#07 – Cold Email Metrics That Count


#07 – Cold Email Metrics That Count

August 2, 2017

Hello cold emailers, how’s your reply rate? This week we are talking about the metrics that will help you optimize and get the most out of cold email. Guess what, click rate is NOT an important metric for cold email. There are a few other crucial metrics that will tell you exactly where you stand with your campaigns from the point of view of your prospects. It’s high time you start loving stats for the reality check they provide, so tune in and let’s dig deep into it!


  • What kind of metrics can we track with cold email and why are many of them “vanity” metrics?
  • 4 main metrics you should pay attention to in order to optimize your cold email performance
  • How to interpret Open Rate and what percentage to aim for in your campaigns?
  • Why is Reply Rate just half of the story, and why not to worry even if you have 50% negative replies?  
  • What does Positive Reply Rate tell you and what is the optimal rate to shoot for?  
  • What is the tolerable Bounce Rate and why you need to keep closely monitoring your list?
  • Why you need to forget about the Click Rate if you really want to start a conversation with your prospects?

So, there are only 4 metrics you should track, and that’s not too scary even for stat-phobes. In the show notes for this episode (below) you’ll find a graphic that shows Quickmail’s stats for 15 million sent emails that will help you learn more about these 4 useful metrics for cold email.  

Until the next episode, stay tuned and happy cold emailing!

Jeremy and Jack

Open rate:

Reply rate:

Click rate:

Here are the frequency distribution for emails sent to more than 500 prospects (based on the last 50 million emails sent)

Open rate per touch:

Open rate for entire sequence of emails


– [Jeremy] Hey what’s up everyone? This is Jeremy, founder of

– [Jack] This is Jack from EmailsThatSell.

– [Jeremy] Today, episode seven, we are going to look at the four cold email metrics that count, but before we look into that, what kind of metrics can we track with cold email, Jack?

– [Jack] There’s a lot of metrics that can be tracked in a cold email campaign, but actually most of them are just vanity metrics that won’t help you optimize your campaign. Some of my favorite vanity metrics would be clickrate and another one is replies based on the time of day. We’ll get to clickrate in a minute. But time of day is really hard to track because it varies so much by segment, by the week, and it’s also hard to recreate even if you had an exact minute that would be perfect to send emails to. So, that said, there’s really only four metrics you need to pay attention to if you wanna optimize and get the most out of your cold email campaigns.

– [Jeremy] All right, so let’s go into it. Which one are they?

– [Jack] The first one is your open rate, and this is your best indicator of whether or not your emails are inboxing. This is so important because if your emails aren’t inboxing, and let’s say they get sent to spam, no one has a chance to read or reply to your messages. So your open rate is essentially your first stat that tells you if your cold email campaign is starting off on the right foot. Now, I’m curious, Jeremy, from your experience with QuickMail, do you have any feedback from a technical standpoint when it comes to open rate?

– [Jeremy] Yeah, absolutely, I’ve got two things actually. The first one is it’s not bulletproof. It’s based on an invisible image that is placed in your email, and when you’re sending that to your prospect, that prospect may have an email client that doesn’t load images. In fact, you can configure that into Gmail if you wanted to. And the second thing you need to pay attention if you’re enabling open rate tracking or open tracking, is the observer effect. By just simply enabling that and inserting an image, your chances of inboxing are less, so you have to be careful. It’s like looking at it at this rate will actually diminish your chances of inboxing. So, not great.

– [Jack] Yeah, that’s interesting. And what about the stats behind open rates? Can you share a few stats with us that can help us determine if we’re doing a good job with our open rates or not?

– [Jeremy] Yeah, absolutely. In fact, I’ve been looking at the last 15 million emails sent with QuickMail to extract a graph, and I’m going to share that graph in the show notes, but basically, it’s a very interesting shape. You can see that everything above 60% is absolutely great. That’s where you should aim for. And there is another zone below 40% where it’s kind of risky to be in. It means that you’re starting to get into spam list and very, very quickly, you’re going to drop to zero. So, pay attention of that 40, 60%. Try to stay definitely above 40%.

– [Jack] Okay and when you’re talking about 40 or 60% open rates, we’re talking about the open rate across an entire sequence, right?

– [Jeremy] Absolutely, yes.

