Cold Email

Email Deliverability: How to Avoid the Spam Filter

 Email deliverability is arguably the most important part of cold email. 

You can nail personalization and convey a winning personality. But if your emails aren’t delivered, none of it matters.

Here’s how to make sure your emails avoid the spam filter and land where they’re supposed to. 

What is email deliverability?

Email deliverability is the ability to successfully deliver emails to a person’s inbox. It’s a critical measure for sales teams, marketers and outreach specialists who rely on mass email to reach leads, subscribers and target audiences. 

If an email bounces or gets flagged by the spam filter, it’s not deliverable. If an email isn’t deliverable, then it’s time and money wasted. 

email deliverability example new

When you’re sending 1-on-1 emails and introductions, email deliverability isn’t typically an issue. If your subject lines and messages are personalized, targeted and sent from your professional email your emails should be seen and opened.

But what about when you’re trying to scale cold email campaigns? In that case, plenty of elements can hurt deliverability:

  • No unsubscribe option
  • High volume
  • Sending from uninitiated or free domains
  • Including too many images or HTML elements
  • Tracking pixels

So how can you improve email deliverability? 

Avoid the Spam Filter: 7 Actionable Tips [VIDEO & Step-by-Step Guide]

There are plenty of ways to send out emails to strangers without getting sent to spam. But it’s a little trickier when you’re trying to send out dozens (or hundreds) of cold emails every day. 

These are my 7 critical tips to make sure you consistently land in the inbox as you email at scale. 

If you’d rather the step-by-step, read through these 7 tips for how to avoid the spam filter. 

#1: Stop Tracking Clicks 

Some email automation software will kill your campaigns. Tracking clicks is a good way to end up in spam. 

Not all email automation platforms will let you opt out of inserting needless pixels into your emails. Those are the pixels that will hurt your email deliverability, since they’re also used by spammers. 

If your email metrics don’t look great, check with your email automation provider to see what they’re adding to your messages. 

By switching to an email automation tool that lets you opt out, you can increase your open rate by at least 5 percent. 

#2: Follow CAN-SPAM Requirements

For every single email found to be in violation of the anti-spam act, you can be subject to a fine up to $41,484. 

So how do we avoid that?

Follow the law, basically.

The main 3 requirements of CAN-SPAM you need to keep in mind are: 

  • Your email must include a valid, physical address
  • Offer recipients an easy way to unsubscribe
  • Don’t be misleading or deceptive

Instead of an ‘unsubscribe’ button, I typically include a short postscript that says: “If you no longer wish to hear from me, just let me know by replying to this email.” It looks more natural and is a simple workaround.

#3: Switch to Plain Text Emails

Too often, I’ve seen companies trying to send too much with their initial cold email. They’ll try to include lead magnets, case studies, YouTube videos or a cool email signature. 

To test out how all these bells and whistles affect your email deliverability, switch to plain text emails. Take links and images out of your signature.

Stop being so fancy.

Spam filters pick up on the amount of HTML you have in your emails. It’s why we’ve found that plain text emails do about 30% better in terms of open rates than HTML based emails. 

And, let’s be honest, it looks more natural. A plain text email without any links will not only help you maneuver around spam filters, but will also improve your reply rate. Leads will feel like they’re responding to a personal email rather than a mass cold email. 

#4: Warm Up Your Cold Email 

If you’re automating cold emails, you want to make things look as human as possible. 

Before you send a single campaign, make sure you warm up the email address you’ll be using. Otherwise you’ll end up on a blacklist (very quickly), which is a deep hole to climb out of. 

Start by getting some activity going on your email address. Subscribe to a handful of newsletters and interact with colleagues and connections, for example. 

Then begin with a consistent sending volume. Send 10 emails every day for the first two weeks, then 50 a day for weeks 3 and 4. But I recommend never going over 200 emails per day, even after you’ve ramped up. 

Note: There are some tools that will go through this process for you. Mailwarm and Folderly.io from Belkins both work. 

#5: Register a Cousin Domain

Imagine your regular domain is apple.com

By registering getapple.com and warming up that domain, you can protect your main domain’s integrity while still sending cold emails at scale.

This way your most important emails (non-cold outreach campaign) will never end up in spam. By having a separate domain dedicated to cold emailing, you ensure your brand’s official emails (and those to high value prospects) are delivered at a higher rate. 

#6: Set a Strict Daily Cap

The worst thing you can do when scaling cold email is to make it a pure numbers game.

When trying to book meetings through cold email, it can be tempting to send as many emails as possible to as many prospects as possible. 

I recommend a maximum daily sending limit of 200 emails.

By sending a high amount of emails on a daily basis, you’ll end up in spam at best and have your account closed down at worst. I know, I’ve been there. 

#7: Get Your Technical Settings Right

There are a lot more technical settings that go into sending and receiving emails than we typically think about. 

These are the three main pillars of email authentication you should check on: 

  • SPF Records: The Sender Policy Framework. It’s used to indicate to email exchanges which hosts are authorized to send mail for a domain. 
  • DKIM: DomainKeys Identified Mail allows senders to associate a domain with an email message, vouching for its authenticity.
  • DMARC: Designed to give email recipients better judgment control based on a sending domain’s reputation. 

You don’t have to be super technical to make sure these are set up correctly. Head to mail-tester.com. You can send a test email there. The site will give you a report on the validity of all of these settings and a tutorial on how to fix issues. 

Let’s recap, shall we?

email deliverability infographic

What have you found works best for email deliverability in your cold email campaigns? Send me a message to let me know! 

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About author

Hey, I'm Brooklin, Head of Content for Wiza. I used to create content for tons of B2B SaaS clients. Then I saw the beauty of Wiza and had to jump on board. Use Wiza to quickly create email lists from LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Use GIFs to win my heart.

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