Effective Email Delivery: Technical Setup, Strategies, and Best Practices

Believe it or not, most sales ops teams don't invest much into making sure their team's emails make it to the inbox. That's why today, we're talking about email deliverability and how to create the right email technical setup for your needs.

The average sales rep sends 36.2 emails a day. If my math is correct, that means the average rep sends exactly 181 emails a week, roughly 760 emails a month, and more than 9,000 emails a year. That's a whole lotta email!

Unfortunately, none of it matters if the emails you send don't land in your target recipient's inbox. So, today we're going to talk about effective email deliverability.

I'll admit, it's not the sexiest topic. But if you get it right, your sales numbers will improve, your commission checks will get fatter, and your career will hit the next level—which is all very sexy.

I recently talked to Vaibhav Namburi, the Founder of Smartlead, an AI tool that helps users send emails at scale. Email deliverability is the "sweet poison" he's chosen to build his career on, so he's the perfect person to break down this complex subject for us. Let's dive in!

Technical Email Setup: How to Get It Right From Day 1

Have you ever worked in construction? Or watched a construction crew build a new building? Then you know that you can't just nail a couple of boards together and call it a day.

You have to make sure the ground is level, pour a concrete slab, and otherwise ensure the foundation of the structure is sound. Skip these steps, and your building will collapse.

The technical setup process that I'm about to describe is the foundation of your entire cold email strategy. If you build it properly, you'll have a much higher chance of success.


Your Domain Name

Start by getting your domain from a reputable DNS provider. Namburi recommends either GoDaddy or Google domains because "With other providers, without naming names, we tend to realize that their IP addresses sometimes get blacklisted."

If you're unfamiliar with the term, Namburi says that blacklisting is a process "where people mark certain IP addresses and/or domains as spam. As a result, said IP addresses and domains enter into private pools called blacklists, which are checked against email service providers like Gmail and Zoho, and help determine whether your emails land in the primary, promotion, or spam folders of your email recipients' accounts."

Technical Email Setup - Your Domain Name

Your Parallel Domain Name

Once you've chosen a well-respected DNS provider, you need to create a parallel domain, i.e., a domain name that closely resembles your actual domain name. If I were to create a parallel domain name for Close.com, for example, I might go with "GetClose.com" or "TryClose.com."

According to Namburi, “You should never, never, never send cold emails from your primary domain. The reason is simple: even if you're the best cold emailer in the world, you'll never get the reply rate that you would if you're sending emails with the intent of sending emails.”

In other words, when I email a friend or colleague, I'll almost always get a response. Why? Because I'm engaging a person I already have a relationship with in an organic conversation. When I cold email someone, I'm contacting a complete stranger. Chances are, that person won't respond to me because they don't know me. And low reply rates harm deliverability.

To fix this problem, create a parallel domain and cold email people from that address.

Seeking to optimize your B2B cold email strategy? Check out our article about 12 B2B Cold Email Templates to learn how a well-structured b2b cold email template can drive success.

Your Sending Provider

At this point, you've chosen a reputable DNS provider and set up a parallel domain.

Now what? Now it's time to choose your sending provider. There are tons of them out there, but Namburi only recommends three, "Outlook, Gmail, and Zoho."

Just don't put all your email eggs in one provider's basket. Take a distributed approach and use all three of the providers listed above. That way, 40 percent of the cold emails you send come from Outlook, another 40 percent come from Google, and the final 20 percent come from Zoho.

While this may seem like an extreme measure, it's not. By distributing your emails across multiple providers, you'll help ensure your deliverability rate is top-level. When this happens, more of your cold emails will reach their intended recipients, and you'll make more sales. Win!

One more thing: do not create more than three mailboxes per sending provider. The reason is simple: "Unlike SEO, email reputation isn't domain-specific. If one mailbox in an organization gets marked as spam, all mailboxes under that same domain will get marked as spam."

(Note: a mailbox is a specific email address, such as james@close.com or j.urie@close.com.)

4 Steps to Warm Up Your Mailbox

Professional athletes warm up their muscles before they compete in big games. Rockstars warm up their vocal cords before they melt the faces of their adorning fans. And sales reps need to warm up their mailboxes before they send cold emails to potential customers.

Namburi says that warming up your email is "a way of effectively tricking mailboxes into thinking that you are a natural creator and are having normal conversations with people. It's the best way to emulate a healthy email reputation from the beginning.

