How To Send Cold Emails Without Landing In Spam (2024) - Beginner’s Guide

Updated March 2024

In this article, I will show you how to send cold emails without getting your email address and domain blacklisted by email service providers such as Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo etc.

If you send too many cold emails without following best practices, you will “burn” (blacklist) your domain and all of your emails will land in the spam/junk folder. Once you burn your domain, there is no fixing it.

If you follow all of the steps in this guide, you will dramatically increase the number of responses you get from your cold emails. This article is essential reading for anyone doing outbound sales. I also recommend that you review this document from Google about how to prevent mail to Gmail users from being blocked or sent to spam.

In this article, I will cover the following:

1. Domain & email setup
2. Finding leads to email
3. Sending emails
4. Scaling & optimizing
5. Best practices to improve deliverability & results


Step 1: Domain & email setup

1.1 Set up Google Workspace & buy a domain
1.2 Set up your domain (SPF, DKIM, DMARC & domain forwarding)
1.3 Set up your email account (profile picture, signature & name)


1.1 Set up Google Workspace & buy a domain

You need to send cold emails from a business email address that is associated with a domain.

If you send cold emails from a personal email address, such as @gmail.com, @outlook.com or @yahoo.com, then you won’t get responses. People won’t take you seriously if you are sending emails from a personal email address.

An example of a business email address that is associated with a domain is [email protected] since emailchaser.com is a domain.

It is VERY important that you don’t send cold emails from email addresses that are associated with your main domain. I define your “main domain” as the domain that your company’s public website is built on.

For example, if your business’s website is https://www.emailchaser.com, then do NOT send cold emails from email addresses that are associated with emailchaser.com.

If you send cold emails incorrectly, then there is a risk that you will “burn” your domain, which will blacklist any email address that is associated with it. This will cause all of your emails to go to the spam/junk folder.

You can learn more about this topic in my article Should You Send Cold Emails From Your Primary Domain?

To avoid burning your main domain, you need to buy a second domain that is similar. This second domain is the domain that you will create an email address with and then send cold emails from. If this second domain gets burned, then it won’t affect your company’s main domain.

For example, if your main domain is emailchaser.com (this is your company’s website), then below are some examples of other domains that you could buy to send cold emails from:

emailchaserpro.com
tryemailchaser.com
emailchaserapp.com
getemailchaser.com
meetemailchaser.com
emailchaserhq.com
emailchaserlabs.com
emailchasercloud.com
theemailchaser.com
emailchasernow.com
emailchaserscale.com
emailchaserconsulting.com

You should avoid using hyphens & numbers in your domain names. And always get a .com domain name.

Since my name is George, below are some examples of email addresses that I could create using the above domains to send cold emails from:

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
etc.

Later in this article, I will show you how to 301 redirect these secondary domains to your main domain, so that your prospects will still see your real website if they enter these domains into the browser. This would look like:

emailchaserpro.com 301 redirects to emailchaser.com
tryemailchaser.com 301 redirects to emailchaser.com
emailchaserapp.com 301 redirects to emailchaser.com
etc.

The .com TLD has the best deliverability. You should only buy .com domains.

This is a list of domain extensions (TLDs) that have the worst reputation. Do not buy these domains. If you send cold emails from email accounts associated with these domains, then your emails will go to spam.

I buy my domains through Google Workspace.

I buy one domain per Google Workspace account. Google Workspace allows you to buy a domain when you are signing up for a Google Workspace account.

In the past, Google Domains was the registrar that Google Workspace allowed you to buy domains with, but in 2023, Squarespace acquired Google Domains, meaning that now, when you buy a domain through Google Workspace, you are registering the domain at Squarespace.

You can buy/register your domain with Squarespace while setting up your account with Google Workspace.

screenshot of google workspace homepage

To clarify, this is the domain that you will send your cold emails from. This is not your company’s main domain that already has a website associated with it.

Google Workspace is where you will buy your secondary domain and create your professional email address. This email address will be used to send cold emails.

It is important that you use Google Workspace because I will be using Google Workspace for the rest of this guide. If you don’t use Google Workspace, then this guide will be hard to follow. Also, do NOT buy your domains and set up your email accounts with Zoho; their deliverability is bad and your emails will go to spam. Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 are the only good email service providers.

