How To Improve Email Deliverability? Reach Recipients Primary Inbox

You might have put a lot of effort into writing the perfect cold email, but that all goes wasted if the focus is not given to email deliverability. This is very important for people who use email as a part of their sales strategies. So how to improve email deliverability?

Do you think pitching your product to your ideal customer would give you a high open and reply rate? Not necessarily. Your email may get delivered but it may land in the spam or promotion folder. I am sure you might have encountered this and are worried about how to get over this. Landing in either of the folders will not give any results to your campaign. 

The way it hits you is rather bewildering. Everything would seem normal, your open rates remain normal, your bounced rates remain under limits, you would be getting replies to your emails and all of a sudden your emails just end up in spam. And most often we don’t really know when emails start ending up in spam.

So lets start with understanding email deliverability.

What is Email Deliverability?

Email deliverability means getting your email successfully delivered to the recipient’s  (your prospects) primary inbox by your email service provider. No promotions, not spam but primary.

When email exchanges happen between co-workers and friends then the email naturally lands in the primary inbox naturally. This indicates the email deliverability rate is good. 

When it comes to launching a cold email campaign then your email service provider will see a change in email-sending activity.

For example, you might be sending around 15 emails per day to your co-workers, but when it increases to 200 then it would definitely affect the deliverability. When an email service provider notices an unnatural behavior in sending emails, then it would result in your email landing in the spam or promotion folder. 

This would indicate that you won’t be getting a good open or reply rate. Thus there would be a decrease in sales as well. 

Factors Affecting Email Deliverability

There are many factors that could influence your emails ending up in spam and it differs for email clients like Google, Outlook, Yahoo, etc. Each of these clients has different algorithms to categorize emails as spam. And the factors that influence these algorithms will have different weightage in the algorithm.

Let’s start with the basics.

Technical configuration

SPF, DKIM, DMARC, if not configured then there is a high chance of your emails landing in the spam folder as it would indicate that your email is not trustworthy. Get this sorted asap. This article will help you with setup of SPF, DKIM, DMARC

Sending high volumof emails

Sending a huge volume of emails is one of the main reasons why emails land up in spam folders. This is mostly overlooked by someone who is eager to start the cold email campaign. 

Email content

Your email is another factor that affects email deliverability.

  • Are you sending the same content to multiple recipients?
  • Does your email content bring traffic?
  • Are the links getting clicked?
  • Are the prospects replying?
  • Is it getting marked as spam?

Overall is it engaging.

Email service providers notice all these and accordingly mark your email as important or spam.

Prospect list

The quality of the prospect list also matters. If the list is poorly prepared then there would be low or no engagement with your email and the overall email deliverability will be affected. 

An email sent to [email protected] might end up in spam while the same email sent to [email protected] might land in your inbox. In this context how does one know how they can prevent their emails from going to spam? Well, the answer to this is not definite but broadly speaking if you look into the documentation of these email clients, they speak about the same parameters

High bounce rate

This normally happens when your prospect list is sourced from some leads database company or un-scrubbed prospect list

How to improve email deliverability? 

If you are planning to use cold email on a long-term basis then there are some best practices that should be followed to enhance email deliverability. There are countless different ways to avoid spam folder, but remember most of them stand on one simple rule: ‘Be genuine and provide value

Lets look at the various tips below to improved email deliverability

Configure SPF, DKIM and DMARC record for your system

Getting a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record ensures that the emails are being sent by you and not being forged. This ensures that the email address is being trusted by the email service providers.  Setting up SPF allows email servers to cross-check your domain name against your associated IP address to make certain that you’re legitimate.

A DKIM, Domain Keys Identified Mail is an electronic signature to outgoing message headers using the DKIM standard. It’s basically a way to verify that your email is absolutely being dispatched by you, and not a hacker. Without DKIM, there will always be a risk of your email being tampered and content being changed. 

Having a DMARC, Domain Message Authentication Reporting & Conformance policy tells the email service providers that the email is being protected by SPF and DKIM. Without DKIM policy, there is a high chance that your email would land in a spam folder and would be marked as untrustworthy.  Both of these things improve your deliverability. Learn how to set-up your DKIM

Email Validation

Also know as email verification, is a process of how to check if an email is valid. Doing it manually is a tiresome and time taking process. So you have email verifications tools to do this at a cost. Cold email software like offer it for free. It auto-verifies every email before sending.

Content Verification

Verify your email content and make sure that it does not include any spam filter-triggering words. Check for common spam trigger words.

Send unique content

Cold email software like provide features like spintax which makes every email or subject line unique. You could also use upto 5 variants of subject lines. This way no two emails will every be the same


Stick to CAN-SPAM compliance: The CAN-SPAM is actually a law established by the Federal Trade Commission to safeguard consumers from unwanted or harmful email messages.

To be CAN-SPAM compliant, you should:

  • Avoid fake or misleading information (such as offering an impossible benefit)
  • Do not overuse words like “sale”, “free”, “promotion”, etc.
  • not make use of too many “! “s in your email messages
  • Be open and honest with respect to your intentions (is the one simple rule) 
  • Avoid using lots of images (none is better)
  • Simply by using a little common sense, your outreach goes a long way.

