B2B Email Marketing: Average Open Rates (Cold and Opt-In)

B2B Email Marketing: Average Open Rates (Cold and Opt-In)

If you’ve begun to dig into email marketing, chances are you’ve noticed it’s a much deeper topic than you might expect. B2B marketers have it rough – getting people to open emails can be hard.

The first step to mastering email marketing is understanding your metrics. The second step is knowing how to act on that information.

Whether you’re sending nurturing emails to opted-in contacts, or filling your funnel using email lead generation, we’ve got your back.

What’s the Average Open Rate?

We’re going to look at the two main types of email marketing, cold and opted-in, separately.

Why? Because they’re totally different animals, and the metrics and strategies for each are different too.

The average open rate for a B2B opted-in email marketing message, according to this benchmark report, is 15.1%.

For cold email lead generation, on the other hand, the average open rate is somewhere around 6%.

That’s a stark difference.

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The reason for that is that your opted-in leads have already had contact with you. They’ve converted somewhere along the way, and won’t be too surprised to see an email from you come in.

Cold emailing, on the other hand, is exactly that – cold. Your contacts have (probably) never even heard of you.

In both cases, you’re trying to get a busy professional to take time out of their day to open and read your email. That’s if they even notice your subject line (more on that in a minute).

Opted-in leads have the advantage of recognition – they know who you are, and therefore have more of a reason to open your email.

However, you need to take into account the scale of your send, as well. Cold email lead generation sends tend to be much larger than their opted-in counterparts.

15% of 1000 emails is 150 opens.

6% of 100,000 emails is 6000 opens.

Improving Your Open Rate

The key factor in your open rate is your subject line. Many marketers make the critical error of just slapping a subject line on after the fact. It doesn’t matter how awesome your email is if your subject line is wimpy, because nobody will see it.

Here are a few tips for improving your open rate. These apply for both cold and opted-in!

  • Short and sweet. People check their email on mobile a lot these days, and you don’t want your subject getting cut off on a mobile screen. Plus, short means easy to scan.
  • Make it punchy. Your contact should be able to tell exactly what your email is about right away in the subject.
  • Don’t be clickbait-y or misleading. If your subject line promises something you don’t deliver on in your email, people will drop off, ignore further emails from you, and possible report your email as spam. Which you really don’t want.
  • Don’t be super salesy. Your email should open up a dialogue, not just hard-sell someone on your product. Your subject line should reflect that.
  • Personalization is key. Subject lines with personalization tokens using your contact’s name or company perform significantly better.

Other Strategies

Getting people to open your emails is a great start. Ideally, they’ll read it and convert.

This is where opt-in and cold email really diverge. Just like you can’t expect people who have never heard of you to jump at the chance to open your cold email, you also can’t expect them to be really invested in your message.

If they open it, they’ll probably give it a quick scan to see if it’s worth really reading. That means you want the core bits of your message to pop out at them.

Try highlighting key phrases in bold text. It’s a way to draw the eye to your most important highlights while they scan.

Keep your body content nice and brief as well. It’s a good idea in general, but that goes double for cold email.

Next Steps

Open rate is useful, but only for what it is – how many of your emails got opened. You should be looking at the whole picture to get an idea of how your campaigns are performing.

That means paying attention to clickthrough rate – the percentage of opens that also clicked through to your landing page.

A low CTR means your email copy isn’t hitting home. This might be because your audience targeting is off (if your open rate is also low). It might also be because your copy just isn’t compelling.

Writing emails is an art and a science. We’ve got a great article on writing email copy here to help you step up your game.

If people are opening and clicking but aren’t converting on your landing page, your conversion rate will be low – and that’s a strong indicator that your emails are okay but you need to take another look at what’s going on after people click.

Is your landing page following best practices? Do you have some analytics tools set up to help you see exactly how people are engaging?

By paying attention to the whole picture, you can follow your contacts’ journey from receiving your email all the way to converting and entering your funnel (or progressing further down it).

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