Email Blacklist: How to Tell If You’re on It (and What to Do If You Are)
My open rates dropped to less than 4%. ?
Even friends weren’t getting my emails, let alone potential business partners and customers.
It was official, I was on an email blacklist and I was mortified. ?
In this post I’m going share how to do your own email blacklist check, and give you all kinds of tips to improve email deliverability.
I don’t watch much network TV, but I was a sucker for the show Burn Notice. And, believe it or not, it relates to being on the email blacklist. It’s about a former U.S. spy who’s “burned”.
The intro says, “You’re blacklisted; when you’re burned, you’ve got nothing. No cash, no credit, no job history. You’re stuck in whatever city they decide to dump you in.”
Cheesy? You betcha.
But a little mindless entertainment every now and again is just what a content producer needs to get his mind off of facts, figures and tips. And in this case, it relates incredibly well to our topic at hand.
While being put on a naughty list isn’t as terrible as waking up in a strange location, without a job—it can still be rough.
To use the show’s intro, When you’re on the email blacklist, you’ve got nothing. No deliverability, no credit, no opens. You’re stuck in whatever spam folder “they” decide to dump you in.
I probably didn’t even have to intro this topic.
If you send cold email, you should be terrified to end up on one of the blacklists.
This guide is going to cover email blacklists, data quality, improving email deliverability, and lastly how to protect your business email account.
Let’s dive in!
How to Avoid the Email Blacklist
Being blacklisted is the LAST thing you want. Your revenues will drop and it can cripple your business.
What is an Email Blacklist?
Here’s a quick definition from our very own support page on the subject:
An email Blacklist is a real-time database that uses criteria to determine if an IP is sending email it considers to be SPAM. There are several blacklists… Each list [has] a unique way of accepting inbound mail and determining if email is considered SPAM. They can all impact deliverability for your emails.
Here’s an image from Spamhaus (a top blacklist site). It provides a visualization of how the spam-labeling process works.
So, based on the data (of your address), there are three places for your email to end up. If you’re on the list, you could end up in spam or no delivery at all.
When you’re not, you will show up in the inbox.
Important: If you notice the box in the middle that says “Policy Decision”.
Most of these blacklist services set up their algorithms. And getting off of the naughty list is achievable in some cases, if you’re willing to play by the rules. We’ll get into that further down.
Now, onto the biggest (and only) indicator.
Email Blacklist Indicator: Open Rates Plummet
If your open rates drop, or if you’re just starting out and your open rates are less than 15%… you have a problem. Before you panic, you should check a few things out to ensure that your process is okay.
Check things like:
- Subject Line: If you have a really terrible subject line, people may not open. Or, it could have been sent to spam. Things like all caps, “Today Only”, and “Act now” in your cold email isn’t going to end well.
- CRM/Software: There could have been an issue with your emailing solution. Everyone has issues from time to time. Maybe it’s a botched send.
- Bad Lead Data: Let’s say you send 1000 emails from a new list and have a %10 open rate. That’s terrible, but let’s say that only 1/3 of the contacts were good. Now you’re up to a decent open percentage. Bad data is a common source of poor outreach.
If you check these things and can’t find a cause— most likely— it means your email address is not trusted.
But it may not be blacklisted, it could be that your sending reputation has taken a hit. So, before you panic, take a quick look at your rep.
Check Your Email Sending Reputation
There are five good tools to check your email reputation:
1. SenderScore: SenderScore allows you to view your reputation with a 0-100 point scale (the higher the better). It’s compiled with a monthly rolling average and is probably the best known tool in the space.
2. TalosIntelligence: This one does a 3-tier ranking system (good, neutral, or poor), instead of a number system.
3. BarracudaCentral: Their reputation system is simple, with only a “good” or “poor” rating, but results are tabulated in real time, which could help you if your email KPIs have fallen off a cliff very recently.
4. TrustedSource: This is McAfee’s reputation tool and provides a bit more information for you to see potential issues surrounding your domain.
5. ReputationAuthority: Another 0-100 scoring tool, but this one gives you specific emails that are either good or poor in addition to the score.
If you’re score is in the dumps, you could be on the blacklist (and some of these email reputation tools may even tell you that). When this is the case, continue onto the steps provided.
But if your scores seem ok, you may want to check with your email marketing tool. Or run through a diagnostic as to why your metrics have fallen. There are dozens of reasons for a drop.
