How to Keep Your Cold Emails Out of Spam Filters

Post by
David Scott
June 30, 2020
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How to Keep Your Cold Emails Out of Spam Filters

Your cold emails won't generate results if they trigger spam filters.

Instead, they’ll sit your prospects’ Spam folder and never see the light of day.

Your cold outreach campaigns need to be set to avoid landing in the spam folder. Luckily, there are steps you can take to make sure your emails don’t get flagged.

In this article, we’ll be looking at:

What are Spam Filters?

How do Spam Filters Work?

How to Keep Your Cold Emails Out of The Spam Filters

1. Get Your Tech Foundations Right

2. Warm Up Your Email Account

3. Source Emails Legitimately

4. Only Email People If There's Real Value for Them

5. Let People Easily Unsubscribe

6. Write Emails that Get Responses

How Do I Stop Being Flagged as Spam?

1. Check if Your Domain is on Known Blacklists

2. Create a New Domain

3. Slow Down and Review

Wrapping Up

So if you’re ready to launch your cold email campaign with full confidence, this article is for you.

Let’s get to it.

What are Spam Filters?

Spam filters are your inbox's first line of defense against low-quality unsolicited emails.

Spam filters calculate an invisible score, and that determines whether or not your email will land in the inbox, or get relegated to the Spam folder.

There are no shortcuts to getting past spam filters 55% of emails are classified as spam, so the reality is that spam filters are doing us all a favour.

Source: E-mail spam rate worldwide

How do Spam Filters Work?

As we’ve seen, spam filters look at multiple factors to determine whether or not they’ll flag an email.

Spam filters determine if an email is spam or not by looking at a range criteria, such as:

  • Whether the sending domain is on any blacklists
  • If there are spam trigger words in the email
  • How many emails per day the sender is sending

If you want to keep your emails in your prospects’ main inbox, you need to understand how spam filters work.

Think at them as a credit score for your emails.

If you take precautions, only send useful emails, and don't break any rules, your score will go up, and your emails will land in your prospects’ main inbox.

If you don't get any responses, exceed sending limits, and send low-quality content, your score will go down.

How to Keep Your Cold Emails Out of The Spam Filters

1. Get Your Tech Foundations Right

As with any sales tactic, if your foundations are shaky, things are quickly going to fall apart.

Make sure your domain and email accounts are authenticated. This verification process lets email service providers know that the email is coming from a legitimate source.

Source: Check your MX and SPF Records.

Don't worry - it's not difficult to do, and you don't need any particular knowledge.

In most organisations, you'll need to ask someone to access your DNS records to add in the correct certificates.

Once your SPF Address, DKIM records, and DKIM records are set, you can test to see if they're publicly available using this free tool from Google.

Setting these records shouldn't take more than 15 minutes and doesn't require much technical know-how. It's going to give your cold email campaigns the foundations they need to drastically reduce your chances of landing in the spam folder.

2. Warm Up Your Email Account

Before loading up a campaign with 100s of recipients and hitting Send, warm up your email account.

If you've never sent a cold email and suddenly start sending tens, or hundreds of emails per day, alarm bells will be ringing. Chances are that you end up being flagged as a spammer within days.

Warming up your email account is an easy way to mitigate this.

This is particularly relevant for new companies who haven't had email accounts for long.

We recommend using your email accounts as normal for a few weeks, and slowly start ramping up your email volume.

If your email account is brand new, start at 5 cold emails per day, then 10, then 50, and so on.

As well as this, never go over your email send limits. For G Suite paid users, the limit is 2,000 emails per day.

3. Source Emails Legitimately

It's tempting to download massive email lists without putting in any work, but this could lead to disastrous results.

If you buy a list from a sketchy vendor, chances are, the list is going to contain hundreds of outdated records and emails that are going to bounce.

When your campaigns have high bounce rates, spam filters will start to notice.

It's unnatural to send emails to nonexistent accounts, so many filters will see your account as a spammer.

Only use email data from legitimate sources that source their data in GDPR-compliant ways, and regularly vet and verify the contact data.

This will ensure your bounce rates remain low, and you avoid being unnecessarily flagged.

4. Only Email People If There's Real Value for Them

Don't use cold email to send out your latest press release or to share your weekly newsletter with random people in your industry.

People don't want to be spammed, and they'll quickly unsubscribe (if you're lucky) or directly report your emails as spam.

Cold emails do work, but only if you use them well.

Send targeted emails to people who will be legitimately interested in a new content piece you published, or send highly targeted campaigns asking if someone would be interested in your product or service.

Don't email people who you know won't care.

It's better to send fewer emails to more relevant people than to send more emails to uninterested prospects.

5. Let People Easily Unsubscribe

Have you ever tried to unsubscribe from a marketing email and had to jump through hoops to do so?

Don't be like that.

If it's hard to unsubscribe, people will mark you as spam.

They don't have time to click 50 checkboxes and add their personal details in just to unsubscribe from your emails.

Make it quick and easy to let them opt-out themselves, and if they reply directly asking you to unsubscribe them, always fulfill their request.

6. Write Emails that Get Responses

Easier said than done, I know.

But if you're consistently getting replies (even if it's a simple 'no thanks'), that's going to look better than never getting a response.

Email servers will notice that real people are responding to your emails, and in turn, your emails are less likely to go straight to spam.

How Do I Stop Being Flagged as Spam?

You might be here because you launched a campaign but quickly found out you're being flagged as spam.

If that's the case, there are a few routes you can take.

1. Check if Your Domain is on Known Blacklists

Use MX Toolbox or a similar tool to check if your domain is on any known blacklists.

Source: MX Toolbox

These domain health check tools identify problems that could cause email deliverability problems, which you can then take steps to fix.

For example, if you're on a known blacklist and believe you shouldn't be, you can reach out to them and they can remove your domain from it.

2. Create a New Domain

If you're having email deliverability problems (or anticipate it), consider sending your cold email campaigns from a unique domain.

This will mean if your cold email campaigns start being flagged as spam, the negative effects on regular company emails can be avoided.

To do this, set up a new domain, and send your emails from that.

Common ways to do this are to change your .com to .co, or add a word in front of your existing domain name.

3. Slow Down and Review

If your:

  • Technical foundations are good
  • Email list has been verified
  • Account send limits aren't being exceeded

...but you're still not getting responses, it's time to take a step back.

Look at your messaging, your targets, and the ask in your cold email.

Make sure it's truly relevant to the people you're emailing, and ask yourself what's in it for them.

Considering sales emails have 8x more opens and clicks and can produce 6x more money than other types of email, the problem is likely with your campaign, and not with cold emailing as a viable strategy.

Wrapping Up

If your cold emails are getting caught in spam filters, you're going to have a bad time.

Your campaigns probably won't move the needle, and if you dig your heels in and avoid solving the problem, email deliverability problems can affect your company.

Luckily, there are steps you can take that will reduce the chances that your emails get caught flagged as spam.

Put in the effort to lay strong foundations and send genuinely useful emails, and you're going to get the results you're looking for.

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