The Benchmarks for B2B Cold Outreach in 2020

How well are you doing? The definition of success in cold outreach varies a lot from salesperson, industry, target audience and geo-location. We can, however, find approximations of what the magic numbers look like based on various research across different markets. 

It’s very important that you do a competitive analysis of what these numbers are for your industry. This way you can find out what works best for your audience and how to surpass your competitors.

What’s the Main KPI in Cold Outreach?

Sales, you might be thinking… Well, not really, but kind of. 

All your marketing and sales efforts are to sell, otherwise you won’t be able to fill up your pipeline and you’ll go bankrupt. 

On the other hand, cold outreach is all about reaching out to “cold” prospects, in the sense that you’ll have to warm them up. How do you do that? Simple: by creating value and not trying to sell right off the bat. 

So the KPI you should be looking at here is the number of connections you create. By connections, I mean people who:

  • asked you to follow up on a later date when they have more bandwidth
  • saw value on what you offer and are interested in knowing more about you and your services
  • recommended you to a colleague
  • are interested in your content

Keep in mind that all connections need to be nurtured in a way so people won’t forget you or what you can do to help them. Therefore, you shouldn’t be quiet for longer intervals. Great ways to nurture a relationship are to:

  • deliver great content (even if it’s not yours) whenever you think it’ll benefit them
  • congratulate them for awards, product launches, new projects, etc
  • mail helpful books with hand-written letters

You can set up Google Alerts or Mention to always be notified when something relevant happens in your prospect’s work life.

What the Statistics are Saying

There are other KPIs you should pay attention to. It’s important to keep track of them, just in case you’re doing something really wrong and it needs to be fixed the next time you send a cold email. 

We’ve searched for a few cold outreach statistics that we can take something away from. These are either do’s or don’ts that will make a big difference at the end of the day.

Key takeaways are that:

  • people are less likely to open an email from an unknown person than they were before
  • personalization is key to grab anyone’s attention
  • your email needs to be mobile-friendly

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Benchmarks for B2B Cold Outreach

As you might have noticed, we always encourage you to go with the highly personalized emails. The main reason we love this strategy is because it makes your prospect feel understood and special, and that makes a big difference. Of course, you won’t be able to send two hundred emails a day, but your KPIs will be proportionally compensated. 

See below the benchmarks for personalized emails in the web development industry.

Open Rates at 50%

“How I got a 95% open rate in my cold outreach campaign” – I know you probably saw this somewhere – very catchy, eh? It’s actually possible and totally feasible.

If you’re in the highly personalized strategy, your open rate should not be less than 50%. If it is, you’re probably doing something wrong. Open rates are affected by a variety of things.

  1. Sender: Using a specific person’s name (John Anderson) instead of company/department name increases open rate in 35%.
  2. Subject lines: Giving away too much information in the subject line can dramatically decrease your open rates. Being vague here can define a big part of your success. Examples are:
    1. Questions re: {{something}}
    2. Wanted to connect, {{name}}
    3. {{referral}} said I should talk to you
  3. Timing: You might have caught your prospect at a bad time. The best time range is from 10am to 12pm.

The minimum open rate for emails that are not personalized is around 25%.

Response Rates at 40%

With so many distractions nowadays, taking the time to reply to an email from someone you don’t know is not really a priority. 

That’s why you have to make sure:

  • you’ve done your homework. The person you’re reaching out to meets your target persona requirements and so they’re more likely to engage.
  • your message is easy-to-read. The email body is split into digestible pieces of content and it’s not very long.
  • your CTA doesn’t require a ton of time. It should be very easy to take the action you’re asking the prospect to take.

Response rates for highly personalized emails are around 40%. You’re doing a very good job if you surpass 50%. 

Conversion Rates at 50%

As mentioned earlier in this post, a conversion can be defined as the connections we’re able to build. Depending on your sales process and how fast it is, it can also mean a sale. Either way, cold outreach can feed both your long-term needs (with valuable connections) as well as your short-term needs (filling up your pipeline and paying your employees).

For highly personalized emails, your conversion rate should be at least 50%. By conversion rate, I mean the people that are interested in buying something from you as soon as possible.

The trick here is: you should try to keep the doors open for the other 50% of the people that aren’t ready to buy from you yet. They’re valuable connections you should keep nurturing in the long run.


Neural networks, machine learning, and all these fancy solutions are becoming more and more popular and it probably won’t be different in 2020. Chatbots are a reality today and more companies are looking at solutions like that to automate their communications with the exterior world.

In a completely opposite direction, people are in need of human touch. Connecting with humans is still more attractive to us.

That’s why the effort to create a perfectly tailored message pays off. And that’s a great chance you have to surpass your industry and boost your sales.

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