Performing email outreach isn’t hard. What’s hard is keeping your delivery rates consistent regardless of the scale of your campaigns. So, if your delivery and open rates have been dipping, don’t worry. It happens to the best of us.
Regardless of the goal of your outreach (sales prospecting, PR, link building, content promotion, etc), your deliverability rates will eventually see a drop be it because of spam filters, poor email list health, or any other number of reasons.
In this article, we’re going to discuss some useful ways to increase your email deliverability, make sure your emails aren’t ending up in the spam folders, as well as some tips to boost your open and engagement rates as these things are tightly interconnected.
1. Maintain A Healthy Email List
One of the most common mistakes made by outreach specialists is filling up their outreach lists with as many prospects as they can find, instead of focusing on relevancy. And, of course, seeing as the average reply rate for most outreach campaigns is only 1 for every 10-15 emails, trying to find as many prospects as you can is the logical thing to do if you expect results.
But, as much as we would love it too, quantity does not always translate into quality. So, during the prospecting stage of your outreach campaigns, it is extremely important to double-check and verify your email list.
Imagine yourself in the shoes of the person you’re emailing. Would your message be relevant to them and what they do? If you’re sending a link-building pitch to a CEO of a company, it would be a better idea to look for their digital marketing team, SEOs, or partnership managers.
Another factor that contributes to the health of your email list is whether the person has replied to your previous pitches. If you already reached out to them in one of your previous campaigns and got no response (even after a follow-up email), chances are they’re not particularly interested in what you have to say, and it would be best to remove them from your list.
“But what if they didn’t see my email?” – this is a question I have found myself thinking about quite often. But, in reality, pitching them again and again will only get you flagged as spam, which is the opposite of productive.
2. Find The Right Contact Information
Okay, this one sounds rather obvious. In order for your emails to come through, you need to find a valid email address, right? Right. But did you know that even if you’re finding all of the perfect contacts right now, the ones you guessed (and haven’t delivered) in your previous campaign can affect your current delivery rates?
This is because to email service providers, emails sent to invalid addresses are a sign of you trying to guess your prospect’s email, which is considered spammy.
So, you need to be absolutely sure the email address you’re sending your pitch to is the correct one. Luckily, there are quite a few ways of doing it:
- Check their Contact and About pages;
- Google Search works quite well for influential people’s business email addresses;
- Look them up on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn;
- Use an email finding tool or plugin;
- Subscribe to your prospect’s email list and see which address their newsletters are coming from;
- Look them up in the WHOIS database;
- Use an email permutator and slot suggested addresses into Gmail until you find one that highlights as an account.
Some email finding tools can show both verified and likely-to-be-the-one email addresses. If you’re doing outreach at a large scale, I suggest you stick only to verified addresses as any undelivered emails can have an effect on your future campaigns.
3. Include An Email Signature With A Physical Address
Email signatures are more than just a way to let your prospects know who you are or a nice-looking call-to-action for them to check out your resource/product. In fact, not having a proper email signature with the physical address of your business can affect your delivery rates. A lot.
It is actually a requirement by the FTC to include either your home address or a physical address of your business in your emails. Not including it is viewed as a failure to comply, so it is practically mandatory to include somewhere in your email (preferably in the signature).
4. Set Up SPF, DMARC, And DKIM For Your Domain
If you’re not familiar with these terms, this can be the reason why your email delivery rates are low. They stand for:
- Sender Policy Framework;
- Domain-Based Message Authentication Reporting And Conformance;
- DomainKeys Identified Mail.
In essence, doing DMARC setup or setting these up authorizes you in the eyes of email service providers as a legitimate sender. I’m not going to go into much detail about how each of them works as it is a topic for a whole other article on its own, but setting them up is extremely important for business outreach.
5. Avoid Attachments in Cold Emails
There’s nothing inherently wrong with sending attachments through email. That is, if you have already spoken with that person and they are expecting you to send something over.
However, attaching files to your cold emails can have a very negative impact on your delivery rates. Even if you’re not sending any malicious files, your pitches can still be blocked because this is the strategy countless scammers and hackers have used before.
So, keep attachments out of your initial email and only send over files once you have already engaged with that person.
6. Avoid Excessive Imagery
Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with using images in your emails. And, unlike with attachments, you don’t need to keep them completely away from your cold emails.
Imagery can help your email proposals stand out from the rest, make it easier to read and the information – easier to digest.
But, you need to keep a good text-to-image ratio. If the entirety or most of your message is an image, there is a high chance that it will be delivered straight to the spam folder.
This is because email service providers and their algorithms have no way of knowing what’s actually depicted on your images. And, again, a lot of spammers have sent out emails that consist solely of images with unwanted or inappropriate content.
So, most of your message should still consist of text.
7. Switch Up The Content Of Your Emails
If you’re running large-scale sales or marketing campaigns, the easiest course of action is to come up with a pitch and just keep sending it out over and over again. And, for a while, it’s going to work just fine.
However, with time, if you keep sending out the same very message to everybody, you’ll start noticing that your open rates are getting lower.
The reason behind this is very simple: it’s spammy. Or, at least, considered spammy, even if it’s a legitimate cold email. In order to avoid slamming into a spam wall, make sure to change up your pitches and subject lines every once in a while.
8. Stay Away From Spam Words
Spam filters are actually quite easy to trigger. Even excessive capitalization in your subject line can cause your email to end up in the spam folder. Even though you want to make your subject line catchy and stand out in your prospect’s inbox, only use capital letters where you really need them.
Also, avoid spam words as much as possible. Spam filters are on the lookout for words like “free”, “instant”, “money”, “lowest price”, “investment”, “offer”, along with hundreds of others.
If your pitch touches on a possibly controversial (in the eyes of spam filters) topic, you can always run it through a spam word checker to see exactly which wordings you might need to consider changing.
9. Proofread Your Emails!
This should go without saying, but double-checking your pitches should be something you do every single time. Obviously, if people notice typos in your pitches you will look unprofessional in their eyes, and your emails will appear rushed.
But grammar and spelling mistakes can hurt more than just your reputation. In fact, a poorly-written email is much more likely to end up in spam. If English is not your native language (and even if it is), you always need to pay extra attention to your writing.
This is because a lot of spam emails are translated from other languages through online tools, which makes the end result riddled with errors of all kinds. So, in addition to specific words, spam filters are also on the lookout for such mistakes.
10. Use Trusted Email Outreach Software
Managing every single aspect of an email outreach campaign is difficult and time-consuming. So, to make the life of outreach specialists easier, there are various email outreach software solutions that can help you at every stage of your campaigns.
From prospecting to crafting email sequences to finding contact information, personalizing pitches, and reviewing your campaign stats, everything can be simplified to near automation, without compromising the quality of your outreach.
There are lots of things that can make or break your sender’s reputation. These are just a few tips on how to improve your email deliverability, but if you follow them all, you should see an increase in your deliverability, as well as open and engagement rates.
Managing brand partnerships at Respona, Vlad Orlov is a passionate writer and link builder. Having started writing articles at the age of 13, their once past-time hobby developed into a central piece of their professional life.