18 Ways To Improve Your Cold Email Deliverability (2024)

Updated June 2024

Deliverability is the most important factor affecting the success of your cold email campaigns.

Deliverability is the term used to describe how likely your emails are to go to the primary inbox (not spam). If you have bad deliverability, then your emails will go to the spam folder.

In this article, I will share 18 email deliverability best practices that will help you avoid spam folders:

1. Authenticate your sending domain (SPF, DKIM & DMARC)
2. Only send cold emails to verified email addresses
3. Do NOT buy email lists (spam traps)
4. Do not use open tracking
5. Don’t include links, attachments or images
6. Gradually increase sending volume
7. Don’t send the exact same email too many times
8. Only send 40 cold emails max per day per email address
9. Avoid using spam words
10. Personalize every email
11. Use cold email software (not MailChimp)
12. Send your cold emails throughout the day
13. Do NOT use email warm up tools
14. Use plain text emails (not HTML)
15. Only send to business email addresses
16. Send well written cold emails to avoid blacklists
17. Make your email sound conversational (not promotional or spammy)
18. Use secondary sending domains

1. Authenticate your sending domain (SPF, DKIM & DMARC)

When you buy a domain, and then create an email address with that domain to send cold emails from, you must authenticate the domain to ensure good deliverability.

There are three records that you must add to your domain’s DNS settings: SPF, DKIM & DMARC.

image with the text spf, dkim, dmarc

Google even states publicly that emails sent from domains that aren’t authenticated with SPF and DKIM will go to spam.

Google states: “Important: Starting November 2022, new senders who send email to Google Gmail accounts must set up either SPF or DKIM.” - source.

I recommend that you read my article How To Send Cold Emails Without Going To Spam as I show you how to add these three records to your sending domains.

2. Only send cold emails to verified email addresses

If you send emails to email addresses that aren’t “valid”, then you will have a high bounce rate, which will decrease your sender reputation score, causing email service providers to place your emails in spam.

It is crucial that you first “clean” your list of emails before starting a cold email campaign.

There are software tools that send test “ping” emails to email addresses to verify if the email accounts are valid or not.

Emailchaser has an Email Verifier tool that allows you to upload a list of emails, and verify which are valid. I recommend that you use our Email Verifier before starting your next cold email campaign.

screenshot showing the email verifier tool in Emailchaser's dashboard

3. Do NOT buy email lists (spam traps)

Some companies sell lists of emails that you can buy.

This is a terrible idea for so many reasons that I won’t go into. However, I will mention the main reason which is that these email lists often contain “spam traps”.

If you send emails to these email lists, and they contain spam traps, then all of your emails will go to spam. Not just for the emails in the list that you bought, but any future emails that you send to anyone.

The best way to find leads and emails is by using our LinkedIn Email Finder tool. You will find highly relevant leads with their email addresses, without having any risk of spam traps.

screenshot showing our LinkedIn Email Finder web page

4. Do not use open tracking

Open tracking is when you track the open rates of your cold email campaigns.

There are software tools that allow you to track this. The issue is that open tracking negatively affects your deliverability, making it more likely that your emails will go to spam.

They are also not accurate.

I recommend that you also don’t track link clicks in your emails for similar reasons.

thumbnail of George at his computer

Check out my article Does Email Open Tracking Negatively Affect Deliverability to learn more about why open tracking is a bad idea.

5. Don’t include links, attachments or images

You do NOT want to include any links, attachments or images in your first email to a prospect.

This will most likely cause your email to go to spam.

If a prospect has already responded to your first email, then you can send them emails with links, attachments and images, but never send these before the prospect has already responded.

screenshot of an email showing links, an image and attachments included

The only exception to this is adding a simple link to your website or LinkedIn profile, but even this might be risky. You can experiment by sending cold emails that are plain text (not HTML) with zero links, attachments or images.

Learn more about this by reading my article Does Adding Links To A Cold Email Negatively Affect Deliverability?

6. Gradually increase sending volume

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they first start sending cold emails is they try to send too many emails too quickly.

