Deliverability is the ability of the emails you send to arrive in your recipients' main inbox, or at worst in a secondary inbox, but to avoid as far as possible falling into spam or being blocked altogether by the destination server.
In this article, you'll discover ALL the best practices for improving the deliverability of your marketing emails. You'll see that this depends on a whole host of factors and that there are no fixed rules: some transgress some of these practices and yet still have good deliverability, just as conversely some will do almost everything right and just one mistake will mar deliverability. The aim is to do the best you can, and if you follow this guide, you will!
Why is it important to maintain good deliverability?
It may seem like a silly question, but sometimes we just don't realize the cascading effect of poor reputation and deliverability.
An e-mail that goes to spam is time and money wasted, since you've spent time obtaining a contact base, scrapping data, enriching e-mail addresses, and this software also has a cost, often based on the number of contacts, so these are wasted credits.
What's more, you can only send a certain number of emails per day per mailbox, so if you send 100 emails per day but 80% aren't delivered, you're wasting time.
And when you've really burnt out your mailbox, you have to buy a new domain, re-set everything and so on...
How to measure the deliverability of your emailing.
You know your deliverability rate based on the unique opening rate in Emelia.
Of course, for the record, this statistic isn't 100% accurate, in the sense that some opens may be undetected because software, mail clients, mail providers, etc. may block the tracker, but conversely, sometimes there may be false opens, because they are carried out by a firewall or filter. But all in all, they make up for each other, and the statistics give an overall picture.
+70% opening rate: Very good
50% or so: That's good, it's about average
- 30%: There's a real problem here
(🚨WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE USE OF COLD EMAILING SOFTWARE LIKE EMELIA, NOT NEWSLETTER SOFTWARE. READ NEXT CHAPTER)
"What can I do if I already have very poor deliverability?"
Check with online software like MXToolbox to see if your domain or IP is already blacklisted with Spamhaus and other spam managers.
Once you know with whom you're blacklisted, you can use a form to ask to be removed from this list. You'll need to give a reason, apologize, explain that you must have made a mistake at some point, or whatever, and they'll remove you from the spam list.
WARNING, this is a solution that will only work ONCE! If you're re-listed, they won't remove you a second time.
Newsletter software vs. cold-email software
It's important to distinguish between software such as Brevo (formerly Sendinblue), Mailjet etc., which are newsletter or transactional e-mail software, and cold-emailing software such as Emelia.
Newsletter software provides sending servers (SMTP), so some of the deliverability comes from them, and often it's quite low. What's more, this software is designed to send to people who have "opted-in" to your newsletter, not for B2B prospecting of new contacts. The advantage of these programs is of course that you can send many more emails per day, since they provide you with the servers to do so.
Cold-emailing software like Emelia connects directly to your e-mail provider, so it's your servers that send the e-mails, which means that the deliverability of your campaigns is entirely up to you, and is greatly increased. Of course, you can send fewer emails per day, but we'll come back to that below.
Should I use my domain or another domain for cold-emailing?
This is a question that many people ask themselves when they want to start cold-emailing. If you use your main domain, you'll benefit from the reputation of your email address, your domain and your IP address, which will give you good email deliverability from the outset, plus it's obviously easier to manage afterwards. But yes, you'll be putting your email address and main domain name at risk if you do anything with them.
For us, the only reason and way to use your main domain name is if you have a niche market, with a very small target, a high average shopping basket, if you're going to ultra-personalize your messages, so you can send a maximum of 20-50 emails a day, and if that's enough for you.
In all other cases, take another domain, to be on the safe side, not to put your main domain at risk and above all because you may be testing yourself in cold-emailing, but in the long run if you really want to increase your reach and scale your business tenfold you're going to need several domains and several e-mail addresses anyway, so you might as well start on the right footing and with good practices.
The basics of e-mail deliverability
SPF, DKIM and DMARC configuration
A topic we've seen over and over again on our blog, there's a lot of information on this subject all over the web. Yes, you need to configure SPF and DKIM.
DMARC too, even if it's not yet very important, but it's better to do it anyway.
We won't dwell on that in this article. It's just worth noting that, as cold emailing software, we connect directly to your mailboxes, so there are no special settings for Emelia, just basic configuration.
Providers that offer the best deliverability
Google Workspace and Microsoft Office
It's generally accepted that these two providers offer the best deliverability. They're a safe bet, and they take care of all DKIM, SPF and DMARC settings automatically, which is an advantage.