How to Find Out For Sure
Step One: Run a Test
One of the best ways to find out if the issue is from your URL, from your lead data, or from the old CRM is to run a test. Three main services include.
It’s not always accurate. For instance, I ran my personal Gmail address through Mail Tester and apparently it’s only a 6.5/10 (see screenshot below). I never send any cold email from it, mainly personal and a small bit of client email.
Suggested Tool: Mxtoolbox
Mxtoolbox is a great quick glance for info. There are a couple dozen commands you can use to find all sorts of data, including blacklists. According to their homepage:
All of your MX Record, DNS, blacklist and SMTP diagnostics in one integrated tool.
While it isn’t 100% foolproof; it can give you a further indicator that something is amiss.
If the email blacklist seems like it’s the reason for your poor numbers, move on to step two.
Step Two: Check the Blacklist Sites
Well, now it’s time to check the source of potential problems — the blacklist sites themselves.
Here’s a list of the most common:
Most of them work the same (in terms of checking the list). That said, there are usually specific pages to search their database and actually check whether or not you’re on it.
- MultRBL takes you right to the page and allows you to search IPv4/IPv6 address or domain name.
- SpamCop’s is here. (Hint: you’ll need the IP address handy.)
- SURBL’s search page is here.
- Invaluement seems to be a collection of lists. I couldn’t find a search function.
Spamhaus gets it’s own little section of content. An immense set of lists, publicly calling out the worst spammers like the America’s Most Wanted list, and helping those who genuinely don’t want to spam.
As hard as they are on spammers, Spamhaus helps those who are looking to improve their reputation. In fact, there is a “blacklist removal center“.
Enter your IP Address or Domain. If it’s on a list, Spamhaus gives a link to resources for getting off of it.
Step Three: Come Off the Email BlackList
Michael Westen, the lead character from Burn Notice, (spoiler alert) had to fake his own death, blow up a large building and move to Ireland with his girlfriend to finally escape his blacklist.
Hopefully, you won’t have to take it that far.
Here are a few things that need doing to get off the list.
Find Out Why You’re on a List
Makes sense, right?
In the show, the lead character doesn’t run away from the people who “burned” him. He goes along with their plan to find out more information about what happened.
The worst thing to do if your IP is blacklisted is bury your head in the sand. Find out why.
Send emails, make phone calls, use Spamhaus’ resources to get yourself off of the list.The worst thing to do if your IP is blacklisted is bury your head in the sand. Find out why. Click To Tweet
Change What’s Wrong
Unless there was some sort of mistake, something will need to be changed.
Maybe you broke a CAN-SPAM law. That could cost you money and your business.
Perhaps, a lot of people you send to have labeled you as spam. If so, you’re likely sending emails to the wrong people or maybe you’re sending spammy content.
Set a Policy
Unless you’re a one-man-show, you’ll need to put an email policy in place to ensure that your blacklist days are behind you. Get some standard operating procedures in a doc and get your crew to read and sign that they understand it.
Talk with the Spam List
Once you’ve made the changes, make it known to the list that you’re on the up and up. Make it clear. Send them a copy of your policy along with how you’re implementing it.
Another Thing: Don’t Spam
You know that “World’s Worst Spammers” list? Guess where most of them call home?
Here’s a quick breakdown from Kaspersky.
Make sure you aren’t sending spammy emails!
There is a broadening definition of the word Spam in the public eye. To a certain extent, this means that email marketers have to broaden their definition of the same term.
According to Wikipedia:
Email spam, also known as junk email, is a type of electronic spam where unsolicited messages are sent by email. Many email spam messages are commercial in nature but may also contain disguised links that appear to be for familiar websites but in fact lead to phishing web sites or sites that are hosting malware.
I don’t necessarily agree with this definition.
It seems to define spam as all unsolicited emails. Then goes on to say they could lead to phishing?!
The point here?
One wrong move and the email you send is on the same level (to some) as mail order brides.
The lead is not expecting your email. Many will have red flags going up right away. Most likely they’re thinking, “Someone’s trying to sell me something.”You need to offer value to your targeted leads. So, you need to have something of value to give them. Click To Tweet
In order to offer value, you need to have something of value to give them. The definition of “spam” is very loose.
Sending an email about what you do and pitching them for a sale is considered spam if done wrongly.
(Most) leads couldn’t care less what’s in it for you. It’s all about what’s in it for them. And if you’ve got nothing for them, spam is what they’re thinking.
