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8 Outbound Email Best Practices and FAQs

outbound email best practices

Getting started with outbound email can feel a little bit like walking around in someone else’s tennis shoes: there’s something familiar about the experience, but initially, it can seem a little bit strange and unwieldy.

You’ve been in sales or marketing for years. You’ve been writing effective emails your whole career. You’ve got the concept of outbound down pat, but basic questions keep popping up.

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about outbound email basics answered by LeadGenius’ Customer Success Managers.

Multi-Touch Sequences: It Pays To Automate

How many times should I email a lead?

Stopping short on outbound emails leaves money on the table. The numbers prove it.

When manually sending emails, sales reps often stop reaching out after two or three attempts. The rep thinks, “If I haven’t gotten a response yet, it isn’t going to happen at all.” The rep then moves on to the next lead on their list. This reaction is not unreasonable; it just happens to be wrong. This is why it pays to automate.

An advantage of automating steps in the outbound email process is ensuring that every lead gets the same treatment. There is no “”perfect” amount of follow-up sends. It differs for every client and every industry. However, data from LeadGenius shows that 8 email sequences are right in the sweet spot.

Of all emails sent by LeadGenius on behalf of clients in an 8 email sequence, 36.2% of the positive replies came after the third send.

outbound email open rates

When you stop short after only a few email sends you not only fail to maximize the value of each lead, your reps will burn through leads far quicker than they should.



How should I space out my follow-up emails?

For a company with a 90-day sales cycle, your first-touch cadence might look something like this:

Day 1 Email 1
Day 2 Call 1 (Leave Voicemail)
Day 3 Email 2 + LinkedIn Profile View
Day 4 Call 2 (No Voicemail)
Day 5 Email 3 + Twitter Follow/Like
Day 8 Call 3 (Voicemail)
Day 11 Email 4
Day 15 Email 5
Day 21 Email 6
Day 35 Email 7
Day 50 Email 8


As soon as a prospect responds to this sequence, they should be removed. A positive response goes directly to a sales development rep (SDR) or account executive (AE) for further development. A negative response removes the prospect from future outbound workflows.

Persistence and frequency early on can pay off, but patience wins in the long run. Outbound is not a short game.

Day of Week and Time of Day

When should I send my emails?

When to schedule outbound emails depends entirely on audience.

Ask yourself,

  • Who is the audience of this campaign?
  • What stage of their life are they in?
  • Where do they fall in their company hierarchy?
  • When do they have free moments in the work day?
  • When are they likely to check work email on their phone?

If you find these questions difficult to answer or there is no clear trend, then you either don’t know your audience as well as you should (in which case you messaging is unlikely to connect anyway) or your campaign does not have cohesive targeting.

The only objective way to determine the optimal time to send to a given audience is by looking at the data – your data. If you do not have data on optimal send times for your audience, use your best guess as a starting point, then A/B test to find a starting point for iteration.

Day of the week seems to matter less and less for marketing emails.


However, positive replies to outbound sales emails mostly occur Monday to Friday.

outbound email reply day of week

Unless your data tells you otherwise, confine your sends to business hours.


Messaging Tips

How long should my email be? What should my email say?

Outbound emails should be short and to the point.

There is no firm limit to character count, but if your email exceeds 100 words, you are drifting into no-man’s land.

20-50% of your outbound emails will be opened on mobile. Every message should be simple enough to digest at a glance.

This  is where the art of sales meets the science of outbound. There are many templates, tricks, and techniques to use as guides, but if you’re writing from scratch, the Before-After-Bridge method is an effective way to structure your communication.

  • Before – Here’s your world now. Here’s the dilemma.
  • After – Imagine how good your world would be if this dilemma was resolved.
  • Bridge – Here’s how you get there.


Read your emails aloud before you send them. You might be surprised how different they sound in your head.


Calls To Action

What are some effective CTAs?

Outbound emails should have a single call-to-action.

In most outbound scenarios, the desired call-to-action is an email reply. Email replies are the most direct and reliable way to gauge interest. Opens and clicks only go so far.

Here’s an example of a first-touch outbound email with a strong CTA:

Subject: How is SDR ramping going?

Hey {{first_name}},

You’re hiring SDR’s to ramp up outbound sales.

Getting SDRs ramped can be a major time suck. Sales teams at companies like Box, Weebly, and Base CRM are using LeadGenius to do mass outbound personalization at scale.

LeadGenius data allows SDRs to focus on calling / closing rather than clicking buttons on LinkedIn at $50 an hour, lowering clients overall cost per lead while increasing quality (we have 5% or less bounce rate).

I’d like to give {{company}} some live sales data to A/B test.

Do you have time to connect this week or next?

This email asks a single yes/no question. It can be answered on a phone. It doesn’t put constraints or conditions on the recipient. It simply asks, “Are you interested?” The details can be hashed out later. A simple, “yes” means this person is now in your pipeline.

If the prospect does not respond to you first email, you can use content in subsequent emails to offer additional value. The more targeted and higher-quality the content, the more likely the lead is to engage with it.

Another thing to consider is that retargeting from company websites is ubiquitous these days. If you’re not sure whether your company does it, ask the marketing department. Sending a lead to content on your website will enter them in a retargeting advertising pool which will enable your company’s ads to follow the lead around as they visit other sites, keeping your brand top-of-mind.


Open Rate Benchmarks

What’s a good open rate?

The first thing you should do is look at what’s around the average for opens and clicks in your industry. MailChimp and Constant Contact publish their basic metrics for broad industry categories every couple months. The next thing you should do is forget about industry metrics. They’re not exactly arbitrary, but they will not help inform your strategy.

MailChimp reports that “Professional Services” have a 21% open rate while Constant Contact reports 14% for the same industry. MailChimp has “The Arts” at 28% and Constant Contact has them them 17%. Discrepancies like this are impossible to avoid because there are so many variables at play: targeting, subject lines, industry definitions, etc.

A good open rate is an open rate that’s better than your last. You goal should not be to match benchmarks, but to start somewhere and improve from there.The only way to improve is to better know your audience, test, and iterate.


Reducing Bounce Rate

How do I lower my bounce rate?

Emails bounce for a variety of reasons, including increasingly aggressive spam filters, sender reputation, and database decay. But if your lead data is good, your bounce rate should stay manageable—under 3%.

Do not compare the bounce rate of the first email in an outbound sequence to your marketing newsletter bounce rate. Outbound email campaigns and marketing campaigns behave differently when it comes to bounce rate.

Over the life of a campaign, outbound email bounce rates will decrease over the course of a campaign because undeliverable emails are weeded out with each send. Marketing emails typically maintain a baseline bounce rate because lists are continually replenished with new emails of varying quality.

Long term, follow these best practices to keep your bounce rate in good shape.

Originally posted at LeadGenius.com