We Analyzed 12 Million Outreach Emails. Here's What We Learned

We Analyzed 12 Million Outreach
Emails Here's What We Learned

We Analyzed 12 Million Outreach Emails. Here’s What We Learned
Brian Dean

by Brian Dean · Updated Apr. 16, 2019

We analyzed 12 million outreach emails to answer the question:

What’s working in the world of email outreach right now?

We looked at subject lines. We looked at personalization. We even looked at follow-up sequences.

Along with our data partner for this study, Pitchbox, we uncovered a number of interesting findings.

Here is a Summary of Our Key Findings:

1. The vast majority of outreach messages are ignored. Only 8.5% of outreach emails receive a response.

2. Outreach emails with long subject lines have a 24.6% higher average response rate compared to those with short subject lines.

3. Follow-ups appear to significantly improve response rates. Emailing the same contact multiple times leads to 2x more responses.

4. Reaching out to multiple contacts can also lead to more success. The response rate of messages sent to several contacts is 93% higher than messages sent to a single person.

5. Personalized subject lines boost response rate by 30.5%. Therefore, personalizing subject lines appears to have a large impact on outreach campaign results.

6. Personalizing outreach email body content also seems to be an effective way to increase response rates. Emails with personalized message bodies have a 32.7% better response rate than those that don’t personalize their messages.

7. Wednesday is the “best” day to send outreach emails. Saturday is the worst. However, we didn’t find an especially large difference in response rates between different days that messages were sent.

8. Linking to social profiles in email signatures may result in better response rates. Twitter was correlated with an 8.2% increase, LinkedIn an 11.5% increase, and Instagram a 23.4% increase.

9. The most successful outreach campaigns reach out to multiple contacts multiple times. Email sequences with multiple attempts and multiple contacts boost response rates by 160%.

10. Certain types of outreach get higher response rates than others. Outreach messages related to guest posting, roundups and links have an especially high response rate.

We have details and additional data from our study below.

Most Outreach Emails Are Ignored or Deleted

You may have heard that it’s challenging to get people to reply to cold outreach emails. According to our data, poor response rates do appear to be the norm.

In fact, we found that only 8.5% of all outreach emails receive a response.

Only 8.5% of all outreach emails receive a response

This response rate is similar to what several cases studies, like this one from the Moz blog, have previously found.

The fact that 91.5% of cold outreach messages are ignored may not come as a surprise. After all, generic outreach emails like this are extremely common:

Fortunately, our research found several factors that helped certain outreach emails outperform the average. We will cover these findings later in this post.

But for now, it’s important to note that very few outreach emails receive a response.

Key Takeaway: 91.5% of outreach emails are ignored.

The Ideal Outreach Email Subject Line Length Is 36-50 Characters

Our study found that long subject lines get a significantly higher response rate than shorter subject lines.

Specifically, subject lines between 36-50 characters get the best response rate.

To compare subject line response rates, we placed them into 5 buckets: short, medium, long, very long and extremely long.

And we found that long subject lines outperformed short subject lines by 32.7%.

Why do long subject lines do best?

It’s likely because longer subject lines give you an opportunity to fully describe the content of your message.

For example, imagine a super short subject line like: “Quick Question”.

At 13 characters, it’s impossible for your recipient to know what your email is about. It could be a question about their sales process. Or their lunch plans.

Plus, because it doesn’t note anything specific, it makes your outreach email seem generic before they’ve even opened it.

Contrast that with a subject line like: “Quick Question About Your Latest Blog Post”

This subject line is much more specific. That way, if the recipient decides to open your email, they know what to expect.

However, it’s possible for your subject line to be too long.

For example, “Quick Question About Your Latest Blog Post About The Top 10 Paleo Diet Myths” is an extremely descriptive subject line. But it’s likely to get cut off by most inboxes (like Gmail):

Key Takeaway: Long subject lines get 32.7% more responses than short subject lines.

Sending Follow-up Messages Significantly Improves Response Rates

Should you send follow-up messages to people that don’t reply to your initial outreach?

According to our findings, yes. We found that multiple outreach messages work better than a single message:

While sending 3 or more messages results in the best overall response rate, sending just one additional follow-up can boost replies by 65.8%.

Why do follow-ups work so well?

Simply put: people receive lots of emails in their inbox every day. In fact, The Radicati Group found that the average office worker receives 121 emails per day.

With 100+ emails to sift through per day, the chances of your single outreach email getting seen, opened and replied to is pretty slim.

But when you send more than one message, you have yet another chance to stand out and push through the noise in someone’s inbox.

Of course, there’s a right and wrong way to send follow-up messages.

Annoying follow-ups like these can damage relationships, lead to spam complaints, and overall, do more harm than good.

However, gentle follow-ups that provide additional context can improve conversions without burning bridges.

Key Takeaway: Follow-ups can significantly improve outreach conversion rates. In fact, a single additional follow-up message can lead to 65.8% more replies.

Reaching Out to Several Contacts Increases the Odds of a Response

We looked at the effect that reaching out to several contacts at the same organization had on outreach conversions.

And we found that, compared to a single contact, sending emails to more than one contact improves response rates by 93%.

We also looked at how outreach success rate correlated with number of contacts. We found a clear pattern that more contacts leads to more responses.

