Cold Email and Cold Call Benchmarks

11 minutes

Cold Email and Cold Call Benchmarks

With sales being process driven, it's important to analyse data on the performance of your campaigns and efforts. For many salespeople and marketers, it's difficult to identify if they're doing a good job without a benchmark. For example, a cold caller might feel that they're doing excellent only to find out that their competitor is booking double the number of appointments.

In this article, we're going to run through the minimum benchmarks you should be hitting for both cold emails and cold calls. That's right, the minimum. Good and great campaigns exceed these numbers and you should too.

Cold Email Benchmarks

When it comes to cold emails, there are three main metrics you want to track. These are:

  1. Open rate - how many prospects opened your email?
  2. Response rate - how many of the opened emails were responded to?
  3. Conversion rate - how many of the responses took the action you wanted? For example, how many people said yes to a sales meeting.

Before we dive any deeper, make sure you're able to track these numbers. These numbers give you an indication of how your sales funnel (and entire sales process) is performing and allow you to troubleshoot and fix each stage. If you can't track these numbers, you'll need to address this first. In our article on Best Cold Emailing Tools, we run through multiple solutions each of which provide you with an easy way to track your performance.

Open Rate: >40%

Open rate is a measure of how many people open up your emails. Of the three metrics we'll be looking at for cold emails, open rate is the most important. High open rates indicate that you've contacted a valid email, not landed in spam, and used an enticing and relevant subject line.

An open rate below 40% makes every part of your sales process harder. It decreases the likelihood of you getting a response and booking an appointment, and also harms your sending reputation. Here are three common reasons for low open rates:

  1. Your emails are landing in spam
  2. You're not reaching out to verified email addresses
  3. Your subject lines are weak

Emails are landing in spam

If emails are landing in spam, you have a deliverability issue that needs to be addressed straight away. Emails landing in spam typically indicate that your domain (e.g. has a bad sender reputation or score. In extreme cases, it could also indicate that your domain has been blacklisted. To address this, we recommend only using email addresses that have been 'warmed-up'. That is, they have a track-record of sending emails, having them opened and getting responses.

When it comes to warming up emails, the easiest way is to use software like Warmup Inbox, Kickbox or Mailreach. These platforms automate the warming up process for you. An alternative is to do it manually but contacting colleagues and asking them to respond and mark the email as important.

If you think your email address has been blacklisted, check out MXToolBox, and Each of these sites allows you to check the status of your email address. If you have been blacklisted, you'll need to reach out to the spam list owners and administrators and ask for removal.

One last reason for landing in spam emails is for using spam words. We've included a list of these words in another article called ...

Unverified email addresses

Before emailing prospects, the first thing you should be doing is verifying that that email address exists. There's no point emailing and having your message fall on deaf ears. To ensure that your emails are verified, there are a number of tools you can use. Our recommendation is to use bulk verification software like Debounce or Neverbounce. With these apps, you pay a fraction of a cent per email and it then organises the databases into four main categories:

  1. Valid - real email addresses that are currently accepting emails.
  2. Unverifiable - email addresses where is no definitive way to determine whether this email is valid or invalid.
  3. Disposable - temporary email accounts used to avoid using a real personal account during a sign-up process.
  4. Invalid - bad email addresses that do not exist or are not accepting mail.

After using these apps, you'll then want to email all of the valid email addresses. Unverifiable emails can be contacted if If you have a dedicated email server with your own IPs. Unverifiable emails may be safe for sending dependent on the overall health of your list.

Your subject lines are weak

Your subject is perhaps the most important part of any sales email - it's the first impression you give a prospect and what determines if they click to find out more. Assuming the above issues have been sorted, it's worth investing time into refining your subject lines. This means crafting something appropriate and then running A/B tests for future refinement. Below we've included 7 tips for making a good subject line:

  1. Keep it short - many prospects check their emails on a smart phone and you don't want half of your subject to be cut off. Based on an analysis by Leadium, subject lines of 4 words or less seem to perform best.
  2. Keep it personal - nobody likes automated emails that look generic. Your subject line needs to address the prospect and/or business personally. Something as simple as including their name can make a big difference.
  3. Keep it relevant - if you've done the research beforehand, created an ideal customer profile and your buyer personas, you should have a good understanding of how your solution can help your prospect. Demonstrating this in your subject line is important.
  4. Keep it genuine - the subject line needs to make the prospect feel like you genuinely want to help them. Giving them a compliment or referencing something you have in common (e.g. attending an event) is a great way to do this.
  5. Keep it casual - if your email looks cold and business-like, it can be a big turnoff for prospects. By keeping it casual, but not too casual, the email can be more appealing, warm and approachable.
  6. Ask a question - you can convert your subject line into a question or mini-CTA to spark interest and encourage your prospect to click through.
  7. Match up the body - ensure that whatever you've promised in your subject line is actually lived up to in the email body. Don't click bait or make false promises to prospects as it's likely to lose you business.

There's clearly a lot that can be done to improve your subject lines so give them a go and test them.

