When it comes to email deliverability, there’s a fine line between effective communication and practices that slip into the realm of ‘blackhat’ tactics, especially in relation to cold email deliverability.

These underhanded strategies not only disrupt the marketing industry, but they can potentially harm your brand’s reputation and relationship with potential customers.

This article aims to lay out the risks and effects involved in such practices, while also offering best practices as a source of guidance. 

While cold emailing may serve as a rapid method to reach potential customers or clients, unscrupulous tactics often can lead to serious email deliverability issues, and worse, turn off prospective customers.

Let’s start digging into the intricacies of these issues, shall we?

Educating yourself on these matters will be extremely beneficial and necessary in order to avoid any major email deliverability issues.

What are the common obstacles in cold email deliverability?

One common obstacle in cold email deliverability is the lack of personalization.

Cold emails that are generic and not tailored to the recipient are more likely to be marked as spam or ignored. Personalizing the email, such as using the recipient’s name or referencing their company, can increase the chances of the email being opened and read.

Another obstacle is poor email list quality. If the email list contains many invalid or inactive email addresses, the sender’s reputation can be damaged, leading to a lower deliverability rate.

It’s crucial to regularly clean and update the email list to ensure it only contains active and relevant contacts.

Finally, sending emails in large volumes can also pose a challenge. Many email services have strict sending limits to prevent spamming. If these limits are exceeded, the sender’s account may be temporarily suspended or even permanently blocked.

Blackhat tactics used in cold email marketing

The main blackhat tactic commonly used in the cold email outreach community is the use of multiple sending domains to scale traffic (allowing lower traffic per domain), hiding the total volume sent.

In essence, the move to employ several sending domains is often a strategic way to stay under the radar of the email providers and spam filters. However, this practice can signficantly hamper deliverability rates over time.

When too many domains are detected sending the same content, it’s often a huge red flag for spam filters, which can result in the rest of your company emails being automatically classified as spam or outright blocked. 

Moreover, using multiple sending domains can negatively affect your overall reputation score. This score is crucial in email marketing as providers use it to determine whether your emails are spam or not.

By distributing your traffic across numerous domains simply to circumvent the rules, you’re indirectly harming your own chances of staying in the good graces of email providers, which could impact your ability to effectively reach your target audience in the future. 

It’s also important to be aware that many blackhat email marketers use this tactic as part of a wider strategy known as ‘snowshoe spamming‘. This is where the spam is spread across many IP addresses and domains, making it harder for service providers to pinpoint and block the source.

The end result is the same – diminished email deliverability and a tarnished reputation – but the scale of the damage can be much broader and harder to recover from. 

So, while employing multiple sending domains might initially seem like a smart move to maximize your cold email output, it can indeed have a number of severe repercussions.

Rather than resorting to these questionable tactics, it’s far more beneficial to cultivate a strong, trustworthy reputation by adhering to accepted best practices in email marketing.

Trust us, your deliverability rates – and your audience – will thank you for it.

TacticConsequenceBest Practice
Utilising multiple sending domainsTriggers spam filters, damaging domain reputationStick to a single, reputable sending domain
Ignoring receiver’s spam algorithmsMay be flagged as spam, decreasing email deliverabilityLearn about and respect your subscribers’ spam filters
Doing harm to your sending domainDirectly impacts your overall business reputationSafeguard your domain’s reputation by sending relevant, high-quality emails
Ignoring Anti-Spam lawsPotential legal risks and finesFamiliarize and comply with relevant anti-spam laws
Overlooking email marketing best practicesHinders email deliverability and engagementPersonalize, properly segment, and focus on delivering valuable content

What are the best practices for cold email marketing?

The Macro plan

Implicit in the success of your cold email marketing campaign lies the need for careful planning.

This planning is an all-encompassing, 3-phase approach that includes the pre-send, the sending process, and finally the post-send process.

For optimum deliverability and engagement rates, it is essential that you give the proper focus and attention to each of these phases.

