Regardless of all of your lead generation activities, if you are not sending cold emails, you’re missing out on a chunk of potential leads. When done correctly, cold emailing is still one of the most effective methods of outreach and customer acquisition. The key is to avoid sounding or appearing as if you’re sending a cold email.
However, cold emailing is not as simple as it sounds. There are a number of best practices that you need to follow in order to get the best results out of your campaigns. I have done all my research to give you the Ultimate cold email checklist for success in your cold emailing campaigns.
Table Of Contents
The Ultimate Cold Email Checklist
Everything you need to know before sending your first cold email.
1. Never Use Your Own Domain
When you send cold emails, there’s always the risk that they’ll be marked as spam, which will affect your email deliverability. If you send emails from your primary domain, they may be marked as spam, and not only will your cold emails bounce as spam, but so will your non-cold emails.
You could use G Suite with a new domain. Most of the email marketing platforms like Omnisend are good for opt-in emails. For cold emails, G Suite is a great option.
So, for your cold email outreach campaigns, buy a few domains that are related to your primary domain — for example, if your primary domain is abc.com, buy abc.io, abc.co, getabc.co, and getabc.io. When sending cold emails, stay away from.com domains because they are more likely to be flagged as spam.
2. Never Use A Free Email Account For Cold Outreach
In general, free Gmail (@gmail.com), Outlook… accounts have higher deliverability.
But, they are blocked quickly when a mistake is made, with no possibility to re-open them. So Avoid free email accounts for sending cold emails.
If your account is blocked, you have access to business support with professional accounts like G Suite, which can usually be resolved within 24 hours.
4. Use Outlook/Office 365 as an email provider for best deliverability
We tested a number of email providers and found that Office 365 provides the best deliverability. We suggest setting up a professional business email account with them and automating it with your cold email software.
If you have to stay on GSuite, keep in mind that sending follow-ups will quickly increase your volume, so plan ahead.
Until you reach $30 in billing, all G Suite accounts are limited to 500 emails per day by default.
Pre-pay $30 to unlock 2,000/day to avoid bounces from Gmail when your volume will increase with follow-up.
3. Make Sure SPF, DKIM and _dmarc Are Set For Your Domain
- Create SPF record
Value: v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com ~all
- Create DMARC record
Value: v=DMARC1; p=none; rua=mailto:postmaster@<yourdomain.com>; adkim=r; aspf=r; sp=none
If you are using Outlook/Office 365, then check out:
👉 SPF with Office 365
👉 DKIM with Office 365
If you dint set these for your domain, your email will go straight to the JUNK folder.
4. Check Your Deliverability
To determine your deliverability score, use services like mail-tester.com. Then consider how it could be improved by implementing all of their suggestions.
5. Warm Up Your Domain
Your domain will take 4 weeks to warm up. So, until then, send 25 emails per day (start with 10), three times per week — you can gradually increase it week by week. Keep testing your email deliverability and spamminess for the first few weeks — you can use EmailAnalyzer or Mail-tester for this.
Alternatively, you can use Auto-Warmer to warm up your inbox prior to launching your campaign.
Your email account will automatically send emails to a network of real people’s inboxes that are communicating with one another if you use the Auto-Warmer. Your emails will be opened automatically, and some will be responded to. Your outreach campaigns will have a higher deliverability rate as a result of this positive engagement.
Users have reported seeing a ~20% increase in open rates just from using this free tool.
6. Target Smartly
You don’t want to waste your time on any Tom, Dick, or Harry, so be selective in who you contact.
Choose your targets carefully. Create a lead list that you can use to close deals faster.
Make a list of the Twitter followers of your competitors. These people are likely to be high-quality leads because they are actively engaging with your competitors. Type in your competitors’ Twitter handles by using either Followerwonk or SmartLeadList, and download their followers’ information into an a.csv file.
Then, using LeadCandy, flesh out your prospects’ profiles. You have to simply upload a.csv file, and LeadCandy will create a full profile for them, complete with their company, title, work email, personal email, and more. It’s as simple as that!
7. Verify Your Email List Prior To Sending
Last but not least, before you send that email, double-check your list!
If you’re using LeadCandy, all emails are verified and come with a 95% accuracy guarantee, so you’re pretty much good to go.
However, if you buy email lists or get emails from another source, you can expect 35% of them to be incorrect.
Here’s where things get tricky: if 6–8% of your emails start bouncing, it will have a significant impact on your email deliverability. Providers of the email will assume you’re a spammer. Your email address may be blacklisted, and your emails will not be delivered.
Isn’t it terrifying? The good news is that verifying emails in your list and weeding out all of the inaccurate emails is simple, inexpensive, and takes only a few minutes. Simply use a service like NeverBounce, BriteVerify, or Kickbox.
8. Craft a compelling subject line
Subject lines are extremely important because they determine whether or not your prospect will take the time to open and read your email. Use something unique, not something generous.
So, what makes a good subject line for an email? Your subject line should, as a general rule, either convey an incredible benefit or pique your interest (ideally, it should be able to do both). It should also be brief and succinct, ideally under 5 words.
10. Use the right sender name
What difference does it make what sender name do you use? Yes, it’s a resounding yes.
Here’s the deal: emails addressed to a specific person are more likely to be opened than those addressed to a company.
