What 290 Cold Emails Teach Us About Sales & Marketing in 2019

Drift Cold Email Study

1 year ago I did a weird thing…

I spent two months going from CEO to SDR.

I was CEO of Siftrock at the time and wanted to learn about outbound sales development. So I made myself “interim SDR” for two months and immersed myself into the world of prospecting.

My favorite channel: Cold email.

As a wannabe SDR, I learned that cold email was 1) Poorly understood by most non-SDRs and 2) very valuable to understand for any marketer or seller.

But I felt like I was just scratching the surface. I wanted more…

What we did:

To take my cold email obsession to the next level, I teamed up with Outreach’s Max Altschuler and went to the SDR community for help.

We asked SDRs, SDR managers, marketers, and B2B teams who practice the craft of cold email to share their winning cold email templates and examples.

Then we crunched all the data.

The result: A deck analyzing the 290 cold emails submitted.

You can access the full study and results here 👈

Our goal → Learn what makes cold emails effective to help both SDRs and Marketers get better email response rates.

What we learned:

1) The definition of “good” is subjective

  • We used reply rate as our main metric for segmenting our email library.
  • Since we asked people to submit “winning” cold emails, we wanted to understand what’s a “good” response rate looks like? 10% 50% 1%? Apparently people have a wide range.

Drift cold email study reply and open rates

  • We found some natural cohorts of emails. 58% had at least a 10% reply rate and 33% had at least a 15% reply rate.

Drift cold email study reply rate cohorts

How Do You Handle Email Replies?

Siftrock reply management and email bots can help you scale email conversations in Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, and HubSpot.

Get a Demo ⚡️

2) The hard stuff pays off

  • Unfortunately, we didn’t find any silver bullets, shortcuts or quick fixes.
  • Things that are HARD work pay off.
  • Personalization alone is a big factor…

Drift cold email study personalization

But the killer combo is using personalization with smaller audiences. More targeted messaged get more engagement.

Drift cold email study personalization and smaller audience

3) There is hope for scaling with automation

  • We just told you that personalization is key, but for marketers who send higher volumes of emails to a broader audience, you can’t put your hands on the keyboard every time.
  • GOOD NEWS: We saw PLENTY of automated emails with very high reply rates

Drift cold email study personalization wins

Tip for Marketers: Learn from your SDRs. Take their email game to your turf.

Here are some common SDR email characteristics you can swipe for your marketing emails…

Drift cold email study SDR email characteristics

Why marketers should do this:

  • Marketers traditionally use email for 1-way distribution. Buyers now expect everything to be a two-way conversation.
  • SDRs know how to use email for 2-way communication, even when people are trying to avoid them.
  • Applying the best SDR email tactics will make your marketers’ emails more conversational, more human, and improve buyer engagement.

Try Siftrock Today

Siftrock reply management and email bots can help you scale email conversations in Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, and HubSpot.

Get a Demo ⚡️

4) Be wary of any overly specific “best practices.”

  • Shorter emails generally perform better, but that’s not a hard and fast rule
  • Same goes for email subject lines. The best performing emails have 3 – 6 word subject lines, but plenty of high-performers had longer subjects
  • While we intuitively believe it’s a good idea to ask questions in your emails, the data wasn’t so clear

So what’s a marketer to do? It’s worth following “best practices,” but you can get exceptional results by breaking the mold and trying new things.

5) It’s still the early days for video and other multimedia in cold email.

  • Plain text emails still dominate those with multi-media in our sample.
  • Only 13% of emails submitted to our study had any kind of multi-media and just 6% included video.

Drift cold email study plain text emails

6) Many SDRs still operate without core technology

  • 20% of SDRs don’t have a sales engagement platform to orchestrate outreach
  • 51% don’t yet have a way to chat with prospects on their website
  • But when it comes to most-used sales engagement and chat tools, here’s how things stack up:

Drift cold email study sales engagement and chat tools

Jumpstart Your Cold Email Strategy

Ready to jumpstart your cold email strategy? You can get the full data set including cold email examples and top picks from our judges by accessing the full deck here.

Drift cold email study judges' picks

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