If you’re going to cold email your prospects, you might as well do it right. Instead of just sticking with the same old templates whether they work or not, take some time to A/B test your messages to get the most meetings booked as possible.
Before creating and testing your sales email campaign, it’s important to understand the mechanics. You’ll want to keep an eye on a few things:
- Opened or Viewed Rate. This reflects the strength of your subject line.
- Clickthrough Rate. This reflects the strength of your call to action.
- Response Rate. This reflects the strength of your message. (I usually only count positive or lukewarm responses. Negative responses like “take me off your list” don’t count, but should be read for feedback purposes.)
The best way to optimize for each of these metrics is to multivariable test your emails. Here’s how to A/B test to perfect your sales emails on each of these critical metrics.
Test Subject Lines to Maximize Open Rate
The first thing to start with is the subject line. Take a subset of your lists — at least 50 to 100 emails per test (otherwise your sample size is too small) — and send the same email content, but with different subject lines.
Complete this test with four different subject lines. Then take the one with the highest open rate and use that as the baseline in a new test with three other subject lines.
I like to use the subject lines “Appropriate Person” or “Introduction Request” as my baseline to test against. These subject lines have been shared all over the internet, so I’m surprised they still work, but they do. Another variable to test is using the person’s name or the company name in the subject lines. This makes the email look more personal before they even open it.
The goal is to get open rates at a minimum of 30%. Keep testing until you get there, but don’t stoop to low levels just to get high open rates. Using an artificial FWD: or RE: is a way to dupe someone, and your recipient knows that. If you play tricks, you’ll abuse your prospect’s trust before you ever get a chance to open dialogue, and that doesn’t bode well for you.
Shake up Your Call To Action to Get Clicks
You should always go into an opening email with the goal of setting up the first call. Do not aim too high or ask for too much. Be strong and lay out a certain time to speak. Don’t ask.
To strike on the email that will book the most meetings, test different locations and phrasing for your call-to-action, and fluctuate between either links or attachments. Try to make sure your emails look like casual messages (sent in plain text format) and not marketing emails when you do this.
Craft Compelling Copy to Prompt a Response
Lastly, the body of the message should be short and to the point. Don’t give too much information. Provide value, feel the prospect’s pain, and talk about them — not about yourself. If you did your research, you should know what their initial problems might be.
Test out different lengths, opening lines, and levels of customization. Just make sure not to change too many variables at once — if each test is radically different, you won’t be able to tell what’s working and what’s not. For more ideas on what to test, check out this post on the psychology on sales emails.
Timing also impacts response rates. Many sales experts advise sending emails at 9:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday and Wednesday, and others like to send emails around 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. e on the same days to catch people as they’re getting out of work. Still others say that sending emails on weekends is best, since people don’t get a lot of messages on those days, and this will make yours stand out.
How do you know what expert you should follow? I recommend you take advice from a few sources and test to see what works best for your audience. Again, you can always lean on your allies. Don’t be afraid to ask what works for people in the space that aren’t competitors. Save yourself some time.
What Success Looks Like
The percentages will vary by whom you ask and the type of business they work for, but you’ll want to aim for email metrics like these:
- Open Rate: 30 to 50%
- Clickthrough Rate: 20 to 35%
- Response Rate: 15 to 30%
- Meetings Setup Rate: 10 to 20%
However, even though you are collecting valuable information on Open, Clickthrough, and Response Rates through A/B testing, the one true success metrics is the number of meetings you set up. Always keep in mind that meetings booked is the ultimate goal, so prioritize that 10-20% booking rate above all the rest.