The 7-point checklist for choosing the right cold email outreach tool in 2023

Created On
September 18, 2023
cold email tool checklist

We all know emails can provide a whopping revenue if you have a detailed email campaign planned, warmed-up and ready to launch it with a good cold email software.

But how to choose the perfect cold email software?

Yep, that’s a million dollar question, considering how the cold email market is crowded with hundreds of tools right now. 

That’s exactly what I am addressing in this blog post. I have made a list of features you must check before buying a cold email tool. Here’s a quick preview of the cold email tool checklist:

  • Automation
  • Omni-channel outreach
  • Compatibility with existing features, such as your CRM
  • Email warm-up and A/B testing
  • Detailed analytics
  • Review
  • Pricing

Let’s dive in for more details.  

Cold Email Tool Checklist to Find the Right Outreach Software

#1 Automation

Cold emails are generally sent in bulk, around 1000s per day. To ace cold email marketing, automation is a necessity. This feature helps you automate many processes in sending cold emails using AI. 

So, when it comes to cold emailing tools, understanding what automation means and what an AI-based tool can accomplish is crucial before making your choice.

Here’s a list of the automation features you should consider

  • Email scheduling
  • ESP matching feature
  • Auto-adjusting email sending volume
  • Automated bounce leads detection
  • Personalization using spintax or spin tags
  • Follow-up 
  • Email verification

Let's delve into further details on each of these crucial points. 

Email Scheduling 

The lead list of a cold email campaign contains thousands of potential customers who belong to different parts of the world. And, because you are trying to sell to strangers, timing is super important. 

Here swoops in email scheduling to save the day. 

Email scheduling is a vital automation feature that allows you to time your cold emails strategically. It means you can set the exact date and time when your emails will be sent. 

This feature is valuable to reach your recipients when they are most likely to check their inbox, increasing the chances of your email being opened and read. 

For example, if your target audience spans different time zones, a good cold email tool will automatically adjust the sending time to match each recipient's local time, ensuring your message arrives at an optimal moment.

ESP Matching Feature

Advanced cold email tools, such as Smartlead, come with ESP matching feature that optimizes your email delivery by aligning your sending pattern with your leads' Email Service Providers (ESPs). 

This means emails are sent from matching ESPs like Gmail to Gmail, Outlook to Outlook, etc. The system automatically adjusts the sending allocation and prioritization based on the ESPs of your leads and your attached mailboxes. This feature enhances your email deliverability and user experience without any extra effort from your end.

So, while picking the right tool for your outbound emails, it’s super important to look for ESP matching or similar features. 

Auto-adjusting Email Sending Volume

Adjusting email sending volume is crucial to ensure maximum deliverability. Advanced cold emails tools automatically detect mailboxes undergoing warmups and adjust the sending volume of your campaigns dynamically. 

Once the campaigns are finished, the AI auto-adjusts the warm up sending patterns back to optimal levels. While subscribing to a cold email marketing tool, keep an eye for this feature. 

In Smartlead, this feature can be enabled at the campaign level and individual mailbox level, improving email deliverability and campaign performance.  

Personalization Using Spintax or Spin-tags

Personalization in a cold email tool involves automating the insertion of recipient-specific information into your emails. This could be as simple as addressing the recipient by their first name or customizing the content based on their interests or past interactions with your brand. 

An effective cold email tool offers “spintax” or “spin-tags” feature allow users to create multiple variations of a single email message by using syntax like {word1|word2} to automatically generate different text combinations. This helps personalize and diversify email content for outreach campaigns, reducing the likelihood of triggering spam filters and also maintaining a human touch. 

Follow-Up Sequences

Follow-up sequences automate the process of sending additional emails to non-responsive recipients. 

For instance, if a recipient doesn't reply to your initial cold email, the tool can automatically send a follow-up email after a set interval, nudging the recipient to take action or engage with your message.

Automated Bounce Leads Detection

In a cold email campaign, there are always some emails that bounce. If you keep sending emails to bounce emails without cross-checking the reasons behind it, it might affect your deliverability. 

