How to do Email Warm-Up Despite Google Ban
Have you just started a business? Are you new to outbound marketing?
If you are struggling to get new customers, you need to try cold email marketing asap. In 2023, it’s one of the few industry-approved tactics that most marketers find profitable.
When done properly, it can not only improve response rates but also increase your ROI. But, any email outreach campaigns are nothing but risky at the end of the day.
One wrong move can ruin the sender's reputation instantly. This is why you need to learn what is email warm-up, why should you do it, and how. This tactic alone can save your reputation and pave the way for your marketing campaigns.
Email Warm-Up | What is it
Marketers send small numbers of emails from a (new) sender’s address to build a good reputation with ESPs before sending out bulk emails. This process is called email warm-up. The goal is to avoid spam filters by starting small.
When should you do it
You should warm up an email before starting an email campaign or sending mass emails for any purpose at all.
If you want to use a new sender’s address for cold email campaigns, warm it up for 2 weeks.
You should warm-up an email for a minimum of 2 weeks. Start with as small as 40 marketing emails per mail address.
If you have just begun your business with a new domain, take at least a month to begin outbound campaigns. It’s essential to build a domain reputation. And the ideal warm-up period before starting cold emailing is 2 to 3 months.
Benefits of Warming Up Email Addresses
Avoid Spam Filters/Folders
If you send a huge volume of emails from a new email address without any email warm-up process, you might end up being marked as spam by ESPs (Email Service Providers) such as Gmail, Outlook.
As a result, your emails will automatically go to recipients' spam folders or get blocked entirely, eventually making the whole campaign useless. The best way to avoid this is to warm the address before starting your campaigns. It’s a proven way of reducing spam rates.
The warmup process helps to build your sender reputation. How?
Instead of sending bulk messages at once, it gradually increases the volume of emails sent and also the frequency. This tells the ESPs that you are not another “Nigerian Prince” spamming the users’ inboxes.
You are a legitimate domain, and your messages are trustworthy.
If you are entirely new to cold emailing, begin by sending a small volume of emails to your existing customers. You can even send it to your friends and family.
Improve Email Deliverability
If you build a reputation with the email providers before starting a cold outreach, it’s more likely that your emails will land in the primary inbox.
This is because email providers will begin to recognize your sender address and reputation and will prioritize you over those from unknown senders.
Provides Time for A/B Testing
A warm-up process is all about sending a few testing mails. Let’s say you are planning to launch a cold email campaign to promote a new product or service. So, you will begin by sending a small volume of emails to your most engaged subscribers and gradually increase the volume and frequency over a period of weeks.
This allows you to test different content and subject lines and send times before launching a full-scale campaign to see what resonates best with your audience. By the time you launch your full-scale campaign, you have a higher chance of your emails being delivered to your intended recipients' inboxes.
Dear fellow marketers, it’s a great opportunity to do A/B testing. This can help to optimize your approach and increase customer engagement rates.
Did Google Ban Email Warm-Up
Yes, Google banned any automated email warming service.
It wasn’t always like this. Email marketers throughout the industry used various email warm-up tools like Gmass and Woodpecker to warm up senders' addresses. But, Google banned this feature in February 2023.
Why did Google do that?
Google considers this trick—warming up—as an “attempt” to bypass Gmail account limitations, spam filters, and other restrictions. In simpler words, they consider it a VIOLATION OF THEIR USER DATA POLICY.
This BAN means you can’t use any AI-based automated email warmup tool for Google accounts. But does it mean you don’t warm up at all?
Nope. To learn how to warm up email accounts despite Google’s ban, read the next section.
How to Warm Up Emails Despite Google Ban
Like almost everything in the world, there are two ways of warming up an email account.
Manually, as you have already guessed, you will be gathering contacts, writing email content, and sending them all by yourself.
In automated warm-ups, you will need to subscribe to a cold emailing tool with this feature. The AI will do all the work on your behalf of you. In 2023, it’s the most recommended way of warming up before a campaign.
