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Data-Driven Sales: Here’s the 6 Cold Email Metrics You Need to Track to Improve Sales

When your cold email campaign is performing badly, it’s easy to assume the reason. But the question is, can you prove it?

At The Scalelab, we generate 10+ leads for clients month after month, while ensuring they get prospect replies like the following:

The secret behind successful campaigns like these? Tracking cold email sales metrics.

You see, after generating 5000+ leads and $50 million in pipeline value for clients, we proved from experience that successful cold email campaigns require you to track performance. In some cases, you can probably wing it. But if you want to keep hitting high results consistently and predictably, you need a solid system.

There’s no room for baseless assumptions.

Why? Because data is crucial to optimize every single cold email campaign and make sure they’re performing at the optimal level.

Here are the kind of results we’re getting by tracking our cold email performance:

So if you want a solid system for measuring inputs and outcomes…

And if you want to know how to interpret the numbers and streamline your cold email campaigns, then you’re in luck.

Because in this guide, we’ll dive deep into the metrics you should track to get results that'll keep investors loving your performance.

We’ll give a breakdown on:

  • The top cold email sales metrics every funded company needs to track to up their sales.

  • The key tools you need in your arsenal to automatically track these metrics.

  • The simple, no-nonsense approach, to interpreting the numbers and optimizing your cold email campaigns (that got our clients over 10+ leads every month)

Ready? Let’s go.

Why Track Your Cold Email Metrics?

Tracking your sales metrics reveals many things that can be detrimental to the success of your cold email campaign.

It can determine the strong and weak points of your approach, and most importantly, tell you what’s working and what isn’t.

  1. Tracking Helps You Optimize Your Cold Email Campaign

  • The C-level executives from Inc 500,

  • And the C and VP-level executives from Fortune 500 companies.

While the average person gets nearly 150 emails a day, these executives get significantly more because of their status.

The challenge is, what strategy can he use to “cut through the noise,” grab their attention, and get a response from them?

After collecting 1,000 email addresses, he composed a simple email asking them what kind of cold email they prefer to receive.

Source: Fast Company

Using the above email as the base, he tracked and tested different variables to create a highly optimized cold email for top executives.

Here are the variables that he tested:

  1. Subject lines - Specific subject lines vs vague subject lines

  2. Saying thank you - Saying thanks in advance vs none at all

  3. Email length - Long vs short emails

  4. Purpose - The purpose of the email focuses on benefiting all, vs. benefiting the sender alone.

  5. Request - Asking for a favor vs asking for their knowledge

The results?

He found out that short, vague subject lines performed better than specific subject lines. He also discovered that personalization is one factor that could’ve made a difference in bumping up his reply rates.

In short, tracking performance enabled him to understand what improvements he can make in his next cold-email campaign.

  1. Tracking Helps You Maximize What’s Working

For the digital marketing agency, Crazy Eye Marketing, tracking email metrics helped them maximize what’s working.

You see, after having a list of 2,160 verified email addresses, this agency created five different cold email sequences and sent them to a few hundred people.

By tracking the performance of each sequence, they identified which one worked best and sent it to the rest of the list - sending out a total of 4,897 cold emails.

The results of tracking, identifying, and maximizing the email sequence that worked best? Open rates around 50% for each of their emails and reply rates just under 10%. (See screenshot below.)

The Top Cold Email Metrics Every Funded Company Needs to Track

Now that you know why tracking is crucial to the success of your campaign, here are some of the top cold email metrics you need to track.

1. Open Rate

​What is it?

This metric indicates how many of your emails get opened by your prospects.

How do you measure or calculate it?

Here’s the formula:

Oper Rate = (Total Unique Opens ÷ Total Recipients) X 100

  • Total Unique Open - Number of recipients that opened your email

  • Total Recipients - Number of email addresses on your mailing list

But if you want to focus on open rate performance focusing on engagement, here’s an alternative formula:

Open rate = (total unique opens ÷ (total recipients – bounced emails)) x 100

The extra variable, bounced emails, are emails that failed to reach your prospect’s inbox.

This alternative formula factors in recipients that failed to open the email due to technical issues, thus giving you a more accurate open rate that focuses on email engagement.