Go to https://workspace.google.com/ and sign up for an account by clicking “Get started”.

Then follow the instructions that are provided to set up your Google Workspace account.

These are instructions explaining how to buy a domain while you set up your Google Workspace account.

You will buy your domain while setting up your Google Workspace account. You will also be prompted to create your email address (username) during this Google Workspace account set up process.

I recommend that you create only one email address per domain. Some people say that you can create two or three different email addresses per domain, but this is more risky, and could get your domain “burned” (blacklisted). It is safer long term to only create one email address per domain.

You can learn more about this topic in my article How Many Email Accounts Can You Create Per Domain For Cold Email?

It is important that you create a new Google Workspace account for each individual domain that you buy. Do not add multiple domains to a single Google Workspace account.

Below is a video showing how to buy a domain while setting up your Google Workspace account and how to create your email address. Note: The below video may be outdated as Squarespace has since acquired Google Domains, but the general idea of the video should still be valid:

Google Workspace recently updated their pricing so that by default they place you on the most expensive plan. After signing up, you should downgrade to the lower-priced plan:





1.2 Set up your domain (SPF, DKIM, DMARC & domain forwarding)

It is very important to authenticate your domain before you send cold emails.

This will improve your deliverability, and will make your emails land in the primary inbox.

If you don’t authenticate your domain by setting up SPF, DKIM & DMARC, then your cold emails will go to spam.

It will take a few days to fully set up your SPF, DKIM & DMARC records because you need to configure your SPF and DKIM records first, and then wait 48-hours before turning on your DMARC record. Slow and steady wins the race.


SPF
If you are using Google Workspace, then you can follow this guide to set up the SPF record on your domain.

In the past, if you bought your domain through Google Domains while setting up your Google Workspace account, then the SPF record would be automatically added to your domain’s DNS.

However, since Squarespace acquired Google Domains in 2023, this might not be the case anymore.

I recommend that you make sure that your domain has the SPF record added correctly (don't add it twice if it is already added).

Below is a video showing how to set up the SPF record on your domain:





DKIM
You can follow this guide to set up your DKIM with Google Workspace.

As explained above, the DKIM record used to be added automatically if you bought your domain through Google Domains while setting up your Google Workspace account. However, now that Squarespace acquired Google Domains in 2023, this may not be the case anymore.

You need to make sure that your domain has the DKIM record added correctly (and make sure you don't accidentally add it twice).

This article from Google shows you how to verify if you have set up your DKIM correctly. You can verify if your messages (emails) pass DKIM authentication following the steps in this article. This is my preferred method for verifying my DKIM authentication.

Below is a video showing how to set up DKIM on your domain (and how to verify that your DKIM & SPF are set up correctly):





DMARC
Important: You need to set up SPF and DKIM before you set up DMARC. After you set up SPF & DKIM, you should wait 48-hours before you set up DMARC. SPF & DKIM need to authenticate messages for 48-hours before you turn-on DMARC.

You should follow this guide to set up DMARC with Google Workspace.

When you are adding the DMARC record to your domain, I recommend that you set the following variables as described below:

p=quarantine
v=DMARC1

3 minutes and 10 seconds into this video discusses why setting up your DMARC record this way is important. Additionally, at 18 minutes and 45 seconds into the same video, they discuss further why you should set your DMARC to p=quarantine.

Google also discusses how setting your DMARC to p=quarantine can be beneficial for deliverability in this article.

You can then use this website to verify that your DMARC is set up correctly.

Below is a video showing how to set up DMARC:





Verify that your records were added correctly:
Before you move further ahead with this guide, let’s make sure that you have correctly added your SPF, DKIM and DMARC records to your domain.

I recommend that you verify these records by following the method in the below Tweet:

The above method requires you to send an email from your email account to another email account (do not send yourself an email). Then, click "Show original". You will see "PASS" next to SPF, DKIM and DMARC if you have added the records correctly.

If it doesn't say "PASS" next to SPF, DKIM and DMARC, then you can fix them by going back to this guide and making sure that everything is set up as I explained above.



