Email outreach is a cornerstone of modern marketing strategies, enabling businesses to connect with potential clients, nurture leads, and drive conversions.
The success of your email outreach campaigns depends on how effectively you manage both content and technical aspects, and a crucial element that can significantly impact your outreach success is of course, your email deliverability.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore our own proprietary 30-point checklist, encompassing best practices to optimise email deliverability and enhance your outreach efforts.
We run the below checks and processes for every single Business Development as a Service (BDaaS) client we support, and off the back of our efforts we secure an average of 5 – 10 client meetings per month, per domain.
So whether you’re thinking of running your own outreach programme, or are interested in setting up your own outreach agency, we recommend taking the following steps to success.
Audience and Data
1. Identify Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and Segment Your Audience
Understanding your audience and segmenting them based on their preferences and behaviours ensures targeted and relevant communication. Tailoring your messages increases engagement, enables you to include industry specific terminology and jargon, and improves conversion rates.
2. Source Only Verified Contacts
There are lots of data prospecting tools out their, including solutions such as Apollo, Zoom info, and Cognism, but not all data is created equal, and using only verified contacts (excluding invalids, unknowns, and accept-alls) guarantees that your emails reach active and genuine recipients. This approach improves email deliverability and saves time by avoiding outreach to invalid or outdated contacts.
3. Double-Check Contact Validity Using Third-Party Verification Tools
It’s the job of a data prospecting platform to sell you data. But further to point 2 above, even if verified, that data’s never guaranteed to be 100%. That’s why we always validate contacts further using independent third party tools to ensure their accuracy and relevance. This step minimises bounce rates and maintains a positive sender reputation, ultimately leading to higher response rates.
4. Regularly Update Contacts to Avoid Data Stagnation
Frequent updates to your contact database keep it fresh and accurate. Avoiding outdated data ensures that your outreach efforts are reaching a receptive and engaged audience. We prospect for fresh contact data weekly. Not fortnightly, not monthly, weekly! If you can do it daily, even better!
5. Auto-Archive Bounced Contacts
Efficiently manage bounced contacts by automatically archiving them. This keeps your contact list clean, improving deliverability and campaign performance.
6. Clearly Articulate Your Unique Selling Propositions (USPs)
Immediately highlight your USPs in the opening email to capture recipients’ attention and communicate your value proposition effectively. If you can’t summarise your value proposition to the recipient in a single, simply sentence, then you’re overcomplicating things.
7. Optimize Text-to-Image Ratio
Focus on a text-based email to ensure easy readability across various devices and email platforms, promoting higher engagement and message comprehension.
Equally, the more images you have, the more likely it is that your email will land in the promotions folder, so stick with plain text wherever possible.
8. Craft a Thoughtful Email Sequence
Develop a well-structured email sequence with multiple touchpoints to nurture leads and guide them through the decision-making process, boosting overall conversion rates.
9. Avoid Promotional and Spam Language
Remove promotional and spam words from your content to bypass spam filters and increase email visibility, enhancing engagement rates. We love Folderley’s free spam work checker tool.
10. Personalize Your Emails Dynamically
Implement dynamic personalisations, addressing recipients by their names and mentioning relevant details such as shared clients, company name, pain points, goals etc. Personalisation establishes a connection, differentiates your comms from one size fits all spam, and improves response rates.
11. Limit the Number of Links
Minimize the number of links in your email to improve deliverability. Link-free emails increase trust and encourage recipients to take the desired action.
12. Avoid Attachments
Communicate your value proposition effectively without attachments. Attachment-free emails ensure a seamless message and encourage recipients to engage with your content. Attachments are also often seen as high risk by spam filters and security bots.
13. Implement Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
Enhance email authentication by implementing SPF, reducing the chances of your emails being marked as spam and maintaining a positive sender reputation.
14. Set Up DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)
Implement DKIM to enhance email security and validation, reducing the risk of phishing attempts and increasing recipient trust.