What is a good open rate?

A good open rate for cold emails is 25% while hitting over 37% means a very successful campaign.

What is a bad open rate?

Anything below 25% means you may have a deliverability problem, or your subject lines are not effective.

How Can You Improve Your Open Rate?

At The Scalelab, we typically get around 80% open rates for our clients’ campaigns, at most 92%. (See screenshot below.)

And here’s how we’re doing it:

  1. Use a Targeted List

People tend to open and read emails that are relevant to them. Having a targeted list means having qualifiers for the type of prospects you send emails to.

These qualifiers include:

  • The type of industry you want to target

  • Ideal headcount per company

  • Job title, e.g. CEO, CTO, founder

At The Scalelab, we ensure a hyper-targeted list by letting clients fill up a type form that specifies their prospect qualifiers. Here’s an example of this type form.

  1. Use Short and Personalized Subject Lines

If your open rate is low, it could mean your subject line is not capturing your receiver’s attention.

And this is bad.

Because no matter how well-written the rest of your email is, if your subject line doesn't entice prospects to open it, all your efforts will be wasted.

So how do you write effective subject lines that’ll skyrocket your open rates?

It’s simple, keep them:

  1. Short and intriguing

  2. Warm and personalized

Here are some of the subject lines we used that ultimately led to 80% - 92% open rates:

  • (First Name) X Your Name

  • Partnership with (Company Name)

  • Coffee (First Name)?

  • Meet next week?

  • Question (First Name)

2. Reply Rate

​What is it?

This metric reveals the total sent emails that get a reply.

How do you measure or calculate it?

Reply Rate Percentage = (Total Replies ÷ Total Emails Sent ) X 100

Thus, if you sent 100 emails in a week and got 20 replies, that’s a 20% reply rate.

What is a good reply rate?

The average cold email response rate is 1%- 5%, but for those who do cold email right, response rates can be as high as 15% - 20%.

At The Scalelab, our reply rates are typically around 50%, and can go as high as 63%.

What is a bad reply rate?

If your open rate is over 25% but your reply rate is below 1%-5% then you may have the following problems:

  1. Your cold email is generic.

  2. You lack an effective value offer.

How Can You Improve Your Reply Rate?

After sending emails to 100 verified emails, we usually get around 1-2 interested leads per week. Typically our reply rates hit the 50% mark, but some of our cold-email campaigns can go as high as 63%.

And here’s how we do it:

  1. Personalize Your Cold Email By Researching the Prospect

Generic cold emails often start with “Hi, I hope this email finds you well…” or “I hope you’re doing fine, my name is (name) and I work for (company.)”

Generic approaches like this fail to stand out and get either bad feedback or no response at all.

It just gets sent directly to the trash bin, or worse, spam.

At The Scalelab, we use icebreakers to show prospects that their email is personalized. These one-line statements show them that we’ve researched them, which results in higher reply rates.

The service icebreaker is a great example of how to personalize your cold email.

Here’s the standard structure 👉🏻 “From Service 1 to Service 2 and Service 3, you’ve got your customers nicely covered.”

This icebreaker includes researching the company’s most unique service and adding it to your email. This gives prospects the impression that you’ve actually visited their website.

  1. Spark Interest with an Effective Value Offering

The moment the prospect lays eyes on your email, the first thing they ask is this: “What’s in it for me?”

If prospects decide your email offers nothing of value, then they won’t spend their valuable time replying.

So how do you make sure you give them value?

Check out the sample value offers below:

Never use the email on the left.

Here, you’re simply listing a menu of your services, but it doesn’t show how these services can help them.

Prospects will find it difficult to picture the exact results they can get out of these services.

In contrast, the offer on the right presents a solution. It also includes a clear and specific result they can expect just by engaging with you. Thus, giving them the incentive to reply.

3. Connection Acceptance Rate

What is it?

This metric shows how many prospects accept your LinkedIn connection requests. This can also apply to any other social platform that you use for outbound sales.

​How do you measure or calculate it?

Connection Acceptance Rate = (Number of People Who Accepted Your Request ÷ Total Number of Requests Sent ) X 100

Thus, if you sent 100 connection requests and 10 people accepted them, then you have a 10% connection acceptance rate.