– [Jack] Okay, so the second metric that we need to pay attention to is your adjusted reply rate. So your reply rate is great, but an adjusted reply rate will tell you more information. It’ll tell you the number of replies that you’re getting based on the amount of people who actually open that message. So it’s a far better indicator of how well that email’s performing because it takes out of the equation open rate, and it will just give you an apples to apples comparison if you wanna see which email is getting a better reply across different campaigns. And a quick sort of example of this, let’s say you have two emails you wanna test, and you send both of them to 100 people each. If they both get 10 replies back, then your global basic reply rate will tell you that they’re equally as good, but if you took a closer look you might find out that one message got half the opens the other did, so therefore, the adjusted reply rate would be double the other email. So it’s just a better indicator, especially if you’re doing AB test. You’d wanna pay attention to adjusted replies. Okay, so can we go back to QuickMail for a second because I’d love to hear if you had any trends or stats related to reply rate that you could share with us today.

– [Jeremy] Yeah, absolutely I’m going to put it into the show notes as well, but you can see there is a really strong market, 20%. Everything above 20% is sort of like exceptional results. You got the 1% of all sequences, and it’s thousands and thousands of sequences, of course. But you can see like 1% got even 60% reply rate, but that’s more like exceptional.

– [Jack] So for anyone out there who is interested in maybe taking their campaigns from a 10% reply rate to a 20% reply rate, you can do that most of the time by making small tweaks in your email copy or maybe adjusting the job titles that you might be reaching out to. Small tweaks can get you up to 20%, but from experience, it seems like if you wanna go beyond 20%, that’s going to take a more dramatic shift in your strategy. Maybe changing your offer up completely. Maybe changing how you package that value proposition in those emails, a little bit more drastically. So you can do small tweaks to get to 20, larger tweaks if you wanna move beyond that. But that brings us to our third metric that you need to be tracking in your email campaigns, and that is your positive reply rate. This is gonna tell you two things. But before we get into that, I just wanna be clear your positive reply rate is simply your ratio between positive replies and negative replies. This is gonna tell you A, if your list is a good fit for what you have to offer, and B, how compelling your value propositions are in your emails.

– [Jeremy] Hey, just curious, in podcast episode three, how to deal with rejection, you mentioned at some point that 50% negative reply rate is not uncommon even for successful campaigns. What number should I shoot for?

– [Jack] I’d say that’s a good starting point. You should be aiming for 50% and above. Anything less, it tells you that you need to again go back to your list, go back to your value propositions and rework it so that you get an above 50% positive reply rate, but something to keep in mind is we’re not optimizing necessarily for this metric here. It’s just an indicator of how many positive conversations we’ve been able to start with the campaign.

– [Jeremy] Hmm, Got it. So, tell us, what is the last metric?

– [Jack] The last metric you need to check is your bounce rate. Now this is doubly important for new campaigns. If you’ve just set yourself up with a new QuickMail account and you want to test out cold email, this is going to be a big factor in whether or not your emails end up getting delivered properly or not. Now this also goes for those of us with more mature campaigns because your bounce rate tells your email service provider, like Gmail for example, it’s a good indicator of whether or not you’re a spammer, and therefore, you’re gonna wanna keep this bounce rate below 5%. You can do this by using a tool like Brite Verify as long as you use Brite Verify to help you scrape and remove all the other undeliverable or risky email addresses, you should be able to hit a 5% or lower bounce rate.

– [Jeremy] Hmm, okay, that’s cool. Before we close this cast, I’m curious about kick rate. At the beginning you mentioned that this was a vanity metric. I know a lot of markets here use that constantly, so what makes you think it’s a vanity metric here?

– [Jack] It’s a vanity metric for cold email, and this is the key word here because traditional email marketing does track and optimize for clicks, but the goal of a cold email, as we’ve mentioned in other casts is to start conversations here. If we optimize for clicks, we might do something like add in multiple links into a single email. Just by doing that alone, we almost ruin our chances of inboxing properly because we’ve got the greater risk of getting flagged as spam. Also, if we’re optimized for clicks, that means we have to use click tracking in our emails, and click tracking can be a little bit dangerous because if it’s enabled, A, you might not inbox properly because if you’re using for example, a link shortener, a lot of spammers in the past have been using link shorteners, so Gmail has automatically basically just removed people who are sending a lot of emails with link shorteners. So it’ll kill your deliverability, and also it doesn’t look natural. You wouldn’t send your colleague an email with link tracking embedded in it. In fact I’ve gotten feedback early on from a recipient that I reached out to who said that they weren’t happy about receiving an email with a link tracking embedded in it because it doesn’t actually reveal where you’ll be sending them. It looks a little bit tricky, so in short, click tracking, optimizing for clicks, is not gonna help you start a lot of good conversations with your cold email campaign, so go ahead and ignore that and instead focus on those four metrics to track in your cold email campaign. And that’s it for today. Jeremy, great cast.

– [Jeremy] Awesome, thanks a lot, Jack.


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