The Ultimate Cold Email Checklist for B2B Success

Created On:
August 30, 2022
Updated On:
May 29, 2024
The Ultimate Cold Email Checklist— Avoid Spam Filters and Land in The Inbox

Cold emailing can be a tricky game. Will your message end up in the inbox or spam folder? Can it engage the recipient or meet a swift delete?

The key to mastering this art is keeping a cold email checklist.

In this post, I'll simplify the complexities of successful cold emails. Whether you're a seasoned marketer or a beginner, this checklist is your path to success. From word count to domain choices, I've got you covered.

I've collected data from the world's best cold emailers and extracted what cold email rules they follow. I’ve simplified what the best cold emailing campaigns have in common into a checklist.

So, get ready to improve your cold email skills as I unveil the secrets to crafting compelling and deliverable messages.

For your convenience, I’ve divided this blogpost into 2 sections, copywriting and technical. With that being said, lets dive in.

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 the cold email rules, i.e. 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 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, of course 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 in-person 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 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 (for example), don’t send emails from 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,, etc. and make sure in your DNS (GoDaddy, Namecheap) you’ve redirected these domains to your primary domain, in this case, 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 cold email 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, you can achieve this very easily by writing your copy as such:

{Hi|Hello|Hey|What’s up}

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


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 email 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 at least 20 emails. This helps maintain your email reputation and prevents and automation flags.

13. Setup a DNC list to boost cold email 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, instead of, 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.


If you're struggling with cold emailing, trust me, success is just a checklist away. This checklist simplifies the complexity of what kind of content works in cold emails, ensuring your messages hit the right mark boosting your cold email open rates.

But if there's one rule you must never forget, it's this:

Cold emails should read as conversations, not sales pitches.

So, whether you're mastering the art of copywriting or navigating technical intricacies, remember, a well-crafted checklist is your ally.  It transforms your emails into compelling, deliverable messages. So keep this email checklist template handy. With this arsenal in hand, you're ready to conquer inboxes and elevate your cold email game to new heights. Happy emailing!


1. Why Do I Need a Cold Email Checklist?

A cold email checklist is your roadmap to success. It ensures your emails are concise, engaging, and deliverable, increasing your chances of getting a response instead of being marked as spam.

2. What Should I Include in My Cold Email Checklist?

Your cold email checklist should cover essentials like avoiding images, limiting links, keeping emails short (under 150 words), avoiding repetition, using clear language, and steering clear of spam-triggering words. So make sure to keep a cold email checklist template handy.

3. What's the Best Time to Send Cold Emails?

Timing matters in cold emailing. To boost cold email open rates aim for weekdays, preferably Tuesday to Thursday, between 9 AM and 11 AM or 3 PM and 4 PM. However, it's vital to consider your target audience's time zone.

4. How long should Cold Emails be?

Cold emails should be concise, typically under 150 words. The length may vary based on your purpose, but brevity is key to maintaining the reader's interest.

5. How many cold emails should I send?

The number of cold emails depends on your capacity and target audience. Start with a manageable volume, like 50 emails per day per account, and gradually increase as your domain reputation improves. It's about quality over quantity.

Cold Email Checklist

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

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Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Author’s Details

Vaibhav Namburi

I'm the Founder of Smartlead. I've helped build multiple multi-million dollar companies and I love approaching Start Ups through product-lead growth


Edited by:

Vaibhav Namburi


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Frequently asked questions

General Questions

What is Smartlead's cold email outreach software?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Smartlead's cold email outreach tool helps businesses scale their outreach efforts seamlessly. With unlimited mailboxes, fully automated email warmup functionality, a multi-channel infrastructure, and a user-friendly unibox, it empowers users to manage their entire revenue cycle in one place. Whether you're looking to streamline cold email campaigns with automated email warmups, personalization fields, automated mailbox rotation, easy integrations, and spintax, improve productivity, or enhance scalability with subsequences based on lead’s intentions, automated replies, and full white-label experience, our cold email tool implifies it in a single solution.

How does the "unlimited mailboxes" feature benefit me?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Our "unlimited mailboxes" feature allows you to expand your email communications without restrictions imposed by a mailbox limit. This means you won't be constrained by artificial caps on the number of mailboxes you can connect and use. This feature makes Smartlead the best cold email software and empowers you to reach a wider audience, engage with more potential customers, and manage diverse email campaigns effectively.

