SiteCare’s Cold Email Marketing Benchmarks and Metrics

Use our industry-specific, cold email marketing benchmarks to measure your own email lead generation success.

by Asta Geldenhuys

Cold Email Lead Generation | Lead Generation

| 7 min

Cold emailing marketing is one of the most effective ways to generate new leads for your business. 60% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI, which makes an excellent case for investing more time and money into your email marketing strategy.

Email marketing allows you to gain specific insights into your campaigns. Each campaign provides valuable information about your email recipients, including what makes them engage with and respond to your emails, and ultimately, invest in your product or service.

Measuring cold email marketing success: what are the challenges?

While understanding and tracking email marketing metrics are essential to ensuring your campaigns are successful, how do we measure success in cold emailing?

We often need to turn to industry standards to compare our email marketing performance against others. Knowledge of these metrics and benchmarks can help us measure our campaigns’ effectiveness and prioritize what needs improvement. That said, these benchmarks are not always that easy to come by.

SiteCare’s solution has been to develop our own set of email marketing benchmarks.

We based these standards on the average cold email marketing metrics of over 3,000 unique SiteCare emails, sent between January and March 2021, across 40+ industries worldwide.

Metrics used to create these benchmarks included open rates, click-to-open rates (CTOR), and reply rates. We can use other metrics to measure campaign performance, including conversion rates, unsubscribe rates, and bounce rates.

The below table explains what each metric is and how to calculate it.

MetricWhat it isHow to calculate it
Open rate% of recipients who open a given email (total opens / delivered emails) x 100
Click-to-open rate (CTOR)% of recipients who click on a link contained in a given email(total clicks / total opens) x 100
Reply rate% of recipients who respond to a given email(total replies / total emails delivered) x 100
Conversion rate% of recipients who complete the desired call-to-action(number of recipients / total emails delivered) x 100
Unsubscribe rate% of recipients that unsubscribe after opening a given email(number of unsubscribes / total emails delivered) x 100
Bounce rate% of emails that could not be delivered to a recipient’s inbox(total number of bounced emails / total emails sent) x 100

SiteCare’s Q1 2021 email benchmarks

Compare how your email campaigns are doing against our Q1 cold email marketing benchmarks below.

SiteCare’s average cold email benchmarks
  • Average open rate: 65%
  • Average reply rate: 19%
  • Average CTOR: 20%
SiteCare’s email benchmarks per industry
IndustryOpen RateReply rateCTOR
Agriculture60.00%4.00%26.67%
Automotive54.55%0.00%33.33%
Aviation & Aerospace70.00%25.00%21.43%
Beauty80.00%50.00%18.75%
Business Supplies & Equipment77.78%22.22%42.86%
Chemical66.00%17.00%16.67%
Construction & Architecture63.28%14.69%9.82%
Defense & Space28.57%0.00%100.00%
Education87.50%46.88%17.86%
Engineering57.14%20.00%0.00%
Environmental Goods & Services60.00%0.00%100.00%
Facility Management50.00%0.00%0.00%
Financial Services48.09%4.68%30.09%
Food Production62.67%14.00%20.21%
Government42.86%28.57%0.00%
Health, Wellness, & Fitness87.50%54.17%28.57%
Hospitality57.89%0.00%9.09%
Hospitals & Healthcare48.61%8.33%22.86%
Industrial Automation66.67%33.33%0.00%
Information Technology & Services58.14%9.30%32.00%
Internet66.67%0.00%40.00%
Legal Services50.00%0.00% 0.00%
Leisure & Recreation100.00%0.00% 0.00%
Logistics & Supply Chain47.37%7.02%3.70%
Management Consulting44.44%11.11%0.00%
Manufacturing68.29%29.27%28.57%
Marketing & Advertising50.00%14.29%0.00%
Media & Entertainment64.00%20.00%0.00%
Metals & Mining50.00%13.64%18.18%
Nonprofit58.54%23.78%55.21%
Oil & Energy67.16%11.94%20.00%
Packaging & Containers66.67%33.33%0.00%
Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology80.00%6.67%25.00%
Real Estate77.37%12.21%18.44%
Renewables & Environment58.82%11.76%10.00%
Retail66.61%33.39%12.89%
Security & Investigations87.50%37.50%28.57%
Telecommunications46.15%3.85%8.33%
Transportation/Trucking/Railroad30.77%19.23%25.00%
Utilities26.09%13.04%16.67%
Wholesale56.25%12.50%11.11%
Wine & Spirits81.13%56.60%16.28%
Average65.20%18.83%19.59%

Next steps: understanding and improving your email metrics

How do your campaign results compare? Based on the above benchmarks, is there anything you should do to improve your cold email marketing campaigns’ success?

We have a few suggestions for each key performance metric.

1. Improving open rates

Open rates are one of the best ways to tell whether your cold email strategy is working.

At SiteCare, we see an average open rate of 65%, with industries such as Beauty, Pharmaceuticals, Education, Health and Fitness, and Wine and Spirits achieving 80% to 88%. We accomplish this with personalization, micro-segmenting, and delivering relevant content.

How to increase your open rate:

  • Enhance your subject line. Your email subject line is the first piece of information a recipient sees in their inbox. The better your subject line resonates with your recipients, the higher your open rate.