You’re the one going into their inbox. Make sure they have a reason to open, click and respond.
Clean Lead Data
In a world where we’re generating data at break-neck speed, bad data is becoming an increasingly common issue.
We’ve created 90% of the world’s data in the last couple of years alone. It’s little wonder that some of that content isn’t exactly up to snuff.
Unfortunately, bad data costs the US around $3.1 trillion annually.
Why? Because when we have errors and inconsistencies in our data, the assumptions that we make using that information are often wrong.
Used correctly, data can lead you right to your customer’s heart, giving you the context and insight you need to create loyalty and commitment.
Unfortunately, without a proper strategy to manage and refine the data that you get, that map’s going to be filled with contradictory and confusing directions.
It’s time to understand how bad data management costs you your leads — and what you can do about it.
LeadFuze is a software solution that helps you build lists of accurate leads automatically, while integrating with sales outreach tools to allow you to contact those freshly verified leads.
Data management is the cure for bad data
The machines that we use to collect information today aren’t foolproof.
More often than not, data collection is an automated process. That means that your systems won’t differentiate between the information that’s crucial to your company, and the data you don’t need to know. At the same time, there’s a good chance that you could be collecting information on the same customer twice, which skews your numbers and ratios.
As companies strive to be more on-demand, data-powered, and customized, we often assume that every scrap of customer data is valuable.
However, when you collect information at random, it’s like dipping a big bucket into the ocean. Sure, you’re going to get some fish, but you’ll also end up with seaweed, plastic bags, and old boots too.
Combine all the inaccurate and unnecessary data in your collection process with the fact that most companies only analyze 12% of their customer information, and it becomes even less likely that you’ll end up with relevant insights.
It’s easy to forget that not just any data is going to drive your company’s success. You’re going to need to look at the right insights if you want to make the right informed decisions.
The importance of lead management for data-driven business
So, how do we cope with the issue of all this messy data?
Over the years, lead management software has become increasingly popular among industries that respect and value their critical data. Healthcare brands, financial sectors, and even retail companies use lead management solutions every day.Lead management software is useful for customer engagement, automation, and ROI. Click To Tweet
It ensures that you can separate the good leads from the irrelevant data in your information bucket.
What’s more, with excellent lead management, businesses can ensure that they’re targeting the right audience, reducing their churn rate and creating a more efficient business.
At a time when around 79% of all marketing leads never convert, proper lead management is how you ensure that data is moving your conversations with customers in the right direction.
Investing a little time and effort into data management at the start of your campaigns ensures that you can reap far greater benefits in the future. Any campaign you start or improve with a basis of robust, reliable data is sure to help your company move in the right direction.
So, how do you use lead management tools to organize sloppy data?
1 Develop a plan for data quality
First, you’ll need to set some expectations for your data.
In other words, what kind of information are you trying to collect?
How are you going to manage the value of your data using KPIs like accuracy, relevancy, and actionability? Your data management tools will give you a better overview of your data hygiene so that you can put those KPIs into practice.
What’s more, with a data management tool, you’ll also be able to pinpoint the areas where data errors are most likely to occur. For instance, maybe you’re not updating your blacklist often enough, or you’re collecting duplicate lead information from a specific form online.
2 Standardize your data at the point of entry
Before you can begin cleaning up the data you’ve collected, it makes sense to ensure that you’re gathering that information appropriately. Ultimately, this means coming up with a standard operating procedure (SOP) with your team about the kind of information you’re going to gather and where you’re going to collect it from.
If you’re just throwing your net out over any old information, then you’re bound to end up with some inconsistencies and irrelevant data. With a standardized process in place, you can take a more focused approach to getting the information you need.
3 Identify duplicates
Duplicates are a common problem for data hygiene.
The more you collect the same information on a customer, the more you waste your effort and send your insights spiraling in the wrong direction. You might assume that the majority of your customers prefer contact through SMS, for instance.
However, if you’re dealing with duplicate data, there’s no guarantee that the numbers you’re working with are correct.
Dupes give you an inaccurate single point of truth, which means that every assumption you make using your data is slightly less accurate than it should be.
Fortunately, you can use your lead management tool to search your database at record pace and scrub those pesky duplicates and avoid adding leads that don’t need to be added.