But what you need to understand is that they provide a good deliverability rate, mainly because it's also your recipients' server. If you send from a Google Workspace (formerly Gsuite) to another Google Workspace account, you're more likely to get through the spam filters.
Likewise from one Microsoft address to another. Obviously, it's complicated to know who each person is with, but overall you could use the approach of saying that if you're targeting startups, then take Google Workspace; if you're targeting a more old-school audience, they're more likely to be with Microsoft.
That's really for your general knowledge, because it's on the bangs.
Of course, the main problem with these providers is that they're expensive, costing between €6 and €10 a month per mailbox. Yes, it's worth it, but it's up to you. Let's have a look at some other solutions below
Affordable mail providers for cold-emailing: Namecheap, OVH, etc...
You don't necessarily have the means, or you're not sure you want to invest your budget in cold-emailing? On comprend parfaitement. We've tested a number of low-cost providers, and there are more affordable solutions to get you started.
If you buy your domain from Namecheap, you can have a free mailbox for 2 months, and then only 1€/month.
If you buy your domain from OVH, you also get a free mailbox.
Providers to avoid for cold-emailing
The only hebergeur so far that's really problematic is o2switch, not necessarily because of deliverability per se but because it quickly blocks your sendings as soon as it detects automation.
EDIT: Zoho should also be avoided if you want to do volume, because if you take 20 domains, 20 mailboxes and they're all for automation, they'll block you. And secondly, Zoho's free mailboxes don't work for cold emailing, it seems impossible to unlock IMAP to then connect to Emelia.
Use an email warm-up tool
An email driver is a software program to which you connect your mailbox and which will create false email conversations with mailboxes in its network, which are with different hosting providers, and thus increase the reputation of your email address with hosting providers.
Particularly important if you're taking on new domain names, which are brand new and have never been used, the email driver will enable you to increase your overall deliverability rate and domain reputation.
We recommend using Mailreach to warm up your e-mail addresses. You'll be given a reputation score by Mailreach, which you obviously need to keep between 91 and 100.
Don't send too many emails per day
In Emelia you have two settings in the general parameters of your campaign:
Maximum number of new contacts to reach per day
Daily emails limit
Because your providers pays attention to the number of new contacts you make per day, in addition to the total number.
So if you have a lot of contacts in your list and several steps, we suggest you start with a maximum of 50 new contacts per day and 150 or 200 as a daily limit.
So on the first day we'll send 50 step 1s to your first 50 contacts, but a few days later when we send step 2, it'll be 50 step 2s and 50 new step 1s to new contacts. The idea is that when you reach "cruising speed" on your campaigns, when all the steps accumulate, you don't exceed 150-200 emails per day, and at the same time no step is delayed due to the daily limit.
NB: if you use the multi-sender function (to connect several mailboxes to the same campaign), the number of emails to be sent, in your general campaign settings becomes the number "per email address", so if you connect 10 mailboxes this will send 500 new contacts per day and 1500 or 2000 in daily limit, leaving 50 and 150/200.
150 mails per day, yes, but spread over the day, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for example, if you set Emelia to send from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. then no, otherwise you'll exceed your provider's rate limit.
To maintain the good reputation and deliverability of your email addresses, you need to avoid sending emails to the wrong addresses, so here are a few best practices:
Use fresh databases
Don't reuse a database from 6 months ago - people change companies regularly - and avoid buying databases directly if you don't know where they get them from.
Scrape Linkedin yourself, with Scalelist for example, which isn't very complicated, and use an email enrichment tool like Enrow.
Use Emelia's bounce reducer
In Emelia, after importing your contacts, you have a small "filter" button, in which the first filter is "Delete contacts that have already been bounced on Emelia".
This removes email addresses that Emelia already knows to be fake because other users have sent to them and it has bounced. C is a unique feature to Emelia and which has a great advantage. On average, we remove 1 to 3% of bounces, which no other software can remove.
Avoid spam words (Spam Words trigger)
Spam words triggers are words that hosters' security systems don't like, and which may sound like scams. As time goes by, hosting providers will be able to use more and more artificial intelligence to read your e-mails before delivering them.
Overall, it's all the words that seem to be "too salesy", but here's a sample:
This doesn't mean that you absolutely have to use zero words of this type, just avoid them as much as possible, especially in the subject line of your e-mail.
Whether it's your sending or receiving servers, if you send the same e-mail a lot of times, hosting providers may notice and end up classifying you as spam. That's where spintext comes in.
