How to Take Control Over Cold Email Deliverability

The worst nightmare of any email campaign sender is to send out emails, and then discover that none of them got delivered. Imagine that. You worked hard to set everything up, and bam, you got a lot of bounced — that is undelivered — emails. But you were certain that those addresses exist. What could have possibly gone wrong then?

Why Do You Get Email Bounces?

A few soft bounces or so are perfectly okay, even if you have a list of completely verified emails. A soft bounce means that your message was rejected by the recipient’s email server due to some temporary issue. For example, it couldn’t get delivered, because the inbox was overloaded or the server was down for a short while. It happens.

A hard bounce, on the other hand, happens when you send an email either to a blocked email address or to the one that doesn’t exist. That’s a permanent issue. It won’t get delivered no matter how hard you try.

The impact of bounces goes beyond a single campaign. Email bounces reflect negatively on the overall sender’s email deliverability. A high bounce rate lowers the domain reputation together with the reputation as an email sender.

And when that rate is disturbingly high, a sender may get blacklisted. Once that happens, none of the emails will get delivered to anyone.

We should avoid bounces, keeping them at the lowest rate. Thankfully, there some ways we can control their volume.

How To Control Email Deliverability

To gain control over email delivery, we should take the necessary steps way before we send the campaign. There are three spheres that we need to inspect before hitting “send”.

We need to pay attention to how we configure our email account, what we put in the email, and who we put on a contact list.

Configure your email account

Configure your email account

Undeniably, the way we set up our email account has a bearing on email reputation If we don’t take care of our email account, it may happen that our emails won’t reach their destination.

1. Set up a separate email account for cold emailing

You want to have a full control over the number of emails that come out of the email address that you use for outbound. I’ll venture a guess that you don’t know how many emails you send every day. Plus, you’re unlikely to predict the exact number of email you’ll send tomorrow.

But when it comes to email outreach, you do want to know how many emails come out of your email account. You’re going to send a lot of emails. You don’t want to get blocked.

The other thing is outbound campaigns require a lot of testing. You don’t want to compromise your everyday email address reputation when conducting outbound experiments.

That’s why setting up a separate inbox is necessary. And if you’re serious about email outreach and you know that you’re going to send big campaigns – set up a separate domain to protect your business one.

IMPORTANT: Check your email provider’s sending limits when choosing one, so you know how to schedule your campaign, so as not to send too much and get yourself on the blacklist.

2. Set SPF and DKIM records

Those records prevent anyone from using your email address to send emails on your behalf. SPF defines which IPs can be used to send emails from your domain. DKIM is another way of saying that it’s really you who sends the message.

If you don’t know how to do it and there is no one to ask to, write to your email provider. They should be able to help you.

3. Warm up a new email account

Next step is to prep your email account for sending campaigns. You do that by sending a few emails by hand, and gradually, increasing their volume. Don’t go over 50-100 emails just yet.

You can’t send a lot of email without giving your email address a proper warm up, because it’s a spammer’s move. Spammers set up new email accounts, send bulk emails from it and then move onto another account and do the same.

Ideally, you should gather few responses and then reply back. To do that, send them to trusted email addresses of your colleagues and friends.

After that, do an email reputation check using tools such as Mail Tester.

Take care of email copy

Take care of email copy - Email Deliverability Rules

The words and things you put in your email copy may also work to the detriment of your email reputation. Either the spam filters or email recipients may judge your email to be a spam judging from the content of it. So you need to get educated about anything that may trigger them.

1. Avoid spam words

The first thing that may decrease the overall deliverability of your emails is the language. Spammy words and expressions alarm spam filters and lead them to believe you’re a spammer. The more you use them in your copy, the higher the chance you get into trouble.

And if spam filters don’t stop your messages from being delivered, angry prospects may manually mark your emails as spam when they don’t like the content.

There many lists with the most common words and expressions that get you into trouble.

2. Personalize emails

Most people got used to using templates in email outreach and there’s nothing wrong with using them as long as we personalize them.

Email automation solutions these days allow to enrich a general email template with unique information for every prospect. That makes every email you send one of a kind, so it looks okay to spam filters.

Personalize emails with some mail merge fields or snippets, as we call them at Woodpecker, to make it unique.

3. Resign from tracking links and opens

Tempting as it is, tracking links and opens, and may do you more harm than good. It looks very suspicious because of the mechanism of how tracking works.

4. Avoid excessive HTML

Keep the form of your email and signature as simple as possible. Emails that contain only text look more natural to spam filters. If you use a lot of images, gifs, colorful fonts, fancy HTML template it raises suspicion and you may lower your email deliverability.

When it comes to a signature, make sure the HTML is tidy and well-organized.

Build a reliable list of addresses

Email deliverability best practices: Build a reliable list of addresses

Email deliverability suffers when emails are sent to a random prospect base. The only thing you may do is to work on building a trustworthy prospect base. Here are the things you should pay attention to.

1. Be Patient With Emails Collection

Don’t get tempted by reaching out to a humongous email list. Collect contacts with a specific campaign in mind. Prepare a campaign just for them. Think in batches, such as 20-50 email addresses, and test your delivery settings.

2. Email Verification Matters

Think quality over quantity

Don’t guess people’s email addresses. Make sure all of them are verified. Thankfully, there are tools for doing just that. Or maybe you use email automation that does that for you?

3. Use Email Personalization

Send only to business-specific people.

When you struggle to find a specific person’s email address, you may feel tempted to direct your message at or But you cannot personalize the email that way. Plus, the chances that your email gets read are rather slim. Find specific people like and personalize your message just for them.

What’s in it for you?


Email deliverability is something you can control so long as you follow the rules above. And those rules seem pretty easy to follow once you get a grasp of what they mean. What do you think about them? Have you ever experienced deliverability problems?

Learn how to nail a cold email campaign here.

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