Building Connection

Focus on value first and building associations: What’s the single thing everyone on this planet has in common? We all have needs, desires, and goals (Even if they’re not written down or positively being pursued. )

In the event that you assist someone, the individuals feel good, they’ll help you. Call it reciprocity or whatever you will – it’s just human trait to help those we like.

There are countless ways you can make people feel great:

  • Comment on their websites with something meaningful
  • Share and like their work
  • Make them get in touch with someone in your network
  • Send them a handwritten note of gratitude
  • Direct a client to them

A/B Testing

Applying templates is fantastic, however, they can only take you so far. Every person and industry is different. If you would like to improve cold email deliverability, you need to keep testing the emails. SmartReach’s A/B testing feature helps understand which format works the best. This way you learn the content type that your audience is engaging.

Some points you can test are:

  • Email subject lines 
  • Body Text 
  • Call to action button 
  • Email signatures
  • Adding an image versus none.

Check if on any blacklists

As getting whitelisted is the thumbs up of email marketing, getting blacklisted is a big no-no. Being on the blacklist will keep your emails from ever reaching someone’s mailbox. To see if you’re on any blacklists, you can use a free tool like MX Tool Box.

This blog on how to get off an email blacklist can help. SmartReach users are automatically notified and their campaigns are auto-paused if they become a part of a serious blacklist. This helps you take corrective action and save you from getting your domain ruined further.

Avoid attachments

Avoid  including attachments in your emails. If any important attachment needs to be sent, convert it to a link or send it in your follow-up sequence. Its always best to keep your first email clean.

No links and no attachments.

Remember, if your first email is delivered to the primary inbox then the entire sequence will reach there.

Limit number emails sent

Send fewer emails, when you are starting with a cold outreach campaign  – Gradually ramp up sending but not more than 40 to 50 emails per mailbox per day and not more that 2000 emails per domain per day. This should keep you in the green. But if you want to know the email sending limits across ESP then read this.

Sales tools such SmartReach that provides features like campaign soft start to achieve the gradual ramp-up

This article on Google & Yahoo’s new sender policy will throw more light on the matter

Scheduling of the emails

If emails are being sent at a single time then it might look suspicious. Email sending can be automated and scheduled all through the weekdays. SmartReach provides scheduling of emails as per the working days and avoiding sending on holidays.

You can even select the time of sending. Tools like SmartReach lets you send emails as per the prospects timezone, allowinging you to reach the right person at the right time

Adding a signature

Adding an email signature may be a strong one, in case your lead wants to get familiar with you and your content before they respond. This also helps in driving organic traffic to your recent posts. It also creates a sense of trustworthiness. Prospect should be able to check your credibility.

Avoid click & open tracking

Try to avoid tracking email open and click rate. Although it might be tempting but until it is absolutely necessary, do not enable the tracking.

When open tracking is enabled, a small tracking pixel in the form of an image is fired and when link tracking is enabled a redirect is added to your links which enables your email software to track links. If these images and redirects get caught by the spam filters then your email will end up in the spam folder. Keeping this off will improve email deliverability in the long run. 

Email personalization

With personalization, every email you send looks natural. Using email automation and personalization, it would take some time for the campaign to get completed but it would show the email service providers that the email is being sent in human style and it would prevent getting caught by the spam filter. 

One of the ways to personalize is to use merge tags which would add a little personalization such as the name of the prospect, company, location, job title etc. SmartReach provides the option to add unlimited custom merge tags.

Call-To-Action Optimization

Getting a higher open rate and higher click-through rate is equally important as getting your prospects engaged through your emails. Similarly, writing engaging content with a clear call to action is equally important as writing a catchy subject line. Call to action can vary as per your email content but the question directed towards the audience has to be clear. 

Inclusion of an unsubscribe link

Irrespective of the email content, not everyone would be happy to receive the email. Having an unsubscribe link is better than a prospect marking the email as spam. SmartReach users can hyperlink keywords like “Not Interested” or “Stop Sending” into unsubscrbe links

This at times beat spam filters

Use of Cold Email Software

Cold email software is quite different from email marketing software. Email marketing software such as Mailchimp, Sender or Sendinblue are not designed for cold email outreach. When such tools are used cold emailing, there is a high chance of your domain getting blacklisted, getting blocked and your account getting disabled. 

Email marketing software are designed for bulk marketing promotions like sending newsletters, promotions, and transactional emails. The idea is to reach thousands or even millions of customers in a day or so. While cold email software is designed to send emails like a human. One at a time.

Technically, you could send more than 500 emails per day from one email ID but if you are looking to improve email deliverability then send less than 50 email per day per mailbox.

Simply put, cold email software like SmartReach does not replace email marketing tools like Mailchimp. These software complement each other. Cold email software like are specially designed for cold email outreach and has built-in features and processes to increase email deliverability.

SmartReach provides email deliverability features such as automated human-like sending, inbox rotation, spam test report, automated pacing of email campaigns, email validation, auto pause the campaign for prospects with missing or broken merge tags, setting up of holiday calendar to not send email etc

Wrapping Up – How to improve email deliverability

Email deliverability is the foundation of a successful cold email outreach campaign

Of course, it isn’t the only challenge over here, having the technical set-up done, writing engaging content, receiving a good reply rate etc does also matter. 

So if you are interested in running a successful cold email campaign then follow as many as steps possible and focus on quality over quantity. These are a sure shot strategies to improve email deliverability

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