Comparing Email Open Rate Benchmarks | Opt-in vs. Cold List | Clickback

Comparing Email Open Rate Benchmarks | Opt-in vs. Cold List | Clickback

There’s so much conflicting information out there about cold emailing that it’s tough to sort the wheat from the chaff.

The truth is, cold email marketing is extremely effective, but only if you know what you’re doing.

If you’re looking to send emails to cold contacts but aren’t sure how we’ve got you covered.

How to Send Email to Cold Contacts: Everything You Need to Know

Is Cold Email Worth It?

Short answer is yes.

When you get it right, cold email marketing provides immense potential for lead generation. Its true power comes from how scalable it is: it’s perfectly feasible to send campaigns to hundreds of thousands of contacts at once. Or more.

The typically-lower overall engagement you get from cold contacts is offset by the sheer number of contacts you can reach. If you sent a campaign to 100k contacts, even if you only scrape together a 1% open rate, that’s 1000 pairs of eyes on that campaign.

If your campaigns are well-written, you’re targeting the right audience, and sending with the right software, you can get seriously impressive results.

email open rate benchmarks

Laying the Groundwork

It’s important to understand that cold email is very different from opt-in. It’s a whole different beast, with its own unique challenges and hurdles. If you approach cold email as though it were the same as opt-in marketing, you’re in for a rough time.

There are two kinds of challenges here: technical and marketing. Technical refers to challenges around actually sending cold email successfully, such as dealing with spam filters. Marketing challenges are more familiar: things like generating opens and clicks.

You should also expect less engagement than you’re used to with opt-in. This makes sense if you think about it – cold contacts have, by definition, never heard of you and aren’t inclined to open your emails based on previous touchpoints.

That means writing cold email campaigns needs a different perspective.

Learn more about Opt-in Vs Cold List.

email open rate benchmarks

First, You Need Contacts

It all starts with your list of cold contacts. There are plenty of vendors out there to choose from, but it’s critical that you pick a reputable one. If you use a low-quality list from a disreputable provider, you’re not only going to see poor results, but you’re also setting yourself up for failure in the future as well.

The reason for that is that some vendors sell scraped data, which means they’ve used a program to scour the internet for email addresses and plugged those into a list. There’s no quality control, and scraped lists are generally full of garbage data like non-existent addresses and spam traps.

You should instead get your list from a reputable provider who aggregates their data over time instead of scraping. If you’re not sure where to find vendors like that, reach out to us. We partner with several them that we can recommend.


Once you’ve found yourself a good vendor, you need to buy the right kind of contacts. These should match your target audience – namely people in the right industry with the right job role.

For example, if your product is designed to help sales teams operate more efficiently, it makes sense to buy a list of managers in sales roles.

If you aren’t sure about your target audience yet, take a break from preparing for cold email and go build a buyer persona or two first.

Learn more about Why Bulk Email Verification and List Cleaning Matters.

email open rate benchmarks

How to Send Email to Your Cold Contacts

Armed with a nice big list of high-quality cold contacts, the next step is to figure out how to send to them. If you load up your typical Email Service Provider (ESP), you’ll run into a problem immediately.

Common ESPs don’t allow cold lists. There’s a good reason for it, though: they typically share IP addresses and domains across their clients.

That’s fine for normal use, but not so much for cold email marketing. IP addresses have something called a sender reputation, which is a score that spam filters use to tell how trustworthy the messages coming from that IP are.

It’s very easy to damage your sender’s reputation, especially with cold lists. That’s why your typical ESP won’t allow them – otherwise, one person’s bad practices can impact other customers’ ability to send emails.

What you need is Clickback’s email lead generation software, designed especially for sending email campaigns to cold contacts.

Clickback sends campaigns with a pool of IPs and domains dedicated solely to you, so you’re completely in control of your sender reputation – and your corporate IP and domain remain totally untouched regardless.

Learn more about How to Send Email to Cold Contacts.

email open rate benchmarks

Writing Cold Emails

Crafting effective cold emails are half art and half science. Every sentence needs to encourage the reader to read the next one because cold contacts are always ready to ditch your email if it’s not resonating with them.

This is a deep topic on its own. You can read our full deep dive into cold email copywriting for more details, but here are a few quick tips:

  • Write well. Make sure your email is free of grammatical and spelling errors, and flows well.
  • Talk benefits, not features. Be crystal clear about exactly what benefits your product provides, not just a list of awesome features.
  • Identify their problem. If your email immediately shows that you understand their position and challenges, you’ve got more of a hook to make them keep reading.
  • Don’t forget a call to action. Including a button like “Read More” or “Get a Demo” makes it very clear what their next step should be after reading. Don’t use generic “Click Here” text if you can avoid it.

Other Things to Consider

We’ve talked about the things you need to know to send emails to cold contacts, but it’s a deep topic. If you’re interested in learning about the technical side of cold emailing in more detail, you can read more about it here.

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