However, we did find a point of diminishing returns at 5+ contacts.

If you’re reaching out to a single-author blog, you probably don’t need to worry about sending messages to several different contacts.

However, multiple contacts becomes important when reaching out to large websites with dozens of employees. That’s because it can be hard to tell who exactly is responsible for which task (even with the help of an org chart and “About Us” page).

For example, let’s say that you’re sending an outreach message to a large publisher as part of a link building campaign. Should you email the author of the article? Or the editor of the blog? Or maybe the best person is the head of content.

It’s almost impossible to know without an intimate understanding of the organization’s inner workings. That’s why it usually makes sense to reach out to a single person. Then, if you don’t hear back, try again with another contact. That way, over time, your message should get in front of the person that is most likely to add your link to the post.

Key Takeaway: Having multiple contacts to reach out to increases your chances of getting through. In fact, outreach emails sent to multiple contacts can boost response rates by 93%.

Personalized Subject Lines Lead to More Replies

Personalizing emails is considered an outreach best practice. However, to our knowledge, there hasn’t been any research done to support this strategy.

That’s why we decided to investigate the effect of personalization on outreach email replies. Specifically, we compared the response rates between messages that did and didn’t use personalized subject lines.

Our data showed that personalized subject lines got nearly 1/3rd more replies than those without personalization.

Why do personalized subject lines lead to more responses?

Although it’s difficult to fully answer this question from our data alone, my theory is that personalized subject lines help you stand out in someone’s crowded inbox.

For example, take a non-personalized subject line like: “More Leads”. For someone that’s hurriedly scanning incoming emails from their iPhone, “More Leads” doesn’t compel them to see or open the message.

On the other hand, adding a bit of personalization makes your subject line much more compelling to the person on the receiving end of your message.

Key Takeaway: Emails with personalized subject lines boost response rate by 30.5%.

Personalizing Email Body Copy Can Significantly Improve Response Rates

As we just outlined, personalized subject lines are correlated with higher response rates (likely due to a higher email open rate).

However, we wanted to see if the benefits of personalization extended to the outreach email body itself.

Our data showed that personalizing the body of outreach emails also improved conversion rates. Specifically, personalized messages received 32.7% more replies than those that weren’t personalized.

Generic outreach messages are easy to spot. For example, here’s one that I received a few days ago:

The telltale “Hi,” or “Hello,” is usually enough to let you know that this exact same email has been sent to hundreds of other people.

On the other hand, even a relatively small gesture, like using the person’s first name, can go a long way.

And for those that are interested in getting the highest reply rate possible, writing outreach emails from scratch (or working from a template with lots of room for personalization), seems to work best. Here’s an example of one such outreach email someone recently sent me:

According to our research, personalizing subject lines and body copy is correlated with above-average response rates. Yes, personalizing takes more time and effort. But the data suggests that this extra work pays off.

Key Takeaway: Emails with personalized bodies boost response rate by 32.7%.

Wednesday Is the Best Day To Send Outreach Messages

Several industry studies have set out to answer the “best day to send emails” question. However, most of these studies (like this one from GetResponse) are specific to newsletter messages. They also tend to focus on open rates, not reply rates.

Which is why we decided to look at how response rates differed based on the day of the week that messages were sent out.

Our data showed that Wednesday had a slight edge over the other 6 days of the week. Also, Saturday appears to have the worst response rate.

However, I should note that the differences in response rates were somewhat small.

For example, when we looked at the response rate for the “best” day (Wednesday) to the “worst” day (Saturday), we found that messages sent on Wednesday had a 1.99% higher overall response rate.

In other words, according to this data, sending outreach emails on Wednesday vs. Saturday could theoretically boost your response rate from 6% to 7.99%. If you’re only sending a few dozen outreach messages per month, this may only lead to an additional reply or two.

However, this finding is more significant if you’re doing outreach at scale. That’s because, while 1.99% may not mean much in absolute terms, it amounts to a 33.1% higher relative response rate. Which is significant for those that send out a large amount of outreach emails every month.

We also compared response rates for messages sent during the week vs. those sent on the weekend.

And we found that outreach emails sent Monday through Friday had a 23.3% better conversion rate than emails sent on Saturday or Sunday.

Key Takeaway: Outreach emails sent on Wednesday get more responses than any other day of the week. However, most small-scale outreach campaigns don’t need to organize their sequences based on the day of the week.

Linking to Social Profiles May Slightly Improve Outreach Response Rates

Do social profile links in the email signature affect response rates?

According to our study, they do. Messages that contained links to social profile links in the sender’s signature had an 9.8% higher average response rate compared to messages without them.

We also broke down the impact of social signature links by social network. We found that linking to Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram profiles positively affect response rates. However, linking to Facebook profiles didn’t seem to make a dent.

Why would social profile links lead to more responses?

I have two theories:

First, links to social profiles make you seem like a living, breathing person.

I doubt that many recipients actually click on these social signature links. However, their mere presence may suggest: “I’m not an outreach robot. I’m a person that’s reaching out to you”.

Second, it’s possible that social profile links may not have any direct impact on responses at all. It could be a case of correlation, not causation.

For example, people that tend to be transparent may also spend more time personalizing their messages, which is the true underlying cause of the improved response rates.