1. The Pre-Send Process

Pre-send activities are your groundwork, the foundation on which your campaign is built.

They are carried out even before you hit the ‘send’ button, with a heavy emphasis on research and preparation.

As a marketer, you should thoroughly research your target audience, and craft enticing emails with a strong value proposition.

Additionally, take time to authenticate your email for further credibility and to avoid possible delivery issues. 

2. The Sending Phase

During the sending phase, a strategic approach to the selection of target audiences and throttling, or timed sending of emails, can significantly improve inbox placement and engagement.

It’s recommended that you don’t send all your emails in one go.

Instead, send them in well-spaced batches.

This not only improves your chances of staying out of spam folders, but also allows you to carefully monitor the responses you receive and adjust your strategy accordingly. 

3. The Post-Send Process

Post-send is purely about tracking and is a critical component of effective cold email marketing.

Also known as email analytics and response rates, this process involves looking at the results and feedback and seeing what worked and what didn’t.

Anatomy of a Successful Cold Outreach Email

  1. Right Person (Targeting) 
  2. Relevant Subject line
  3. The first line of the email hooks the reader.
  4. Provide value to the Recipient.
  5. One clear, simple, and enticing Call-to-action (CTA)

Don’t get the emails marked as “spam”

The number one reason that causes poor domain reputation and deliverability problems is a high spam rate (number of recipients that mark an email as spam).

  • The industry average is 1 in 1000. Since cold outreach is usually a low-volume mail channel, even a couple of spam reports can put it over the threshold and can cause problems.

Make your emails targeted and relevant, and make it easy for people to opt-out and stop receiving your emails.

  1. Targeting:
    • This may be the most important factor when it comes to email deliverability
    • Get your targeting right. You improve deliverability by getting a high rate of replies and a low rate of negative engagement and spam reports. So, only send emails to people you truly think will benefit from your email.
    • Engagement over list size:
      • Don’t pull a bunch of email addresses and send them a generic email with no targeting. Do some research and segment the recipients into smaller and smaller groups.
    • Be strategic but not overly aggressive in your follow-ups.
      • Aggressive follow-up emails (especially if the previous emails were ignored/not engaged with). These can lead to emails being marked as spam (which is a big reason for Google suspending user accounts).
  2. Content Quality and Relevancy:
    • Your emails should offer value to the recipient. Ensure that your content is coherent, your topic is appealing and your proposal is relevant to the recipient’s interests. Using jargon or complex language may lead to a decrease in engagement or even marking your email as spam. Always aim to be clear, concise and casual.
    • Structure also plays a key role in creating quality content. Formatting your email with bullet points, headings, and short paragraphs makes it easier for the recipients to scan through the content and grasp the key points. Make sure your call-to-action is clear and compelling.
  3. Send Personalized Emails:
    • Personalization goes beyond inserting the recipient’s name into the email. It’s about understanding the recipient’s needs, interests, and pain points, then tailoring the email accordingly. After all, your emails can end up in the spam folder or be marked as spam if they’re not relevant to the recipient.
  4. Test and Monitor Your Emails:
    • Keep track of your emails’ performance. How many were delivered, opened, clicked, replied to, or marked as spam? You can gain insights from these metrics and adjust your strategy accordingly. A high delivery rate is a good sign that your domain is not being treated as spam.Conduct A/B tests to identify what works and what doesn’t in your email campaign. The subject line, email body, timing, and frequency of your emails can all affect deliverability and engagement rates. Optimizing these factors can help improve your deliverability rate.

In summary, understanding the intricacies of cold email deliverability can significantly improve your email marketing performance. Keeping a keen eye on your metrics, ensuring your domain is respected, and making data-driven decisions through A/B tests can enable you to surmount the common obstacles and avoid blackhat tactics.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to design a strategy that not only ensures deliverability but also encourages engagement from the recipients. This route may be a challenging one, but the rewards in the form of engagement and conversion rates are well worth the effort.