We’re back with another valuable and actionable episode of the Marketing Automation Discussion. My cohost is back after a vacation and here with me to discuss in detail setup and proper strategy for new cold email campaigns – we go into record verification, sender accounts, how to ensure high deliverability / open rates / click rates, and proper maintenance for cold email longevity.

Now, let’s set the stage for our listeners by referring to a specific scenario we’re advising on this morning – In this situation the domain name we are about to send campaigns from is brand new (no emails have ever been sent). Before any emails are sent, we urge listeners to do the following:

  1. Create a Google Apps or Outlook account for this new domain – Karan will explain more on why we recommend sending through your email account as opposed to a third party server.
  2. Authenticate all records (mentioned above).
  3. Send a test email to mail-tester.com to ensure all records are in place.
    • Note – if you are risking sending through an ESP like sendgrid, you should not start cold emailing under a new domain until after you have fully-warmed up multiple IPs under the ESP and have sent a ton of warm customer emails (no unsubs/spam complaints) first.
    • But, if you have a google apps or outlook account for this new domain, you can circumvent this.
  4. Connect said google apps account to your cold email platform. I stress ‘cold email platform’ in this statement bcs you do not want to send cold emails from a platform not created for that purpose – i.e. customer.io, sendgrid, mailchimp, yesware, constant contact….
    • We discuss the top 5 platforms specifically created for cold emailing in this article

Let’s talk about some of the causes of low deliverability.

In my experience, low deliverability can be caused by a few factors

  1. Negative Sender Reputation (accumulates over time): Sender reputation is an indication of the trustworthiness of an email sender’s IP address and sending domain. Senderscore.org.
    • High Complaint Rates: Keeping your subscriber complaint rate low is crucial to maintaining a positive sender reputation and high deliverability rates.
    • Getting Listed on a Blacklist: A blacklist is a list of domains and/or IP addresses that have been reported to be “known” sources of spam.
    • For removal – karan will speak more to this, but here is a link: https://whatismyipaddress.com/blacklist-removal – Can you share some thoughts, Karan?
  2. Poor List Quality: Never buy a pre-developed list. We focus on ad hoc data research to ensure high-quality leads.
  3.  Lack of Email Authentication: Authentication allows the receiver of an email and the mailbox provider to confirm the identity of the sender. If the identity of the sender cannot be authenticated, mailbox providers may reject the message or put it through additional filters to determine whether it should be delivered.
    • DKIM – DomainKeys Identified Mail, is a TXT record published in your Domain Name System (DNS). It involves something that all IT admins should learn to love: keys—public keys to be specific. DKIM uses keys to make sure an email sender is who they say they are.
    • DMARC TXT records validate the origin of email messages by verifying the IP address of an email’s author against the alleged owner of the sending domain.
      1. DMARC enables the message sender to indicate that their messages are protected with SPF and/or DKIM.
      2. A DMARC policy applies clear instructions for the message receiver to follow if an email does not pass SPF or DKIM authentication—for instance, reject or junk it.
      3. Your CRM should suggest (if not require) you to have a DKIM record in your DNS before they allow you to send as that domain.

Low open-rate directly impact the potential of the dataset and the campaign’s results. Let’s say that 10% of the targeted recipients are seeing your message then by increasing the open rate to 20-30% you can potentially increase the bottom line conversion as well.

To ensure you keep your open rates high:

  • Check your blacklist status on MXTools.
  • Bounce rate – keeping it at less than 5% is important, although less than 10% is not bad but why settle for silver when you can win gold
  • Hard vs soft bounces.
  • Sender’s email – use a normal mailbox and not a third party server because you’re not spraying and praying.
  • Recipients’ email – target their direct corporate email, no role-based emails, no private emails (@gmail, @yahoo etc).
  • Subject line – mix it up and use dynamic placeholders, if your subject line looks like the last one they didn’t like then it’s off to the trash with it.
  • Message copy – make it valuable, personally relevant and conversational (not marketing oriented), you want to start a conversation not close a deal.
  • Target market – not much can be done here but it will partially explain the conversion rate.
  • Sending schedule – don’t send 100s of emails in a short period of time, put random intervals in-between email n and n+1.
  • Sending volume – keep it between 25-150 per day per mailbox, high conversion from low volume beats low conversion from high volume.
  • Being human – I know you are not a robot (right?), but often times when we have the ability to deploy automation the human aspect is pushed away.

