Learn From 7 of the Most Popular Cold Email Case Studies - ScopeLeads
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What You Can Learn From 7 of the Most Popular Cold Email Case Studies

Want to learn cold email techniques that are tried-and-tested, and PROVEN effective?

We’ve got just the thing for you.

In this blog post, we’ve broken down and summarized the 8 most popular cold email case studies that you’ll find on the internet.

There’s a ton to unpack here…

We’ve got case studies discussing insights from sending 20+M cold emails.

We’ve got case studies talking about how to get a 29% response rate from cold emails.

And we’ve got case studies showing you how to boost your cold email open rate from 37% to 86% in just 5 iterations.

Other than just summarizing these case studies, we also evaluate them critically and discuss how useful they are.

This way, you can steer clear of the case studies that don’t bring much value to the table, and take a closer look at the case studies which are helpful.

All of these cold email case studies rank on the first page of Google (at the time of publishing), but as you’ll find, some are more robust and high quality than others.

Alright, that’s enough rambling. Let’s jump in!

The Savvy’s Marketer’s Guide On How To Digest Case Studies

We’ll get to the case studies in a second, but first, let’s talk about how you should digest these case studies.

Here’s what most marketers do:

  • Glance through case study
  • Sift out key takeaways and/or concluding statements
  • Apply these takeaways to their own campaigns (without doing proper A/B testing)

Pretty straightforward, right?

But here’s the thing: these marketers are missing out on a crucial step…

And that’s to evaluate the guides and case studies with a critical eye.

How do you do this?

Simple — just ask yourself:

Did the authors run their own tests, or did they simply Google “cold email stats” so that they could stick a bunch of statistics in their guides?

If they did run their own tests, was the sample size large enough? Was it representative of the general population?

On top of that, you’ll also want to try and identify any obvious biases in these case studies.

At the end of the day, most companies and/or bloggers publish these guides and case studies for self-serving purposes (for instance, a company that has a cold email software might create a case study to promote their tool, ahem *cough* ScopeLeads *cough*).

Bearing this in mind, it’s pretty common for said companies take “creative liberties”, and spin their content to sell whatever they’re promoting.

So your process should look something like:

  1. Read case study thoroughly
  2. Pay attention to the details: when was the case study conducted? How was it conducted? How many participants were involved?
  3. Consider: is the author biased in any way? Was the case study published to promote a product or tool?
  4. Consider: is the case study relevant to your business/industry?
  5. Sift out key takeaways and/or concluding statements
  6. A/B test key takeaways to determine if they work for your campaign

Got it? Great!

Let’s move on to looking at those case studies.

The 7 Most Popular Cold Email Case Studies

Case study #1: The Best Cold Email I Ever Received (And How to Steal His Approach) by Proposify.

Summary: In this blog post, Kyle walks us through the best cold email he’s ever received (this
is from a tool called FullStory).

Here are some key factors that he brings up:

  • The email includes an animated image of his website
  • The body copy addresses Kyle’s concerns (ie: understanding customer experiences)
  • The email offers Kyle a 30-second video to watch; this shows him how he can use FullStory with his website
  • The email utilizes a low-pressure CTA (“You can take it for a two-week free trial or shoot me a message if you have any questions.”)

Kyle goes on to talk about how to write a cold email for a service business:

  • Pick a narrow target
  • Find leads (and learn more about them) using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Rapportive and HubSpot CRM
  • Create a lead magnet
  • Keep your cold email short and simple
  • Be light-hearted or humorous
  • Track opens/clicks and have your follow-up email ready

Our verdict: If you want to learn more about the anatomy of a great cold email, this guide will come in handy.

We like how Kyle is ultra-specific when breaking down each element of his cold email from FullStory. He also recommends several useful tools in his section on how to write a cold email for a service business.

Case study #2: 5 Key Takeaways From Sending Over 20+M Outbound Sales Emails by Woodpecker

Summary: In this case study, Woodpecker talks about the lessons they’ve learnt from sending over 20 million cold emails in two years.