While it’s impossible to glean the exact effect of social profile links on outreach response rates, they don’t appear to hurt conversions. Which makes them something worth testing.

Key Takeaway: Outreach emails that contain links to social profiles have a 9.8% higher response rate than those without social profile links. Links to Instagram and LinkedIn appear to be most effective.

Email Sequences That Involve Multiple Contacts and Multiple Messages Perform Best Overall

As I covered earlier in this write-up, follow-up messages and sending multiple contacts are correlated with higher outreach reply rates.

We also decided to investigate the combined effect that these two strategies had on conversion rates. Specifically, we compared reply rates between a single email to a single contact with a 3-part email campaign to several different contacts.

Our data showed that more contacts combined with sequencing yield a 160% higher response rate than sending a single message to a single contact.

Key Takeaway: Taken as a whole, campaigns that involve sequences that go out to several contacts perform significantly better than one-off emails to a single person.

Outreach Emails About “Links”, “Guest Posting” and “Roundups” Have Especially High Response Rates

We investigated reply rates between eight common email outreach topics.

Specifically, we looked at the reply rate for outreach emails related to:

  • Link building
  • Guest posting
  • Sponsorships
  • Infographics
  • Resources
  • Reviews
  • Mentions
  • Roundups

And we found that outreach emails about guest posting, roundups and link building all had an above-average response rate.

This is an especially interesting finding considering that many content marketing and SEO experts consider guest posting and roundups “dead”.

However, at least according to our study, site owners are still largely receptive to pitches for guest posts and expert roundup invitations.

Emails related to sponsorships also tended to get a fair share of replies. I found this noteworthy as Influencer Marketing, which relies heavily on paid product placement and promotion, is growing. It appears that influencers are still happy to receive pitches from brands that want to sponsor their website, YouTube channel or Instagram profile.

Our data also showed that messages about infographics receive relatively few replies.

This may be due to the fact that infographics have lost the novelty they once had. Or that the most infographic-focused outreach is untargeted.

For example, I got this infographic pitch in my inbox a few months ago:

My site has never written about or even touched on holiday promotions. This was clearly someone that created a mediocre infographic with the hope that mass outreach would help get the word out.

Key Takeaway: Emails about guest posts, roundups, links and sponsorships tend to get the best response rates.


I’d like to thank Michael Geneles from Pitchbox for providing the data that made this study possible. I also want to give a shout out to Alex Gopshtein for digging deep into the data and making it easy to understand and digest.

And for those that are interested, here’s a link to our study methods.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

What’s your #1 takeaway from today’s study?

Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.


  1. Vik Avatar Viksays:

    Heaven sent as I’m about to start my first linkbuilding campaign this week;)

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:


  2. Max Avatar Maxsays:

    Brian, that is what I was looking for 🙂 Thanx! Awesome!!!!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Max, you’re welcome. Hope this study helps you with your outreach.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Domingo 👍👍👍

  3. Great job, however for me, the most important thing is the signature. Who exactly are you?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Niyi. I 100% agree. It just makes sense that a signature would help you seem like a real person vs. an automated spam machine.

      1. Social links in the signature might help you build your credibility but , if it’s mass outreach the it doesn’t work, as of my testing spam filters can easily detect your mass signatures and email may end up in spam!

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          I don’t think that’s true. It’s perfectly normal to have the same signature (Especially if you personalize the actual message).

        1. Great post Brian.
          Quick question off topic. What are your thoughts on AI marketing tools and would you ever consider writing a post about them?

  4. Xian Avatar Xiansays:

    Thanks for this. Tell me though the results of your own email blast about this post. Which of these guidelines here did you observe, and what was the result? Note that I got your email on a Tuesday. Maybe you should have waited a day? 😉

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Xian. This was a newsletter email so it’s a little bit different.

  5. My biggest takeaway is that it may be most effective to focus on more personal 1:1 outreach emails rather than trying to use a mailmerge. A 50% response on 20 personal emails vs a 10% response on 100 emails would still net you the same amount (10) of responses, and the first group would probably actually talk to you again in the future. Seems like 1:1 might be the best long term solution.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey David, great comment. And I 100% agree: you usually get the same amount (or more) replies from personalized emails than you do with a blast. Plus, you’re not burning bridges, getting lots of spam complaints, etc. Personalized is the way to go.

  6. Brilliant as always Brian 😊
    Your guides have helped my co-founder and I significantly grow our SaaS startup. Thanks a million for all these resources!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Davis, thanks. And congrats on the growth of your SaaS company!

  7. Great information on subject line length – that is not intuitive. Your case studies are consistently very productive and thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Richard, thank you. Yup, that was interesting. There seems to be a “sweet spot” when it comes to subject line length.

  8. Usman Ahmed Avatar Usman Ahmedsays:

    Incredible post Brian!

    Outreach is what I do all day everyday and this has to be one of the most useful posts you’ve ever written 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Usman, nice!

  9. Dan Avatar Dansays:

    Thanks for this…Just a question…do most people still check their emails like before?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Dan, you’re welcome. What do you mean like before?

  10. As I receive your email Brian, I see that you do not use any templates. You keep them as simple as possible. I use a simple mailchimp template. I will read more on this article and see what can be even better after all your findings. Again, thanks for another awesome post!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Darshana. That’s true. I’ve found that simple emails tend to work best.