What is a good connection acceptance rate?

The typical LinkedIn acceptance rate is around 30% for first-level connections.

What is a bad connection acceptance rate?

There’s no hard data on what’s considered a “bad connection acceptance rate,” but anything below 15% means you need to improve how you approach prospects on LinkedIn.

How Can You Improve Your Connection Acceptance Rate?

At The Scalelab, our approach is a mix of cold email outreach along with LinkedIn outreach and follow-ups. On average, we usually get a 68% connection acceptance rate, which is pretty above average, considering that the typical acceptance rate is around 30%.

Here’s how you can achieve the same:

  1. View their LinkedIn Profile

According to LinkedIn, prospects are more likely to accept your InMail if you view their LinkedIn profile first. At The Scalelab, we automate this process by scheduling it on Lemlist.

This process serves as an “outreach warm-up,” allowing the prospect to recognize you once they see your connection request.

  1. Include a Personalized Note

At The Scalelab, we typically send a connection request along with a personalized email as part of our cross-channel outreach that combines email and LinkedIn.

The note on the connection request can be as short and personalized as the following template:

“Have you seen my email (First Name)? Let me know if we’re good to talk about (prospect’s company name) in 2022 growth projects. Talk soon”

Or something like the sample note below.

Source: The Scalelab

Typically, LinkedIn connection requests are sent 2 days after the first follow-up cold email.

4. Bounce Rate

What is it?

This metric shows the total sent emails that failed to reach your prospect’s inbox.

​How do you measure or calculate it?

​Here’s the formula:

Bounce Rate = (Total Number of Bounced Emails ÷ Total Number of Emails Sent ) X 100

Thus, if you sent 100 emails and 2 of them bounced, then your bounce rate is 2%.

What is a good bounce rate?

As a general rule, bounce rates must be under 3%.

What is a bad bounce rate?

In most cases, email service providers (ESPs) will penalize you if your bounce rate goes beyond 5%

How Can You Improve Your Bounce Rate?

At The Scalelab, the bounce rate is one of the most highly-tracked metrics in our campaigns. Here’s why: If your emails aren’t arriving in their inbox, then how would they reply?

High bounce rates just mean time, money, and effort wasted.

Moreover, high bounce rates lead to a low sender score. If your sender score is too low, your ESP will redirect your emails to spam or the emails might not get sent at all.

To lower the bounce rate, here’s our process:

Always Verify Your List

Typically, to reach the 100 weekly valid email requirement, The Scalelab team aims for 1000 - 3000 raw or unverified leads.

Then we use Captain Data and to extract the data from LinkedIn and generate a list of prospects with valid email addresses and other information.

Finally, to make sure all the emails are valid, we double-verify the list with an email verification tool such as NeverBounce or Bouncer.

5. Spam Complaint Rate

What is it?

This metric indicates how many people reported your email as spam.

How do you measure or calculate it?

Here’s the formula:

Spam Complaint Rate = (Total Number of Spam Complaints ÷ Total Sent Emails) X 100

Thus, if you sent 5000 messages and 5 people reported it as spam, then your spam rate is 0.1%

What is a good spam complaint rate?

​The standard acceptable spam complaint rate is anything less than 0.1%. This means, for every 1,000 sent messages, there should only be 1 or fewer spam complaints.

What is a bad spam complaint rate?

A spam complaint rate beyond 0.1% is considered too high, especially for major inbox providers like Gmail.

How Can You Improve Your Spam Complaint Rate?

At The Scalelab, here are some of the strategies we implement to avoid getting marked spam, and instead get high reply rates of more than 60%.

  1. Warm Up Prospects Before Sending a Maximum of 50 Emails per Day

Despite sending cold emails to 100 verified leads weekly, we make sure that we only send a maximum of 50 emails daily. This way, we won’t get flagged as “spam” by Google.

Moreover, as mentioned earlier, we also “warm” our prospects by automatically viewing their LinkedIn profile via Lemlist. Doing so allows them to recognize us once our email lands in their inbox.