Doesn’t “Soumyajit from Rebellink” sound much more personable than “Rebellink”?
9. Avoid similar content
Spam is flagged for similar content. Create a few different email variations (like A/B testing) using custom attributes to ensure each email is unique.
10. Check for grammatical errors
Grammatical errors in a cold email can cast a negative light on you. It could also indicate that you neglected to proofread your email before sending it.
As a result, you must go over your email and correct any grammatical errors. You want to leave a lasting impression on the prospect, and nothing can sabotage that more than sloppy email copy.
11. Don’t add images in the first email
If at all possible, avoid including images in your first touch email. The first email’s text is usually brief. Adding an image reduces the text-to-image ratio, which spam filters dislike.
Images are used to track pixels (to determine open rate). As a result, you should disable open tracking in the first message to improve deliverability.
When follow-ups begin, there will be enough text to keep the ratio from becoming completely out of whack.
12. No more than 1 link per email, and don’t mask links
If you’re tracking links, make sure they’re not from a service that shortens them (e.g Bit.ly). Those are almost certainly already on spam lists. These link shortening techniques are frequently used by spammers, and you don’t want to be lumped in with them.
Instead of using the URL, use the description. Use “My Domain” instead of “www.mydomain.com” because the tracking link will point to a different address, and services will often mistake it for a phishing attack. Either don’t make the URL a clickable link or turn off click tracking in the first message.
13. Don’t rush to close your prospect
Remember, you’re going in blind, and this guy has never met you before. If you try to close the sale right away, you’ll come across as yet another annoying salesperson, which is a huge turnoff.
So, in the first few emails, establish a relationship, provide some value in the form of an interesting case study or white paper, and dig deep to discover what your prospect truly requires. It’s time to go for the kill once you’ve established rapport.
14. Don’t contact more than 50 people/day
If done correctly, you can expect a response rate of around 20%.
There’s no need to use up all of Gmail’s storage space.
– Each day, it’s difficult to find 2k valid emails that won’t bounce.
– You don’t have the bandwidth to engage with 400 responses in the first place.
Don’t go for quantity because you’ll be punished in a variety of ways if you do. First, try nailing it down with low volume.
15. Pace the actual sending
The more emails you send at once, the more likely you are to be marked as spam.
To get around this, change the settings on your email platform (or any other email outreach tool you’re using) and send at a slower pace.
Every email should be separated by 20-30 seconds. Yesware paces your emails for you (we’ve seen them send 3–4 emails per minute), but Mailshake lets you set your own pace.
16. Nail the art of follow-up
According to statistics, after the initial contact, 80 percent of sales require five follow-ups.
What’s more unbelievable is that 92 percent of sales reps give up before the fifth follow-up, leaving only 8% of those who persevere to close 80 percent of sales.
However, keep in mind that not all follow-up emails are created equal.
Again, don’t use a generic subject line in your follow-up email. If at all possible, try to add a sense of humor to it!
Also, if you’re using one of the email outreach tools for your drip email campaign, avoid tracking clicks/links, or at the very least A/B test it, because emails that track clicks are more likely to be marked as spam by spam filters.
Another idea: instead of tracking clicks for every email you send, test a few to get an idea of your click rate, then send emails without tracking clicks for the rest of the campaign.
17. Send to business emails, not personal emails
Avoid @yahoo.com, @gmail.com, and other free email addresses because they are more likely to be personal than business. Spam complaints are higher when personal emails are used for business purposes.
18. Type as if it was text only
This isn’t a beauty contest. Write as if you were a human being. There’s should be no color, no bullets, no bold text, and no custom fonts… Defy the urge!
19. A/B test everything
I mean it. EVERYTHING.
- The length of your email
- Your Call-To-Action
- The color of your buttons (if any)
- Day/time the email is sent
- Subject line
- How your links are formatted, and link text length
- Tone of voice
- Tracking clicks/links
Before you begin testing, make sure your sample size is adequate — 200 people for each variant you want to test should suffice. Your tests may not be statistically significant if you do not do so!
20. Best time to send
We analyzed 40,000+ emails, and here are a few great time-slots for best open/click/reply rates:
For North America –
- 6am — 6:30am PST on weekdays
- weekends, especially Sunday, 5 pm — 7 pm PST
- 10:30am — 11:30am IST
- 2:30pm — 3:30pm IST was a close second
- 8pm — 9pm IST worked well too
Conclusion On Cold Email Checklist
A well-written cold email that covers all of the points on the cold email checklist has a good chance of starting a conversation.
But your first cold email may not get you good results.
There’s no need to be concerned.
You can send a follow-up email that sets you apart from the competition and makes you more appealing to your prospects. It’s also a great way to make your company stand out to your target audience.
All of these strategies may seem self-evident, but only a small percentage of people put them into practice correctly. On Google, you can find dozens of templates for cold emails that get responses; you might find some good examples. But personalization cannot be achieved from the scripts.
The most effective cold email is one that is short, respectful, and compelling. Adopting these strategies will help you build trust and start a conversation with your prospect.
So here is the ultimate cold email checklist to Boost Your Deliverability.
Now go ahead and start writing the best cold email you’ve ever written, and get ready to close your deals!