You need to gradually increase your sending volume to avoid spam.

Check out my other article Should You Gradually Increase Sending Volume When Sending Cold Emails to learn how you can do this correctly.

I recommend that you send your cold emails with Emailchaser because we have a built in feature that will gradually increase your sending volume.

screenshot showing Emailchaser dashboard

7. Don’t send the exact same email too many times

If you send the exact same cold email 1,000 times, or even 100 times, then email service providers will most likely send your emails to spam.

If all of your emails are identical, then it is very obvious that your emails are sales/promotional in nature, which will cause them to go to spam.

You can learn how to send a high volume of cold emails that are not identical by reading my article Does Sending The Same Cold Email Multiple Times Decrease Deliverability? (Hint: Emailchaser has a feature that uses ChatGPT to make each email you send slightly different).

thumbnail of George

8. Only send 40 cold emails max per day per email address

If you send more than 40 cold emails per day per email address, then you risk going to spam.

Email service providers such as Gmail & Outlook don’t like email accounts that send a high volume of emails, as this is a typical sign of spam.

You may be thinking “How can I scale my cold email outreach if I can only send 40 cold emails per day per email address?”.

Fortunately, there is a solution!

I wrote an article that explains How To Safely Scale Up Your Cold Email Outreach.

thumbnail of George

9. Avoid using spam words

If you use words that sound spammy or promotional, then email service providers will send your cold emails to spam.

For example, words such as; free, buy now, MONEY etc.

a screenshot showing 20 email spam trigger words provided by ChatGPT

Check out my article 392 Email Spam Trigger Words To Avoid to see more examples.

If you send cold emails through Emailchaser, then we automatically prevent any emails from being sent that contain these spam trigger words. We will prompt you to update your email copy before allowing you to send.

10. Personalize every email

It is very important from both a deliverability and response rate perspective to personalize each cold email that you send.

For example, you should always mention the recipient's first name when you start your email, such as:

“Hi FirstName,”
"Oh Hi Mark,"
etc.

If you only write: “Hi,” or “Hi there,” then your recipients won’t respond, as it will be very obvious that you are sending mass emails (spam) that are not specifically for them.

Even if you send a high volume of cold emails, you can still personalize each email by using “custom variables”.

Emailchaser allows you to add custom variables to your cold emails. This means that each email you send will automatically update key pieces of information for each specific lead, such as: FirstName, CompanyName, City etc.

To learn more, I recommend that you read my article How To Personalize Your Cold Emails At Scale.

screenshot showing custom variable feature in Emailchaser

11. Use cold email software (not MailChimp)

You need to send cold emails using a specialized cold email software, such as Emailchaser.

Newsletter and email marketing softwares such as MailChimp & ConvertKit are not designed to be used for cold emails. They are designed to be used with email lists where people opted-in to receive emails (not cold emails).

screenshot of mailchimp's homepage

If you upload a list of non-opted-in emails to a tool like MailChimp, and you then try to send thousands of emails at once, then all of your emails will go to spam. MailChimp will also ban your account for violating their terms of service, and you will “burn” your sending domain, making all future emails go to spam as well.

You can learn more about this in my article Can You Send Cold Emails With Mailchimp?

12. Send your cold emails throughout the day

As discussed already in number 8 in this article, you should only send 40 cold emails max per day per email address.

However, you can’t send all 40 emails at the exact same time.

You need to spread out the sending throughout the day so that it looks natural.

If you send your cold email campaigns with Emailchaser, then we automatically add 5 to 10 minutes between each send for each email account, so that your sending frequency looks natural to email service providers.

screenshot showing Emailchaser

13. Do NOT use email warm-up tools

Despite what many cold email “gurus” say, I recommend that you don’t use email warm-up tools.

At best, they do nothing, at worst, they will flag your domain to email service providers and your emails will go to spam.

You can learn more about why you shouldn’t use email warm-up tools by reading my article Does Email Warm Up Work & Is It Safe?

image of two men talking on a zoom call

14. Use plain text emails (not HTML)

A plain text email is an email that doesn't contain links, images, formatted text or HTML code.