  1. Personalize Your Cold Emails

Personalized emails increase prospect engagements. As a result, email service providers see you as a trustworthy sender. Thus, lowering your chances of being marked spam, and increasing your deliverability.

As mentioned above, at The Scalelab, we research each of our clients. Then, we craft a personalized “icebreaker” for each.

Moreover, your cold email must be specific and focused on the prospect. See the examples below.

The example on the left shows the kind of email you shouldn’t send - generic and focuses on you. It's the kind that often gets ignored or marked as spam.

In contrast, the example on the right leaves an impression that you’ve read their LinkedIn profile. Furthermore, it’s specific and focuses on the prospect. Thus, increasing email engagements and lowering spam rates.

6. Conversion Rate

What is it?

​This measures how many prospects completed a goal action after reading your email eg. booking a call or purchasing an item.

How do you measure or calculate it?

Here’s the formula:

Conversion Rate = (Total Number of Conversions ÷ Total Emails Sent) X 100

Thus, if you sent 1,000 cold emails and 10 of those resulted in a conversion, then your conversion rate is 1%

What is a good conversion rate?

Cold email conversion rate is typically around 1%.

What is a bad conversion rate?

Any cold email campaign that has below 1% conversion rate could either mean a vague CTA, or an email that’s poorly structured.

How Can You Improve Your Conversion Rate?

Many factors impact your conversion rates, such as your open rate, the quality of your value offer, your bounce rates, and your spam complaint rates.

Thus, the strategies mentioned in the previous sections can all help bump up your conversions.

At The Scalelab, we typically get 1-2 booked calls for every 100 emails sent weekly. On top of everything we’ve mentioned above, here’s one of the things we’re doing to achieve this:

Insert a Clear Call to Action

To write an effective call to action, here are the steps you need to do:

  1. Be clear about what you want them to do by carefully presenting the next steps.

  2. Avoid requests like “let me know…” and questions like, “are you interested?”

Now, let's see these steps in action.

Do not follow the CTA example on the left. It’s passive and doesn’t tell the prospect exactly what you want them to do.

Due to its vagueness, it increases the number of touchpoints between you and the recipient. In the end, they might just ignore your email because they are unsure what to do next.

In contrast, the example on the right is clear and straightforward. Here, you’re offering the call right away which reduces the touchpoints between you and the prospect.

The action they need to take is also clear. If they’re interested in your offer, all they need to do is book a call. There is no decision fatigue or confusion.

Key Tools You Need In Your Arsenal to Track These Metrics

Now, you don’t need to manually count every engagement on your cold emails. Nor do you need to level up your math skills just to calculate each metric.

That’s inefficient.

What I recommend is loading your arsenal with key tools to automatically track them, so you can focus on using the data to optimize your campaign.

Here are some of the email tracking tools you can leverage:



Apart from email tracking, some of Saleshandy’s cold email features include personalized email sequences, automated follow-ups, advanced performance reports, and email warm-ups.

$7 - $25/month/slot, billed annually

Apart from email tracking, some of Overloop’s other features include sales productivity enhancements. This covers email finding and email verification. Its user interface also provides reports in its web app.

$82 /month/user, billed annually

Lemlist is often considered an “all-in-one” cold emailing tool. Its features include personalization at scale, automated follow-ups, LinkedIn workflows, video prospecting, custom landing pages, plus other integrations.

$50 - $83. billed annually

​With Yesware, you can have unlimited email tracking and attachment tracking. Other features also include response insights, team reporting, and Salesforce reporting.

$15 - $65/month/user

Woodpecker can integrate with any email provider. Its features include reply detection, opens and clicks tracking, unlimited follow-ups, and up to 50 new people contacted daily.

​$40/month/per slot, billed annually.

Launch High-Performing Cold Email Campaigns with The Scalelab

We at The Scalelab have decades of combined experience in cold outreach and sales. With continuous tracking and optimization, we’ve built a cold email framework that generated over 5000 leads and over $50 million in pipeline value for all our clients.

Our team has helped companies land appointments with top-tier businesses such as Google, Nike, Citibank, and Samsung. Our lead generation campaigns consistently deliver warmed-up and highly qualified sales leads that directly increase your company’s pipeline value.

Come and say hello or drop us a line at

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