  11. Very Informative, learnt lot of new information from the post. Great analysis. Tons of thanks for coming up with such awesome article.
    Have a great day!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Happy to help, Praf.

  12. Great share, I am also running the infographic outreach email campaigns, but not getting much results.

    But with your listed ideas and results, I will definitely going to update my campaigns

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sounds good. I’ve been getting a lot of horrible infographic pitches lately. So I think people are tuning out anything infographic-related right now unless the pitch is amazing (and our data backs this up).

  13. Hi Brian,
    Great post as always. Quiet surprised that long subject lines get better responses. Did you investigate the use of emoji in the text or subject of emails? I believe these do add to the friendliness of emails and possibly to reponse/open rates?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Michael, thank you. We didn’t look at emojis. That would be super interesting to look at in a future version of this study for sure.

  14. Brain another great piece of content. Thanks for sharing the great study.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Ashok, you’re welcome. Hope you learned something new.

  15. Great insights! I think that it always depends on your industry regarding the best day to outreach for example.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks François. That’s likely the case. We didn’t look into niches and industries. But it would make sense that B2B would have higher open and response rates during the week than B2C.

  16. Fantastic resource Brian. I’m just about to start a somewhat large email marketing campaign so this is very timely info! Interesting to see that email marketing is not totally dead (as many say), however, I would say that mass-produced, scatter-gun email marketing is.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Ian, thank you. As someone that does email marketing (outreach and newsletter-based) all the time, I can confirm that email is NOT dead. Far from it.

  17. Great guide as always Brian.
    I wonder how much time does it take to do such a deep research.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Akhil. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing data partner (PitchBox) that helped provide the data. This made the process a lot easier.

  18. Very interesting insight, our outreach emails only have an open rate of 2%. We will be changing them now especially length of title!

    Cheers Brian another great experiment

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Matt, Sounds good. A 2% open rate is pretty low. I’d look at your deliverability rates too. That could be part of the issue.

  19. I was about to shut my mac and your email just pop up brain and I instantly hook with this yet another resourceful study. I always thought it’s all about quantity when it comes to outreach and never intended to personalized my message. This Study would surely help me.


    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Dan, there’s an element of quantity in that you need to reach out to enough people to make a campaign work. But it’s more important than ever to personalize every email that you send out.

  20. Brian, this is some really eye-opening stuff. As outreach is such a staple in my everyday job, this helps shine some light into what works, what doesn’t seem to work, and things to change for the future!

    Thanks again!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Mark, thank you. Did the findings match up with your personal experience?

      1. Your research seems to be right in line with much of my personal experience. In a much smaller sample (500<), heavily targeted, and personalized approach, I've seen open rates of 35% and click/interaction rates of around 25%. Avoiding burning those bridges and finding relevant sites seems to help the overall campaign. Additionally, outreaching to multiple contacts is HUGE!


        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Nice! Thanks for sharing Mark.

  21. Craig Avatar Craigsays:

    My big aha moment is to re-send my email to the 76% that didn’t open my promo email.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Nice 👍👍👍

  22. Thanks for sharing the useful insights Brain and let me know about it by dropping an email. Thanks a ton.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Rajat, you’re welcome. Hope it helps you out.

  23. It would be interesting to see how you weigh up the potential of each outreach opportunity and decide if it’s worth your time emailing.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Adam, I might do a post on that in the future. There are a lot of factors to consider.

  24. Superb blog post/research done @Brain Sir! thanks a lot.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Tejas, you’re welcome.

  25. Amazing! Already shared it to my colleagues. Thanks, as always, Brian for your brilliant posts and doing all the hard work for most of the digital marketing community. Also, thanks to the Pitchbox team! You guys are awesome!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Maricor! And you’re right: Pitchbox was awesome to work with on this study.

  26. Zeeshan Avatar Zeeshansays:

    This is really good with some amazing insights.

    Just wanted to ask you for a long time now, which tool you use to create such amazing graphics/images?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Zeeshan, thank you. I work with a talented designer that creates these for us.

  27. Which programs do you use to add these stunning visuals? (inf-graphics illustrations etc)

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Josh, I work with a graphic designer that creates these. I’m not sure what program he uses.

  28. Betsy Ryszkowski Avatar Betsy Ryszkowskisays:

    Brian….THANK YOU. This is great info. I appreciate the work that went into this. I need to read it more slowly and implement it into my email campaigns. Seriously good stuff. This takes a lot of the confusion out of what to do and not to do. THANK YOU
    Have a gentle day.

    I follow your videos on UT. Thank you for all you do.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Betsy, you’re welcome. Trust me, I’ve been there. When I first got started with email outreach I had no clue what I was doing. I sure wish I had industry studies like this to help me back then!

  29. Less than 30 mins and I’m already comment no >46!

    Great post Brian, loved the examples of great follow up messages. Should have totally read this post before sending you my follow up email *face palm*.

    Great read!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Lily, that’s what happens when you send a newsletter to 130k subscribers, LOL. No worries. I actually saw your followup, which was good. I’m just not doing any roundups right now.

  30. Hi Brian,

    Email outreach is still one the effective and best way to get quality links as well as building relationship with like minded person.