What do you mean by "unibox to handle your entire revenue cycle"?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

The "unibox" is one of the unique features of Smartlead cold email outreach tool, and it's a game-changer when it comes to managing your revenue cycle. The master inbox or the unibox consolidates all your outreach channels, responses, sales follow-ups, and conversions into one centralized, user-friendly mailbox.

With the "unibox," you gain the ability to:
1. Focus on closing deals: You can now say goodbye to the hassle of logging into multiple mailboxes to search for replies. The "unibox" streamlines your sales communication, allowing you to focus on what matters most—closing deals.

2. Centralized lead management: All your leads are managed from one central location, simplifying lead tracking and response management. This ensures you take advantage of every opportunity and efficiently engage with your prospects.

3. Maintain context: The "unibox" provides a 360-degree view of all your customer messages, allowing you to maintain context and deliver more personalized and effective responses.

How does Smartlead ensure my emails don't land in the spam folder?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Smartlead, the best cold email marketing tool, ensures your emails reach the intended recipients' primary inbox rather than the spam folder. 

Here's how it works:
1. Our "unlimited warmups" feature is designed to build and maintain a healthy sending reputation for your cold email outreach. Instead of sending a large volume of emails all at once, which can trigger spam filters, we gradually ramp up your sending volume. This gradual approach, combined with positive email interactions, helps boost your email deliverability rates.

2. We deploy high-deliverability IP servers specific to each campaign. 

3. The ‘Warmup’ feature replicates humanized email sending patterns, spintax, and smart replies.
4. By establishing a positive sender reputation and gradually increasing the number of sent emails, Smartlead minimizes the risk of your emails being flagged as spam. This way, you can be confident that your messages will consistently land in the primary inbox, increasing the likelihood of engagement and successful communication with your recipients.

Can I integrate Smartlead with other tools I'm using?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Certainly, Smartlead is designed for seamless integration with a wide range of tools and platforms. Smartlead offers integration with HubSpot, Salesforce, Pipedrive, Clay, Listkit, and more. You can leverage webhooks and APIs to integrate the tools you use. Try Now!

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

What type of businesses sees the most success with Smartlead?

No, there are no limitations on the number of channels you can utilize with Smartlead. Our multi-channel infrastructure is designed to be limitless, allowing you to reach potential customers through multiple avenues without constraints.

This flexibility empowers you to diversify your cold email outreach efforts, connect with your audience through various communication channels, and increase your chances of conversion. Whether email, social media, SMS, or other communication methods, Smartlead's multi-channel capabilities ensure you can choose the channels that best align with your outreach strategy and business goals. This way, you can engage with your prospects effectively and maximize the impact of your email outreach.

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Do you provide me with lead sources?

Smartlead distinguishes itself from other cold email outreach software by focusing on limitless scalability and seamless integration. While many similar tools restrict your outreach capabilities, Smartlead offers a different approach.

Here's what makes us uniquely the best cold email software:

1. Unlimited Mailboxes: In contrast to platforms that limit mailbox usage, Smartlead provides unlimited mailboxes. This means you can expand your outreach without any arbitrary constraints.

2. Unique IP Servers: Smartlead offers unique IP servers for every campaign it sends out. 

3. Sender Reputation Protection: Smartlead protects your sender reputation by auto-moving emails from spam folders to the primary inbox. This tool uses unique identifiers to cloak all warmup emails from being recognized by automation parsers. 

4. Automated Warmup: Smartlead’s warmup functionality enhances your sender reputation and improves email deliverability by maintaining humanized email sending patterns and ramping up the sending volume. 

5. Multi-Channel Emphasis: Smartlead places a strong emphasis on multi-channel outreach. You can reach your prospects where they are with the LinkedIn outreach feature.   With Smartlead’s cold email automation software, you're always one step ahead in your outreach efforts, enjoying the freedom to scale your initiatives and seamlessly integrate with other tools—all while maintaining a focus on maximizing the impact of your outreach.

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

How secure is my data with Smartlead?

Ensuring the security of your data is Smartlead's utmost priority. We implement robust encryption methods and stringent security measures to guarantee the continuous protection of your information. Your data's safety is paramount to us, and we are always dedicated to upholding the highest standards of security.

How can I get started with Smartlead?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Getting started with Smartlead is straightforward! Just head over to our sign-up page and follow our easy step-by-step guide. If you ever have any questions or need assistance, our round-the-clock support team is ready to help, standing by to provide you with any assistance you may require. Sign Up Now!

How can I reach the Smartlead team?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

We're here to assist you! You can easily get in touch with our dedicated support team on chat. We strive to provide a response within 24 hours to address any inquiries or concerns you may have.

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