Cold Email Deliverability COMPLETE Guide (2023)
This guide helps cold-email marketers reach the inbox so their message is read, they can increase sales and action, and save time to grow their business
How many hours did it take our team to write this Complete Cold Email Deliverability Guide? Something like 15 years. Yes! The ability to deliver cold emails to your lists’ inbox folders takes a lot of experience to develop. It literally requires years of endless attempts, tailored processes, B2B sales strategy development, trial & errors, ever-changing tactics, and millions of campaigns to learn how to really deliver emails. Deep understanding of the subject of bulk emailing, sending servers, sending IPs, SMTP, and postal, industry players, and new spam algorithms are absolutely necessary to master the art of cold email marketing.
This is why we are so pleased to deliver to you our conclusions, cold-email tips and tactics, and bulk emailing strategies. Enjoy
Table of content
What is The Main Challenge in Cold Emailing?
The main challenge you have to figure out when applying cold-ema practices is deliverability. That is to say, your ability to deliver emails to your recipients’ inbox folders while avoiding spam filters. In other words, if your deliverability is in good shape, your ability to reach out to new audiences by means of cold-emails, is high.
How Spam Filters Work?
You should be aware of how email spam filters work and how to validate your sending servers to make your campaigns delivered. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) work to detect bot-made emails and remove them from priority inboxes or send them directly to spam folders. When mass mailing is sent to a high volume of recipients and is coming from a new IP address, it may raise a red flag. This means that if you want your emails to go to your recipients’ inboxes without fail, you must first establish a good reputation in the eyes of the ISPs. In simple words make your emails human.
This sender reputation is also called email-validation.
How does cold email deliverability sender reputation work?
Cold email deliverability is another way to describe your email campaigns’ ability to reach the inbox. Email delvierability heavily depends on sender reputation which is a rating given by each mailbox provider or ISP (Internet Service Provider such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail). The sender reputation consists of the level of trust you – the sender – receive from each ISP. That quality is determined in relation to the campaign-history of the IP, the domain from which the emails are sent, the URLs that the emails link to, the content of the emails and many other factors.
How can email deliverability be REALLY improved?
First and foremost, email deliverability can be improved by bettering the reputation of the server or IP that is used to send your emails. However, let’s face it, if you are in the business of cold emails, chances are that sooner or later your IP will be flagged. Someone, who didn’t ask to get your campaigns, will report your emails.
Here are some of the common practices and why they don’t really work with bulk cold emails:
1. Conventional email platforms shared IPs.
This is probably the first thing you tried. Signing up to Activecampaign, Sendinblue, MailerLite or ConvertKit and using their shared IPs which are undoubtedly strong and reliable. However, apart from the high costs that are associated with using email marketing platforms for mass cold campaigns, once the system realizes that you use their servers for “cold-type” campaigns, i.e. you upload a large database and present low opening rates, they will most likely suspend your account. Why? For the same reason their shared IP rap is in good shape: they don’t allow cold emails.
2. Dedicated IPs and dedicated servers like Postmark
After you’ve realized that you can’t really use shared IPs for cold emails, you found out (or you were told by a sales-rep, that you should have your own dedicated IP. Sendinblue will let you know that very fast, Activecampaign will introduce you to Postmark– an email delivery service that they recently acquired. Other platforms will send you to Contabo or DigitalOcean.
The costs of those dedicated IPs will be exceedingly high and the fact that none of them will deliver or inbox any bulk emailing without a proper warm-up, make this option unjustifiable and not recommended. Moreover, just like the shared IP option, if you will get hard-bounces or complaints, or if some of your cold emails will be flagged, you can be sure that server-providers like Postmark and Contabo WILL suspend your account. That’s a 100% guarantee.
Then what are the best email deliverability practices to follow?
Based on years of experience, tons of trial & error, and millions of campaigns, we concluded the following:
The best strategy for cold emails and bulk emailing is:
- Use a Warm-Up + Bulk emailing Tool
At least one IP per 1,500 emails. That means that for each campaign of 200,000 emails, you should have around 129 different IP addresses, all warmed up with a high and clean reputation.
One sending domain per approx. 3,000 email sending. The domains will be rotating. You should get around 330 different domains for 1 million emails.
Warm up with warming profiles or a manual warm up. Around 25 warm up profiles per 2,000,000 emails.
Verification of your email lists. Clean all false emails and eliminate any potential hard bounce.
Only purchase high quality lists.
As far as the content of your emails goes, remember: the more relevant your emails will be to the recipients, the higher the chances you will not be blocked by spam filters.
Here are some high-performing strategies to consider:
– Choose a well engaging subject line and preview text
– Segmentation (!)
– Segment your lists so you can tailor more personalized messages.
– Keep an engaging signature
– Don’t link to flagged sites
– Remove spammy words
– Add real worth to the reader. The readers should find your emails useful by just reading them.
What is the best service to use when sending cold bulk emails?
While email marketing platforms like Activecampaign, Sendinblue or MailerLite will not allow to use their shared IP for cold bulk emails, and while servers such as Contabo or Postmark will suspend your account if it is suspected or flagged, your best option to inbox your cold emails is to build a system of warmed up rotating IPs and domains, and keep your cold email practices meticulously clean and professional.
How to check an email delivery campaign’s reputation?
1. Check hard bounce rates.
An email bounces when the ISP (i.e. Gmail, Yahoo etc.) or the server is returning the email and not delivering it. Hard bounce usually happens when the address is incorrect or when there is another permanent issue with the address. Hard bounces are bad for your sender’s reputation and you should avoid them by verifying all addresses before emailing them.
2. Check complaint’s rates
3. Check your opening performance and your campaigns’ stats regularly
If your open rate is sufficient, you are not being sent to the spam folder and this is great news. If your click rate is still low, it means that people open your emails but don’t act. Perhaps something with the content should be improved or maybe your messages should be more segmented and relevant.
If there are no bounces and no spam but low open rates, perhaps your subject line is not strong enough. There is also a possibility that your emails are simply not compelling enough to the audience. Try to learn your audience, see what they really need, and use emails to communicate with them at a level that is valuable to them.
4. Send tests to multiple email addresses and check the delivery tabs.
What is the difference between email soft bounce and hard bounce?
Email soft bounce happens when an email makes it to the destination server but is not delivered to the recipient’s inbox. It could be that the inbox is full or inactive. Soft bounce does not harm your sender reputation. Hard bounces of your emails on the other hand, are bad for your sender rap. They indicate an error in the address and that the email has failed to be delivered because of a permanent reason. Make sure you clean & verify your email lists before sending cold campaigns.
Which is the best tool to check email deliverability score?
ZeroBounce Score™ is a tool that uses artificial intelligence to assess how your subscribers may interact with your cold emails. By detecting email activity levels, the tool can reveal how likely you are to reach a real person on the other end of an email. The scores it returns range from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest quality rating.
Is there a way to boost email reputation?
The strategy that Omni’s email marketers have developed to boost email reputation consists of:
3 Main IPs that should be built and maintained clean, active and validated.