Domain forwarding
Now you need to forward the domain that you bought to send cold emails from to your main domain.

I already explained earlier in this article why this is important, but long-story-short, if a prospect enters the domain that you send cold emails from into their browser, you want the prospect to see your company’s real website.

screenshot showing the page in google domains that allows you to forward a domain

For example, if my company’s website is https://www.emailchaser.com, but I bought the domain "emailchaserpro.com" to send cold emails from, and I created [email protected], then I would want to forward emailchaserpro.com to https://www.emailchaser.com so that when the people that I send cold emails to enter emailchaserpro.com into their browsers, they see my company’s real website (https://www.emailchaser.com).

Below is a video showing how to forward your domain in Google Domains. This video may be outdated as Google Domains was recently acquired by Squarespace, meaning that you now will need to forward your domain inside of Squarespace (not Google Domains) if you purchased your domain when setting up your Google Workspace account:


Regarding email forwarding (not domain forwarding), I recommend that you don't set up email forwarding for your sending email addresses.

If you send your cold emails with Emailchaser, then all responses that you receive will appear in the Inbox page inside of your Emailchaser account.

So even if you are sending cold emails from 30 different sender email addresses, any responses that you receive will appear in the same Inbox page inside of Emailchaser, and you will then be able to respond to these responses from this single page without having to log into your individual email accounts.

You do not need to forward incoming emails to a primary email address when using Emailchaser. In fact, I recommend that you don't forward emails because it can cause issues with creating confusing email chains between multiple different email addresses and also can create deliverability issues.

It is best to keep email responses with your leads in the original email chain. For example, if I email a lead from [email protected], and they respond, I should then respond from the original email address that I sent my first email from ([email protected]) and not a different email address.

Emailchaser allows you by default to respond to leads from the original email address that you emailed them from.



1.3 Set up your email account (profile picture, signature & name)

It is very important that you add a professional profile picture to your email account.

screenshot showing an email profile picture

Adding a profile picture to your email account will improve your deliverability, and will increase your response rate as people will trust you more.

To be clear, I am not talking about adding a picture to your signature. I am referring to a profile picture that you add to your actual email account in the settings section.

Below is a video that shows how to add a profile picture in your Google Workspace account:


It is also important to add a signature to your emails. This will improve your response rate as it builds trust with your prospects.

You can learn how to add a signature to your emails with Emailchaser in my article How To Write A Professional Email Signature.

Finally, it is important that you log into your newly created email account and make sure that your first and last name are added correctly. This ensures that your recipients will see your name displayed correctly in their inboxes. This is something that you must do inside of your Gmail (Google Workspace) account in the settings section (you cannot do this inside of Emailchaser).

Step 2: Finding leads to email

Now that you have set up your domain and email account, you need to find people to email.

If you are new to sales, then I recommend that you read my article How To Build A Lead List For Sales.

If you don't know where to find leads, then you should check out my article How To Find Leads For Sales: 7 Strategies.

I recommend that you focus on finding smaller lists of highly relevant leads. Some people promote the idea that you should find large lists of thousands of prospects, and then send thousands of generic emails to them.

This is a bad idea.

Firstly, you are much more likely to get your email account & domain “burned” (blacklisted) when emailing such a high volume of leads. This will cause all of your emails to go into the spam/junk folder, thus destroying any hope of having a successful cold email campaign.

Secondly, this approach doesn’t allow you to do any meaningful research or customization. Your conversion rate will be much higher if you research each prospect and send them an email that they can resonate with. Decision makers at large companies know when an email is copied and pasted and sent in mass, and they won’t respond unless they know your email was customized just for them.

The below video shows a conversation between Michael Seibel and Dalton Caldwell discussing how sending thousands of generic spam emails isn't effective:

Additionally, the below tweet shows how the former Chief Revenue Officer at Brex ran their best outbound campaign (75% demo rate, 75% demo to close). They only sent cold emails to 300 companies, and closed 169 of them as paying customers. This is a 56% close rate. This highlights the point that personalizing each cold email is far superior to sending thousands of generic spam emails to large lists.