    Ways to enhance your subject line include:

    • Keeping your subject line short and to-the-point, ideally no longer than five words or 30 characters. Over 40% of all emails are opened on a mobile device; simplified copy will ensure that your subject line is optimized for mobile.
    • Personalization — the more personalized the message, the more likely the recipient is to open your email.
  • Segment your lists. Use different subject lines for separate job titles, company sizes, industries, and locations.
  • Test, test, and test. Do this for your subject line length, tone, content, and sender name (i.e., company name vs. recipient name, etc.).

2. Increasing CTOR

CTOR accounts for the recipients who opened, read, and engaged with your emails by clicking on a call-to-action link; it measures the quality and relevancy of your email content.

On average, SiteCare campaigns achieve a CTOR of 20%, with industries such as Financial Services, Information Technology and Services, Automotive, and Nonprofit averaging between 30% and 55%.

Successful click-to-open rates are achieved by creating relevant content and carefully considering the placement and content of the CTA link in the email body.

How to increase your CTOR:

  • Provide real value. Once a recipient opens an email, it’s essential to give them a reason to carry on reading and engage with your content.
  • Include an engaging call-to-action link to drive recipients to the exact place you want them to be.
  • Format your email for CTOR success. Make it easy to click by carefully considering the link’s location in the body of the email, the anchor text on the link, and the copy leading up to the link.
  • Optimize your signature and logo image. Set these up to include a link to your company’s homepage.

3. Grow your reply rate

Cold email reply rates indicate your recipients’ engagement. Tracking this metric is one of the easiest ways to evaluate how effective your campaign is while facilitating lead generation and sales.

SiteCare’s reply rates for industries such as Beauty, Health and Fitness, and Wine and Spirits average between 50% and 57%. We achieve this by thoroughly researching the target audience (to ensure we’re reaching out to the right prospects) and creating a human connection through various methods such as personalization and multi-touchpoint campaigns.

How to increase your reply rate:

  • Create a human connection by personalizing your messaging.
  • Have a clear call to action — make it clear what the recipient should do next and what’s in it for them.
  • Timing is everything. Identify your recipients’ time zone and holiday calendar based on their location and tailor your sending schedule accordingly.
  • Create multi-touchpoint campaigns. Campaigns with four to six follow-up sequences achieve higher reply rates — because 80% of prospects say “no” four times before they say “yes.”
  • A/B testing is essential. Test various elements of your campaign to figure out what your lead drivers are:
    • Which emails are your recipients opening?
    • To which emails are they replying?
    • When and why are they unsubscribing?

4. Improve your unsubscribe rate

Your unsubscribe rate is an important metric to study to determine if certain campaign elements (subject lines, topics, sending schedules, etc.) could impact your unsubscribe rate, as this is a clear indicator of an unengaged audience.

How to improve your unsubscribe rate:

  • Find the right audience. Direct your marketing efforts toward the right people. Ask yourself, who is your ideal client, and what are their pain points? Where are they located, and when do they buy your product or service? It’s all about getting the right message to the right audience at the right time.
  • Keep it clean. Don’t send cold emails to invalid email addresses. Use a reliable email validation tool to verify all email addresses on your list to ensure it’s clean.
  • Make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe. People who unsubscribe are unengaged recipients — they’re negatively impacting your campaign performance by not engaging with your emails. Allowing them to unsubscribe easily should improve your campaign performance.

5. Lower your bounce rate

A bounce is a message from an email server informing you that your email wasn’t delivered to the intended recipient.

Temporary delivery failures, or soft bounces, usually occur due to an interim issue with the recipient’s server. Common reasons include a full mailbox, server downtime, and too large messages for the recipient’s inbox.

Permanent delivery failures, or hard bounces, usually occur due to invalid or outdated email addresses or domains.

Excessive bounces will affect your deliverability as well as your reputation as a sender. The ideal benchmark for bounces is 2%. Anything above 5% is a reason for concern and should be addressed.

How to improve your bounce rate:

  • Again, keep it clean. Use a reliable email validation tool to verify all email addresses on your list.
  • Closely monitor and proactively manage email bounces. Remove hard bounces, and keep an eye on soft bounces — a soft bounce will convert into a hard bounce after several tries.

Key takeaways

In reality, there is no “typical rate” for each metric; campaign metrics will depend on several factors, such as industry, location, timing, product offering, and many other variables.

The key takeaways are to:

  • Find the right audience
  • Create a human connection
  • Provide real value
  • Have a clear call-to-action
  • Tailor sending schedules to timezones and calendar events
  • Monitor and manage your metrics
  • Test, test, and test again
Infographic - Cold Email Success Key takeaways

Get in touch!

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all marketing solution for most brands, and email is just one of many lead generation and marketing channels.

If you want to improve your email marketing campaigns or learn how best to incorporate other channels into a comprehensive marketing strategy, consider contacting our expert team of digital marketers to help you meet your business goals.

Asta Geldenhuys | Lead Generation Project Manager

Asta is the Lead Generation Project Manager at SiteCare. For three+ years, she has streamlined operations, managed 145 email marketing campaigns, and helped generate 1,400+ leads for global B2B businesses. She has also enjoyed approximately 2,350 cups of coffee while raising three cat kids and documenting life in Cape Town as an amateur photographer.

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