I've sent countless cold emails throughout my career, and there's nothing more frustrating than realizing they've ended up in someone's spam folder, unseen and ignored.
Frustrating, isn't it?
If you've ever found yourself checking sent emails, wondering why there's no response, only to discover they've been swallowed by the spam abyss, you're not alone.
In this article, I'll delve into the reasons why cold emails often end up in spam and provide insights on how to increase your chances of landing in the primary inbox.
Why are my cold emails going to spam?
There could be several reasons why your cold emails are ending up in the spam folder instead of reaching your recipient's inbox. In this section, we will explore some common factors that can lead to this issue and provide tips on how to avoid it.
Lack of personalization
One of the main reasons why cold emails get marked as spam is because they lack personalization. Many businesses use automated software or templates to send out mass emails without taking into account the specific needs or interests of their recipients. This can make the email appear generic and impersonal, leading it to be flagged as spam by email providers.
Poor subject line
The subject line of an email is what determines whether someone will open it or not.
A vague or misleading subject line can cause recipients to mark an email as spam without even reading it. Additionally, using words like "free", "urgent", or excessive punctuation marks (!!!) can trigger spam filters.
Solution: Craft clear and concise subject lines that accurately reflect the content of your email. Avoid using clickbait tactics or using excessive capitalization or symbols in the subject line.
Not following CAN-SPAM laws
The CAN-SPAM Act sets guidelines for commercial emails, including the requirement to include an unsubscribe link and a physical mailing address. If these requirements are not met, the email is more likely to be flagged as spam.
Poor email deliverability practices
Using outdated contact lists or sending bulk emails without segmentation can lead your emails to be flagged as spam.
Solution is to segment your email list by criteria like industry or location for targeted content. Ensure you have permission to email contacts and routinely clean your list of inactive addresses.
Low sender reputation
Sender reputation is a crucial factor that email service providers (ESPs) consider when determining the deliverability of an email. It's essentially a score assigned to your domain or IP address based on various factors, including the quality of emails you send, the frequency of your sends, bounce rates, and the number of emails marked as spam by recipients.
Email service providers use complex algorithms to determine whether an incoming mail should be delivered to the inbox or to the spam box. A poor sender reputation can significantly hinder your email deliverability, causing your emails to be flagged as spam or even blocked entirely.
Not warming up email addresses and domain
This process involves gradually increasing the number of emails you send over time, especially if you're using a new email address or domain. It helps in establishing trust with ESPs.
There are various tools available that assist with automated email warmup. It's recommended to warm up your email address for at least 2 weeks before sending any cold outreach emails.
Sending too many emails at once
Sending too many emails at once is a common mistake that can easily land your cold email in the spam folder.
Many people believe that sending out mass emails will increase their chances of getting a response, but the truth is, it can have the opposite effect.
The maximum emails we recommend sending per email account is 30/day and the maximum emails accounts that I use per domain is 3.
You domains are not authenticated
Email authentication involves setting up two important records- SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail).
These records verify that the emails sent from your domain are genuine and not fraudulent. Email providers use these records as indicators of legitimacy, therefore increasing your chances of landing in the recipient's inbox.
Spam filters and how they work
Spam filters have become an essential tool for email providers and users alike. They serve as the first line of defense against unwanted and potentially harmful emails, such as spam and phishing attempts.
With the increasing prevalence of cold emails in modern marketing strategies, it is crucial to understand how spam filters work and how they affect the delivery of your messages.
So, what exactly are spam filters?
In simple terms, a spam filter is a software program that uses algorithms to analyze incoming emails and determine their legitimacy.
It scans each message for specific characteristics or patterns commonly associated with unsolicited or malicious content. Based on this analysis, the filter assigns a score to the email, which ultimately determines whether it will end up in the recipient's inbox or be marked as spam.
Now let's dive into the mechanisms behind how spam filters work
One of the most common types of spam filtering is based on analyzing the content of an email.
The filter looks for specific keywords or phrases that are often used in spam messages, such as “free,” “limited time offer,” or “buy now.” If your cold email contains too many of these terms, it may trigger the filter and end up in your recipients’ spam folder.
Spam filters also consider the sender's reputation when determining whether an email should be delivered to a user's inbox.
If you have a history of sending out high volumes of unsolicited emails or have been reported for sending spam in the past, your sender reputation will have a hit.
Content triggers that can send emails to spam
There are several factors that can trigger email providers to mark your message as spam, but one of the most important ones is content triggers. These are specific words or phrases that can raise red flags for spam filters and cause your email to be automatically sent to the spam folder.
Here are some common content triggers that you should avoid if you want to increase your chances of landing in the recipient's inbox:
Too Many Exclamation Points
Using too many exclamation points in your subject line or email body may seem like an effective way to grab attention, but it can actually backfire. Spam filters are designed to catch overly enthusiastic or salesy language, so limit your use of exclamation points to one per email.
Similar to exclamation points, using all caps in your subject line or
email body is seen as shouting and can trigger a spam filter. It also makes your message look unprofessional and desperate.
Keep it relevant
Your subject line should accurately reflect the content of your email. If there is a disconnect between the two, it may raise red flags for spam filters.
Using the recipient's name in the subject line can help make your email stand out and seem more personalized. However, make sure to use their name correctly – misspelling or using an outdated name can also lead to being marked as spam.
Consideration for Email Service Providers (ESPs)
Email service providers, such as Mailchimp, SendGrid, and Constant Contact, play a pivotal role in the world of digital communication. They're not just tools for sending emails; they're gatekeepers, ensuring that the vast amount of emails sent daily don't overwhelm recipients and that spam or malicious content is minimized.
At its core, deliverability refers to the ability of an email to successfully land in the recipient's inbox, bypassing spam filters and other barriers. When you send a high volume of emails, it's not just the ESPs you need to be wary of. Individual organizational servers also have their own set of rules.
Many have set limits on the number of emails they'll accept from a single sender within a specific timeframe. Exceeding these limits can result in your emails being bounced back or even blacklisted.
I suggest using your own SMTP with multiple IP's on a VPS server to have more control on your email deliverability.
Email Deliverability Testing Tools
There are several online tools that allow you to test the deliverability of your emails.
These tools simulate the delivery process by sending test emails to different email providers such as Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc., and provide you with a detailed report on whether your emails are likely to end up in the inbox or spam folder.
Some popular email deliverability testing tools include Mail Tester, GlockApps, and SendForensics, Mail-Tester and MailGenius.
These tools not only check for common issues like domain reputation and spammy content but also offer suggestions for improvement.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
Navigating the world of email deliverability can be daunting, but understanding its nuances is crucial for effective outreach.
The journey of a cold email is influenced by various factors, from its content and personalization to the reputation of the sender. Adhering to CAN-SPAM laws and understanding the mechanics of spam filters further underscore the importance of a well-crafted email strategy.
The success of your cold emails hinges on a blend of technical know-how and genuine, personalized communication. As a final takeaway, always prioritize the recipient's experience.
By ensuring relevance, clarity, and respect in your emails, you not only increase the chances of reaching the primary inbox but also foster meaningful connections with your audience.