5 minutes
April 8, 2021

Cold email deliverability: what it is, and how you can work it

Bounce rate and deliverability issues can destroy your cold email open rates, engagement, conversions and outreach.
Sabrina Jowders
Table of Contents

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Despite other modes of online communication, email remains the most preferred channel for business communication. According to recent data from Radicati, 128.8 billion business emails are sent and received every day.

The hard truth is one in five emails never reach the inbox. Email bounces are one of the trickiest aspects when it comes to being a sales development representative (SDR). Deliverability issues can destroy your open and click-through rates, engagement, conversions, and outreach as a whole.

Email deliverability: the basics

Email deliverability is a set of steps or processes that happen in order to place your email in someone’s inbox. Just because you have a valid email address and are sending your message to another valid email address doesn’t mean your message will actually get delivered.

Let me paint a picture for you. When you hit the send button for an email, the ISPs and email servers of your recipient go through a checklist before allowing you access to that inbox. They look at things such as the content and your sender reputation.

Your sender reputation includes abuse reports, volume, blacklists, and spam traps. Your content will go through a screening, asking if the content is spammy or too promotional (text-to-image ratio, long links, text-to-HMTL ratio) or if it contains spam trigger words.

How email deliverability works

Cold email deliverability works a lot like credit scores. Every sender, mail server IP address, and domain has a separate reputation among the various inbox providers (Google, Outlook, etc.). Similar to getting a loan, if you have bad credit, you cannot get the loan. If your company has no reputation or a bad reputation, your emails will never get delivered.

Companies not sending millions of emails per month generally share outgoing email servers with other companies through service providers, pooling their sending reputations together. Think of this as having a cosigner on your loan with a good reputation. If you get spam complaints or too many bounces, it could hurt every company in that pool. This could put you in "spam jail" for several weeks. Companies that are not apart of email server pools have to be just as cautious with their reputation. They may have to be even more mindful with building their reputation.

Email bounces

If you are a sales rep sending cold emails, you’ll want to avoid a bounced email.. There are two types of email bounces that can impact your email delivery when prospecting: hard and soft bounces.

  • Soft Bounce: These are bounces where a server blocks your email from reaching a person. This can be caused by having a bad sender reputation or including things mentioned above inside your email that makes it, so your email won't be sent. For example: sending a dead link in the email or sending an email containing spam trigger words.
  • Hard Bounce: The email you sent will come back to you, letting you know the email address does not exist. This usually means you have bad contact data, or the person left the company. Lots of hard bounces will send your emails to spam.

Attributes considered for sender reputation

The three main attributes considered for sender reputation are: the content within the email, the sending IP address and domain, and user feedback.

Email content

Email content includes what words are in your email, media content, attachments, links, and how often you reuse the same email over a period of time to that provider's customers. As mentioned above, you want to avoid creating content that is spammy or too promotional. Avoid long links, and be mindful of your text-to-HTML ratio.

Sending IP address and domain

Your email sending address, SMTP server IP address, and company domain will be important when an email provider decides whether to accept the email. Enhance your reputation by sending credible emails to your customer base.

User feedback

Spam complaints from multiple customers using an inbox provider could result in a blacklist faster than these other factors. Only send emails your prospects will want to receive, personalize, and avoid email blasts.

Six cold email tips to keep a good reputation

Here are six tips for your cold emails that will help you preserve and even build a good reputation.

  • Only email verified addresses: Use a data provider that verifies emails. Any email that is not verified should not be sent. LeadIQ verifies emails in real-time which will drastically reduce the number of hard bounces. We always recommend only sending emails to verified addresses. If an email can not be verified, find another outlet to reach out to that prospect.
  • Personalize: Add personalization to your subject lines and body of your email to avoid being sent to spam. Only send emails your prospects will want to receive. Our prospecting hack can have you choose a prospect, research them on LinkedIn or any other site, and craft a personalized email in 10 minutes.
  • Don’t send attachments or links in your first email: Sending attachments and links puts you at risk of your account getting flagged. Especially if you add bad links, attaching the wrong format can lead to an email block. Here are some do’s and don’ts for email attachments.
  • Avoid sending email blasts: Only send emails your prospects will want to receive and avoid email blasts. If you're sending the same content to hundreds of contacts at a time, you are at risk of entering spam jail.
  • Avoid bullet points: When composing an email, try removing all your bullet points. If Gmail finds bullet points, it will sometimes categorize your message as a Sales & Marketing email and block it.
  • Double opt-in: A double opt-in is a creative and helpful way to ensure that your emails are received. This starts by creating a mailing list and sending an email confirmation to the recipient.

Overall, when prospecting, it's important to be aware of what you are sending and how it may affect your reputation. It's essential to understand how email deliverability works and how to avoid soft and hard bounces, as well as preserving your email reputation. Implement our six tips for keeping a good email reputation and avoiding spam jail. It's easy to push quantity; it's not easy to push quality. Take the extra step to have quality emails—it’s always worth it.