Email Hygiene Best Practices For Outbound Sales

Mar 7, 2022
Guest Contributor

Email hygiene is an important but often overlooked practice in outbound sales. According to Validity’s 2020 Benchmark Report, 17% of marketing emails never make it to the recipient’s inbox–which translates to a huge loss in potential revenue.

Removing invalid and uninterested subscribers will help keep your deliverability rates high, and ensure your emails reach their intended audience. Follow these tips to make email hygiene a regular part of your outbound sales process.

Overview of Email Hygiene in Outbound Sales

The goal of email hygiene is to improve deliverability for cold prospecting emails, and/or keep a highly engaged subscriber list. Deliverability refers to the rate of emails that reach your recipients’ inboxes, and it is one of the most important stats to understand for outbound sales success; if prospects don’t receive your emails, they’re unlikely to buy from you.

There are two main approaches to improving email deliverability: the technical backend, and the frontend, which focuses on user performance. Both are essential to the outbound sales process.

Outbound Sales Techniques for Backend Email Hygiene

Authenticate your email domain (DNS records)

Email authentication protects your account and prevents your outbound sales messages from being marked as spam. It also prevents spammers from impersonating your organization in spoofing and phishing emails. There are three main components of domain authentication:

1. Sender Policy Framework (SPF) records give the mail server information about where an email should be coming from and specify which servers are allowed to send an email from your domain. The record lists your IP address or IP range; if a message comes from somewhere that isn’t listed in the SPF record, the server can assume it was illegitimate and reject it as spam.

2. Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) adds a special signature to the header of all outbound messages. Email servers use DKIM to ensure that an email is genuinely sent from your domain and hasn’t been altered after it was sent.

3. Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) tell receiving mail servers what to do when they get a message that appears to be from your organization but doesn’t pass authentication checks. It also helps you identify possible authentication issues and malicious activity in messages sent from your domain.

Without any of these records, outbound sales emails from your organization are more likely to be marked as spam and not reach the recipient’s inbox.

IP whitelisting 

If you use a third-party sender, make sure the provider follows mail server guidelines and grants permission to deliver emails to a specific email address, domain, or network by creating a list of trusted IP addresses. But ideally, all messages should be sent from the same IP address.

Once the accounts are created, run a warm-up process to gain trust and reputation. IP warming is the process of gradually adding email volume to a new IP address over several days or weeks. This gradual “warm-up” establishes a positive sending reputation with mail providers and increases the chances of your outbound sales emails landing in the right inbox.

Maintain your account security

In addition to the DNS records, multi-factor authentication processes can help guarantee the security of your email marketing account. Use strong passwords and 2-step verification, avoid suspicious requests, and schedule regular security checkups.

Outbound Sales Techniques for Frontend Email Hygiene

Treat recipients like real people

It’s easy to get lost in the data and think of your email recipients as statistics. But the most effective outbound sales emails are personalized, creative, and easy to understand. 

Your sender reputation is weighted based on your audience’s engagement, so make sure your content is high-quality and provides real value. Use subject lines to provoke curiosity and increase open rates. Authenticity is another crucial factor–avoid generic email templates and focus on building real relationships with your list. 

Watch your email flow

Email service providers have different capabilities and sending limits, which means you’re only allowed to send a certain number of emails every minute, hour, day and week. 

It’s important to follow your mailbox provider policies and familiarize yourself with these rules to avoid triggering sending limits. If you exceed the allowed number of outbound sales emails, your account could be flagged as an invalid sender.

Avoid spam triggers

Spam emails are irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent to a large number of recipients. If your outbound sales email triggers a spam filter, it will never reach its intended recipient.

Avoid using ALL CAPS or special characters in the subject line and known trigger words. “Request”, “follow up” and “urgent/important” are all commonly used subject lines in phishing scams.

You’ll also want to watch out for broken links, low-quality images, or large attachments, which increase the odds that your email will be perceived as spam. 

Clean your list regularly to minimize bounce rates

Never buy a list of contacts–this is a surefire way to tank your deliverability and your sender reputation. Instead, build a clean list of outbound sales contacts and update it regularly. 

Schedule a regular check-in to remove any fake email accounts, spam addresses, or uninterested users. The longer you keep inactive users on your email list, the more you risk damage to your deliverability rates. 

Making email hygiene a regular part of your outbound sales process

If your outbound sales campaigns haven’t been successful lately, the reason could be poor email hygiene. Test each of the elements listed above to find the root of the problem. By implementing these tips and cleaning your list regularly, you should see improvement in your deliverability rates.

Want a third-party opinion on your outbound sales strategy? Our Outbound Evaluation service can provide a sanity check to ensure you’re on the right track and help your sales development team avoid any potential roadblocks. Click here to schedule a free discovery call! 

Throughout these pages, you will find lessons taken from conversations we’ve had with thought-provoking B2B sales leaders, insightful advice, and actionable tips to help you navigate changes in the industry and leverage new opportunities for growth.

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