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13 Ways to Improve Email Deliverability Rates for Cold Outreach

13 Ways to Improve Email Deliverability Rates for Cold Outreach

written by Houston Golden
Founder & CEO, BAMF Media
December 1st, 2021
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Here’s the thing.

We can spend all day talking about the best opening spiels, subject lines, and content on our cold emails, but if they don’t go through it’s useless.

We’ve built countless LinkedIn omnichannel campaigns combined with proper cold email cadence in the past, but one thing that can easily derail efforts is email deliverability rates.

In this guide, we’ll focus on one thing, how to improve your email deliverability rates for your cold outreach strategy.

Let’s get started.

What is Email Deliverability and What Hurts It?

Email deliverability refers to the process of getting your emails into the inboxes of your prospects.

Just because you know someone’s email doesn’t mean you can send them an email using any account and expect the message to go through.

It doesn’t work like that.

There are a lot of factors that affect your email coming through to an inbox. Everything from your wording on subject lines to how long your email has been around can all be factors.

You could accidentally put in the phrase “special offer” and that could wreck your efforts, there are times where your IP can be blacklisted by mistake, and you could even be taking over from a previously spammy marketer that destroyed your company’s email reputation.

Here’s what.

It doesn’t matter how good your emails are if they don’t get through to your intended recipients.

This guide puts together the 13 things that you can do to improve email deliverability, but you have to realize something.

This isn’t a magic bullet.

All of these 13 steps require constant maintenance to ensure proper deliverability moving forward.

1. Segment Your Email Lists

We’ve all heard that personalization is key in writing emails that resonate with your target audience.

But, you can’t personalize without segmentation.

Segmentation is the process of dividing up your email lists into more targeted groups based on the characteristics of an individual persona.

The more you do this, the more personalized the messaging becomes.

Here’s how to create ideal customer profiles for lead generation.

We have to face the truth, people don’t like general emails, and if you find yourself writing too many of them then people are going to start unsubscribing or blocking you because your emails won’t be relevant to them.

To avoid this, create different lists for different target customer personas and create unique content for each list.

You’ll find email deliverability rates rising, leads being more responsive to your emails, and a better lead nurturing experience being established for all of your prospects.

It might seem like a simple hack, but growth hackers don’t do this enough because it takes too much and content creation for individual target lists takes a lot of time.

2. Take a Look at Your Opt-Ins

There are different ways to build multiple email lists.

You can try to search for them manually (and we have plenty of guides on that) or you can grab them out of your landing page opt-ins.

A lot of emails that you’ll get are based on the latter, and you’ve got to put in some qualifications with the opt-ins.

If you’re going to use their email to send them lead nurturing material, you have to put in a clear disclaimer that you’ll be emailing them.

Whether it’s in the form of print underneath the opt-in button, a popup, or even a small checkbox, they need to agree to the emails being sent to them.

This way they won’t be surprised when you do manage to send them a marketing email and mark you as spam.

And, it doesn’t just stop with your primary opt-ins.

Make sure that you have opt-outs built into the emails you send your prospects and make sure the unsubscribe feature is easy to use because it’s better for your email reputation that prospects unsubscribe than block you.

Alternatively, you can use a double opt-in approach.

Although you won’t be using an opt-in for cold outreach, when you do manage to get prospects to subscribe to weekly newsletters or whatnot, you have to keep these notes in mind.

3. Delivery Schedules

If you want to lower the chances of getting blocked or sent to the spam folder, have a consistent delivery schedule.

For newsletters, you can do once a week and maybe twice if you’ve got a special offer like “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday”.

If you’re running a cold email outreach strategy, do not ever bombard them with too many schedules.

Set up your outbound cadence to send out one email every 2 or 3 days, and make sure you lower that frequency if the prospect is still not replying.

Also, stop sending out unnecessary emails at night and take note of your prospect’s timezones when sending out an email.

Make sure you send it at a convenient and non-invasive time in the morning.

If you send them emails at night and they’re bothered you’ve just wrecked your campaign, communicating with you has to be as effortless as possible.

4. Branded Sender

When sending out emails, don’t just send them out with your first and last name.

