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Opens, Replies & Conversions: The Value of Data and Testing

You need Data.

Very rarely does a marketer, sales rep, or copywriter find the perfect version of outreach campaign copy on the first try. In fact, that doesn’t happen. Finding the right version of your copy takes extensive trial and error.

It’s worth it though.

Through this process of trial and error, you can not only show clients exactly why a version of a certain copy or campaign was not performing but how you intend to fix it.

If you can find ways to improve or change even the best versions of an email you are sending, then you’ll find your outbound continuously improve in open and reply-rates.

But how do you execute a trial-and-error process?

It’s through data tracking, analyzation, and testing. If you aren’t continuously analyzing your cold email outreach data, you probably aren’t writing good emails.

Data tracking and variable testing, used in tandem, will bring to light the issues that your email copy and campaigns may, and probably, struggle with.

A seasoned sales marketing veteran or a rookie SDR still looking to land their first qualified meeting from email should constantly be evaluating email performance and data.

Here are the data points and testing procedures that we at SalesHive track to understand the full picture of our copy and how we can improve emails. 

Deliverability Data

One major data point that must be tracked is deliverability. Low deliverability typically means that your email domain has been flagged as spam or your list data is sub-par.

Deliverability is the first data point to be concerned about during an outreach campaign. It’s the very foundation of the tracking pyramid. Low deliverability means your emails aren’t getting into inboxes.

This harshly affects every data point afterward. Opens. Replies. Conversions. Nobody can read your email if they aren’t getting them.

Bounce-Rate Data

Bounce rates are related to deliverability and are equally important because they tell you how many emails are incorrect or getting rejected by the server you are sending to.

This can be related to deliverability and your sender score, but can also be related to the quality of the data you are using.

If you are targeting 100 leads, but you have a bounce rate of 10%, that means only 90 leads you’re targeting even had the chance to read the email.

It is widely considered that a deliverability rate of under 92% and a 10% bounce rate as poor. High bounce rates should cause you to look at your list quality closely.

Open-Rate Data

There are data tracking points of email outreach that are more about the subject line than deliverability. That would be the open-rate.

Many people consider open rates to be a vanity metric. Although this may be true at a high level, open rates are still incredibly important. Without a high open-rate, the number of people who can reply to your email is stifled.

If you have a bad subject line, it doesn’t matter how strong your body copy is. You simply won’t get the same number of replies if the majority of your prospects don’t even read what you wrote.

The average open and reply rates from 2016 vs 2020 look very different, even for the exact same email. This is largely due to the oversaturation of cold email.

In today’s lead generation climate, you need to have a truly special email subject line to get your email opened. If you want to increase your open-rate, you need to:

1) Make sure that your deliverability and bounce rates are good. This can tell you if a good percentage of your targets have even had the chance to read your subject line.

2) Change your subject lines to make them intriguing enough to get someone to open your email. This seems obvious, but you wouldn’t believe the number of emails that are sent out that have unintriguing subject lines.

Reply-Rate Data

Getting a high response rate is typically seen as an indicator of a successful campaign by many experienced sales leaders.

The reality though, is that a high reply-rate is only as good as the number of positive responses you get. Positive responses come from a strong body copy and a good CTA (Call to action).

Reply rates are also typically related to your subject line. If you have a good open-rate because of your subject line, you have a higher chance of having a good reply-rate because more people read your email.

If you have a high open-rate and a low response rate, there are two places you need to look at.

  1. Your opening sentence.
  2. Your call to action. 

If your opening sentence is good, but your call to action doesn’t give them any reason to give you a positive response, you may still receive some “thanks but no thanks” emails.

These will pad your open rates and make your metrics look great, but vanity metrics don’t build a full pipeline.

Focus on using call-to-actions (CTAs) that are short, powerful, and worth responding to.

Conversion Rate Data

A good conversion rate means that many of the replies that you received converted into meetings or qualified opportunities. That’s the goal!

Conversion rates don’t meddle with the likes of, “we’re not interested,” responses because they are too busy riding the wave with, “Yes I’d like to hear more,” responses.

It may seem obvious, but you want strong conversion rates over anything. A good conversion rate is the sum of all parts, plus strong body copy. 

If you have a good open-rate, a good reply-rate, and a bad conversion rate, you need to look at the body of your email.

What did you offer? Did you give enough description that left your audience wanting more, but not enough that they felt overwhelmed? And Did you prove value without giving away all of the value? Did you talk about yourself too much and overcook your email?

Put together every element of your data process, execute each step well, and conversion rates will steadily climb.

Key Testing Variables

We’ve discussed which data points are important to track and why, but now here’s the execution. The key testing variables that we test to determine the effectiveness of our outreach.

Subject Line- Look at the length of your subject, personalization of the approach, trigger words, and word order. It’s the first impression of your email.

First Sentence- The first 5-7 words are the words that prospects can see without opening the email. Choose these words carefully as they can greatly affect open-rates.

Body Copy- This is the most dynamic and diverse element of the email in terms of word choice. It’s good to build a template to format your copy around for consistent, but no email body will look the same between campaigns. Check the spacing, and be sure you include a solid value proposition.

Call to Action- The CTA needs to setup future correspondence. Don’t leave your prospect with a direction to go. Included in your CTA, offer times and days of the week that you’re available. It helps guide them to make something work and to know you’re serious.

Don’t Run Too Many Tests At Once

You need enough data to be able to make a concrete decision on what works and what doesn’t, which means test test test, but don’t cloud your results with too much variance at once.

If you are testing 3 different subject lines across 4 different versions of copy, it will be incredibly difficult to determine which subject line and which copy version performed the best.

Instead, the data gets muddled and it takes longer to run the test to know what is working.

Try to stick to testing a maximum of 2 subject lines and 2 versions of copy at a time, but prefer one test a week if possible to get the most data back.

The Value of Data

Finding the right version of your copy takes extensive testing, but can show exactly why a version of a certain copy or campaign was not performing how you intended.

Data tracking and variable testing bring to light the issues that may be diminishing your results.

Constantly evaluate email performance and data.

If you can find ways to improve or change even the best versions of an email you are sending, then you’ll find your outbound continuously improve in open and reply rates.

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