The Ultimate Cold Email Checklist For 2022
We’ve collected data from the world's best cold emailers and simplified what the best cold emailing campaigns have in common into a checklist.
We’ve broken this into 2 sections, copywriting and technical. With that being said, lets go:
Cold Email Copywriting Checklist
1) Don’t include images
Try not to include images in your first email. The first email should have <150 words, so the low word-to-image ratio will trigger spam filters.
In addition, if images are self-hosted, they may trickle spam filters from poor-rated domains.
Adding images in follow-ups to grab attention works better as the leading inbox is already adjusted to your email address from before.
2) Include only one link
Spam filters are not friends with links, even if the link is wrapped in a redirect, try avoid adding many links and stick to just one link (yours).
In addition, adding multiple links dilutes the CTA effect, remember each email’s job is to do one thing, by adding multiple links, you’re confusing the reader and removing the focus from the singular CTA.
3) Keep emails < 150 words
No one likes reading walls of texts; keep the copy simple, short and to the point. In that copy, introduce yourself, provide relevant social proof, and mention how quickly users can achieve an outcome if they chat with you.
Spread the words and don’t keep a paragraph more than 2 sentences long.
4) Don’t repeat the same email in a follow-up
Chances are if they didn’t care about the first time you sent them the message, they wouldn’t care about it the second time.
Rephrase what you’re trying to pitch to the user. In addition, this also will improve your deliverability as you’re not spam-triggering email service providers with the same copy multiple times.
5) Pass it through Hemingway to keep it grade 5 reading
Keep it simple, avoid complex phrases, and remove jargon. 6/10 users disengage after reading 1 word that they don’t understand. You can do this on smartlead.ai as you type out your email, without having to switch between tabs or apps.
6) Avoid spam trigger keywords
Don’t start a cold email with SALE! Or have your subject line in all caps. Don’t overtly sell, Google has moved from lexical to semantic NLP, meaning they can pick up intention in your emails.
This doesn’t mean sell, ofcourse you sell, thats the point of cold email, just don’t sound like the Nigerian Prince.
7) Don’t ask for a sale on first email (goal is meeting)
Common mistake beginners make is ask people to make a purchase and present them with a link to buy. This doesn’t work. The first email’s job is to drive a conversation or a demo.
The demo’s job is to drive a deal. This is why cold emails aren’t the best for low <$100 ticket items, as jumping on demos is not scalable unless you’ve got staff.
Cold emails should read as conversations, not sales pitches
Treat cold emails as an inperson conversation. Read out the email out loud, would this be something you’d tell someone random on a street or in a networking event?
If no, change the copy; if yes, click send.
8) Don’t send out HTML-heavy emails
The game of cold emails is to make each email look like you wrote a personalised email just for them, while smartwriter.ai exists to help you personalise your emails at scale, make sure you don’t send a templatised cold email with images and pretty buttons.
No one wants to be sold to, let alone mass sold to. HTML templates are for subscriptions and newsletters, not cold outreach.
Cold Email Technical Checklist
1) Use complementary domains
Never use your primary domain. If your company email is firstname.lastname@example.org (for example), don’t send emails from email@example.com. Buy additional domain names to protect your email sending reputation.
By nature of cold emails they have low reply rates, and sometimes can have bounces, which then affect your email reputation. If you end up using your primary email, you’ll risk all your company emails landing in spam.
So what's the fix? Buy domains that are complimentary to your primary account, such as getsmartlead.com, usesmartlead.com, etc. and make sure in your DNS (GoDaddy, Namecheap) you’ve redirected these domains to your primary domain, in this case, smartlead.ai. This is for the case when someone tries visiting your “complimentary” domains.
2) Don’t use alias’ accounts
Alias accounts don’t act as separate email accounts, but they’re just masked addresses of your main account, and they don’t maintain separate reputation.
3) Use spintax to improve deliverability
If any email software sees someone sending 1000s of emails with the exact copy, it’ll most likely flag it.
The fix for this is to send emails that are slightly different from each other. One way to do this is through personalisation which we spoke of above, another way is to use spintax.
Spintax is the concept of changing your copy with synonyms to make each email read differently and improve your deliverability.
