdays:

Read more: Best Time To Send an Email (Backed by Data)

So what’s going on here? Are people really opening their inboxes on Sundays, just waiting for your latest cold email to arrive?

Probably not. More likely, it’s because emails sent on Sundays appear toward the top of the inbox when prospects log on to work when Monday morning arrives. Also, if we do check our emails on Sunday, there’s a good chance we’ll remember any cold emails we received. Perhaps that makes us more likely to reply later in the week.

Ultimately, this is all just speculation. The data tells us what, but it doesn’t tell us why.

For that reason, we highly recommend testing your own send times to understand which send days generate the highest reply rates for your audience.

QuickMail makes this process simple.

If you want to add 50 leads to a sequence every day from Monday – Friday and only send emails between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm, you can.

campaigns send emails details

And with send-day attribution, it’s easy to see the send days on which you’re most likely to receive a positive response.

Improve Your Cold Email Response Rate With QuickMail

Like so much in the world of cold email, there’s no silver bullet that’ll instantly double your replies.

Sorry to be the bearers of bad news.

Instead, reply rates are governed by a whole bunch of factors, from the day you sent your email to the subject lines and CTAs you used and the types of follow-email emails you shared.

The good news is that QuickMail can help with all that stuff — and you can see for yourself by signing up for your free trial today!