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How to Generate 5X More Leads with Cold Email A/B Testing?

20 min read
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Cold emailing is an art. And like any art, it has its golden rules.

  1. Keep it short and sweet
  2. Make your value proposition crystal clear
  3. Use a strong, specific call to action.
  4. Personalize, personalize, personalize.

Following these four rules, you can easily average 20 to 40% open rates and 5 to 8% higher reply rates and generate good leads.

But what if there was a way to outperform the average?

This is where the fifth golden rule comes into play: Test, Tweak, and Optimize—Cold Email A/B testing. 

Yes, by A/B testing your cold emails, you can easily generate 5X more leads!

And that’s what you’ll learn through this blog. We cover everything from the basic what and why to the advanced how-to A/B test your cold emails and optimize them for the best results.

So, put on your reading glasses and dive right in!

Cold Email A/B Test: Table of Content

What is A/B Testing in Cold Emailing?

A/B testing or split testing is where you experiment with two variations of your email copies to find which variation brings better results.

Here is how to start A/B testing:

  1. Create a list of prospects with the same characteristics, such as industry, pain points, goals, etc.
  2. Split the prospects into two equal groups.
  3. Choose the element you want to split test.
  4. Create two copies of your email with the variations.
  5. Send each version to one of the groups and compare the outcomes.
  6. The version that has more success with your prospects is your clear winner.

Points to remember when cold emailing:

  1. Split test one element at a time. If testing subject lines, don’t create variations in your CTA or other parts of your cold email.
  2. Make sure to measure the right metrics for success, such as open rates for subject lines or response rates for email content.
  3. You should have a large enough sample size of prospects (about 200 to 300 on your list) to ensure your results are statistically relevant. 
  4. Note your findings and iterate again. Test, Tweak, Optimize, and Repeat.

Pro Tip: Cold email tools like Saleshandy can automate and make A/B testing a hassle-free process.

Why is A/B Testing An Important Part of Cold Emailing?

A/B testing is essential for effective cold emailing because it helps you understand what resonates with your audience.

Moreover, you can refine your emails to achieve higher open and reply rates by making data-driven decisions instead of guessing.

This leads to better engagement and more conversions.

The goal of cold emailers while using A/B testing is simply to find a highly successful version amongst others in terms of open rates, reply rates, and click-through rates. 

So, keep trying different ways to attract your prospects and enjoy steady growth in your sales pipeline.

Pro Tip: To speed up your split testing process, find a tool like Saleshandy that allows you to test multiple variations at a time (up to 26 variations). 

What Are the Key Elements You Should A/B Test in Your Cold Emails?

The success of your cold email campaigns depends on how many of your prospects:

  1. Open your emails
  2. Reply to it
  3. And/or click on the links of the resources you share.
Key Elements You Should A/B Test in Your Cold Email

So, it’s fair to say that you should test elements directly affecting these aspects of your cold emails.

Here is a list of such key elements:

  1. Subject Lines
  2. Opening Line
  3. Value Proposition
  4. Call-To-Action
  5. Links

We’ll look at how these elements play a role in the success of your cold emails. 

1. Subject Lines

The first step to generating more leads is to get your prospects to open your emails!

That’s where your subject lines come in.

The subject line is the first element of your cold emails that will be visible to your prospects. Therefore, you should make it as relevant and catchy as possible.

But is there any evidence that supports this? Yes, there is! 

Our study found that over 33% of prospects open emails based on the subject line.

Prospects open emails based on the subject line.

So, if you want more prospects to look at your offer, split-test your subject lines and find what catches their eye.

Next up is the opening line!

2. Opening Line

Similar to your subject line, your opening lines also matter a lot.


The opening lines help hook your prospects and compel them to read further. They are directly connected to the performance of your cold emails – open rates and, to an extent, the reply rate as well.

So, A/B test your cold email opening lines to improve your chance of generating leads.

Pro Tip: You can go a step further and add a preheader. This is a short line of text that comes after the subject line. It can also improve the chances of prospects opening your email. Most cold email software gives you this option.

3. Value Proposition

The value proposition is the heart of your cold email.

In the value proposition, you will show how to solve the prospects’ problems and help them achieve their goals.

To generate positive replies, you must ensure your prospects resonate with your value proposition.

You can achieve this by split-testing different approaches to addressing their challenges, experimenting with various tonalities, and refining your message based on feedback.

Pro Tip: Keep your language and tone simple, and avoid jargon and spammy words.

4. Call-To-Action

After your compelling value proposition comes the Call to Action (CTA).