The question is, how do you go about warming your email? Just follow these four steps:

  1. Start small: You just set up your new email, and you want to message every contact in your CRM. Refrain yourself. Instead, start small. Then gradually increase the number of emails you send per day. Doing so will help you look like a legitimate sender.
  2. Limit email sends: If you want to protect your email reputation, you need to limit the number of outbound messages you send—even after your domain is warmed up. Namburi suggests a maximum of 50 emails a day, per mailbox.
  3. Scale horizontally: 50 emails per day isn't a massive number. Fortunately, you can navigate around this little roadblock by scaling horizontally, i.e., using multiple mailboxes to contact potential customers. Apps like Smartlead make this easy to do.
  4. Use auto-adjusted warmups: Finally, invest in a tool that includes an auto-adjusted warmups feature, which will automatically adjust your email warmup strategy to counteract the poor response rates your last email campaign generated. (If you're wondering, yes, Smartlead includes an auto-adjusted warmups feature.)

Technical Email Setup - Steps to Warm up Your Mailbox

What Is Spintaxing and Why You Should Use It

Every sales rep knows that personalization is key. If you don't cater your outreach efforts, pitch, etc., to the specific individual you're talking to, you probably won't close many deals.

Spintaxing is a technique you can use to personalize your email communications and protect your email reputation. Here's what Namburi has to say about the topic:

"Spintaxing is the process of generating synonyms for your copy. Instead of using the same phrase like 'Hey, first name' in every email, you vary it by saying 'Hey,' 'Hi,' 'Hello,' and so on."

Spintaxing is important because email service providers (ESPs) like Google have adopted a more semantic-based approach to catching spam in recent years.

Basically, ESPs are smart enough to know that if every message a person sends is 92 to 95 percent the same, they're probably spamming people. Spintaxing randomizes messages—while maintaining original intent—to defend email reputations.

(On a similar note, do your best to vary your sending frequency—or use software that can do it for you. If you send emails every five minutes, for example, your ESP might mark you as spam because no human sends emails every five minutes exactly. That's a robot thing.)

It's important to realize that spin-taxing and A/B testing are not the same thing. Spintaxing uses synonyms to express similar sentiments. A/B testing is an optimization process by which sales reps test different elements of their email copy to see which generates the best results.

For effective email marketing strategies, mastering the art of A/B testing cold emails can significantly improve your outreach success.

Email Sending Strategies to Improve Deliverability

Now that we've covered a lot of the technical setup information you need to ensure email deliverability let's talk about specific sending strategies you can use. I've got two for you:

  • Simplify your first email: The first message you send to a potential customer should be simple. Cut out images. Cut out links. Just put together a few sentences of personalized copy and then send that bad boy off to its intended recipient. This will give your message the best chance to land in an inbox, not a spam folder.
  • Get fancy with your second email: Feel free to jazz up your second message if your first message makes it to the inbox. Images, links, GIFs—whatever you think will help you close a deal—are perfectly fine to send at this point. Why? Because once the first message gets through, the second will follow. That's how email works.

In addition to these strategies, enhancing your cold email campaigns with advanced tools like our AI Email Writer can significantly increase your chances of success. This tool assists in crafting personalized, engaging email content that resonates with your audience, ensuring your emails not only reach the inbox but also elicit responses.

These tips might sound overly simple. But trust me, they'll improve your deliverability. Make your first message as vanilla as possible to ensure it hits an inbox. Then turn your second message into a super chocolate, caramel, crunchy nut, cherry-on-top ice cream sundae.

Technical Email Setup - Email Sending Strategies

Why Open Rate Tracking Is Going out of Style

Can I give you a bit of controversial advice? Turn off open tracking.

Namburi says open tracking isn't "a measurement that any expert uses." Why not, you ask? Because it's a "falsified metric." This wasn't always the case. But since Apple introduced its Mail Protection Policy (MPP), open rates have ceased to matter.

This is because "60 percent of all emails pass through an Apple IP address, which cloaks all information regarding email opens. So any activity that happens isn't going to appear."

Instead, track your email reply rate, which is a much stronger indicator of email performance.

Namburi also recommends using mail placement testers, which "will tell you where your email copy lands in specific ESPs." This is valuable information because "a private Gmail account will treat your copy differently than a Workplace Gmail account or an Outlook account."

Your mail placement tester software will then rate your emails based on the data it uncovers, and you can use these details to help you assess the deliverability of your email campaigns.

Win with Cold Email

Many sales reps have given up on outbound sales techniques, such as cold emailing.

It's not because these sales strategies don't work, they've just become more complicated, as you can tell from the information Namburi shared with me. That means that succeeding with cold email will take more of your blood, sweat, and tears than it's ever taken before.

Embracing these changes signifies that achieving success with cold email requires heightened dedication and effort, supported by modern outbound sales tools.

This is actually good news. If you follow Namburi's advice, you can succeed with cold email, connect with new customers, and give yourself a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Of course, I wouldn't recommend implementing any kind of cold email campaign without the proper tools. Smartlead can help you with all the technical email setup tasks you need to complete. And Close CRM can help you store and nurture the leads your cold emails bring in.

Give both platforms a try to see if they elevate your lead prospecting game!


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