Spintext means, for example, putting Hello in Emelia's email editor and one out of every 3 times it will send one or other variant. This is really the basic example, but the aim is to put them in all your emails. Here's an example of how it looks from your side, in Emelia's editor when they're everywhere.
It's ultra powerful because when you put spintext 20 times in your email, with 3 possibilities each time, it's exponential, you end up with millions of different email possibilities, so you never send the same email twice.
Yes, I know what you're thinking, it sounds "boring" to think of synonyms etc., and to be sure that each variant of a sentence will fit with all the other variants of another part of the email. But now there's a solution! You can ask ChatGPT 4 to do it for you!
Don't overload your email content
The content of your emails is important, not only the words used, but also its "weight". Any heavier content has an impact on your deliverability.
Popularized in the past by certain Growth Marketers and Emelia's competitors, using a personalized image used to attract the prospect's attention. Today, however, it can look cheap anyway, and it inevitably harms the deliverability of your campaigns.
If you've got files, training or something else to share, it's better to put a link to a Google Drive or similar than to add an attachment. Some web hosts or company security systems may simply block an email with a PJ without notification, others will send you a bounce and some will pass it on as spam.
YES, you have the option of adding an attachment on Emelia, because everyone is free to do as they please and sometimes it can make sense, but if you really must:
Do it in your 2nd step
The attachment must be light
The aim in cold-mailing is to make your e-mails look "human". When you write an e-mail normally, you don't use color, rarely bold, and even less buttons.
So, even if we've made it possible in Emelia to change font size, add colors or even go further by adding html code (because we've been asked to do so a lot), it's still bad practice. To improve your deliverability, your email needs to be as light as possible, and every bit of code is going to make it heavier.
So, yes, maybe we can make a small exception for the signature, just to have a prettier professional signature.
Tracking in cold-emailing
Generally speaking, all tracking can cause you to lose a little deliverability, and we think that in the future you'll have to do without tracking on these campaigns altogether. Many of Emelia's "big customers", who do a lot of cold-mailing, with a lot of email addresses, completely disable tracking to optimize their deliverability.
You can disable tracking here, in the general settings of your Emelia campaign.
I know, I know, you want to have a view of your open and click rates, so you don't want to disable tracking, we understand! But on the other hand, you absolutely must set up custom tracking! We'll explain it right away 👇
Use a custom tracking domain
Basically, if you don't set a custom tracking we use a tracking link of our own. But web hosts prefer to use the same domain that sends as the one that tracks. It takes 2 minutes to set up in your DNS zone.
Connect to your domain provider
Go to your domain's "DNS Zone
Add a CNAME entry
Choose a name, for example "track"
And target emelia.link.
This will create track.yourdomain.com, which you then enter here in Emelia.
Last thing on tracking, avoid bit.ly links or other url shorteners.
Good practices rarely mentioned to avoid end up in spam
Reply even when you're told no
First and foremost, it's good business practice to reply even when a prospect says no to you, thanking them for their reply, perhaps trying to get another contact within the company, or offering to get back to them in a few months' time, etc...
But as well as being a good business practice, it makes your email address even hotter.
Spacing your e-mails
When setting up your e-mail campaigns, you'll be able to choose the time between your steps. As we've said in other articles, there's no standard deviation that works best between your different steps; it's up to you to be comfortable with your approach.
Manual blocking or spamming is the worst thing that can happen to you. By the way, this reminds me of another point, for those who sometimes hesitate to put the unsubscribe link in their email, it's the same thing, if your prospect doesn't know how to get rid of you easily then he's likely to spam you or report you.
Don't send to many people from the same company
As we've seen too many times, email campaigns targeting lots of people from the same company don't work! Especially if you're targeting big companies like Thales or Air Liquide, they have extra security on their servers, so after a few e-mails you'll be blocked.
Limit the number of links in your e-mails
Try to include only useful links in your e-mails - the fewer, the better. And don't forget to use https:// links, not http:// links.
I hope this article has been useful to you, so please don't hesitate to give us feedback on it, we'll improve it even more over time, we wanted to do a complete tour of ALL the subjects, without going into too much depth on each one here, avoiding the "why", the "how", anything too technical, otherwise the article could have been 3 times bigger but indigestible. Feel free to have a look at the rest of our blog, and if you have a specific question, feel free to use the chat room inside the platform.
Have a great cold-email campaign!