In smartlead.ai, you can achieve this very easily by writing your copy as such:
What this does is spin up 4 different emails; each email will have a slightly different copy, boosting your deliverability as well as giving you the opportunity to see which verbiage leads to better results
4) Test different copies for deliverability & experimentation
Similar to spintax, but with A/B testing, you can change entire chunks of your copy to send different emails; that’ll do 2 things for you:
1) Improve your deliverability through the variance of copy
2) Give you the chance to see if different messaging leads to better ROI
5) Setup DKIM, DMARC, SPF
These are security protocols to help email accounts verify that you are the actual sending and there isn’t someone spoofing your account.
Checkout this article on how to set these up for your account in an effort to boost your deliverability and stay out of spam.
6) Warm up your domains
Warm-up engines protect your emails from landing in spam and build your sender reputation.
Smartlead’s warm up algorithm is built to emulate a humanized sending behaviour that ensures your reputation consistently improves - therefore landing more of your emails in your leads inbox, not spam.
7) Don’t send more than 50 emails per account daily
Regardless of Gmail’s 1k limits or Zoho’s 800 limit per day, no human sends that many emails.
After reviewing 1000s of email accounts, you should try keep your daily sending to <50 emails to protect your emails reputation and ensure it’s longevity in deliverability.
This number will gradually increase as your domain ages, but if your domain is <1 year old, you shouldn’t send more than 50 emails.
8) Ensure there is randomisation when sending emails
In whatever software you’re using or if you’re sending emails manually, don’t send them out in bursts. Ensure there are natural gaps and randomisation when sending emails out. This “humanises” the behaviour and helps you avoid any spam filters.
9) Ramp up your warmup emails
When starting your warmup, don’t start with 40 emails on the first day; let the email get comfortable to the IP network as well as get used to sending emails. You don’t want to take a fresh domain and send 100 emails straight away on day one, similarly with warming up, you want it to ramp up slowly, perhaps 5 emails per day till it reaches 40 emails in volume per day.
10) Use unsubscribe texts, not links
While it’s necessary to have the unsubscribe link for GDPR compliance reasons based on the locations you’re reaching out to, an alternate and healthier way is to ask your leads to respond with a text if they’re not interested
At the bottom of the email you can type “Please respond with “not interested” if this isn’t for you”
This way, you’re boosting up your reply percentage for free and improving your deliverability and secondly, you can easily stop sending subsequent messages to them using rules in any cold emailing tool.
11) Set up custom domain tracking
Tracking clicks and open rates depends on a small snippet of html being injected into your email body. This is industry standard. Whilst it makes for good analytics sometimes people may see drops in their campaigns deliverability.
This is due to the same “tracking” domain being used across 1000s of campaigns set up by all the users of the cold emailing software. ESPs (email service providers) are smart to understand that there are millions of emails being opened, and they’re all sending “requests” to the same “tracking url”. This may* cause a slight drop in your deliverability.
So what’s the fix? Simple.
You trick the ESP by “masking” the tracking URL with your own.
Find the full guide here
12) Keep the time gap between emails at least 20 minutes
Configure the gap between sending emails to atleast 20 emails. This helps maintain your email reputation and prevents and automation flags.
13) Setup a DNC list to boost deliverability
With a Do Not Contact list, you’ve got peace of mind that you’re not going to be sending messages to people who’ve previously asked you not to message them or emails that have bounced.
Both actions protect your email reputation and reduce the chance of any future emails landing in spam due to high bounce of spam-flag rate.
14) Avoid personal emails to prevent spam traps
Send emails to business emails, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, instead of email@example.com, personal Gmail accounts have more aggressive spam filters, and the promotional folder is stricter.
By sending to company accounts, you improve your chance of landing in the lead's primary inbox.
15) Inbox rotation
Since you’re sending 50 emails per account, if you’re trying to reach out to 1000 leads, it’ll take you 20 days; this isn’t sustainable. You can add multiple domains and split your leads across your email accounts.
If you’ve got 20 email accounts sending 50 emails each, you can reach 1000 leads in just one day without hiring your reputation.
Instead of manually managing these campaigns which would be an absolute pain, smartlead will help automate the inbox rotation without any extra work.
In addition, it’ll collect all your emails in one unibox so you don’t need to maintain 20 different logins.