Make an Email List
First things first, create an email list. As this is a manual process, you are going to do it by yourself.
Make a list of mail addresses that might be willing to help you out. The list can contain your ex-co-workers, subordinates, business partners, friends, and even family.
If you are active on LinkedIn, you can even ask a few of your connections to help you out. Try to include as many business owners as you can. Their addresses are mostly with their domain names, such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
The more unique the domain name is, the better.
Segment Email List
Now, keep all the business owners and decision-makers in a section. Keep your personal contacts—friends and family—in one section. And make another section/list for your existing customers.
Set Mail Exchange Record
MX record or the mail exchange record is a resource record in the DNS (Domain Name System). It says that the emails should be redirected to a specified mail server that accepts emails on behalf of a domain or users.
You can set routing priorities (which mail server will be used) within an MX record by using preference if there are multiple servers. Before beginning with any kind of mailing from a new domain, it's important to set this up.
Go for SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authentication
This step is crucial for a new sender’s address. It will provide protection from spam filters.
SPF, or Sender Policy Framework, is an email authentication method. It creates a record of all the authorized email servers in your DNS (Domain Name System). These servers send mails on your domain’s behalf and authenticate it.
DKIM or Domain Keys Identified Mail adds a digital signature to your domain and DMARC provides domain-level protection.
DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance.
Create Email Content
You are a genuine marketer (a human), so create content that wouldn’t sound like spam or robots. Here’s a checklist for you to sound like real people (as you are):
- Cleartcut subject line
- No spammy words
- Write proper text
- Value-adding content
- Email body in less than 150 words
- Add a proportionate signature
- Attach value-adding content only
Write the content that you can envision your recipients opening. If you are confused, you can do manual A/B testing.
Just create two versions of the same email and send it to two different groups of recipients. Compare the results to see which one performed better.
Send 20 Mails/Day
You are doing it by yourself, so send no more than 20 emails per day. Use different segments of your contacts to do that.
Continue this process for at least 14 days before increasing the number of mails. From 20, increase it to 50, and then 100, and so on.
Optimize Send Time
Don’t send all the mails at once. Divide them into smaller batches, even if you are sending the same content.
You can customize the send time. This feature is available on almost all platforms. So, don’t forget to send messages at different times.
Create Email Threads
Ask your closest contacts to respond to your emails. If possible, then forward them as well.
Try to continue the conversation and create email threads.
Ask to Whitelist
Ask your recipients to add your new mail address to their contact list. This tells their email client that they know you, the sender, and they want to keep receiving your mails.
This process is called whitelisting. Request your known contacts, family, and friends to whitelist your new address during the warming-up period.
Subscribe to Receive Mails
To warm up an address, receiving emails is as important as sending emails. It’s always better if you can subscribe to emails from known brands.
You can also subscribe to newsletters. Receiving emails regularly shows that you are a genuine user. The goal is to validate your existence as an email user.
Automated warming-up requires a cold emailing tool such as Smartlead. An AI-generated tool will do everything for you—starting from creating a list to writing follow-ups.
Let’s take a look at how to automate email warm-ups using Smartlead.
Set up your account
As we are using Smartlead to check out this process, first, sign up for a SmartLead account. Next, connect it with your email service provider (ESP).
Set up Your Email Warmup Plan
After setting up your SL (Smartlead) account, it’s warm-up time. You need to decide how long you want to warm up, how many mails you want to send, and the contact leads for this period.
If you don’t have a contact list, that’s okay! Smartlead can send programmatic messages from the sender’s address to the ESPs (other than Gmail, obviously). And, get your address ready within a fortnight.
Don’t send more than 40 mails from one address per day.
Create Your Email Templates
Design your email templates and personalize them with merge tags for the recipient's name, location, or other relevant information.
This tool can also get information for you from prospects’ LinkedIn accounts and other related platforms. Use the information to personalize as much as possible.