    You have elaborated very well each steps to email outreach. I’m gonna try them.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Umesh, I agree: email outreach can actually ADD value when done right.

  31. As always, such a great piece of content, Brian.
    Thank you so much for this guide.

    You really helped me 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Christina, no problemo 🙂

  32. I was about to start outreach campaign and now I am optimising my emails accordingly. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Nice! Let me know how it goes.

  33. Great post Brian.

    The ‘Hey, I saw your post about ” and thought it was an amazing piece of content!’ has got to be the most cliched outreach email ever! I manage the inbox for several crypto publications and I swear 50%+ of outreach emails have a fake compliment like that.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Winston. Yup, that’s an overused opening line for sure.

  34. This was very informative, as always. It would be interesting to see a follow-up post from you comparing the various email outreach providers, including Pitchbox.


    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Ian, thanks. That would be interesting. Do you think there’s a big difference in terms of clients that use different outreach tools?

      1. I am not sure, and my perspective might be skewed based on the number of reviews I have seen, the bulk of which tend to focus on outreach for guest posting as a way to building links.

        I’ve been spinning wheels over the last several days trying to decide which tool has the best overall features that includes lead prospecting to grow my business.

        I figured if I am going through this decision analysis there may be others going through the same exercise and who better to provide an unbiased overview than Brian Dean.

  35. Really good stats here! I’d add – test – test – and more testing. I liked how you customzied the subject line. Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Tom, ABT. Always Be Testing 🙂

  36. Marta Avatar Martasays:

    Thanks Brian for this article! I appreciate you taking the time to do this study and sharing your results with the rest of us who are still trying to figure out what works in outreach. You’ve talked a lot about response rate as a success metric, but I wonder about the overall conversion rate when it comes to people saying “yes” to whatever you’re proposing. Let’s say you’ve hit a 50% reply rate to your link building emails. How many of those actually include your link in their content? What does it depend on? It might be an entirely different post I suppose 😉 I’m asking because as a person who gets tons of those emails every day, I actually respond to those personalized ones (where I see someone clearly made an effort) but most of the times the response is “no”.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Marta, you’re welcome. That’s true: reply rate isn’t a perfect way to see what’s working. After all, I’ve received a lot of replies from people that are a lot worse than “no”!

      However, we didn’t have “conversion” available as a metric. Plus, in my experience, replies at least mean you’re doing something right. The truly horrible outreach messages are completely ignored. Hope that makes sense.

      1. It does! I also think that a reply (apart from those worse than “no”) usually opens doors to more conversations, whether it’s a partnership, learnings exchange, or more.
        From your experience, though, how many of those who reply, convert (if it’s a link request for example) ? 🙂

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          In my experience, most that reply end up replying with the intent of adding your link. Probably like 60%.

  37. Jaya Avatar Jayasays:

    Specifically, I’m going to focus more on the subject line.


    I have a small question
    What if we include the name of the person in the starting of the outreach email body?
    Will it help to get the user attention?
    Or else just start with simple (Hi)

    What’re Brian thoughts in this?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sounds good, Jaya. I definitely recommend using the person’s name.

  38. Hi Brian – by far, your content is my favorite on so many subjects; the seo practical advice, the copywriting tips, the YouTube tips— all of it.

    You do the hard work and I wanted you to know that I am forever grateful and in general awe.

    But this outreach subject – uuugh. As a publisher I am inundated with these emails. They are all asking me to invest valuable time on poor content with very little return.

    I would advocate outreach emails being sent ONLY AFTER you’ve built a relationship with the publisher. For example; comment on their articles, share their articles, engage on social.

    Knowing who you are and that you’ve already done something for them will trip the reciprocity trigger – and if your content is good. BOOM. They will comply.


    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Ivana, thank you. I really appreciate it.

      You raise a great point. As a fellow publisher, I know exactly the emails you’re referring to. They’re annoying. And as our data shows, they don’t work.

      Even though we didn’t look at relationship building here, you’re right: it’s a smart move and something that can increase the odds of success by 10-20x.

  39. Craig Avatar Craigsays:

    These are great and helpful findings, but how to you reconcile the idea of personalized message with better response in multiple recipients?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Good question, Craig. I don’t recommend reaching out to multiple contacts at the same time. We looked at sending a sequence of messages to someone else at the organization after the first person doesn’t reply. Does that make sense?

      1. Dave Avatar Davesays:

        Glad you clarified this. I had the same question and was hunting thru the comments hoping to find an answer. Much thanks.

  40. Patrice Avatar Patricesays:

    I think my #1 takeaway would have to be creating follow up messages with additional context.
    Also, the example follow up email included really great actionable advice for persons wanting to grow an email list from scratch.
    Really great article, as always 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Patrice.

  41. I have been doing trying it the wrong way. Let me see how it goes following your procedures.

    I’d love to learn how to improve my blog too.

    Thanks Brian
    Waiting for answers

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sounds good Henry. Hope it helps.

  42. Gabby Avatar Gabbysays:

    Maybe I missed this in the study but I didn’t see an analysis on the size of the content. Do longer or shorter emails work?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Gabby, we didn’t look at email length. That would be something cool to check out in a future study for sure.

  43. This is amazing as always.

    And now that im actually starting to outreach people for my project this comes extra handy.

