Cold Email Open Rates: When to Be Concerned

Cold email is, to a large extent, a black box.

Knowing that you’re hitting the inbox, without expensive tools and processes, is almost impossible.

And with the new iOS 15 updates, it isn’t getting any easier.

Thankfully, there’s a few shortcuts to make it a little easier on you.

#1: Under 30% Open Rate

Your first big indicator is: if cold email open rates are below 30%, you may have a deliverability problem.

This is including the privacy updates launching across almost all systems.

Keep an eye on open rates and run tests if they’re under 30%.

#2: Run Deliverability Tests

There are a few apps you can use to test your email address and deliverability to make sure you’re starting with a solid framework.

First, check our 9 Cold Email Commandments to make sure you’re setting up the framework in the first place.

Gmass Tools:

Gmass has a suite to help you figure out the black box of deliverability, for free. Use them when in doubt.

These should help you make sure you’ve set up your email addresses properly and check where your emails are ending up.

Glock Apps

Glock apps is a bit pricey for most beginners, but if you’re serious about scaling cold email, there’s no better resource for deliverability.

#3: Don’t Track Open Rates

Here’s the truth: open rates are simply a proxy to make sure you’re hitting the inbox, and a measurement of how effective your subject line is to get prospects to open your emails.

But, it’s really only a proxy.

The real metrics to track in cold email are:

  1. Reply Rate – if you’re getting replies, your emails are not only getting opened, but read and replied to
  2. Meeting Booked Rate – when your emails are getting replies and leading to meetings, you’re truly filling your sales pipeline with new potential customers
  3. Return on Investment (ROI) / Profit – when meetings are booked and deals are being closed, you’re actually profiting and proving that you should invest more time and money into cold email

So, do you really have to track opens?

If you’re just getting started and testing subject lines, maybe it’s worth it to you to track open rates.

But in my opinion (and in the opinions of many other smart sales and marketing pros), it really doesn’t make sense to track open rates.

It’s much better to focus on the metrics that are closer to revenue, so you can actually decide whether your offer, targeting, and outreach are really working (and worth continuing and investing in).


Open rates are alluding a lot of business owners, marketers, sales professionals, and entrepreneurs right now.

But we have to ask ourselves, are we focused on the right thing?

Are we cold emailing just to cold email (because someone told us it’s a magic bullet to get mores sales), or are we actually using cold email as a tool to drive revenue or testing offers and targeting?

At the end of the day, focus on tracking the metrics that really matter and run tests to make sure your emails are hitting the inbox (at least most of the time), and, as always: test, test, test.

Help someone.
Share this guide.


2 Responses

  1. I’m skeptical about these numbers. I emailed the same people every week for 10 years (so they obviously knew me) and I would get 32% give or take. Now I’m using a different system and brand-new cold lists and getting a 10% open rate. These people have no idea who I am. I think 10% is reasonable at this point.

    Finally, I’m very skeptical about click rates, landing page conversions, etc. Very few people (except salespeople) click on buttons in an email. They’re cynical and aloof. They already have a ton of white papers. Virtually nobody responds.

    I’m open to rethinking all of this, but these numbers seem unrealistic.

    1. I appreciate your skepticism. Emailing cold prospects every week for 10 years is a bad idea – you always want to keep it to 3-10 emails max and end with a “breakup” email. If you look at this article, I talk about how open rates are very skewed these days. If you’re extremely targeted and personalize your messages (and have a great offer), you can easily achieve these numbers and higher.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Up your cold email game.

We'll show you how...

Get real results with cold email. Our free 7-day bootcamp will show you how.

More guides for you.

Become a lead generation master.

Join our free 7-day cold email bootcamp.

Everything you need to get started with cold email and outbound lead generation. 100% free.

Go further with our partners.

If lead generation and sales is on your mind, we know you’ll love what our partners are working on.

7-Day Free Trial

Give it a try. 100% risk free.

Get access to 200 million+ business emails & phone numbers. Automate your cold email and LinkedIn lead generation.

No credit card required

Introducing LinkedRich!

Automate LinkedIn + cold email in smart sequences.

Input a LinkedIn search link, Sales Navigator search link, LinkedIn Event link, LinkedIn Post link, LinkedIn Group link, or upload a CSV – and instantly start getting leads.