Their five key takeaways are:

  1. You can double your reply rate with advanced email personalization.
    • Woodpecker mentions: “Advanced personalized emails, that is those which included custom snippets beyond the most basic ones, such as {{first_name}} or {{company_name}}, account for 17% reply rate. On the flip side, the emails without advanced personalization resulted in 7% reply rate.”
  2. A high-quality list of contacts makes your reply rate skyrocket.
  3. You can maximize your open rate by narrowing down the target group.
  4. Write a campaign to fewer, carefully-chosen contacts to boost reply rate.
  5. Write more follow-ups to triple the reply rate of your outbound emails.
    • Woodpecker mentions: We discovered that campaigns with 1-3 emails in a sequence have a lower reply rate (9%) and campaigns with 4-7 emails in a sequence have three times higher response rate (27%).

Our verdict: Woodpecker’s case study is both insightful and high-quality; they’ve also included actionable sections (ie: “What you can do about it”) to point marketers on the right track. This case study is definitely worth a read!

Case study #3: How I’m Getting a 29% Response Rate from Cold Emailing by Kyle Gawley

Summary: In this blog post, Kyle talks about how he’s managed to achieve a 50% open rate, 29% response rate and 5% conversion rate on his cold emails after 18 months of trial and error.

Here are the 9 steps that he recommends that marketers using cold emails follow:

  1. Know who you’re targeting
  2. Choose a subject line that’s relevant
  3. Address your recipient by their name
  4. Introduce yourself
  5. Sell the benefits of your product
  6. Provide overwhelming proof
  7. Provide a clear CTA
  8. Test, measure, rinse & repeat
  9. Follow up

At the end of the post, Kyle also showcases a cold email that he personally uses, so that you can have an idea of how all the elements come together.

Our verdict: Kyle’s case study gets a thumbs up from us — it’s well-structured, easy to read, and most importantly: it contains tons of examples and actionable tips that helps you implement each step. Kyle also outlines the various tools he uses in his blog post, which is very useful as well.

Case study #4: What We Learned From Sending 1,000 Cold Emails by Shane Snow

Summary: This case study involved Shane reaching out to 500 C- and VP-level executives from the Fortune 500, and 500 C level execs from the Inc 500 (in other words: super busy folks!).

In doing this, Shane came up with a base template, and swapped out different variables in order to conduct a large-scale A/B test.

Oddly enough, while Shane tested five different variables in total (subject line, saying “Thank you”, email length, purpose, request), he only goes on to share his subject line findings. Here are his results:

Subject lines (open rates):

  • Short, curiosity-piquing: “Quick Question”–51.2% opens
  • Long, more specific: “15 Second Question for Research on Annoying Emails”–48.8% opens

Subject lines (reply rate):

  • “Quick Question”–66.7% of total replies
  • “15 Second Question for Research on Annoying Emails”–33.3% of total replies

Shane notes that out of all the people who received his emails, only 1.7% replied; he goes on to point out that this figure is so low that it’s impossible to tell if the subject lines actually made a difference in reply rates.

All in all, Shane concludes with these three points:

  • Tactics for optimizing sales emails are well and good, but they’re not as important as personalized research and sender/sendee fit. (He argues that this case study illustrates this well — he didn’t personalize any of his messages to the people he reached out to, which explains the abysmal reply rates).
  • Important people may be busy, but the same principles for winning their trust and attention apply to the most to least busy person you’re emailing. Be personal, and do your homework.
  • With the right subject line, it’s not inherently harder to get a busy executive to click on your email than someone else. The important part is making the content speak to the question, “Why me?”

Our verdict: We’re not going to lie – we were pretty intrigued by the title of this case study, and it was a bit of a let-down to find out that the main takeaways were basically that: 1. Short vs long subject lines can be equally effective, and 2. Personalization is important. Long story short: don’t expect any amazing insights here.

Case study #5: From A 37% to 86% Cold Email Open Rate In 5 Iterations by LeadGenius

Summary: This blog post by LeadGenius is about the idea that it takes “educated guesswork and multiple rounds of iterations” to achieve optimal results.

In this blog post, LeadGenius walks its readers how it switched up its email subject line five times in order to boost their open rate from 37% to 86%.