That’s not only “vanilla” but you run the risk of prospects not knowing who you are and what you represent.

So, the next question becomes, should I send emails using a company-branded account?

Improve Email Deliverability, 13 Ways to Improve Email Deliverability Rates for Cold Outreach

Nope.

Now you run the risk of being too impersonal with your outreach emails.

The best way to do this is to follow other SaaS companies with their newsletters.

Here’s an example:

Houston from BAMF Media!

Simple right?

You’ve managed to introduce yourself making it more personal, and you’ve got your company name to boot just in case they don’t know where you’re coming from.

I like this approach because it takes the best of both worlds.

You represent your organization, but you’re still personal with your approach.

Remember, being personal is the way to make real connections with any outreach.

That’s the BAMF way.

5. Fix Your Subject Lines

One of the quickest things you can do to fix email deliverability is to do something about your subject lines.

Your prospects are not the only ones reading your subject lines, email providers technically “read” them, too. Their filters act on certain trigger keywords that are usually found in the subject lines of traditional spam emails back in the day.

This is why you should always strive to write email subject lines that drive emotion without having to resort to FOMO, usual power words, or plain marketing copy.

Now there are a lot of words that you should be avoiding, but that’s a topic for another guide.

Here’s a quick list to serve as an example:

  • Act Now
  • Affordable
  • Apply now
  • Billion
  • Cheap
  • Compare rates
  • Credit
  • Double your income
  • Earn extra cash
  • Extra income

These might seem like powerful words to use in ad copy, but on emails, they’re a one-way ticket to the spam folder.

If you’re unsure of a word just remember this rule: if it looks like an early-2000s spam mail subject line, avoid it.

Your subject line is the first thing that your prospect sees and it determines the “clickability” of the email that you’re sending out. It has to pass through the filter and get a prospect interested.

6. Get Your IP Primed

If you’re just starting out with a cold outreach campaign, don’t send out a gigantic batch of emails just yet.

You still need to prime your email address and IP so that recipient mailboxes won’t flag you as a spammy sender.

This is especially true if you’re using a new email address.

Most accounts online need to be warmed up before you can use them to their fullest, it doesn’t matter if it’s a LinkedIn, Facebook, or even Instagram account.

You need to start small before you can go nuts with your campaigns.

How to warm up your LinkedIn account.

How to warm up your Facebook account.

The reasoning behind this is simple, service providers want to make sure that a human is using their services properly, the faster you scale up, the more robotic you appear and this destroys the user experience for everyone.

In the case of email providers, they’re trying to avoid being victimized by spammers using automation software.

Here’s how you can prime your email.

  1. Send a couple of emails to your colleagues or friends and make sure some of them reply to you.
  2. Subscribe to one or two newsletters.
  3. Get a couple of emails coming in.
  4. Once you do start sending out emails, start with small batches of people within your segmented lists. (This is also a great time for you to conduct an A/B test.)
  5. During the week, start increasing the size of your batches.

You should be good in a couple of weeks and the more people respond to you and let you through their emails, the better your reputation will be to mail providers.

7. Stop Using Your Gmail to Send Emails

This is probably a no-brainer, but there’s still a lot of us who prefer to use one of our Gmails as our outreach accounts, especially with cold emails.

You can’t do that anymore.

Think about it.

If the person that’s reaching out to you can’t even afford a proper email address on a business domain, what quality of work will they be able to provide?

You need things to be branded and a domain is a way to go.

Nobody is going to take you seriously if you still use a free email account for business matters. It helps to have your own domain when sending out emails.

Even if your business doesn’t have a domain – which would be weird – you still need to make sure you’re sending out emails on your own.

if you get a subdomain dedicated only to email marketing, you can build up its reputation and it will succeed with dealing with filters that use domain-based certification.

8. Get the Content Right

How’s your content?

No, for real, how is it?

Take a look at your last outreach emails, and read them with a set of fresh eyes.

Would you be interested in your email?

If not, then you’ve got to go back to the drawing board and find out how everything’s going to work out.

Your content is going to make all the difference when it comes to maintaining your prospect’s attention in your brand, it’s also the biggest factor in determining the connection that you have with your prospects.