Listen to  more episodes on marketing automation: https://automated.af/discussion/

Here’s the full transcript:

“All right, we’re back with another valuable and actionable episode of the marketing automation discussion. My co-host is here with me to discuss in detail setup and proper strategy for new cold email campaigns we go into record verification sender how to ensure High deliverability open rates, click rates and proper maintenance for cold email longevity current say hey, and please give us the context for our discussion.

Hi everybody. Welcome to be back. Thank you Alex for having me again. What I want to share today. First of all is the importance of high open rate. First of all, low open rate will directly impact the potential of the data set that you’re using to do your campaigns and in turn obviously, the results of the campaign will also be lower.

Let me illustrate that with an example. Let’s say that you that you uh email 100 people and only 10. Scent of them, uh opened your message that basically means the 90% of the email 90% of the people that you emailed cannot even be considered for any kind of conversion. They didn’t see your message.

Yeah, and let’s say from those 10. To reply to you. Now if you would take that same data set and um do a lot of actions that we will discuss later on in this episode and increase the open rate to 20 or 30% with the same conversion from open to reply. You’ll be getting somewhere between four and six replies.

Yeah, so the the uh, the open rate is pretty much the first barrier or less in the first door that you need to open. No pun intended, uh to get a very very good um and conversion rate. So not just the delivery to open or Prospect to open but rather Prospect to call set or some or whatever, uh, your and conversion metric is.

Yeah, sure. I had it back to you now. Great. Now let’s kind of set the stage for our listeners by referring to a specific scenario. We’re advising on actually this morning and this situation the domain name we are about to sin campaigns from is brand-new as a note emails have ever been sent before any emails are sent.

We are listeners to do the phone. Number one create a Google apps or Outlook account for this new domain current will explain more on why we recommend sending through your email account as opposed to a third-party server Step 2. Authenticate. All records will mention those number three send a test email to mail free tool to ensure all records are in.

No, if you are risking sending through an ESP likes in grid’ you should not start cold emailing under a new domain until you have fully warmed up multiple IPS under that ESP and have sent a lot of warm emails that have very little unsub’s and no spam complaints before you start sending through a third party.

But if you have a Google Apps account or Outlook account for this new domain you have circumvented this now. For connect this Google Apps account or this Outlook account to your cold email platform. I stress cold email platform in this statement because you do not want to send cold emails from a platform not created for that purpose a customer.

Not grid MailChimp. Yes, we’re Constant Contact. What have you these are all purposed for newsletters drips customer emails not purpose for cold emails. We do discuss in a previous episode and I’ll show it here on screen the top five platforms specifically created for cold emailing and the differences between each.

Okay. So before we dive into strategy, let’s talk real quick about the causes of low deliverability. In my experience low deliverability can be caused by a few factors number one- sender reputation. This accumulates over time Cinder is an indication of the trustworthiness of an email Cinders IP address and sending domain now.

Hi complaint rates keeping your subscriber complaint rate low is crucial to maintaining a positive Cinder reputation complaints like unsubscribes and blocks these reduce your sender reputation now getting. On Blacklist, of course Blacklist listing will reduce your Cinder reputation for removal Colonel actually speak to this and will show a link here in the notes and in the article, if you’re reading go ahead and check the steps to removal from a blacklist.

Now number two poor quality. This will lower your deliverability. Never ever buy a prebuilt. Someone’s trying to sell you 10,000 emails from XYZ type of customer. Do not buy it. Make sure you are focusing on developing your own list through ad hoc data research and enrichment. Now number three lack of email authentication will lower your deliver bill.

Authentication allows the receiver of an email and the mailbox provider to confirm the identity of the sender if the identity of the sender cannot be authenticated. Mailbox providers May reject the message or put it through additional filters to determine whether it should be delivered now dkim domainkeys identified mail is a txt record published in your domain name system or DNS dkim uses keys to make sure an email sender is who they say they are now demarre txt records dmarc’s records.

Now, these are not necessary, but they do help validate the origin of the email message by. Find the IP address of an email author against the alleged owner of the sending domain dmarc enables the message sender to indicate that their message is protected with SPF or dkim dmarc policy applies clear instructions for the message receiver to follow if and when the email does not pass SPF or dkim authentication for instance reject or junk Etc.