If you have an existing large email list, then do NOT send cold emails to the entire list using mass mail services like MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, Mail Merge etc. This is extremely ineffective and will result in your emails landing in spam. You must send cold emails the correct way, as outlined in this article: slowly build-up the volume of emails that you send using a proper cold email sending tool like Emailchaser, this will 10x your results.

Another thing to be aware of is that you should avoid buying pre-existing lists of emails. There are companies that sell email lists, but these email lists usually have spam traps in them. Long story short, if you buy an email list and send cold emails to said list, there is a very high chance that email service providers will blacklist your domain & email address due to spam traps in the bought email list.

In most cases, the best place to find leads is LinkedIn Sales Navigator. You can learn how to get leads from LinkedIn in my article How To Generate B2B Leads On LinkedIn.

screenshot showing the homepage of linkedin sales navigator website

Step 3: Sending emails

Now that you have your lead list, you can start sending cold emails.

There are a lot of people in the cold email community that claim that you need to use email warm up tools before you can send cold emails. In my opinion, this is bad advice. You can learn why warm up tools are a bad idea in my article Does Email Warm Up Work & Is It Safe?

It is very important to send your cold emails with a specialized cold email software, like Emailchaser.

screenshot showing Emailchaser's dashboard

Cold email softwares such as Emailchaser are built to help your emails go to the primary inbox (not spam).

When you send cold emails, you are sending your emails from a professional email account that you created with Gmail (Google Workspace) or Outlook (Microsoft 365).

You then connect your Gmail (Google Workspace) or Outlook (Microsoft 365) accounts to Emailchaser, but the actual sending is still being done from Google's or Microsoft's servers.

As a result, you can't just send hundreds or thousands of emails from a single Gmail or Outlook email account, because this will cause all of your emails to go to spam.

I recommend that you send only 40 cold emails per day per email address max. You can learn more about daily sending limits in my article How Many Cold Emails Can You Send Per Day Before Going To Spam?

The way that you can scale your sending volume is by buying additional secondary domains, and creating multiple sender email accounts. You can learn how to do this in my other article How To Safely Scale Up Your Cold Email Outreach With Inbox Rotation.

You should also gradually build up your sending volume. If you create a brand new email account, then you shouldn't start sending 40 emails per day immediately. You should only send 5 to 10 emails per day for the first week, then 10 to 20 emails per day in the second week, then 20 to 30 emails per day in the third week, and finally, 30 to 40 emails per day in the fourth week.

Emailchaser automatically increases your sending volume as described above on new email accounts to prevent your emails from going to spam.

Another benefit of sending your cold emails through Emailchaser is that if you are sending a high volume of emails, then Emailchaser will automatically change the text of each email slightly, so no two leads receive the exact same email copy.

This is important because if you send the exact same email too many times, then your emails will go to spam. Emailchaser uses OpenAI's GPT model to achieve this.

image showing how open ai changes text

The final point that I will mention is that there is a huge difference between sending cold emails (outbound sales) and sending newsletter or transactional emails.

I recommend that you read my article Can You Send Cold Emails With Mailchimp? In this article, I explain why you should never use newsletter software like Mailchimp to send cold emails.

I also recommend that you read my article Should You Use An SMTP Provider To Send Cold Emails (Like SendGrid)? In this article, I explain why you shouldn't send cold emails with transactional email software (SMTP servers like SendGrid).

Step 4: Scaling & optimizing

Scaling:

The way that you can scale your sending volume is by buying additional secondary domains, and creating multiple sender email accounts. You can learn how to do this in my other article How To Safely Scale Up Your Cold Email Outreach With Inbox Rotation.

Emailchaser allows you to add an unlimited number of sender email accounts to a single campaign. This allows you to scale your cold email outreach infinitely.

image of four different email addresses on four different domains

I recommend that you start by buying just one secondary domain and creating one email account from this domain.

Once you understand how to set up your first domain and email account, you can then set up additional domains and email accounts.

I recommend that you only create one email account per domain. Some people say that you can create two or three different email accounts per domain, but this is more risky, and could get your domain “burned” (blacklisted). It is safer long term to only create one email account per domain.

You can learn more about this topic in my article How Many Email Accounts Can You Create Per Domain For Cold Email?