And, you need that connection to build a relationship.

Here are a couple of things that you need to remember:

  • Opening Spiel – make sure it’s catchy, engaging and enough to ellicit emotion. You want to grab the attention of your reader and make them go to the body. Avoid spammy words here as well.
  • Body – has to provide value to the prospect. Emails are better when they provide actionable advice, valuable insights or offers that are just too hard to ignore. While you’re at it, make sure that you keep your emails short, nobody wants to read a novel early in the morning.
  • Ending and CTA – end your emails well, but make sure you have a CTA to get prospects to do something should they decide to do so. It doesn’t have to be anything designed to sell them anything, but rather a convenient way for them to have access to you should they choose to do so.

9. Spam Traps Will Hurt You

ISPs are known to set up email addresses that are used as bait to catch spammers that want to send unwanted mail to people.

These are called spam traps.

Once a spammer sends an email to a spam trap, their email address is automatically flagged and they get denied access to other inboxes by the ISPs.

It’s easy to get caught in a spam trap and getting off a deny list after being caught is a difficult process.

If you want to avoid your email deliverability being hurt, you have to make sure that your lists are periodically scanned and verified, and that you make sure you don’t buy email lists – which you really shouldn’t even consider if you’re a growth hacker.

Marketers can easily be caught in a spam trap if they don’t practice good email hygiene.

10. Check Blacklists

It’s also a good idea to check blacklists from time to time.

These blacklists can be created by website administrators to block messages from systems they know that send spam.

Now even though you have no history of sending spam, there are times where you could end up in one of these lists.

There are tools you can use such as MXToolbox that can help you check if your IP ended up in one these blacklists.

Improve Email Deliverability, 13 Ways to Improve Email Deliverability Rates for Cold Outreach

Put your server IP or domain in the field, hit “Blacklist Check” and it will run it for you.

It’s that simple.

11. No to No-Reply Addresses

Whatever you do, don’t use a “no-reply” email address.

It doesn’t give off the most welcoming vibe to your prospects and it seems as if you don’t want to engage them in any form of conversation.

Make sure your email handle is something simple like your first name or the department that you belong to.

12. Practice Regular Email Hygiene

We’ve talked about this in the past and sadly not a lot of growth hackers do it on a regular basis, your email hygiene is extremely critical in ensuring higher deliverability rates.

I wrote an entire guide on email hygiene that you should take a look at.

Simple hacks such as checking bounce rates the moment you collect new emails, removing inactive subscribers from your lists, and checking for duplicates can really help you in the long run because ISPs are looking at the reputation of your address.

Email hygiene might be a completely different topic, but it’s so closely related to deliverability that it really helps to pay attention to it.

Your email, like your brand, maintains a reputation as well.

At the very least we recommend performing standard email hygiene at least once a month to be safe, but even that is low frequency.

13. Check Your Feedback Loops

If you’re doing running with a high volume of emails in many campaigns, then it’s time fo you to check your Complaint Feedback Loops (FBLs). What these loops do is make sure that you can grab information from recipients who could be flagging your emails for spam.

This is just one of the necessary steps that you can take to assess how effective your campaign is.

Remember these little steps prevent you from running into roadblocks such as users reporting you for spam which could hurt future deliverability.

Takeaways

Your email is only good if it gets sent in the first place.

That’s technically your first priority.

This is why deliverability should be on top of your list and email hygiene a part of your overall SOP when it comes to your cold outreach campaigns.

But, deliverability is not just about the technical checks.

It also forces you to create more customized campaigns and that can only do your process better because it forces you to personalize until your messages resonate with your prospects.

And, that’s what matters.

If you’re worried about what you’ve put in the email itself.

Stop. ✋

Check if your emails will go through first. ✅

About the Author

The name's Houston Golden. I'm the Founder & CEO of BAMF — a company I've grown from $0 (yes, really) to well over $5M+ in revenue over a span of 5 years.

How did I do it? Well, it's quite simple, really. I've helped hundreds of business owners and executives get major traction (because when they win, we win), I tell all on this blog.

Growth hacking is a state of mind. Follow along as I explore and expose the unknown growth strategies and tactics that will change the way you think about marketing.
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