Now your CRM should suggest when you go to add a new domain that you have a DK. I am record in your DNS before allow you to send from that demand some even require now that we have the setup complete. What do you suggest they do to ensure continued success in their cold email campaign?

Yep, Alex first of all to add on to some of the points that you mentioned. Um, once you are let’s say you made some mistakes and you did get into some blacklists. Um, the first step there is really find out let’s say if you are having a open rate of about 30-40 percent and all of a sudden it plummeted to about five ten percent something went wrong.

It’s not it’s not just that your subject was horrible or something like that. It’s something happened you got on black list or something. So go and check it out. And one of the tools that I recommend there is MX tools. Um, you can do a analysis of your of your uh, uh website your web domain and they’ll also tell you uh, any other errors that are in your setup and they will also provide you a list of of Blacklist that you’re on and each Blacklist, um has a different way of removal so you would need to get in touch, uh, you know, each Blacklist will.

Have certain instructions that you need to follow in order to be removed. The good news is of course that you can be removed. It’s not a permanent status and so you can take some actions in removing yourself from Blackness and then see your. Your open rates go up again. The other thing that I would mention about dmarc and uh, this is something that um is not very known.

If you set up dmarc wrongly it’s going to provide you with a lot of soft bounces. I’ll discuss that in my next point. But uh, if you are going to setup your dmarc, which is good for you make sure that you do it. Extremely well a demon that you set up let’s say, uh, not so well could actually have a negative impact on your open rate by causing a lot of soft bounces depending on the policy that you set up.

Yeah. Um Okay, so. One of the things that I wanted to uh speak about right from the start is something that is related to your data bounce rate is going to be a very very key, um factor in in your overall deliverability rate. And when we discussing bounce rates, we can differentiate two different kind of bounces one is called a soft bounce.

The other is called, uh hard bounce the soft bounds, uh occurs. For a variety of reasons ranging from that the message that you sent was rejected rejected because you’re you know rating was too low or the recipients inbox was full or your dmarc setup was so harsh that any kind of or less than the threshold of your dmarc message was so low that your message of being rejected as per the instructions of your demon.

And let’s continue and so forth and so on it could also be that the email is automatically internally, uh, uh forwarded to another person without ever being reached, uh, the intended and recipient. So these are all soft bounces. They do impact your open rate. Yeah, for example, let’s say you emailed 100 people and there were they were 10 pounds soft.

The the these people will never open your email because they never received your email in their inbox. So from the 90 people that did receive your email. They have a chance to see your your um, Uh Body by opening the email then there are other factors, which I will be discussing in a bit. Um that impact that further then we then we talk about hard bounces which are even more detrimental to your continued success in cold emailing.

Um, let me Define what hard bounces first of all, how about balance is where you have the email address of the person wrong. Or let’s say the domain in the email address is wrong or the email is wrongly formatted all comes to the same thing. You have a wrong email address whether spelled wrongly or it’s simply the wrong, uh structure of the email doesn’t matter.

You have the wrong email. Now. What happens is it it impacts the campaign performance in the exact same way as a soft bound simply those people never got to see your email. But what it does on top, what a soft bound does not do is that it communicates a particular low quality on your server site about your email is that you’re using low quality data, which which gives you a score.

And if this score is keep on getting lower and lower and lower your spam rating your overall spam rating of your domain is increased. So basically what happens is if you are having a consistent bounce rate of about fifteen to twenty percent you are going to see a decrease in the overall open rates that you have.

Because your domain rating will decrease the health the reputation of your domain will decrease. So, uh, even though that the soft bounces are detrimental to the performance of your Campaign hard bounces are detrimental to the performance of all campaigns that you’re doing. Not just the ones that you’re doing currently right so very very important to keep the bounce rate as well as possible.

I recommend less than 5%. Right, then another factor that will impact. The open rate is the sender’s email. Are you sending your your automated emails from a third-party Center, which you spoke about, you know a little bit earlier in your in your part where suppliers such as sendgrid. And so forth and so on excellent products in their own right in their own use case they are meant for uh, you know mail blast newsletters b2c kind of mailing where people have subscribed and they want to receive ton of emails.