Plain text emails are more likely to go to the primary inbox (not spam), compared to HTML emails.

If your cold emails are HTML, then they are more likely to go to spam.

screenshot showing plain text email

The above image shows a plain text email. Notice how there are no links or images in the body of the email.

Plain text emails look more real and authentic. HTML emails that are full of links and images look like marketing emails, and make recipients think that they are not personalized. This will result in lower response rates, which in turn decreases your deliverability on future emails.

When you send cold emails with Emailchaser, your emails are formatted as plain text (not HTML) by default.

You can learn more about this topic in my article Plain Text vs HTML: Which Is Better For Email Deliverability?

15. Only send to business email addresses

If you send cold emails to personal email addresses, such as @gmail.com or @outlook.com, then you will have a higher rate of people marking your emails as spam, since people don’t want to receive business related emails to their personal email accounts.

If too many people mark your emails as spam, then email service providers will blacklist your domain and email account, and all of your future emails will go to spam.

You should only send cold emails to business (professional) email addresses that are associated with a domain.

image showing 10 different faces with professional email formats below them

Also, you could run into legal issues sending cold emails to personal email accounts. You can learn more about the legality of cold email in my article Is Cold Email Legal? (US, UK, EU & Canada Laws).

16. Send well written cold emails to avoid blacklists

If your cold emails are written poorly, then your open rate will be very low.

Recipients can see your subject line and first sentence in their inbox without even opening your email. If your copy is bad, they won’t even open your email, and they will immediately delete it.

screenshot showing unopened email in inbox

Email service providers will see that the vast majority of your emails aren’t even being opened, and they will conclude that your emails must be spam. They will then proceed to blacklist your domain, meaning that any emails you send from any email address associated with your domain will go to spam.

I recommend that you read my article How To Write A Cold Email That Gets Responses to avoid this problem.

17. Make your email sound conversational (not promotional or spammy)

If the content of your cold email sounds promotional or spammy, then email service providers such as Gmail will send your emails to the promotional or spam folder (not primary inbox).

screenshot of spam folder in gmail

Even small adjustments to your email copy can make a huge difference in your deliverability. For example, when I first launched Emailchaser, I set up an automatic email that was sent to new users that had the subject line: “Do you need help?”

All of these emails went to spam because email service providers (Gmail) determined that the text “Do you need help?” sounded spammy, and could be a phishing scam.

I then changed the subject line to “Thanks for signing up with Emailchaser” and immediately the emails started going to the primary inboxes of my recipients.

Nothing else changed.

This proves that tiny changes in your email copy can make or break your deliverability.

18. Use secondary sending domains

This doesn’t actually improve your deliverability, but it does protect your main domain from being “burnt” (blacklisted) by email service providers if you send cold emails incorrectly.

image showing multiple email accounts

The first 20% of my article How To Send Cold Emails Without Going To Spam explains everything that you need to know about using secondary sending domains.

Frequently asked questions

How do you fix cold email deliverability issues?

All of the advice in this article needs to be followed to ensure good email deliverability. However, correctly authenticating your domain is one of the most important things that you can do to avoid spam folders.

How do you maintain good cold email deliverability?

The best way to maintain good cold email deliverability is to gradually build up your sending volume, and only send 40 cold emails max per day per email address.

Final thoughts

Email deliverability is the most important factor affecting the success of your cold email campaigns.

If your deliverability is bad, then your prospects won’t even see your emails, as they will be in the spam folder.

I recommend that you read my article How To Send Cold Emails Without Landing In Spam to learn how you can send your first successful cold email campaign.

I also recommend that you send your cold emails with Emailchaser, because we built our software with everything mentioned in this article in mind. Our priority is to help our users land in the primary inbox (not spam).

picture of George Wauchope

Article by

George Wauchope

Founder of Emailchaser.

I have been working in the sales & marketing industry for nearly a decade.

When I’m not working on my business, I enjoy eating sushi & doing jiu-jitsu.

About the author