How to cold email? How to get out of Spam? How to keep Domain Reputation clean? How to check if Domain is Blacklisted? How to become a cold emailing Ninja?
These questions were asked in the Facebook group so I thought I'll make an in-depth post.
Email Marketing or Cold Outreach is at the end of the day a science itself, like Facebook or Google Ads. There are tons of Do’s and Don'ts, variables, and different opinions. It can get unnecessarily complicated which is not the intent of this article.
The goal of this post should be to give the reader an in-depth understanding of what to keep in mind when cold emailing, and a summary of good resources & tools to use. It should as well serve as an inspiration to start educating & testing strategies yourself. If you have questions or something valuable to add, please respond to the post.
Also, I’d like to point out that reading through all of the information below could potentially give the reader the feeling that cold emailing is something bad or in a grey area since there are consequences to doing it wrong. Note that business is based on communication. So if you truly believe your product adds value to the world, you should not be afraid to tell strangers about it. And if you follow the rules, there is nothing to be scared of.
1. Make sure your domain and email certifications are set up.
This is extremely important and will break your delivery rate if not done correctly. It’s the first thing you should do before starting outreach. Sending cold emails without an SPF record is like trying to get past customs without a passport.
Basically, this means that your SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (Domain Key Identification Mail), DNS records (Domain Name System), DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication) are set up and working. This sounds complicated at first but isn't too hard to do. What DKIM etc. is, how it works is all explained in the article below.
2. Make sure your emails are warmed up before sending emails.
This is extremely important, especially if you're planning to send 100+ emails per day. There are multiple ways to do this.
You can either create multiple email addresses and have a conversation with yourself to warm up your email or test if you land in spam (google counts 4 emails back and forth as a legit convo). This is free but quite inefficient to do on a regular basis.
Or as an alternative, there are certain tools that do this for you. I personally have used mailwarm so far, this tool helped me warm up my email, get out of spam multiple times as well as keep high open rates and I highly recommend it.
Multiple sales reps from our team tried warm up inbox and have seen pretty good results with it and highly recommend it as well. Warm-up Inbox is way cheaper, but it takes longer to get going (At least 3 - 4 weeks to fully warm up, mailwarm a few days). I however will split test it against warm-up inbox and post the results here.
Also, keep in mind that your inbox should consistently be engaged while doing outreach to ensure high open rates.
If you warm up your email for a week but then stop, the outgoing email to incoming email ratio will decrease which does damage your reputation. An inbox that sends drastically more emails than it receives is suspicious to spam filters. You can do this by emailing back and forth between multiple email accounts or just use tools like mailwarm or warmupinbox to do this for you.
If you start with a new email or you have not done a lot of cold outreach before starting, slowly ramp up to 100+ per day.
DO NOT START WITH 100+ EMAILS PER DAY YOU WILL 100% LAND IN SPAM.
Here is the ramping up structure I use:
Day 1: SEND 10 Emails, Day 2: SEND 20 Emails, Day 3: SEND 50 Emails, Day 4: SEND 75 Emails, Day 5: SEND 100 Emails, Day 6: SEND 150 Emails, Day 7: SEND 200 Emails. Etc.
There are other resources out there that recommend an even slower, more careful structure. However, I found this one to work pretty well (combined with mailwarm or warmupinbox!).
While ramping up, monitor your bounce and delivery rate. Bounce rates measure the percentage of how often your emails get “bounced” back to you. In other words, the email cannot reach the intended recipient and, therefore, must be returned to the sender with a notification of its bounced status.
This can be the result of multiple reasons. There are “hard” and “soft” bounces. A hard bounce is an email that couldn't be delivered for permanent reasons. Maybe the email's a fake address, maybe the email domain isn't a real domain, or maybe the email recipient's server won't accept emails. A soft bounce is an email that couldn't be delivered because of temporary reasons. If you receive hard bounces, remove the emails from your list immediately.
Delivery rate tells you whether or not your emails were received by the servers of your recipients' inbox providers. So your delivery rate is the percentage of the number of emails delivered divided by the number of emails sent.
Another quick tip is to subscribe to about 10 Newsletters. This may not get you out of spam but it shows your google account that this is a real human with real interests.
3. Check your lead quality.
A high bounce rate will damage your domain. So make sure your lead list is clean before sending out emails. I personally don’t use the tools below but if you want to be super safe or you buy a list of leads it’s worth it (I personally don’t recommend buying a lead list).
Lead verification tools. They all do the same thing. I have not extensively tested which one is the best. But if you google you’ll find plenty of comparisons.
High personalization achieves the highest open & response rates. Add short personalized videos for the extra spice. If you want to send 100+ emails per day, create an individualized template for a specific niche and then just add 1 or 2 personalized sentences before sending.
5. Make sure your copywriting is on point.
If it's hard to understand what you're doing or it takes too long to read (too much confusing text), the success rate of your emails will be low, even if your offer is stellar.
Keep in mind if you can't communicate why your product is stellar nobody will buy. Go through the training and then test and iterate your copy until it sticks.
6. Don't add too many links to your emails.
Some people like to have no links in their first email. I like to have about 1-2 in my initial cold message, with 3 being the absolute max, If you send a very individualized email with relevant links. You can add more to the follow-ups.
Also, make sure you don’t add any dead links (links that are not working) or links to suspicious pages. To test this use this tool: https://www.mail-tester.com/
7. Make sure you're targeting the right people.
Targeting is key. If you send a great copy email to a false audience they will mark you as spam regardless which is a contributing factor to your email reputation. Make sure your email is relevant to the person you’re sending it to.
8. Don't send bulk emails (40 - 50+ emails in a row) but rather batches.
For example 4 batches of 25 over a day. Or 6+ batches of 25 depending on the number of emails you’re sending. If you want to send 300+ emails per day, create 3 or more email accounts and then send 4 batches of 25 from each account over the span of a day.
9. Add an Email Signature, physical address, phone number, and pictures as well as an “unsubscribe” option at the bottom of the mail.
This shows spam filters that you’re a real person, adds trust, and gives the recipient an option to stop receiving emails from you.
If you have any other email providers just google.
Example of Unsubscribe Option: Please reply “no thanks” if you would no longer like to receive any communications from me. Obviously, you can change this to your liking as long as it’s clear to the receiver.
Very large ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have their own internal blacklists, but many use publicly available ones run by companies that specialize in this field. There are multiple organizations for example Spamhaus which is an Operator of one of the biggest blacklists, who are screening the internet for people who are spamming or sending unsolicited emails with harmful content.
Large companies like Twitter, Linkedin, etc. check Spamhaus's and Co’s databases for blacklisted domains. Meaning if you're blacklisted, it will also affect your social profiles and multiple other third-party tools (Links will not work anymore and be marked as “malware”).
In short, this is how it works:
You send your email (Sender) and it’s received by an ISP (Receiver) who then decides if your email looks legitimate. If the ISP is using a blacklist, the email IP address is checked against the list. It then goes through the spam filters of the ISP to check for anything they don’t allow. If the email passes these tests, it’s sent to the inbox
If you're blacklisted, it can literally shut down your business since you can't use your domain anymore, and if your email is [email protected] you can’t send any (invoices, customer emails, etc.) since the ISP recognizes that your domain is on a blacklist. So be careful.
The good thing is the chances are extremely low that you'll end up on a list. However, if you think you're blacklisted click this link to check your domain: https://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx
Keep in mind that things change and tech evolves. Keep testing and improving and always educate yourself. Spam filters get smarter so can you.