    Thnaks Brian.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:


  44. Richard Harrison Avatar Richard Harrisonsays:

    Hey Brian,

    I noticed you did not use socials in your email, no personalization, and your subject is 13 characters, I am guessing this is due to you having a different purpose? Curious, if you have any examples of the best way to display social networks. Icons vs the full words?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Richard, I think you’re talking about today’s newsletter email? That’s really different than email outreach. In terms of icons, you can use something like mysignature.io

  45. Personalized messages having a higher response rate makes sense to me. At the end of the day, it’s a human reading the e-mail. Plus, if it’s too much of a canned message it most likely will be detected as spam.

    I love all the data you presented Brian, keep up the great work!! Your advice has been a big help in growing my money and bills blog. Cheers! Scotty B.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Scott. Great point: with all the numbers being thrown around it’s easy to forget that there’s an actual person on the other end of your message.

  46. I’ve only ever been agency-side when implementing such outreach tactics, so it’s valuable to learn some tricks that can make our yield just a little sweeter!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Nice! Glad you enjoyed the post, Sam.

  47. Wuau! This is GOLD!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:


  48. This is a great research Brian, I definitely needed something like this to read about the email outreach.

    I still haven’t figured out how to make it work the email outreach process and I hope this helps me in that regard.

    Thank you, you are awesome:)

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Nice! I hope this helps.

  49. Khanzada Avatar Khanzadasays:

    Thanks for stats

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No problem.

  50. Number ONE Backlinko <3 Number ONE Brian Dean <3

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:


  51. Hi Brian,

    Great post. I’m curious. Did you measure the positive vs. negative responses per category? Did the greater response always parallel the positive response? And by positive response, I mean… “Thanks for sending. We’re going to share your article on our blog.” vs. “Get lost kid.”


    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Shad, we didn’t look at that actually. Just overall responses. I’m sure some responses were of the “get lost kid” variety. But in general, a response is usually a good sign with outreach.

  52. Hi Brian,

    Really I always enjoy your posts and get benefits right away.


    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Mohamed. I’m glad to hear that.

  53. Love your articles Brian! Really help keep us on the ball with SEO related topics.
    Would you ever consider doing an article like this about Email Marketing Open-Rates & Responses?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Tyler. I might do that actually. That would be a really cool study!

  54. I love your case study about emails mostly the point no. 7 and 8. I am going to implement all these tactics.
    Thank you so much for giving us this information.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sounds good.

  55. How I am being personalized with any company name or website name? Otherwise, It’s a nice resource.


    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Not sure what you mean.

      1. Shine Avatar Shinesays:

        I think he was saying that he got the email address from a website/company where didn’t show the exact name of this email address. How to personalize the email body? how to say Hi xxxx?

  56. We regularly run reach out email campaigns targeting the US real estate market. The personalization tactic is one solid way to increase open rates and get responses. Even in India, when we send to lists that contain many Gmail users, personalization allows us to avoid the promotions tab and land emails in the main inboxes.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Awesome comment, Surej. Good point with the Gmail promo tab.

  57. Brian,
    thank you for this in depth study.
    Its good to see that guest posting still works well.
    Also the best day for sending emails is a Wednesday.
    Information like this helps no end in targeting with email campaigns!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Ged, you’re welcome. Yup, it seems that publishers are still open to guest post pitches (especially compared to infographics).

  58. Katy Avatar Katysays:

    Be honest, be upfront about your offer and know that I know my value to you and offer something useful to me in return. Hint $5 or $50 or exposure to your 200,000 followers not interested in my content does not cut it. I am bombarded with outreach emails daily and rarely respond. Most are deleted instantly because they clearly come from a fake person and demonstrate no knowledge of me or my business. To me demonstrating authenticity and value is basic business and human etiquette. People who approach publishers thus way will be incredibly successful

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Katy, that’s a great point that’s lost on a lot of people that do outreach: be up front. I’m surprised at how many outreach emails I get where I have no clue what the person actually wants me to do.

  59. Sweeet!
    I’ve been looking for a study like this for a while now and who else could make it more awesome than Brian Dean. I’ve been following you since the “200 ranking factors” and your emails are my favorite that land in my inbox, no need for special subjects to catch my attention, 100% open rate 🙂
    Anyhow, thanks for another great study, I’ve been sending some banner advertising promotions lately and tips from here will surely be put into practice in the following ones.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Jure, awesome! That’s from back in the day for sure. I published that post 6+ years ago. Time flies! Anyway, great to have you as a subscriber and I’m glad you enjoyed today’s post.

      1. Maybe just one thing I forgot to add in the original comment. That “multiple contacts” option seems a bit hard for us now in Europe since the introduction of GDPR, as we can only target non-personal emails like info, sales or marketing@company.com, not directly to name@.. without consent. And of course, this affects the personalization part as well, as unless clearly stated on the website, you’ll never know where that info mail is gonna end up.
        “Lucky us”.

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Good point there, Jure. Something to keep in mind for sure.

  60. Thanks for the great info! It makes sense that expanding your pool of contacts would increase the likelihood you get a response. And personalization has long been an important factor, so I wasn’t surprised to see that it was effective. Although I’ve been using personalization in my email content for a while, I hadn’t thought about putting it in my headlines, so that’s definitely something to consider.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Alison, you’re welcome. Personalizing subject lines (with their name, website or something else unique to them) is totally worth testing. It really helps those messages stand out in a crowded inbox!