Your CTAs guide your prospects on the next step they should take. 

Depending on your objectives, you can have CTAs to book a meeting, get a simple follow-up response, or ask them if they are interested in a resource you can share with them.

To improve the success of your cold campaign, try A/B testing your CTA using different tones of voice, action words, etc.

Pro Tip: Have a single CTA that clearly specifies what action the prospects should take.

Contrary to popular opinion, you can include links in your cold emails but not in your initial and the first follow-up emails.

You can link to case studies, share downloadable resources, or link to a meeting scheduler.

You can A/B test anchor text, link placement, and action words to increase the chances of your prospects clicking on the link.

CTA #1

Boost Your Open and Response Rates By A/B Testing 📈
You can use Saleshandy to split test up to 26 variations and find what works with your prospects 

How To Increase Your Cold Email Open Rates With A/B Testing?

Most cold emailers breathe a sigh of relief after getting their emails into the prospects’ inboxes. But this is just the first step!

The real challenge begins after – getting your prospects to open your emails and respond to them.

To help you determine what works, you can split-text some aspects of your cold email.

1. Test Your Subject Line

After your emails get into the inbox, they must stand out from the tens or hundreds of others. The competition is fierce!

So what can you do here?

You should A/B test your cold email subject lines to find which impresses and resonates most with your audience.

Here are a few different things you can do:

Personalize Your Subject Lines

One effective way to make your email stand out and feel tailored to your audience is by adding information about them in your subject lines.

Our study shows that cold emails with a personalized subject line increase open rates by up to 26%

Adding the recipient’s name or interests lets you easily get your emails noticed—it’s as simple as that!

Ask A Question

Another effective method you can try is asking a question about your prospects’ interest in your subject lines.

This creates a sense of curiosity and will encourage them to open your email and find out what you are trying to convey.

To use this effectively, you must research your prospects extensively and get to know what they desire.

Here are some questions we found to have worked well:

  • Want to know the future of {{Company Name}}? 
  • How did you do it {{First Name}}?
  • More wins inside for {{Company Name}}
  • Struggling with {{Pain Point}}?
  • I have a suggestion for {{Goal}}!

Try Humor

A little humor never hurts!

Think about it: your prospects are busy and likely stressed with deadlines and challenges. They could use some light-heartedness in their day.

This is where a witty and funny subject line can make a difference. It catches their attention and makes them more inclined to open it.

Here are a few funny ones we tried and got results.

  • How to make Mondays less dreadful (hint: it’s us!)
  • Another email for you to ignore! 
  • Swipe right here {{First Name}}!
  • Not a Nigerian prince, {{First Name}}!
  • Just add a sad emoji or GIF in the follow-up email (no text)

2. Test Your Email Preheader

Your cold emails will be displayed with a short preview of your email content after the subject line in your prospects’ inbox

The preview length can range from 40 to 140 characters depending on the device and Email Service Provider (ESP) your prospect is using.

You can use this to expand on your subject line and convey additional information.

Use eye catchy subject lines and pre headers

This is where an email preheader comes in handy.

Here are a few personalized preheader examples to test:

  • Opening this email burns calories (kind of).
  • Find out how you can save time and money with our solution.
  • Ready to see a difference? Click here.
  • Discover how we can solve your biggest challenge today.
  • Don’t worry. This isn’t another cat video (or is it?).

Pro Tip: Some ESPs might not have a preheader function, and finding one can be quite difficult. This is where email outreach tools like Saleshandy come in handy. They allow you to easily add and split-test your email preheaders.

3. A/B Test Your Email Sending Time

Another possible reason why your cold emails are not getting opened could be the timing of your send.

There is a high chance of your emails getting buried under hundreds of emails if you miss your window of opportunity.

Much research has been done to find the ideal time to send cold emails.

In fact, our own study shows that late mornings, specifically between 10 and 11 AM on Tuesdays, can result in better engagement.

This is just a generalization. The right time can differ based on the prospects’ demographics. So, if you want to find the best time to send cold emails, you should test your timings.

You can try sending your emails early in the morning or late afternoon and even test different days of the week.

Expert Tip: Avoid sending cold emails on Mondays and Fridays, as prospects are catching up on work or getting ready for the weekend.

4. A/B Test with Different ESPs

A commonly overlooked factor in email performance is the Email Service Provider (ESP) choice. 

Different ESPs have varying reputation levels, deliverability rates, and features that can affect your email campaigns.

By testing with different ESPs, you can identify which one helps you achieve higher open rates and better overall performance.

How To Increase Your Positive Response Rates With A/B Testing?

