Deliverability 101: Make sure your sales emails don’t end up in the Spam folder

Jul 16, 2020
Author: Collin stewart

Outbound sales – and, to some degree, inbound sales as well – has undergone substantial change over, in particular, the last few years.

For instance, outbound sales has become a relatively nuanced and varied practice: successful outbound reps now build cadences that include social media touches, direct mail outreach, and, when it’s worth it, even arrange for in-person informational dinners.

Outbound, these days, is a fascinating, truly ever-evolving space.

Despite all the changes sales has undergone, and is still to navigate, there is one thing that has remained a pillar of the job: email. In every cadence, for every potential customer, email has served as the foundation of sales outreach since, well, email became a tool.

And that foundational presence requires attention, in particular, in the realm of deliverability. But, across the board, we’re seeing email deliverability getting harder and harder, each year. And so I think it’s something that we always need to be looking at revisiting.

Simply put: your emails have to get where you intend them to go. If they don’t, you’re spending valuable time on tasks that aren’t going anywhere. And, of course, if those valuable tasks aren’t going anywhere, then you’re not connecting with your market. And, finally, if you aren’t connecting with your market then, well, you aren’t building as much pipeline as you’d like.

Yes, email deliverability is THAT important.

“You know, things have really changed over the years. We started out working on email deliverability back in 2017. But before that, it was much, much easier just to send out emails – we were not that sophisticated, right?” says Michael Maximoff, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast. 

But after 2017, something just clicked. Now, whenever you set up a new domain, or start a new campaign, you always end up in spam. As I said, things have changed.


Deliverability basics

As all good tech products should impart on its users, sending emails feels like a simple process. You just need an email address and a list of people you want to send to, right?

Not quite.

There is a lot going on when it comes to setting up an effective, hygienic email system that can be used to send volumes of emails to your market.

According to Maximoff, an corroborated in our, now extensive work, sending emails to prospects, there are three critical pillars one must address:

  1. A Sender Policy Framework (SPF) – this service validates that the person sending this email is from this domain. For example, Collin is from Predictable Revenue, and the email server is authorized to send emails on his (and the company’s) behalf.
  2. DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) – this service is roughly the same as SPF. It A\also validates the person sending is from the domain.This is like a public directory in your DNS settings for who can send emails. 
  3. Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) – is a service that uses both SPF and DKIM  to determine the authenticity of an email message. DMARC requires both SPF and DKIM to fail in order for it to act on a message. 

(Editor’s note: for more on this, and other email how-tos, check out our Outbound Labs series and our last ebook here)

The importance of email “warming”

Another critical factor in email deliverability is warming up your domains so they can, effectively, build a good reputation. 

What you don’t want to do: set up new domains and immediately start blasting off hundreds of emails per day. This behavior will, without a doubt, land you in the email dog house and crater your deliverability results.

What you want to do: set up new domains and begin by sending emails back and forth to verified domains that you know will respond back. That back-and-forth will help build the aforementioned email credibility.

Next, you want to start gradually increasing your email volume. Start by sending 10 emails per day. Then, jump to 50, 100, 150 before topping out at 200 or 250 emails per day, per email account. Don’t send 500 (or more).

The warm up is also very important. For example, every time that we started a new campaign for a new client, we started out by sending just a few emails.

Then, after a few weeks, after gradually sending more and more emails, we would be in a good place with volume.

(Editor’s note, part 2: we had Renee Safrata on the pod recently to discuss tactics to navigate remote work. You can read about our chat here, or listen to the entire in-depth interview here)

Email content

Finally, email deliverability can be affected by the content you send in your emails. 

For example, send plain text emails to your outbound audience and HTML to your inbound audience (you can, of course, use plain text for i bound as well). But, please, do not send HTML emails to your outbound prospects because you will, more than likely, get flagged for spam.

Furthermore, don’t use spam-y words in your email copy. Avoid: promotion, free money, make your money grow etc. Talk about your product or service in honest, jargon-free terms. Your email deliverability will thank you, and so will your prospects.

Finally, avoid sending links and attachments in your email copy, says Maximoff. This is a tough one, to be sure. Sending links to your website, case studies as attachments, and other awesome marketing materials can be powerful levers in sales. But, those elements will affect your deliverability rates. So, include some of the most powerful facts / figures from that copy in the body of your email. You can, and should, use those wonderful proof points – just don’t let them decrease your chances of your email making it to its intended recipient.

For more on Maximoff’s thoughts on email deliverability – including a breakdown of what happens when you send an email – check out the rest of his interview on The predictable Revenue Podcast.

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