4 Maintain a good blacklist
A blacklist is a selection of data that you can add to your management system to tell your tools what not to search for. Keeping an updated blacklist helps to reduce the time you’ll need to spend going through your data regularly and getting rid of any inaccurate information.
It avoids collecting the data that you don’t need from day one, so maintenance is less of a headache.
As AI’s impact on the data management world grows, blacklists will also help intelligent assistants to sort and understand your data for you. Ideally, you’ll want a data scientist in place that can check through your information for you regularly and update your blacklist when needed.
5 Validate the accuracy of your data
Finally, your database is only helpful to your business if it’s accurate.
You’ll need to ensure that you’re tracking your wins and losses correctly, analyzing customer preferences properly, and collecting appropriate insights. If you don’t, then you’re just making assumptions based on what you think you know – you can do that just as well without data.
The best lead management tools come with solutions in place that help to validate the accuracy of your data for you. These systems triple-verify the information collected, reducing your risk of misleading results.
Sloppy data creates messy customer management
Whether you love it or hate it, data is becoming the foundation of everything that businesses do.
Now that customers are more demanding, expecting more personalization and relevance from the companies that they work with, data is the only way to deliver a truly excellent consumer experience.Data becomes the only way to deliver a truly excellent consumer experience. Click To Tweet
Used correctly, data will help you make the correct decisions for your business, designing experiences that are meaningful and relevant for your clients.
However, if you don’t have a data management strategy in place, then it’s impossible to know for sure whether you’re making decisions based on authentic insights, or you’re being led in the wrong direction.
- Minimizes your risk of errors and gives you the power to make real, informed decisions.
- Improves your business efficiency by ensuring that you can make essential choices quickly.
- Protects you from issues caused by data loss and duplication, which could harm your data security.
At first, a few inaccurate records or poorly standardized content might not seem like a big deal. However, as your business continues to scale, and information becomes increasingly fragmented, lack of proper data management leaves all your insights fraught with issues.
It’s time to clean up that sloppy data once and for all.
Once you’ve run an email blacklist check and worked out issues there, then cleaned up your data, you’ll start to increase email deliverability.
Improve Email Deliverability
High email deliverability is the goal of every salesperson and marketer when it comes to their outreach efforts.
If you’re doing email campaigns for your own small to medium-sized venture and have that gut-check feeling that you’re not getting everything out of your email deliverability — I hope this’ll help. Because the worst thing you can do is just hit send without doing everything possible to make sure it gets where it’s going SAFELY.
This is the third post in a series, of sorts. I started out writing about the email blacklist. How to tell if you’re on it, how to get off, etc.. Last week, we published a post that went into detail about protecting your email account (and by proxy your domain and brand).
Now to end this mini-series, we’ll discuss deliverability including:
- A Brief Explanation (including important terms)
- Common Mistakes
- Ways to Improve Performance
- And Resources Sprinkled Throughout
Email Deliverability: A Brief Explanation (and Terms)
We aren’t talking about open rate, click-through-rate (CTR), conversion rate or any other rate that email marketers commonly use to measure progress. According to the folks at CampaignMonitor, deliverability is:
“Email deliverability is the ability to deliver emails to subscribers’ inboxes.” — Campaign Monitor
Pretty easy, right? There’s more.
From here, things can get much more intricate. In fact, we use the term in question to encompass the entire emailing process from the point you hit (or automate) send until it ends up at its final destination; which is not always the inbox you intended — making it such an important topic.
HubSpot has identified 19 key terms in the process of email deliverability. Many of which we’ve gone over in the past few weeks.
Some of the more interesting ones are:
- Ham: An affectionate term to describe emails that are desired (aka not spam).
- Sender Score: A number (1-100) given to IP Addresses relaying the reliability of said address.
- Soft Bounce: As opposed to a hard bounce, a soft one is usually a problem that could be resolved soon (i.e. a full inbox or down server).
Further Reading: Here’s a post with all 19 terms from HubSpot. I highly recommend it for those who take their email marketing seriously.
The Terms You Need to Know
If you don’t want to go back to the last two posts, I’ll give you a quick recap of the terms that are vital to understand. If only to keep your email from getting blacklisted, make sure you know these.
- CAN-SPAM Act: This is law. Pay attention and do what it says. Most notably, ensure that your emails have an opt-out and the address of your business.
- Email Authentication: There are 4 main systems to authenticate email; DKIM, SPF, DMARK, and rDNS. Working with them goes along way toward legitimizing your outfit.
