Cold email deliverability best practices

What is deliverability?

Deliverability is the art of making sure that your emails reach their intended target, rather than getting stuck in a filter or rejected by the recipient’s mail server. Low deliverability will make your cold email efforts useless.

When sending cold emails to generate business, deliverability is really important. This is the first step in your sales funnel and a step that many beginners get wrong. Slip up here and you won’t see much from your outbound cold email campaign.

Here’s our short list of best practices to follow:

1. Use a separate domain for your cold email 

Always use a separate domain for your cold email. When doing cold email outreach, inevitably you’re going to reach a small percentage of people that will flag your email as spam (even when you give them an opportunity to opt out of future communication from you).

This isn’t a big deal in the short term. In the long term however, as these flags add up, they will affect deliverability rates from the sending domain and you’ll want to switch it out.

We use for all our day to day email and for our cold email outreach.

2. Set up SPF & DKIM records

A quick way to improve your email deliverability is to add SPF (Sender
Policy Framework) and DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) records to your DNS entries.

By adding SPF and DKIM records to your DNS entries, you’re telling recipients that you’ve authorized your email provider (we like to use Gmail) to send emails on your behalf. Without these added, your email has a higher chance of being marked as spam by mail servers on route to it’s destination.

This is because the email was addressed from your domain but was sent from an IP address owned by Google (or whatever mail service you like to use).

3. Limit the number of cold emails sent per day

How many emails would you naturally send in the course of your work day if you manually sent cold emails for a big portion of your day? Stick to this number.

If your leads are targeted, your value proposition is compelling and your messaging is natural, you will have more than enough warm leads for one AE to handle from sending 30-40 cold emails per day.

The sooner you start acting like a spammer, the sooner mail servers will treat you like one.

4. Start with clean data

Garbage in, garbage out. Widgets that scrape LinkedIn and try to guess your target’s email address? We’ve tried them all and they work to varying degrees. Mostly they still require hours of manual work to ensure your bounce rate stays below 25%.

If you have an unnaturally high bounce rate – you start looking like a spammer and then treated like one. You’re also wasting your time running an ineffective campaign.

5. Limit your use of links and pictures (open & click through tracking pixels)

Mail servers look for a disproportionate or unnatural ratio of text to images in outbound emails. There’s no hard and fast rule here, but we typically do not include any open tracking pixels in our emails. Open rates are great, but response rates are better.

A benchmark “positive response” rate, (meaning a prospect wants to know more or books a meeting) is 2%. We’ve seen campaigns far exceed this and it depends on how competitive your market is and how well positioned your pitch is.

6. Personalize your emails

First, personalized emails get a better response rate. Sure, we’re emailing at scale – but include a meaningful anecdote in emails to your prospect. An award their company won, something they blogged/tweeted about or another real reason for reaching out.

Second, if you send the exact same email template out 40 times a day, you’re going to start looking like and being treated like a spammer.

In conclusion

Even though we are automating our email outreach, we want it to look as organic as possible to both recipients (because then they will engage with you rather than ignore or flag as spam) and mail servers. The rule of thumb here is “don’t be a jerk”.