Cold email deliverability can be a constant challenge for even the most seasoned sales development professionals. Email service providers continuously change their algorithms in order to protect their customers’ inboxes from any unwanted messages and it’s not always clear what changes they make.

The good news is that there are a few simple steps you can take to minimize the risk of ending up in your prospects’ spam folders. Here are a few best practices to follow when sending cold emails:

Monitor your bounce rate and keep it under 3%

A bounced email is an email message that gets rejected by a mail server. There are a variety of different reasons why this could happen, however, the most common is because of poor data quality. When you send an email to an address that doesn’t exist, it bounces.

Email service providers track this information because those who send emails to nonexisting addresses are in most cases sending spam.

When was the last time you checked your bounce rate? It’s always a good idea to monitor this metric and keep it below 3%. Any higher than that and email service providers may start sending you to the spam folder.

Avoid ending up with a high bounce rate by choosing a reputable data provider and verifying your email lists.

Check to see if you’ve been blacklisted

If you’re seeing a sudden drop off in open rates or your emails are consistently underperforming, it may be worthwhile to check if you’re on a blacklist.

This can happen when email recipients consistently report emails from certain domain as spam.

Check to see if you are on a blacklist here.

Avoid sending templated messages in cold emails

Sales engagement platforms make it incredibly easy to create templated emails that you can send at scale. Almost too easy to send.

If you’re considering sending out a sales email and gives off even a hint of being a template, don’t send it. The high-volume email approach worked well in 2015, however, times have changed.

Personalization and relevance are key when it comes to creating a successful cold email campaign. While it may seem like a daunting task to personalize every email, there are steps you can take to speed up the process.

The easiest way to create relevant emails at scale is to segment your outreach. A segment of leads that ‘liked’ a specific post on LinkedIn, a segment of leads that is attending a specific event, a segment of leads that use a competitor, etc.

Create a new cadence for each one of these segments. As soon as you do this, your baseline ‘templated’ email already has a hint of personalization to it. Add one of two more customizations and you have a compelling and unique email.

Take links and images out of your cold emails (including your signature)

The more links and images you include in an email, the higher likelihood that your email ends up in the spam folder.

While it’s still important to include a signature in your email, you need to be mindful of how many images and links are in it.

Consider creating a plain text email signature so you can professionally represent your company while at the same time eliminating any unnecessary links and images.

Avoid sending emails to anyone outside your ICP

While this last tip seems fairly straightforward, it has some unusual consequences when you don’t follow it.

Sending cold emails that are irrelevant to the recipient is a sure-fire way to be reported as spam. That’s why it is vitally important to nail down your ICP and choose your list carefully.

So next time you receive a questionable lead from your marketing or sales leader, consider whether or not it’s worth the risk.


While there are some additional technical steps that you can take with your IT team, there are plenty of things you can do on your end to stay off blacklists.

In a nutshell, the easiest way to not end up in the junk folder is to not send spam. Keep your cold emails personalized, relevant, and unique. Happy hunting!

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