91% & 23% Reply Rates? Here’s The Secret

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Looking for cold email ideas to ramp up your reply rate and get closer to the finish line?

We’ve been using this outreach strategy to stand out in our prospect’s inboxes and it has proven to be instrumental in helping us grow lemlist to $2M ARR.

This article will outline two cold email templates. One had a sales objective, the other one was marketing-related. You will learn how to replicate this approach and enjoy the same success that we have.

Let’s get rolling.

23% reply rate & 12 clients signed

The campaign we’re about to analyze was used by Nadja, lemlist’s Head of Business Development. Her objective was to reach out to new prospects and convert them onto our platform.

But before we go deeper into it, let me show you the results first:

  • 110 emails sent in total
  • 80% open rate + 23% reply rate
  • 12 clients signed

Now, here’s the cold email template.

Template image

Once we break down the email, the first thing you realize is that there is a bunch of personalized touchpoints. What it does, it makes it feel tailored to each prospect individually.

Starting with subject and intro lines first.

They both depend on custom tags. Nadja’s strategy was to leverage the content that her prospects published and use it to create connections.

But, instead of writing broad, meaningless flattery that sounds a lot like, “I loved your {{article}}”, she opted for a different strategy entirely. Give genuine compliments so that the prospect can feel appreciated for all the right reasons.

{{contenthighlights}} and {{titlerelevance}} are the two key points to focus on. To be truly genuine, they need to be content-specific and unique for every prospect in your email list.

The objective of such an intro line is to establish a human connection with the people you’re selling something to. In other words, kindly motivate them to let their guard down a bit and understand that you’re not sending yet another generic sales pitch.

Then, there’s the middle section that moves the focus of the conversation back to sales.

We’re talking about the {{proof}} custom tag. Nadja utilizes it in two ways. She either outlines the result her prospect achieved that’s connected with the intro line or she ties it with a topic that’s related to cold emails in general.

The {{proof}} tag should also be identified as the transition to Nadja’s call-to-action.

Instead of asking for a meeting, sending Calendly links, or being too pushy, she crafts her call-to-action in the form of a question and tries to motivate the prospect to express interest first.

She simply asks them a question that’s tied to the key product differentiator lemlist offers and invites them over for a cup of coffee. No strings attached, but they know what it is about.

Why did this approach work for her? Because of the friendly intro line and genuine compliment. When you establish a human connection with a prospect, things get a lot easier.

A cherry on the top is the personalized image that allows prospects to see that Nadja is a real person and it adds that much-needed human touch to the email.

If you look carefully, the prospect’s name is on the cup and this gets updated automatically as this information gets pulled directly from the CSV file.

Now, let me show you an example of how this email looks once all custom tags get replaced with data… plus the reply from one of her prospects.

Email image

The moral of the story? Humanized cold emails work. 23% reply rate and 12 clients signed up tell you it’s no joke.

Need more templates? Check out these sales cold emails.

91% reply rate on this networking cold email

The next example I’ll show you is more oriented towards marketing and networking. A few months back, we’ve decided to organize sales webinars in our community and invite the world’s brightest minds as guests.

Let me show you the results first:

  • 12 invitations sent
  • 100% open rate + 91% reply rate
  • Interviewed Aaron Ross, John Barrows, Rand Fishkin, Anthony Iannarino, Jill Rowley, and many more

The goals for this project were ambitious:

  • Produce premium, actionable content for the community
  • Give people an opportunity to ask questions live
  • Raise brand awareness and have people who follow our guests join our community (and maybe become users in the long-run)

To grab their attention and get them to accept the invitation, we’ve focused on a text-only cold email, packed with key information + the Tiramisu intro line.

What the hell is Tiramisu intro line? I’ll show you.

Interview invite image

Both {{Tiramisu}} and {{Tiramisu2}} tags are unique email elements for the prospect. The first one is a custom ice-breaker oriented towards something recent from our guest’s life, whereas the second one is the topic proposition for the episode. A quick outline, so to say…

Everything else in this email is there to explain what’s in it for our guests and to demonstrate our credibility.

Here’s one example of how these two tags change for a person.

Email invite image

… and the reply we got.

Reply image


To wrap it up, this email template did a good job of showing that we mean business, how our guests can benefit from it and it didn’t feel like a generic email. Quite the contrary, it was a warm invitation.


Looking for more ideas? Check out these networking cold emails.

Bottom line

To replicate both these strategies, all you have to do is run your research and structure your CSV file.

For example, to have your Tiramisu intro line, you just add a column labeled “Tiramisu”, write unique intro lines for each prospect and then pull it by using the {{Tiramisu}} tag in your template.

If you think about it, it’s super easy. The price to pay is the amount of time you’ve invested in research to come up with powerful intro lines.

But the bottom line is this.

If you make your cold emails sound human and genuine, it will pay off big time. It doesn’t matter if your objective is to increase your conversion rate, invite guests to your webinar or something else, as long as it’s personalized for the person you’re sending it to…

… your odds of winning look tremendously good.