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Spam Still Belongs in a Can, Not an Inbox

4 min read
Updated Sep. 8, 2021
Published Aug. 6, 2020

When the world went remote amidst a global pandemic, Salesloft saw record highs in sales email volume across the Salesloft platform.

With companies scrambling to adapt to being fully remote, it’s not surprising that many sellers turned to email. Unfortunately, the more emails reps sent, the more message quality typically declined, both in terms of personalization and data hygiene. 

Subsequently, lower quality emails led to higher bounce rates, decreased user engagement, and potential long-term impacts on sender reputation and deliverability. In this post, we’ll discuss our findings and what that means for sellers as remote working appears to be here to stay. 

More Emails, Less Engagement

With in-person channels for customer relationship-building fewer and far between, sellers naturally have turned to all forms of electronic communication. In the first few months of the pandemic, three behaviors emerged:

  1. Customers started emailing prospects more frequently with less personalization. They performed bulk sends rather than investing in 1:1 personalized emails, which led to spam complaints and deliverability issues.1
  2. Businesses were hit hard with big layoffs and overall reduction in spending. With many contacts losing their jobs, email senders saw higher bounce rates. And with budgets tightening, sellers had fewer opportunities to engage prospects.
  3. Customers started acquiring new lists from vendors or retargeting old data that had potential spam traps and a high percentage of invalid emails, which also hurt deliverability.

The graph below shows the number of emails sent from the Salesloft platform from June 2019 to May 2020 and illustrates a spike in email volume beginning in March.


sales email volume


The Salesloft platform saw 6 million emails per week by mid-March (a 31% increase from February) and came close to 7 million by mid-April. As email volume drastically increased, open and reply rates declined significantly (see the chart below).

Open Rates Sales Emails COVID


Reply Rates Sales Email Spam COVID

When Less Is More

We examined the email habits of 30,000 sales reps. The graph below shows the relationship between how many contacts reps added to cadences at a time and how many total email replies they received during that period.

sales email

We found that the number of replies a rep received increased as they increased the number of new contacts added to cadences, but only up to a point. After that mark, we noticed not only diminished returns, but NEGATIVE returns, plus more work for the seller. 

For instance, if a rep adds 100 contacts to a cadence each day, they need to execute about 500 actions a day! Not only is that a lot of work, it isn’t necessary. When reps add people to cadences in batches larger than 120, we expect them to receive fewer email replies than if they had added only 20 people

When sellers increase the number of contacts they’re engaging with at a time, the quality of their work decreases. Why? Because they’re likely sending less personalized, irrelevant, or canned content, resulting in fewer email replies. That’s why we coach reps to stay in the “Goldilocks Zone” when it comes to adding new contacts to their cadence each day. This zone ranges anywhere from 20-80 contacts because not all businesses and customer journeys are alike. 

For instance, companies with longer sales cycles typically have high-value deals with complex customers. Reps selling these products have fewer prospects and must use more personalized touches because every account matters. These sellers will want to stay towards the lower end of the zone. 

On the flip side, emerging markets typically have faster deal cycles with a larger pool of accounts. When it comes to adding contacts to a cadence, it makes sense for reps at these companies to lean toward the high end of the zone in order to make volume-oriented plays.

Regardless of where you stand, here’s the key takeaway: with everyone else spamming, this is your golden opportunity to stand apart. Rather than trying to reach more people, be more targeted and personalized in your emails. Not only will you connect with more customers, but you can invest all the time you’re saving into becoming a better seller.

Want more guidance on how to connect with prospects? Check out our guide, Email Prospecting: 3 Data-Influenced Best Practices.

Email Prospecting 3 Data Influenced Best Practices


Email volume, Salesloft app data, Q1 2020