  61. Hey Brian! I’m your regular blog reader. This post is also awesome as the other ones. You just did a great job. I just inspired from you and thinking to work as you do, awesome. Your work is really great. You just did very few people ever do. If possible, can I reach to you? If yes, how?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Mayank

  62. Umair Avatar Umairsays:

    Hey Brian,
    This is awesome guide, you are the king of content writing.
    Just Waiting your YouTube video please let me know when you will make it.


    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Umair. I’m looking to get back in the studio soon.

      1. Yes, Just waiting this word in your latest video “Step by Step” with slow motion 🙂

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          You got me there 😂😂😂

  63. Thank you so much for these ingenious insights!

    I’m not the outreach type of person, but with this, I’ve gotten lots of pointers towards the right direction.

    Thank you Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Khris, you’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed the study.

  64. Hi Brian Dean, i got your mail…. i read the post, But i think its a very taking time process to find your targeted users. Also some times outreach work only 2% out of 100

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hopefully these findings can help bump up that number higher than 2%

  65. I’m going to set an auto response to send this article to all the crappy outreach emails I get – maybe they can stop bothering me with stupid copy & paste spam 🤣🤣

  66. I can definitely speak to the personalized subject lines.

    I’ve had to do a double take a few times and sometimes click when intuitively I knew that I had no contact with this person before.

    Anyways, thanks for the great post!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Arash, same here. I think it’s partially due to the fact that a personalized email shows that the person put in some effort. But like you said, it’s mostyle due to the simple fact that a personalized subject line simply stands out.

  67. Hi Brian,

    I haven’t started using email outreach just yet, but when I do (very soon), I’ll be coming back here to re-read your post! Great work, once again.

    Thanks a lot

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi David, awesome! Let me know how it works out for you.

  68. Few interesting facts I came across specifically the long subject line. Obviously, a title like “Quick question” never worked but the character count you mentioned is something different. As usual another amazing work, Brain.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Sany. That finding also stood out to me.

  69. Fantastic article backed with data from a great tool. Thank you for sharing Brian.

    Fyi, your email with the short title brought me here lol

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Simon. A lot of people have pointed that out, LOL. But this was a newsletter email which is different than an outreach email.

  70. The timing of this is really good, sending out some very high-value outreach emails today. Thanks Brian.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Nice! Let me know how it goes.

  71. cheefoo Avatar cheefoosays:

    Thanks for the awesome content! Just wondering when we (business owner) use social profile as signature, should we use a personal or company social profile? What’s your thoughts on this ?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Chefoo, I’d like to personal profiles if possible.

  72. Landed here via email newsletter.
    As always, your content rocks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the post.

  73. Dan Avatar Dansays:

    As a new creator of an affiliate website, I am not at the stage of outreach yet. However it crossed my mind in the past, what seems like a confusing set of tasks for outreach is now, thanks to your great post here, a systematic approach to link building in the foreseeable future.

    Thanx, as always Brian, for the superlative resource of information you amazingly produce. I don’t know how you do it given the seemingly large magnitude of work involved. Great Job!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Dan, happy to help. This is good stuff to have in hand for day of outreach for sure!

  74. Love this research 🙂 I’m an avid user of Pitchbox and was hoping Backlinko and Pitchbox would marry on a study. While I’ve used most of these strategies, I haven’t tried the social media link in the signature (definitely something I’ll try out). However, from the campaigns I’ve run for guest posting, using a subject line similar to “RE: (recent blog post title)” seems to work really well.

    I theorize this is more successful because the publisher recognizes the article title that they recently published (unless it’s such a huge blog with many editors) and they want to hear what you have to say about it. Is there any research conducted on what type of personalization to include in the subject line? For example, should you use the word “contribution” compared to “guest post”?

    Thanks again for the great read!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Joseph, thank you. That makes total sense and matches what we found: that personalizing subject lines help open/reply rates. We didn’t look into the type of personalizing that works best. But I’d say that their name, website (or as you pointed out) a recently post title can all work.

  75. Milly Liu Avatar Milly Liusays:

    Hi Brian, these data and analysis are very useful. Thanks for your hard work.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Milly, you’re welcome. Glad that you got so much value from our study.

  76. Another great article Brian – the biggest takeaway for me was about adding social media profiles to the subject lines. That is something frankly I haven’t done a lot, and if the data suggests that I would get a better response- then I should !!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Definitely. It can’t hurt and our data suggests that it can help.

  77. Many of these comparisons show no statistically significant difference between the groups and yet you cite the data as if it is meaningful. Not good.

    Also, some of the charts are missing the x-axis.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Which comparisons weren’t statistically significant?

  78. Andrew Lau Avatar Andrew Lausays:

    Hi Brian, this guide is very helpful for me. As a furniture hardware exporter, I emailed lots of cold emails to target clients all over the world, but it got few results. After reading this post, I know the header, the email body, the signature is should offer people value to outreach instead of “it is all about me”.Anyway, we should offer others convenience or value to get a reply.

    By the way, do you have any good resource on email copywriting? Thank you in advance.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Andrew, you’re welcome. Great takeaways there.