Upload Your Email List
Now, upload your email list to SmartLead and segment it based on recipient engagement and activity levels.
Configure Your Warmup Settings
Configure your warmup settings in SmartLead, including the volumes of email, the email sending time, and the email content rotation.
Monitor Your Warmup Progress
You can monitor your warmup progress using Smartlead's analytics dashboard. It provides detailed reports, and insights into email open, clicks, bounces, and spam complaints.
Adjust your warmup plan
Adjust your warmup plan based on the analytics data and feedback from your ESP. Gradually increase your email sending volume and test different email content to optimize your email deliverability and engagement rates.
By automating email warmup using SmartLead, you can save time, improve your email reputation, and increase the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.
10 DOs & DON’Ts of Email Warm-Up
Now that you know what is email warmup, why should you do it, and how to do it; it’s time to summarize all the points in one section.
I have listed down all the necessary points. Take a look at the (below) DOs & DON’Ts of the email warm-up.
First, let me tell you what you must do while warming up a mail address.
- Start with a small email list and gradually increase the number of recipients over time.
- Send a consistent volume of emails every day to avoid sudden spikes in sending activity.
- Use a reputable email service provider that is well-suited for email warm-up.
- Personalize your mails, by including the recipient's name or other relevant information.
- Keep your email content relevant and engaging to encourage your prospects to open and engage with your mails.
- Monitor your email performance metrics (e.g., open rates, click-through rates) to track your progress.
- Gradually increase the frequency of your mails over time, as your email reputation improves.
- Keep a clean email list by removing inactive subscribers and hard bounces regularly.
- Segment your email list based on recipient behavior or characteristics to send more targeted mails.
- Engage with your subscribers in other ways, such as through social media or blog posts, to build trust and credibility.
Here’s a list of points you must keep in mind while warming up. Make sure you NEVER do these.
- DON'T buy email lists or use any other shady tactics to acquire email addresses.
- DON'T send mails with large attachments, as this can trigger spam filters.
- DON'T send mails with a high image-to-text ratio, as this can also trigger spam filters.
- DON'T send mails with excessive punctuation or capitalization, as this can make your mails look like spam emails.
- DON'T send mails with deceptive subject lines or misleading content.
- DON'T exceed the planned daily send volume
- DON'T send mails to unengaged subscribers or inactive accounts, as this can lead to a bad reputation.
- DON'T use too many links in your mails, as this can trigger spam filters.
- DON'T use too many images in your mails, as this can also make your emails look spammy.
- DON'T use generic (too formal) language in your emails, as this can reduce engagement and trust.
Google banned email warm-ups for Gmail users but does it mean it’s the end of this process?
No, it’s not. Warming up was and still is a crucial process before launching an outreach campaign. For Gmail users, you can warm up manually. It’s a time taking process, I know. But if you send messages to only a handful of contacts, then you can do it.
Other than that, automated warming-up is the best way to do it. You can gradually increase the volume–from 40 mails per day to 1000 mails/per day. All it needs is to configure the warm-up setting.
If you are new to email marketing, don’t hesitate. Go through this process. It will bring amazing results from your upcoming outreach campaigns.
How do I manually warm up an email?
You can manually warm up an email address by sending fifteen to twenty messages every day. Send value-adding content to an active mail list.
Keep doing this for five to six days then gradually increase the number of sent mails. Ask your contacts to write back to you on the same thread. This will pace up the warming up.
Also, don’t use the same contacts to send mails every day. Use new contacts, please.
What is the fastest way to warm up an email domain?
There is no fastest way to warm up a domain. Take at least a month to begin your outreach campaigns full-fledged. If you are adding a new address to your domain, then take fourteen to twenty days to warm it up.
The fastest way to do this is obviously by using an automated warming-up tool. But you can’t do that for Gmail users. For Gmail accounts, the only way is to send a handful of emails to people you know–manually.
Rajnish is a Staff Writer at Smartlead.