- Blacklist: Trust us, it’s not fun to end up on one of the email police lists hovering over the internet. Knowing how not to be spam things is crucial to deliverability.
Email Deliverability: 3 Common Mistakes
Even if you do everything you can to improve your deliverability, you can easily make some mistakes that will keep you spinning your wheels. You’ll have to evaluate the entire cold email process and see where mistakes can be stopped and improvements made.
Mistake Number One: Using Trigger Words
Sometimes it feels like it’s just as dangerous to walk into a place laced with traps. Just like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, one minute you’re trying to accomplish a goal and the next you’re hanging between life and death.
Both we and Indy have the same problem. Words.
There are hundreds of words that can send your emails right to the spam folder. Generic salesy-type words like:
- Act Now
- Take Action
- Money Back
Then, there are specific keywords from saturated industries like:
- Increase Sales
- Increase Traffic
There are even issues with punctuation, but mostly common sense. For instance, you shouldn’t:
- USE ALL CAPS
- Use tons of !!!, or excessive punctuation of any type
- No symbols, especially $$$$$
FURTHER READING: Act Now !!$$ (Just kidding 🙂 ) Here’s a list of over 400 words to avoid from Prospect.io (screenshot of a portion below).
Mistake Number Two: Writing Bad Emails
Depending on how bad your cold emails are written, this one could affect deliverability quickly or over time.
A message chocked full of the trigger words will go about as far as the spam algorithm and possibly an immediate trip to a blacklist.
We’ve written (as you’d imagine) a post or two about proper cold email writing techniques.
Here’s a list of a few:
- How to Send Personalized Email Outreach at Scale
- Subject Line for Cold Email – The Art, Science, and Successful Examples
- How to Send a Cold Call Email – Cold Email Strategies that Generate Real Leads
For some general quick tips, here’s a couple-hundred-word guide to get you started.
- Short: Keep the entire email 4-5 sentences max. State what you promised in the subject line clearly and in as few words as possible.
- Killer First Sentence: The first sentence can be seen before the lead opens the email making it as important as your subject line.
- Focus on Them: Don’t just say I,I,I a whole bunch. Make it about them, their business, their world.
- Personalization: Mention their name a couple times, their business/company name, and maybe even a competitor (if it works with your copy).
- Test: Always be testing something. Never just send one version of an email. Here’s a post we wrote about testing.
Mistake Number Three: Sending Outright Sales Email
Does your email sound like this?
Hi, [First Name]
My name is Josh and I’m the Founder of Josh’s Awesome SEO. We provide SEO services for companies just like [Company Name].
If I were a director, I’d be screaming both “Cut!” and “Rewrite!”. You aren’t thinking about the reader, you’re trying to make a quick sale. But that’s no way to do it. You have to think, “what’s in it for the lead?”
Further Reading: We’ve covered this topic in a guide you can check out right here.
Email Deliverability: 5 Ways to Improve Performance
Most tips for deliverability are going to be for marketers and businesses with newsletter-type lists. The posts we’ve seen really aren’t tailored to an outbound sales campaign. So, here are our best tips to improve performance.
Do an Email Reputation Check: Know and Work on Your Email Reputation
The best known tool in the email reputation space is probably SenderScore.
An amazingly helpful resource, it can be found at SenderScore.com. You can register and get a report for your domain/IP Address for free. There are also many tips to improve your score — (thus likely) improving deliverability.
It’s worth a look around. Just click “CREATE ACCOUNT” and fill out the info (it may seem like a decent amount of data to input, but the report is extensive and worth it).
Nowadays, there are a number of decent reputation tools. You can use more than one and see different aspects of your email sending health.
Here are a few other reputable tools for your email reputation management:
TrustedSource: This tool is run by McAfee. In addition to a score, you’ll get history and other information about your domain.
ReputationAuthority: Like SenderScore, this tool gives you a 0-100 score. But you’ll also get a percentage of emails that are both good and bad.
TalosIntelligence: A Cisco product, this tool has 3 rankings (as opposed to a numbered score). They are “good”, “neutral” and “bad”.
Use a Separate Domain for Email Marketing
We went over this at length in the previous post, here’s another link. You’ll find there pretty much everything you’ll need to know including:
- How to set up a separate domain
- Getting a G-Suite account set up and authenticated
- As well as best practices to stay off the spam radar
Send Emails Regularly
So many small businesses (especially solopreneurs) have a roller coaster system for sending cold email. You have a ton of business, you stop emailing. Work dries up, Panic! You then send hundreds of emails a day.