The automated bounced leads detection feature in cold email tools simplifies lead management by automatically moving bounced leads to a specific subsequence. This ensures that you still have a chance to re-engage with potential customers. 

Email Verification

Email verification is a crucial automation feature for maintaining the quality of your contact list. When you import new contacts or send out emails, the tool should automatically verify the validity of email addresses. It checks if the email addresses are active, properly formatted, and not on a blacklist. By automatically filtering out invalid or risky addresses, you can improve deliverability rates and avoid spam traps, ensuring your emails reach the intended inboxes and comply with email marketing regulations.

Incorporating these automation features into your cold email campaigns can significantly enhance your efficiency and overall success in engaging with potential customers and prospects.

#2 Omni-Channel Outreach

Cold emailing tools with omni-channel outreach feature allows you to reconnect with bounced leads through multiple channels. It automatically creates campaigns for the leads that you have access to their social media handles or phone numbers. 

You can also customize your re-engagement strategy with flexible subsequence options including omnichannel steps, such as phone calls or LinkedIn DMs, or even manual actions.

#3 Compatibility with Existing Tools

Ensuring compatibility between your cold email tool and existing software is crucial. If you rely on a CRM like HubSpot, Salesforce, or Pipedrive, it's wise to choose a cold email solution with native integration. This streamlines your workflow, sparing you the hassle and expenses of manual connections through tools like Zapier or APIs.

Before subscribing to a cold email tool, consider the integration type as well:

  • One-way integrations, like SalesHandy, simplify contact list management.
  • Two-way integrations, offered by tools such as Smartlead, allows you to seamlessly transfer data between the cold email tool and your CRM, such as HubSpot. 

With the 2-way integration, you can generate fresh leads within your CRM, integrate warm leads based on their interactions, and update CRM leads with confirmed details. It also transfers prospects from your CRM to your cold email campaign. This two-way integration makes managing your leads and campaigns more efficient and effective.

Incorporating a compatible cold email tool ensures seamless operations and maximizes your marketing potential. So, always check the cold email tool’s compatibility with existing tools before buying it. 

#4 Email Warm-Up & A/B Testing

Email warm-up is the process of gradually increasing the volume of emails sent from a new or dormant email address to establish trust with email service providers. A/B testing, on the other hand, involves sending different versions of emails to a subset of your list to determine which one performs better.

Checking for these features in a cold email tool is crucial as they significantly enhance email deliverability. Warm-up ensures your emails are less likely to end up in spam folders, while A/B testing helps optimize content and subject lines for higher open and click-through rates. 

Both features together ensure your email campaigns reach their intended audience effectively, making them indispensable for successful email marketing.

Tip: Make sure the cold email tool isn’t charging extra money for warm-ups. Many cold email tools, like Smartlead, offer unlimited warm-ups and A/B testing. Go for a tool like that.

#5 Detailed Analytics

Before you invest in a cold email tool, it's important to check its reporting and analytics features. These dashboards offer a comprehensive view of your email performance, displaying key metrics such as 

  • Number of emails sent
  • Open rate
  • Clicked rate
  • Response rate
  • Bounce rates, etc.

Beyond these fundamental metrics, an effective cold email tool should delve deeper, providing insights into the number of leads you've contacted, how many emails were opened, the clicks generated, the replies received, and even the count of positive responses.

By actively monitoring these numbers, you gain valuable insights into what's working and what's not. This data empowers you to make informed decisions, and optimize your cold email outreach efforts, driving higher conversions.

So, add reporting and analytics as one of the parameters in your cold email outreach software checklist.

#6 Reviews

Before subscribing to a cold email tool, always check out the following websites for reviews:

  • Trustpilot
  • Capterra

Checking reviews by existing customers or previous users can help you understand the pros and cons of using the tool. It will provide a deeper insight of the tool from a user’s point of view. Try to analyze if the tool aligns with your needs using the available information.