This section is for you if you’re seeing good open rates but struggling to get a reply, especially positive ones.

Here are two things you can test to change that:

1. Test Your Email Body Content

The content of your email plays a huge part in getting positive replies. Think about it for a second, this is the part where you are telling about yourself to your prospects.

If you do not make an effort to present yourself as the ideal solution provider, your prospects may not be interested in responding to you.

Let’s see how to test and optimize your email body to position yourself better.

Test The Tone and Language You Have Used

The tone and language of your email can greatly influence how your prospects perceive your message.

Even a small difference in language can make a huge difference.

For example, in one of our split tests, we noticed that using “What if I provide you with…” performed way better than a copy that started with “Let me know if you’d be interested in…”

You can also experiment with different tones—such as formal, casual, or friendly—and see which ones resonate best with your audience.

Test Different Value Propositions

Your prospects may have various pain points and different priorities, and finding them can be a bit of a hassle.

You can ask them directly what challenges they face, but open-ended questions aren’t always the best.

Instead, you can A/B test your value propositions with your sample audience to find what resonates with them.

You can experiment by highlighting specific benefits, using data and statistics, or including testimonials and case studies.

Test Your Call To Action (CTA)

The CTA is another key component directly responsible for getting your replies and meetings booked.

Your CTAs should be inviting and clearly state what your prospects should do next.

This is where you can use and experiment with action-oriented languages, such as “Let me know if you’re up for a quick call”, and “You can check out one of our recent case studies on how we helped {{Company}} increase their lead generation by 5X”, etc.

2. Test Your Follow-Ups

Having follow-ups can boost your chances of getting a response. We have found that sending at least three follow-ups can significantly increase your reply rate by over 28%.

You can test the timing and frequency of your follow-ups. For example, at Saleshandy, we follow a seven-day and seven-step email sequence.

We have our initial cold email, followed by five follow-ups spaced seven days apart and a sales breakup email.

How To Increase Your Click-Through Rates With A/B Testing?

Here are a few solutions if you have good open rates but your prospects aren’t visiting your website or viewing your case study.

  1. A/B Test Different Link Placements
  2. A/B Test Different Anchor Texts

The placement of your links also affects your click-through rates (CTR). Based on the context of your emails, you can place your links:

  • Early in the email, right after introducing the main point.
  • In the middle, integrated naturally within the body text.
  • Toward the end, after providing value and context.

For example, you might include a link after a compelling statement about how your product can solve a major pain point. Track which placement gets the most clicks to optimize your emails.

Pro Tip: Use a Custom Tracking Domain whenever you use links in your cold emails. This will help protect against spam filters.

2. A/B Test Different Anchor Texts

First and foremost, avoid copy-pasting your URLs directly, as this will look unprofessional. Instead, use descriptive anchor texts to link the URLs.

Instead of “Sign up here for a 7-day free trial.

Try “You can sign up for a 7-day free trial and check out the A/Z testing feature for yourself.

Test different variations to see which ones resonate most with your audience.

Let’s take the same example:

You can A/B test between “You can sign up for a 7-day…” and Start your 7-day free trial….”

Also, make sure your anchor texts are clear, engaging, and naturally integrated into your email content.

Generate More Leads by A/B Testing Your Cold Emails

We hope this guide helped you learn about A/B testing and how to test different elements to increase your campaign’s chances of generating leads.

For a hassle-free A/B testing experience, you should use dedicated cold email tools like Saleshandy.

It can help you easily set up your split tests, measure and analyze your results, and further optimize your cold email campaigns further.

That’s not all! Saleshandy is the only tool that allows you to test up to 26 variations of your cold emails simultaneously.

So, sign up for a 7-day free trial and see how Saleahandy can help you generate more leads by A/B testing your cold emails.


1. What is the average open and reply rate for cold emails?

These metrics vary depending on industry, target audience, and email list quality. However, the commonly taken benchmark for open rate is 25 to 50%, while the reply rate is 8 to 12%.

2. How many emails should I send to validate my A/B testing?

There is no definite number for this. For your results to be statistically significant and not influenced by random chance, your winner should be 30 to 40% higher than the other variation.

3. What are the best tools to A/B Test my cold emails?

Some of the best tools you can use for split testing your cold emails are Saleshandy, which allows you to test up to 26 variations, Instantly, and Smartlead. 

4. Can I A/B test more than one element at once?

You should only test one aspect of your cold email at a time. This way, when measuring the results, you can confidently attribute it to one specific change.

Skyrocket your conversion rates with cold emailing

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