Spastic activity isn’t good for spam filters.
A steady pace of Monday – Thursday sending, even over the course of those days will help solidify the “normalcy” of your email account.
Keep Your Lead List Fresh and Clean
Sometimes we hang onto leads for too long. If there is no signs of life after several emails, it may be time to give it a rest. Put leads that haven’t answered into their own list and hit them hard again six months down the road.
If you keep sending the same sequence over and over again to the same leads, it will eventually have an impact on deliverability.
To Be Clear: 4-6 emails is perfect for a campaign, but running the same lead through the campaign 3 or 4 times could equal trouble.
Have a Really Good Offer
Sure, you can send a blog post, or your ebook from 2006 and maybe get a response. But what about creating something that really gets people to click through?
Having Something Worthwhile Will Improve Email Deliverability
From the domain and email service you use to the content and offer within, your reputation is on the line.It's not just about getting more sales, it's about building a business that is worth buying from and partnering with. Click To Tweet
Every one of your practices say something about the quality of your brand, but it just so happens that email is one of the most public. Are you doing everything you can to protect that image?
How to Protect Your Business Email Account
Once you’re on a blacklist and in the spam folder, it’s awfully hard to get out. Even worse, the domain (and likely your brand) will now be tied up in the mess of it. There’s one simple technique that can help protect your business email account.
The technique: Get a similar, yet different domain name for all of your outbound/cold email efforts.
You don’t have to send sales email from your main domain. Let’s take a look at the research on avoiding spam penalties and then set it all up step by step.
Protecting Your Business Email = Protecting Your Domain = Protecting Your Brand
Besides the obvious blacklist scenario, protecting your email is really protecting your domain. And, if you’re like most businesses, that’s the same name of your brand.
When people see your email, no matter how awesome it is, some will consider it spam. If it’s really pushing, someone may even report your email. Once the email account is flagged, the reputation of your domain is brought down. When this happens it can affect deliverability.
If your domain gets on a blacklist, it’s incredibly difficult to even get a decent web host — let alone build a positive online presence.
And that’s where these steps come into play. To protect your brand and keep you above the deep waters of email deliverability problems.
Step One: Set Up a Separate (but Similar) Domain
If you only do one thing, set up a new domain that’s similar to your current one to send the emails from. Ok, do the other things, too. There are other ways to go about it from this point, but the domain is the most important step that can’t be altered.
Speaking of altered, let’s talk about your new domain.
Important: Not a subdomain. We’re not talking about getting a new.youdomain.com. Instead, try out some of these on for size:
- Add “get” to your current domain: Works great if you sell a product, like software. For example we could have “getleadfuze”.
- Get a different extension: Is the .co or .cc available? Snag it and set it up. Very little change in the domain at all.
- Shorten the domain: Maybe you could use a shorter version of your brand name with the same extension. Instead of “leadfuze” we could do “lfuze” or similar variations.
- Use a fancy extension: About a year or two ago, dozens and dozens of URL extensions were released. Some of them are cheap, others are expensive (and valuable). Maybe that’s the best route.
Where to Research Your New Business Email Domain?
You’ll probably want to buy from your current provider, and that’s cool. That said, I love doing domain research on Domain.com. The layout is clean, they make suggestions, and list just about every extension imaginable.
Yep. I did a search on the homepage for the word “domain”. Just for fun and to get a couple screenshots to show you.
Obviously, those are all taken along with many of the new extensions. Now, here’s a screenshot of a few of the many many extensions.
Next, register your domain with your preferred registrar and set it up to forward traffic to your real domain. We’ve created a video of the entire process using GoDaddy right here. After that’s all settled, you’ll have to create the email account(s) to be used.
Once that’s done, you can proceed to step two.
Step Two: Create a Paid G-Suite Account
Setting up a separate email account (via G-Suite) helps with validation and credibility and (again) we recommend it to our clients.
You can start this process by going to gsuite.google.com (screenshot below).
I could walk you through all of the prompts, but it’s only about 6-10 basic questions. And Google is known for making things uber simple and easy to follow along.
You will, however, need to know the new domain name.
If you’d like a more in-depth tutorial to set this up, we’ve created a support page that you can take a look at with complete instructions.