Another great platform to check recent reviews of a cold email tool is LinkedIn. There you will find your competitors and peers who are already using the tool. Take note of what they have to say and make your own decision.  

#7 Pricing

Pricing is the most important factor to check before subscribing for a cold emailing tool. There are tools like Outreachbin that offer pricing plans against the number of email accounts they provide. But, there are also tools like Smartlead that offer unlimited email accounts on every plan.

Check out the below points in the pricing plan you are subscribing for

  • Number of email accounts
  • Warm-up 
  • Number of active leads
  • Number of emails you can send monthly

Every tool provides pricing plans in at least three categories. Go through the details and pick the right pricing plan that suits your budget and outreach goals. 

Final Thoughts

If you go through the above checklist, I am confident you will land upon the perfect cold email tool for your business. 

The goal of a cold email software is to send 1000s of emails to cold prospects and successfully land in their inboxes. It needs strong AI-based automation features to do that. 

Most cold email tools come with essential features such as warm-up and A/B testing. So, to judge the efficiency of the tool, always check its automation features in detail. It must come with:

  • Email scheduling
  • ESP matching feature
  • Auto-adjusting email sending volume
  • Automated bounce leads detection
  • Personalization using spintax or spin tags
  • Follow-up, etc.  

If you are looking for a cold email tool for your business, check out Smartlead. It provides all the above features along with unlimited email accounts and warm-ups. The pricing starts at as low as $39/month. 

Thanks to its efficiency, there are Smartlead users who have even achieved a positive response rate of 61%. 

Decide wisely. 


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Author’s Details

Rajnish Das

Rajnish Das is an in-house writer at SmartWriter and SmartLead. She writes product-oriented, data-driven content for B2B SaaS audiences and educates them on marketing and sales topics. Her expertise includes outbound marketing techniques like cold emailing and LinkedIn outreach.


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Frequently asked questions

General Questions

What are active leads?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Active leads are the contacts you upload in Smartlead, similar to contacts in HubSpot; if you upload 1000 leads to a campaign, they are considered 1000 active leads. If you upload similar leads to a new campaign, they are not considered a “new active lead” as they already exist in our system.

Do you provide mailboxes, or do I need to connect my own?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

We don’t offer mailboxes yet. You need to get your own dedicated list of mailboxes using popular providers like Gmail, Outlook, Zoho, and others that exist in the market. Once you get them, follow our detailed guides to connect them quickly.

Do you offer guides and articles on succeeding with cold emails?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Absolutely, one of our most popular guides can be found right here. It's been used by a large percentage of users to go from zero to cold emailing experts. Covering all topics from email infrastructure to copywriting and lead sourcing.

Is another tool needed for warmups?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

No, Smartlead has over 200,000 highly reputed mailboxes connected. The advantage you get along with naturalized AI conversations is access to aged domains you will never find in any warmup tool.

What is the API commonly used for?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

It is used popularly by agencies to automate their entire lead generation process as well as to connect Smartlead to external tools to push and pull data from. You can also connect to 1000s of apps using Zapier.

What type of businesses sees the most success with Smartlead?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Anyone that can close deals from demos will succeed with Smartlead. It works for Sales companies, Marketing agencies, SaaS businesses, Recruitment, and offline companies (like construction).

Do you provide me with lead sources?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

We do not provide you with leads. You will need to use other data providers. These leads can be automatically added to Smartlead using our API or bulk uploaded via our CSV upload system.

Do you integrate with any CRMs?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

We're building native integrations with Hubspot, Salesforce, Close, Pipedrive, and many more. The best part, due to our open API and Webhook infrastructure, you can connect to any CRM in the world without an issue.

How many team members can I add?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

You can add an unlimited number of team members, as well as assign them roles and authority access.

Do you have custom plans beyond the Pro plan?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Yes, it's common for many people to move to Custom plans after a few weeks. You can view all the options for up to 10M leads on the subscription page once you sign up for free.

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