Um, in that case, they’re good. However way you are trying to establish contact in a cold outrage, um, you know with a person they’re this particular type of tool doesn’t work. Well, Firstly it will add information into the message itself such as sign by and and sent on behalf of these kind of things.

So for example, if I would be using a software like sendgrid it will be sent from my it will be sent by sendgrid. However, it would have information that it was sent on my behalf. It was sent on my emails behalf. Yeah, so that’s very very important. So the other thing is of course whether or not you’re going to use an alias versus an actual user.

So let’s say you’re on Google Suite or on Microsoft, uh 365 there you will have a user that is assigned to you and that user has an email. Um, when you are emailing people you should use that user because there are certain metrics that you need to keep in. The email address that you using yourself has incoming traffic meaning that their people actually sending you emails.

You’re not just using it for outbound. You also using for inbound emails. This this kind of email address has a higher authority higher, uh, um rating than an email that is only sending emails out words. Over the proportion of the incoming emails is very very low compared to the outgoing emails.

Therefore the best strategy that you can use to keep you out open rates high is to use the email that you’re operating because you’ll be getting emails from your colleagues you beginning emails from your customers. You’ll be getting if you’re a salesperson. You’ll be getting emails from a lot of different people, but you’ll also be sending emails out words.

So the tip there is to use your primary email box. To actually send these emails Alias the case against Alias e-mails can be made simply by saying that once you do the hand over your break, you’ll break the spell that this was fully manually or human written content that I that I have been sending.

Simply when you go from you know, John Jay as a domain to John Smith at domain you will tell the other person that I have been targeting you, you know with an automatic Outreach and this could result in a drop off or let it fall off in positive reply to calls. So you also need to think I had in the sales, um funnel.

How can you you know prevent later on Fallout is to keep the entire process, you know, um streamlined and you do that by using your primary email then recipients email is very very important. Yeah. Where you have, you know, either the direct email of that person the private email of that person, which is like on a on a free mail or such as Google Gmail or Yahoo, or GMX that plenty of them out there or a role based email.

Um, I would recommend against emailing private emails and role-based emails are only targeting people on their Direct Corporate email and they’re very good reason for that. Uh, role-based emails are mostly not monitored by a person. They’re not responsible for a particular role based email. So you really want to try to Target that person it could be that one role based email is being to being opened and used by several different people.

So you might not even reach the intended party even though it may be an open. It’s probably not the right open. So why would you waste all that time that you used or money that you used to get the data? If you’re not going to Target the right person now private emails. I wouldn’t use because simply in many countries there against the law.

You cannot Target people, uh in the private, uh email addresses. And in the in the long run this will you know, uh be against your overall performance. If you’re not targeting people in the Direct Corporate, um email addresses so so far we have discussed mainly about the data itself. Let’s switch, uh towards the content side.

So that subject line is the first thing that the person the recipient will see when your email comes into the inbox. So let’s say you avoided the spam folder you’re now in there in there in there in there, uh inbox now, they’re the subject line that you have is going to impact the the rate at which people open and secondly the rate at which if they open their not negatively surprise, so I’m making a distinction here between uh subject lines, which are good versus subject lines that are clickbait.

Yeah, clickbait subject lines may have a very high open rate. But in the end you really going to anger some people because they might feel cheated and you don’t want to have that because you really setting a very very, you know, horrible start of a relationship and it’s not going to result in the the actual metric that is important to you which is positive reply rate.

Yeah. So the subject line should indicate. The content of the email and the content of the email of course should be valuable should be personally relevant and conversational shouldn’t be sales your Market marketing-oriented if these two things are very very important when you’re creating the copy of the uh, uh, uh of the email as well as the subject line.

Yeah, um, then there are certain things that you can’t do much about which is a target market. The target market very much has a particular. Let’s say a noise of other competitors that are targeting the same market and also the the the propensity to answer emails. Now, let me give you two examples one example would be front-facing a department Marketing sales.

Uh Business Development, uh General management and so forth and on the other hand, let’s say that the back end of the the business where its operations and and um, you know software development engineering architecture and so forth and so on even though the front facing guys, they are more used to receiving emails and they have may have higher noise.

They may be uh more likely to open because they themselves and the emails as well. So they know what this is all about. As long as you can differentiate yourself from the noise, you will have good open rate on the other hand. If you’re targeting, uh, you know, it managers and other such people that don’t necessarily receive a lot of emails from the from the uh from outside the organization.

