Published on
November 22, 2022

When email personalization is done well, it can be a game-changer. When it’s done badly, incorrectly, or not at all, it can be a bridge-burner.

In this article, we break down exactly how we apply personalization to email outreach at Discoveroo and share what we found after cold emailing over 12,000 prospects.

Personalization Vs. No Personalization

According to email sequencing experts Woodpecker, the average response rate to non-personalized email outreach is 7%, which is based on them sending over 20 million sales emails.

This means that, on average, 930 prospects for every 1000 you contact with a generic sales email will not respond.

In other words, non-personalized email outreach is quantity over quality. Throw enough mud at the wall, some of it will stick.

And your prospects deserve better than that.

Not only does non-personalized outreach result in a disappointing response rate, it can also damage your email sender reputation, i.e. if your emails are identified as bulk emails and end up in spam folders, which can affect your future email deliverability. 

Read more here about how to maximize your email deliverability.

Shortly, we will compare the average cold email response rate of 7% with our own results, to shine a light on what's possible with highly personalized outreach. But first, let’s talk GDPR.

GDPR compliance

When prospecting in Europe, it’s necessary to demonstrate a legitimate interest regarding the person/company you’re reaching out to. In other words, you need to prove in your communication to a respective prospect that there’s a good reason for you/your company to be contacting them/their company. 

This is required to remain compliant with GDPR. And, as a by-product, it will also help you to tailor the messaging. Therefore, while demonstrating legitimate interest sounds like a hurdle, it can actually be your friend in outreach, as anything that makes the messaging sound less generic and more targeted is a good thing.

Basic, Medium or Advanced Personalization?

OK, so what exactly do we mean by personalization in email outreach?

  • Subject line?
  • Company name?
  • First name?
  • Email intro?
  • Sales messaging?

Here’s how we categorise personalization levels at Discoveroo:

1. Basic: Generic subject line, first name in email, generic sales messaging




2. Medium: Company name or prospect name in subject line, first name in email, job role in email intro or sales messaging, segment-specific topic/challenge in sales messaging




3. Advanced: Company name or prospect name in subject line, first name in email, a personalized intro line for each prospect i.e. an ‘icebreaker’ referencing something unique about them or their company

Example (including business outcome-focused subject line):



Writing ‘icebreakers’

The secret sauce to good email outreach is the icebreaker. The icebreaker is your chance to quickly demonstrate to the prospect that you’ve done some research about them. It’s a bridge builder.

Granted, this takes time to do for each prospect and there aren’t really any shortcuts. There are AI tools that can scrape content from LinkedIn and company websites, etc., but we are yet to see one that can actually write compelling email intro lines that are relevant and written like a human.

A good icebreaker should be one or two sentences, referencing something in the public domain about the respective company or prospect that links with your value proposition. For Discoveroo, that’s expansion and growth. For you, it’s likely something different.

But generally, things like case studies, testimonials, existing client lists, news articles, awards, company policies and statements or posts on relevant topics are a good place to start.

It’s a very manual task but it can make all the difference to your outreach results.

Analysing Discoveroo’s email outreach

As a company that provides sales outreach as a service, we contact a lot of people. We do this for our clients but also for Discoveroo, to support our own growth.

We mostly use Advanced levels of personalization in our outreach. We sometimes apply Medium levels of personalization. We never apply only Basic levels of personalization.

Additionally, the first email we send to a prospect typically contains no more than 150 words, to keep the initial approach concise, and we usually include 4-steps in all email sequences. 

This means that each prospect receives four emails in total over a period of around 2.5 weeks, unless they respond. As soon as a prospect does respond, they are removed from the sequence automatically and do not receive any more automatic emails.

Personalized Outreach Results

After cold emailing 12,013 prospects, here were our overall results:

  • 1545 responses (12.9%)
  • 525 leads (4.4%)
  • 132 referrals or pass-ons (1.1%)
  • 888 not interested or opt-outs (7.4%)

For every 1000 prospects we contacted, 129 responded, meaning we received 59 more responses for every 1000 prospects contacted compared with the 7% average response rate.

In other words, you would need to contact around 84% more people with non-personalized outreach to get the same number of responses.

And of course, the objective with sales outreach is not only to get responses. We want positive responses. We want leads.

Here’s a handful of the responses we received:





Here were some of the nice ‘No’ responses we received:




Outreach Results Broken Down

Of those 525 leads we generated, less than half were generated after only one email had been sent. Here’s the breakdown of leads generated per step in the email sequence:

  • Email 1: 217 leads generated (41.3%)
  • Email 2: 171 leads generated (32.6%)
  • Email 3: 76 leads generated (14.5%)
  • Email 4: 61 leads generated (11.6%)

And below is a look at how each day of the week performed. This is based on which day the email was sent that the interested prospect responded to:

  • Monday: 107 leads generated (20.4%)
  • Tuesday: 102 leads generated (19.4%)
  • Wednesday: 108 leads generated (20.6%)
  • Thursday: 121 leads generated (23%)
  • Friday: 87 leads generated (16.6%)

Based on these results, we can conclude that Friday was the worst day for outreach, Thursday was the best, and the majority of all leads generated (58.7%) were as a result of sending up to three follow-up emails to prospects after sending Email 1.

Quality Plus Quantity

Personalized email outreach is Discoveroo’s go-to channel for finding new clients because it works. But that’s not the only reason. 

As a company, we care not just about what we achieve, but how we achieve it. We care that our prospects see that we care about them, even if it takes much more effort to send them an email.

Personalized email outreach is quality over quantity, which, when combined with a targeted, high volume approach, equals quality plus quantity. And that’s what gets results.

If you need to ramp up your outbound lead generation, speak to one of our specialists and find out how Discoveroo’s done-for-you sales outreach can help

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Joe the author

By Joe Ogden, founder at Discoveroo.

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