The email subject lines they used are:

  • “Your sales process”: 37.5% opens
  • “Sample leads for {{company}}”: 50.6% opens
  • “Potential leads for {{company}}”: 61.1% opens
  • “Found you on LinkedIn”: 64.6% opens
  • “I found you through {{contact_first_name}} {{contact_last_name}}”: 86.6% opens

Our verdict: All in all, we found this guide to be both rigorous and useful.

With each iteration, LeadGenius walks you through why the particular subject line works, and outlines both the pros and cons of using said subject line.

They’re pretty detail-oriented; for instance: they point out how “Your sales process” might seem pretty similar to “Your Sales Process”, but the deliberate elimination of title case makes a huge difference.

On top of that, LeadGenius also provides additional stats (click rate, reply rate) for each subject line they feature. This way, readers can get a more holistic idea of each subject line’s performance, instead of simply looking at it in the context of open rate.

Definitely spend some time to check this case study out!

Case study #6: How Cold Emailing Led to 7 Figures of Revenue In 90 Days by EmberTribe

Summary: This guide by EmberTribe is primarily about how companies can generate leads by buying lists and cold-emailing the prospects on these lists.

EmberTribe says that they’ve generated over 4,000 qualified leads for their clients in just 90 days — they did this by buying lists, and cold emailing the people on this list to invite them to webinars.

In their guide, EmberTribe outlines how to choose a list provider, email provider and write emails that get results. Here are their specific tips:

  • Start by buying a high quality list
  • Pick the right email service provider
  • Create an entire drip campaign
  • Write effective email copy (personalize your copy, be direct and to the point, don’t talk about yourself…)
  • Build a relationship with the recipient in your first email
  • Send a Did Not Open (DNO) email with a different subject line
  • Share content and case studies in follow up emails

Our verdict: If you’re new to buying email lists, and you’re thinking of doing this, it’s worth checking out the section on how to buy a high quality list — EmberTribe raises some pretty good points here. The rest of the guide, though, is a tad too generic for our liking.

Case study #7: What We’ve Learned From Sending 306,660 Cold Emails For 108 Startups by HipLead

Summary: After sending over 360,000 cold emails, HipLead has identified three critical factors of a cold email campaign. In this case study, they discuss these three factors, plus several high-converting copywriting strategies.

The three critical factors of a cold email campaign are:

  1. Whether you correctly identify the person who has the pain
  2. Whether you clearly communicate that you understand their pain
  3. Whether your product can likely solve the person’s pain

As for copywriting strategies, here’s what HipLead recommends:

  • Subject lines: Vague subject lines tend to get higher open rates
  • Hooks: Talk about why you’re emailing your lead, what’s in it for them, and why they should care.
  • Pitches: Make it short, and don’t bog your lead down with details.
  • Validation statements: Back up your pitch with proof (well-known existing clients, measurable results or awards you’ve received.)
  • Asks: Be very specific about what you’re asking for. Do you want to send them more
    information, get them on a call or get them to simply answer a question?

Our verdict: We were a tad disappointed that HipLead didn’t go into further detail with their three critical factors — they simply listed these out, and moved on to talk about copywriting strategies.

While the copywriting strategies that HipLead discussed were mostly useful, there weren’t concrete examples for every strategy mentioned. All in all, there are definitely better case studies and guides out there, so don’t spend too much time on this one.


So you’ve made it to the end – feel free to read through each case study we recommend, or take our summaries and apply them with your own testing.

If you want to learn more about cold email guides, we’ve actually written pretty extensively about this topic. Here is another blog post you may enjoy:

The Ultimate Guide to the 6 Most Popular Cold Email Guides

Have a look, and share them with anyone who might find them useful.

Now that you know 99% of what the top cold emailers do, get out there and start testing yourself!


Customer Support Specialist at ScopeLeads

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
Maria - a couple of years ago

Thanks for the mention, Matija 🙂

    mat@scopeleads.com - a couple of years ago

    You’re welcome Maria! 😀

mat@scopeleads.com - a couple of years ago

Great article! Thank you for the mention! 👍

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