They have a lot of internal traffic. They might not even see or email as important. They might only be responding to emails that are with the the prefix urgent or something like that. So you really need to test out whether or not your Market has a particular appetite for receiving the emails or not.

So you can’t compare one market with another so we have a bunch of customers ranging from different markets and some of our customers are happy with an open rate of 40% and the others are you no surprise that it slow or something like that. So it it really depends on the market that you’re talkin.

Then the behavior of your email is important as well. So when you are sending the email the schedule of that is going to impact the um, the open rates and that happens because if you sending too many emails in a short period of time, let’s say you send 500 emails in an hour. That’s humanly impossible.

No, human can do that. Uh, therefore servers also see that as such that this is an automated. Mainly you automatically each of those emails automatically get a low rating or let’s say if you turn it around a higher spammer a team and it could be that just just let’s try to put a number on it. Let’s say you got spam rating of 35.

And you targeted hundred different servers because you targeted hundred different people and from those hundred different servers about 50 of them had the threshold of 30 you you’re not you’re not entering those in boxes you’re going directly into spam phone so that this is one of the ways your outgoing server which wants to obviously make sure that you’re not doing spammy, you know Outreach.

We’ll give your email a score that score if that spam score is too high. You will hit more but thresholds of spam and going to spam the same goes for the period between email and email and email to enable 3, if the period is less than 6 seconds or 10 seconds again, it’s very very difficult for a human to do that.

However, the period is long enough. Let’s say you put like. Two minutes 120 seconds between email and the next email is sent hundred twenty seconds later. Um, you would have a lower spammer 18. Let’s say you take it one step further where you have, uh, not just a bigger, um bigger, um, you know period between but it’s actually also random.

Let’s say 120 seconds plus a random percentage every time which further. Uh makes you look human increase or decrease your spam rating even further. Then you have uh the sending volume. You know, uh per day this is not just in the period but also per day, um, if you are sending, uh, you know, even if you’re sending across different, uh, uh big interval in the middle, if you’re sending a thousand emails a day, you’re going to run into Spam folders as well because Normal mailboxes are simply not set up.

To have that kind of volume and a normal human being cannot really handle those kind of volume as well. So when you take all of these parts together keeping the bounce rate low sending it from your primary email address sending it to their uh, Corporate email address having a good subject line that represents the content of the email internet sincere honest and.

Personalized way having the content of the messages valuable personally relevant and conversational and not sales the don’t use a lot of you know, spam trigger Words, which are uh, um, you know, so often used by other, uh, you know, bad practice. Um, you know out Reacher’s you’re going to be.

Parked in the same kind of group as them, um targeting the market in the way that they’re supposed to be targeted having a good sending schedule with as good sending volume altogether basically just acting as if you’re human setting up your Automation in a way that it kind of replicating a very human behavior all those together.

We’ll keep your bound. Uh, sorry your open rate. Very high and typically what we see with the with the customer group that we have is between 40 and 70 and what I understand from the industry, the industry average is around I think 27 or 33 percent if I’m just, you know taking it from the top of my head right now.

Yep. So back to you Alex to recap just from the top to the bottom the first step you want to make sure to verify the new domain set up all the records correctly. Make sure you’re sending from the appropriate type of platform don’t seem cold emails from a platform not built for cold emailing make sure after you’ve authenticated that the data that you’re going to send to is quality data, its enriched and built for the purpose of the email campaign.

Once you have compliant data, you have SPF records and everything actually in. Verified then you can go ahead and start writing quality message copy focus on the customer keep it about them. Make sure you’re using a lot of dynamic text a lot of customized text in the messaging and make sure the send schedule is on point.

You don’t want to send too much too soon. And then obviously the sending volume total per month. You want to keep at a reasonable amount between 25 and 100 per day again, you do not want to go after volume to get your sales and replies go after quality. First and volume as quality becomes more and more on point, and you can get it higher volume not necessarily by sending more emails from one email address.

You can actually get higher volume just by adding more email addresses underneath your Google Apps account or your Outlook account and descending from those new personas. That should do it. That’s another great episode of the marketing automation discussion. Thank you all for joining in and I look forward to sharing more details and more automations soon.

Thank you. Thank you, Alex. Take care.