  79. Right in time, Brian. I am about to send an Outreach email and this study will definitely help a lot.

    Thank you so much.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome. Hope this helps you out.

  80. Kushal Avatar Kushalsays:

    In your case,
    Your name is enough to open an email.
    Subject Line doesn’t matter.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you

  81. Wow, Brian. I can certainly tell that a lot of effort went into creating that article, and what an article it was too. I found that it was very illuminating and super helpful also. In particular, I liked the bit about the correct length of the subject line. Most helpful. So, thank you so much.

    I will save it for future reference.



    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Simon. You’re right: Pitchbox put a ton of effort into collecting all of this data. So most of the kudos should go to them. And I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the post.

  82. Wow. Just Wow! I like all your case studies. It provides really practical insights.
    Email marketing is the most important channel in marketing world and the kind of Outreach messages that get high response rate was a great takeaway for me. Also, the way you explained how writing a subject line little differently can change the response rate, I’ll keep that in mind before sending emails. Thanks for such post 🙂
    You are a gem.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks! 👍 👍 👍

  83. That’s incredible information. Was looking for something like this.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      👍 👍 👍

  84. Besides the article, I have read every comment, in total 133 and you replied to each one (also a learning point for me). Since you devote so much time to research and statistical proof for the strategy and tactics you are employing in your on-line marketing, it is worthwhile to mimic what you do, and this also persuaded me to become a loyal customer.

    The feedback for this article: you know how sometimes you do these checklists in .pdf form? Executive summary could serve nicely for download, so people are reminded by the checklist, what they should actually do when writing the outreach emails, especially if this is not our every day practice.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks VS. I don’t have a PDF summary but we have a summary of the results at the top of the post.

  85. Hello Brain,

    Amazing piece of content.

    You said that correct. Email outreach still works. One must have to follow the data, which you just shared above.

    I am following your guestographics technique which is working really well for me.


    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Piyush

  86. Thanks, Brian for sharing this such an amazing information about email outreach.

    Most people are thinking that guest posting is dead but based upon the analysis your email got a great response for guest posting and I personally think that it is still at large. What do you think?

    Have a wonderful Wednesday.

  87. Interesting stats Brian, Thanks. There is certainly some takeaways for me there. I hate doing outreach campaigns so at least this gives them a better chance of success.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Joanna. Yup, this data should be helpful. Hopefully it means less time doing outreach 🙂

  88. Dude, Brian, you always add a tremendous amount of value in your posts (and YouTube videos!) Thank you for this…email has been one of my weak points!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Jason, no problem. Happy to help!

  89. Boni Satani Avatar Boni Satanisays:

    Hi Brian,

    Thank you for the study.

    Quick Question:
    – When you say emailing multiple contacts increases the response rate:
    a) are you referring to adding multiple contacts as a recipient in the same email or b) sending multiple contacts separate emails?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Boni, you’re welcome. We’re talking about sending one contact a series of messages. Then, if you don’t get a reply, emailing another contact.

  90. Since starting to follow you, I’m seeing lots of increases in my traffic. Now, I need to go through my drip campaigns and modify them to get the best response rates. Thanks for your insight! 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Nice! You’re welcome Brent. To be clear: this study looked at outreach emails (not newsletter-style emails).

  91. This is great info. We personalize our emails and have had about the 8% estimated success that would be expected. I like the Saturday vs Wednesday info, I feel sorry to anyone who thought Saturday was a good day to send out a reach out email. Thank you for this info, I just recently subscribed after viewing some of your Youtube info and I appreciate all your hard work.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Javier. Well, I can’t blame people for trying out Saturday, LOL. Also, thanks for your kind words. I appreciate that.

  92. Great article. Biggest takeaway is Wednesday being a good day, Saturday not. And also the longer headlines and personalization on headlines is helpful. Definitely putting it into use immediately!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:


  93. Great article Brian. I shared it with my office! Can you please suggest software as effective as Pinchbox, but more affordable for small companies like mine?
    Thanks Andrea

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Andrea. I’m not 100% sure because the best software depends a lot on the features you need etc.

  94. For me showing site stats improved the response rate of the campaign. Also adding samples or existing blog posts helps a lot to push through.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Oh nice! Thanks for sharing, Julz

  95. Dude Dude Dude, Brian, you are the gem you always add a tremendous amount of value in your posts.

    It really shows your dedication level and hard work.

    The easy to understand presentation of your post is amazing.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you

  96. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve got different results. I’ve sent more than 200 emails in the recent period and managed to get 8 guest blog posts, which is good. But, after that, I sent over 100 outreach emails and nothing. I will try to personalize emails as you suggest. I hope it will help.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sounds good, Rafael. I hope this helps.

  97. Many thanks for useful statistics. How the email spam score can be reduced?

  98. Hey Brain,

    This is amazing read & I learned quite a bit of useful information from it. I appreciate you taking the time to study, analyze, and post this data.

    I am going to repost it tomorrow!

    Best Wishes!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Awesome Kristopher!

  99. Neo Avatar Neosays:

    Great research.
    But pitchbox shared the details of the emails that their customers sent out? Wow..
    I would never use pitchbox.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Neo, They didn’t share any details. Everything was 100% anonymized.

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