15. Implement Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC)
Enhance email security and reputation by implementing DMARC, adding an extra layer of authentication to your email communication.
16. Include a Custom Tracking Link (CTL)
This is incredibly important. Every email marketing/outreach platform enables you to include links in their emails, and every single one of them uses link redirects and tracking pixels to track clicks and opens. By default, the links used in your platform will be generic – i.e. shared by every other clients using the software, so if they send spam or poorly targeted emails, you’ll be tarred with the same brush. By creating your own unique Custom Tracking Link, you isolate your domain reputation and prevent cross-contamination. If your email platform doesn’t offer CTLs, ditch it, and get a different platform.
17. Ensure Proper Mail Exchange (MX) Records
Verify and set up MX records to improve email deliverability and reliability, ensuring that your emails reach the intended recipients effectively.
18. Gradually Warm Up Your Domain
Before initiating a campaign, gradually warm up your domain to improve email deliverability and ensure your emails reach the inbox. You can do this manually, or you can use a third party automated warm up tool, such as Mailreach. The added advantage of using something like Mailreach is that it will also provide you with a domain reputations core, so you’re able to monitor how you’re doing over time (see point 19)
19. Maintain a High Domain Reputation
A high domain reputation is vital for successful email outreach. Aim for a reputation of 95% or greater to increase trust and engagement with your emails.
20. Use a Domain at Least 2 Months Old
Prioritise using a well-established domain Top Level Domain (TLD, such as .com, .net or .co.uk, as it is more likely to be trusted by email providers, resulting in improved email deliverability. Avoid cheap domain registrars, like Namecheap, which are often used by spammers to bulk buy disposable domains in bulk.
21. Monitor IP Reputation and Blacklists
Regularly check your email server’s IP to ensure it’s not blacklisted using MX Supertool, and keep a close eye on your sender score – positive sender score of over 95% contributes to successful email delivery (we always maintain our dedicated IP’s at >98%).
22. Ensure Your Domain Isn’t Blacklisted
Maintain a clean email reputation by ensuring your domain isn’t blacklisted, optimising email deliverability and campaign success.
23. Optimize Email Drip Rate
Manage your email drip rate to avoid overwhelming recipients, minimising the risk of being flagged as spam and improving email engagement. We send no more than 200 cold emails per day (including warm up emails), through any domain.
24. Offer a Quick Response Time (2hr SLA)
Commit to a quick response time to demonstrate professionalism and respect for recipients’ time, ultimately enhancing engagement and rapport. ESPs also look for responsive behaviour as indicative of a Mailbox that is manned by a real human, rather than a bot.
25. Integrate with CRM Systems
Integrate your email outreach with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems for streamlined communication, automation, and personalised follow-ups, improving overall efficiency.
26. Facilitate Rescheduling for Meeting No-Shows
No shows are a frustrating fact of life – they happen, get over it. The positive thing about a no show is that the prospect has already shown engagement, so double check that they are still interested in your product/service, and if they are, rebook them in asap.
27. Integrate Calendly for Easy Scheduling
Integrate Calendly into your email outreach for efficient scheduling, making it easier for recipients to book meetings and boost conversion rates.
28. Regular Reporting and Pipeline Analysis
Analyse campaign performance through weekly reporting, enabling data-driven decisions to optimise strategies and enhance future campaign effectiveness.
29. Ensure Data Quality and Replacement Options
Prioritize data accuracy by offering data approval and replacements, guaranteeing targeted outreach and maximizing positive responses.
30. Implement Integrated Leave Lists
Avoid contacting existing clients and prospects by utilizing an integrated leave list. This proactive approach maintains a positive relationship with your audience, ensuring a better overall experience.
By following this 30-point checklist and incorporating these best practices into your email outreach strategy, you’ll be well on your way to improving email deliverability, increasing engagement, and achieving better results from your outreach campaigns. Stay tuned for more insights and tips to enhance your marketing efforts!