Cold Email KPIs: What to Track and How to Improve Performance

cold email kpi

You may search for email key performance indicators (KPIs) or tips to track your email performance. If you’ve done it, you were likely inundated with metrics, facts, and figures—right?

There’s “16 Email Marketing KPIs” or “The 10 Metrics to Track in Your Email Campaigns”. The list goes on and on.

But when it comes down to it, you just want to grow your business and hope that email a good way to do it. Well, you’re right. Email is a great way to grow small and medium businesses (SMBs).

And, like it or not, you do have to track some KPIs to measure the success rate of your outbound campaigns

Just not 16 or 10. Or even 7, 5, or 4. Just 3.

I sound like an infomercial.

In this post, I hope to cut through the noise a bit and show you:

  • The only 3 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that Really Matter
  • Benchmarks of Where You Should Be for Each Metric
  • How to Improve the Metrics and Get More Conversations Started with Leads

Sound good? Let’s get going.

What Should You Focus On (The Right KPIs)

I mentioned already that there are only three. Let’s list and explain them a bit.

  • Open Rate: Divide the number of opens a particular email sent gets by the number of people you sent it to (30/100 = 30%) . Our successful clients are seeing a 40% open rate, but 30%+ should be your minimum goal.
  • Click Through Rate (CTR): Divide the number of people who click a link sent in the email by the number of that emails sent (5/100 = 5%). We’re regularly seeing a 5% CTR among many LeadFuze Clients.
  • Response Rate: Divide the number of email recipients who respond to your email (via reply, phone, etc.) by the number of emails sent. This should also be around the 5% mark.


But Wait…There’s More

I’m not going to leave you hanging with a bar to reach and not give you a little help getting there.

Let’s take a look at how you can improve your opens, clicks, and responses.

If you’ve ever watched an infomercial, you know a bit about email marketing. The show comes on promising to sell you a product, many people turn the channel. But some stay, because the opening is enticing. Many more fall off during the program, but a few stay to evaluate.

Some even pick up the phone and call.

You send an email to leads. Many people trash it immediately. Some are enticed to open it up, but then trash it and move on. Some read what you have to say and, if you do it right, some will click the offer or reply.

Scared yet? Don’t be.

It seems like there’s an influx of these “As Seen On T.V.” products. Everyone has an idea and commercials are cheaper than ever to produce. Emails the same way.

A list of emails is cheap (even though cheap lists are full of bad contact data) and there are no shortage of email tools to send mass emails. All of the bad infomercial products make the good ones stand out all the more.

Using this analogy, I’ll explain how to improve your metrics in 3 Steps.


Step One: Start Off Highlighting Them (and maybe a problem)

Ever wonder why the openings of infomercials exaggerate a problem to the point of poking fun at people? It works.

Who does this? What was she expecting to happen with that hammer?

It’s a wow factor that keeps them watching. With email, it’s all about getting them to want to open your email.

To do this, you have to highlight the customer and possibly point out an issue. Let’s say someone offers online reputation management and wants to get leads to open. I’ve put together a couple of fake emails (screenshot below).

Let’s break each down.

  • First One: Me, me, me. This tactic NEVER works. This is a great way to destroy your open rates. Everything about this one is wrong. Don’t do it!
  • Second One: Notice the subject line would make a business owner perk up. Any marketer can do this. But notice the text beside the bold subject line. This is the preview text that shows the first couple hundred characters of the email. I used it to further explain the subject line, but still leave a lot of room for imagination. To answer those questions, the lead will have to open up.

Pro Tip: Experiment with your subject lines and first sentence. Make them work in tandem and over time, your open rates will get closer (and exceed) that 30% mark.


Step Two: Offer Something for Freeeeeee!

Important: But don’t use the word “free”. That’s a word that’ll send you straight to the spam folder.

What would happen if these infomercials just said, “Thanks for watching, if you want our gizmo call now.”

It’s anticlimactic and people wouldn’t buy, right?

Simply pitching your product to a cold audience will not work. There has to be something so valuable, people can’t help but pick up the phone click on your offer. Your goal in sending cold email is not to get customers from a single message.

The end game is to start a conversation. The commercial doesn’t get the money, the person they call does. Keep that in mind.

Your email is not a salesperson. The email is responsible to get them to connect with you via click throughs and responses.

For this, you’ll need a resource to offer them.


What Can I Give Them?

Great question. There are a ton of things you can give.

At LeadFuze, we came up with 22 different offer types to send to various leads. Obviously, not all of them will work for you and your target industries. You’ll have to think about what your ideal buyers are going to want to see and then create it for them.

To help you, here’s a screenshot of the 22 offer types.

Pro Tip: Make it really good. If it’s just a dinky blog post with no value or new insight, don’t waste your lead’s time. Create something that they won’t be able to pass up. This value can include your time (consult/audit) or a resource that can improve their business/life without using your products and services.


Step Three: Repeat the Offer Multiple Times

Really an infomercial is a short bit of video repeated a bajillion times over the course of 30 minutes.

There are two ways you can use this same tactic to improve your opens, clicks and responses.


One Call-to-Action, Multiple Links

Ideally, your cold email should only be 4-6 sentences. While this isn’t a ton of screen space, many of us won’t scroll back up to click a link. To maximize the number of clicks, include a second link toward the end of your copy or in the P.S..

Say something like:

Here’s the link to the case study again. I’d love to hear your thoughts, [First Name]!


P.S. Just one more link to the webinar registration page. I hope to see you there, [First Name]!

Just doing this one thing could dramatically improve your CTRs and Responses.


Multiple Emails in Sequence

Sending one email to leads is a dramatic waste of contact data. We recommend at least four emails in a sequence sent over a week or two. Then, after about a month, hit them again with another email or two.

Each email isn’t the same, but should include the same offer. The first would include the offers and follow ups would send the link again and reference the first email. Here’s an image of a sample cadence for your email sequence.

Bonus Resource: Cold email success takes experimentation above all. You should always be testing something in each campaign. We’ve put together a list of 50+ split tests specifically for cold emails. I hope you’ll check it out and benefit from it.


Put On a Smile and Get to Work

These KPI numbers are possible, but it will take work. A good offer has to be created. Tests have to be ran. It will take time and effort. But just think what doubling or tripling your open and click rates could do for your business.

It’s worth it, now get to work.


Author Bio:

Justin McGill is the Founder of LeadFuze, a solution to automate sales prospecting and engagement.


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