Response rate: >30%

Opened emails are a good start as they give you the opportunity to pitch and engage with your prospect but it's not enough. You want your prospects to open up and respond to your emails. If less than 30% of prospects that opened up your email haven't responded there is room for improvement. As mentioned above, 30% is the minimum and you should be aiming for ideally 50% - this is the benchmark Fide uses.

Response rates below 30% indicate that there is a problem with your email body or who you're actually pitching to. Here are three potential areas of improvement:

  1. Refine your prospects - does the company you're contacting match your ICP? Have you reached out to the right persona? Do they meet your preliminary prospecting criteria?
  2. Change your pitch - your pitch needs to be short, clear and compelling. You should be able to identify their challenge or pain point, suggest your solution and include a CTA.
  3. Change your CTA - first of all, don't ask for anything big as your CTA should be a small ask. For example, a quick 15 minute phone call and not a 1 hour demo. Second of all, your CTA needs to be very clear of the next steps.

You can boost your response rates by sequencing a series of follow ups. If you're relying on just email and not using other prospecting methods (like cold calls or LinkedIn) we recommend a sequence of at least 7 emails.

Conversion rate: >50%

At this point you should be converting at least 50% of your responses into target actions. For example, if you get 20 responses to your campaign, you should book at least 10 appointments. There might be some objection handling to get there but 50% is a good number to aim for.

Anything lower than 50% and there's room for improvement. Just like with improving your response rate, you'll want to look at who you prospects are plus the body of your email.

Cold Call Benchmarks

Cold call funnels are very similar to cold emails as there are three main stages and three metrics you want to track. For cold calls, you want to look at:

  1. Reach rate - how many times did you reach the prospect you intended to?
  2. Qualify rate - how many of the prospects that you spoke to were qualified?
  3. Conversion rate - how many of these prospects were moved into the next stage? E.g. how many scheduled a presentation, demo or appointment?

Cold calls are a bit more difficult to track as many businesses don't rely on soft-phones for their calls. If you are using a soft-phone (making a call via an app or your computer), you should be able to integrate with your CRM or find third-party software that helps you track. There's a myriad of solutions out there and the best one is going to depend on your CRM, number of sales reps, number of dials per day and sales process. As a result, we're not going to recommend any specific solutions..

Reach rate: >30%

When it comes to cold calling, you're dialling through a database of prospects and you want to connect with at least 30% of your prospects. Ideally it should be closer to 50% but 30% is always a good start. If you reach rate is any lower than 30%, your campaign is dead.

The reason for low reach rates is typically the quality of the list or database. If you're connecting with too many gatekeepers or dialling main lines instead of direct numbers, your list needs to be improved or you should consider using another channel like email or LinkedIn.

Nonetheless, remember to follow up at a different time. Most of your prospects are busy so there's always a chance you've caught them at the wrong time. Calling back at a different time and on different days will help improve your reach rates.

If you find that you're encountering a lot of gatekeepers and can't get through, check out our article on Getting Past the Gatekeeper.

Qualify rate: >50%

Here's where you find the biggest difference between cold calls and cold emails. You should be qualify at least 50% of your prospects. The number may look high but you need to remember why you're speaking to a prospect in the first place. If you did your job correctly, the prospect should already be well-researched and pre-qualified before you even picked up the phone.

Once you've made contact, at least half of your prospects should confirm that they're a good fit. If this amount drops below 50%, you'll need to reinvest your time and money into the earlier stages of your cold calling funnel and generate a database of prospects that are actually relevant. Cold calls are draining and the last thing you or your callers want is to be spending time on prospects that aren't the right fit.

Conversion rate: >50%

Similar to cold emails, you want to see a conversion rate of at least 50%. Again, the number may look high to some but again, we want to stress the importance of your original list of prospects. We've included a list of tips in our article on How to Increase Your Cold Calling Conversion Rate.

Benchmarks are a starting point

The benchmarks above are all a great way to identify if you're campaign is moving in the right direction. Depending on your industry, these numbers may fluctuate but if you're using an account-based approach, these are the bare minimums for your outbound efforts.

So when it comes down to comparing your current numbers to the above metrics, consider the folowing:

Benchmarks are minimums

Don't start celebrating if you're starting to hit the open rates and conversion rates we've provided in our article. All this means is you're moving forward in the right direction and your objective going forward is to continually improve.

Don't ignore context

Every business, industry and market is different. Established brands and household names are more likely to resonate than young start-ups. However, for 90% of the B2B businesses out there, these numbers make sense.

Refine and test

If you're metrics are way off, you'll need to make some drastic changes to your funnel and sales process. However, if you're slightly off, all you need to do is refine what you're doing. This means testing different pitches, and email subject lines. For example, if you're reaching out to a list of 500 businesses via email, do a batch of 100 first and A/B test your subject lines and bodies. Repeat this process for the remainder of the prospect list.

Need help?

If you need help with your appointment setting efforts or need help building a database with verified and direct contact information, get in touch with us today to see how we can help.

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