It is important that you create a new Google Workspace account for each domain that you buy. Do not add multiple different domains to a single Google Workspace account.

As mentioned previously in this article, I recommend that you only send 40 emails max per day per email address. Since you should only create one email address per domain, if you want to scale your cold email outreach, you need to buy more domains.


Optimizing:

A lot of people try to monitor and optimize the performance of their cold email campaigns by tracking their email open rate.

I recommend that you don’t track your open rate. Tracking email open rates will negatively affect your deliverability, meaning that your emails are more likely to go to spam.

You can learn more about why open tracking negatively affects your deliverability by reading my article Does Email Open Tracking Negatively Affect Deliverability?

The only metric that matters is your reply rate (not your open rate). You don’t need to track your open rate to know your reply rate.

You can track your reply rate with Emailchaser. Emailchaser has an analytics page that shows you important metrics for each campaign that you launch.

screenshot showing Emailchaser's analytics page

Below are some cold email metrics you should aim for:

  • Bounce rate should be less than 2%
  • Response rate should be at least 25%
  • Meeting booking rate should be at least 6%

Your deliverability and quality of leads will be the most important factors that determine whether you achieve these metrics.

If you aren’t hitting these metrics, then look at these first. If these are good, and you still aren’t hitting your numbers, then you should re-examine your offer, as that may be a problem.

If your response rate is low, then read my article 12 Reasons Why Your Cold Emails Are Not Getting Replies.

Also, you need to personalize your emails to get a high response rate. Check out my article How To Personalize Your Cold Emails At Scale.

Step 5: Best practices to improve deliverability & results

Below are some cold email deliverability best practices that you should follow to ensure that your emails land in the primary inbox (not spam):

  • Add a profile picture to your email account.
  • Start slow: follow the advice mentioned in this article. Build up the number of emails that you send each day until you reach the 40 emails max per day per email address limit.
  • Keep your email short (less than 100 words). Prospects don’t have time to read long emails. Read my article on How To Write Cold Emails That Get Responses.
  • Always send automatic follow-up emails. Emailchaser allows you to do this.
  • Personalize each email, don’t send the same exact email to every prospect.
  • Send emails during business hours (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday).
  • Use a battle tested subject line such as: "Question for {company_name}"
  • Open tracking off. Tracking open rates and link clicks in your emails will decrease your deliverability. Check out my article Does Email Open Tracking Negatively Affect Deliverability to learn more.
  • Never include links, images or attachments in your first cold email. These will land you in spam. If a lead has already responded, then you can include links, images and attachments.
  • Send your cold emails as plain text (not HTML). Emailchaser sends your cold emails as plain text by default.
  • Avoid using words that sound spammy. Email service providers such as Gmail & Outlook scan for spammy words, and they will put your cold emails in the spam folder if they contain these words. Avoid words that create urgency, exaggerations, money-related words and unnatural sounding words. Check out my article 392 Email Spam Trigger Words To Avoid.
  • Minimize bounces by cleaning your email list. If you send too many emails to email addresses that are not real or valid, then you will have a high bounce rate, which will decrease your email sender reputation score, which will cause your emails to go to spam. Use our Email Verifier tool to validate email addresses before emailing them.

To see my full list of deliverability best practices, check out my article How To Improve Your Cold Email Deliverability.

Final thoughts

If you follow all of the steps in this article, you will improve your deliverability and avoid the spam folder.

Your emails will land in the primary inbox, and you will receive positive responses.

If there is anything that I can emphasize most, it is that you need to take your time and not rush into a cold email campaign. You must slowly build up the number of cold emails that you send each day until you reach the 40 emails per day per email address limit. I recommend that you use Emailchaser to send your cold emails because it was built to do all of this automatically.

I also recommend that you read my article How To Write Cold Emails That Get Responses to learn how to write effective cold emails.

Finally, if you need inspiration, check out the below Tweet thread from Nathan Barry about how he used cold email (direct sales) to grow his company ConvertKit from $1,500.00 MRR to $100,000.00 MRR in 12 months:

Also, check out this Tweet thread about how to dramatically improve your close rate with prospects by increasing urgency:

If you want to learn more about cold email, then check out my other articles.

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
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