What’s the Pricing?
As of right now, G Suite costs $5/mo per user for the basic package. Well worth it since Google is massive in the email space.
Advanced: Authenticate the Email
There are four main email authentication standards on the internet at large. They are:
- DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail): Essentially, DKIM ensures that the message hasn’t been altered in transmission.
- SPF (Sender Policy Framework): This one boils down to identifying the IP address and whether or not it should be sending emails for your domain.
- DMARC (Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance): Helps block fraudulent emails and is an extra authenticator to DKIM and SPF.
- rDNS (Reverse Domain Name System): This one helps computers identify one another and make sure things are on the up and up (I know, that’s a tough technical answer :).
You can get really in depth with all of this. Thankfully, the folks over at GlockApps have done just that. If you really want to dive into email authentication, they’ve put together a phenomenal guide to it all.
Don’t understand much of that and don’t want to? It’s ok. If you’re using G Suite (like we suggest), Google provides fantastic resources to ensure your email is authenticated. They’ve created an easy setup guides to help G suite users.
Follow the prompts, get it squared away, and you’ll be doing really nice.
Step Three: Get Some Mail Coming In
If your new email account is a one way street (going out), it’s going to raise some algorithmic eyebrows — especially with the authenticators we just went over. But don’t just do it to avoid spam-watchers. Subscribe to some good things that you won’t mind reading.
Take a few minutes and subscribe your email outbound business email account to some inbound mail. Examples of this include:
- Business Newsletters
- Real (or Fake, depending on who you talk to) News Updates CNN, Fox, etc.
- Daily Tips and Guides
You can do this manually one by one, or to save time, use a couple of sites that give a list of lists. Startup Digest will make a lot of sense for most of our audience. You can (as the screenshot says) tailor your incoming content. Or, sign up to several things all at once.
Another one for business-type things is MatterMark. If you’d like things that are more related to your products and not business, you may be able to find some good options via theSkimm. They’re definitely more broad in their selection of news.
Get yourself on a dozen or more lists and you should be good to go.
Bonus Resource: Here’s our list of the best sales blogs out there. You could subscribe to a few of these, too!
Step Four (Optional): Forward to Your Primary Business Email Account
This is a quick one. If you’re a small crew, reaching out to a few hundred leads a week, it may be best to forward things into your primary email. We suggest doing so to most of our clients.
This way, every response will get guaranteed attention.
However, there could be a case made to just get notifications from this account directly. It would definitely be a way to keep the lead process separate from the other affairs of your normal inbox. Bigger crews that do a lot of internal emailing would almost certainly keep the emails separate. But it’s your call on this one.
Step Five: Start Sending Emails (Slowly)
You have your new domain, email accounts via G Suite, and maybe even have the authentication squared away. You’re ready to send some emails.
But if you go too hard, too fast, you could still end up in the spam folder.
We’ve put together a sample schedule (that we suggest to our clients) once you’ve gone through all of the previous steps.
- Week 1: Wait 7 days to send any emails from the new account. Take this time to sign up for inbound emails as outlined in step 3.
- Week 2: Send 10 new emails per day. Analyze results like deliverability and open rate along the way.
- Week 3: Increase output to 20 new emails per day, analyzing results along the way.
- Week 4: Then 30 new emails per day. Analyze results along the way.
- Week 5: Bump it up to 40 new emails per day. Analyze results along the way.
- Week 6: Ramp up to 50 new emails per day. Keep analyzing.
You can continue to ramp this up as long as it doesn’t affect your metrics. We always suggest testing everything from email copy to the number of emails you send out per day, to the times those emails are sent out.
Important: Don’t Skip This Step!
Don’t think that once everything else is good, you can open the floodgates and send 1000’s of emails. The worst thing you can do is go through all this work and then ruin it by being a hotshot. You think you’re safe from all the bots and filters and…
Take our word for it.If you're looking to send outbound business email — proceed with caution, get conversations, and close some deals. Click To Tweet
We came up with these steps from our experiences, both good and bad. If you’re looking to send outbound business email — proceed with caution, get conversations, and close some deals.
I hope that with this guide, you can run an email blacklist check, avoid being blacklisted, use clean data, improve email deliverability, and protect your business email account.
Have suggestions? Let me know!
This post was put together in collaboration with Gael Breton, co-founder of Authority Hacker.
Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? I’d love to hear from you!
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