deliverability

How To Improve Email Deliverability & Avoid the Spam Folder

lemlist team
LAST UPDATED
May 30, 2024
READING TIME
7 min.

In December 2021, 45.37% of the emails sent and received worldwide were considered spam.

That’s almost half of all emails.

No wonder spam kills even the most flawless emails. The challenge is one and only—how to sidestep spam filters?

The answer comes down to email deliverability.

If you get no or very few replies, the chances are your email deliverability is bad.

Tune in. This is our ultimate guide to better email deliverability.

In A Nutshell: Email Deliverability & Spam Filters

When you hit 'send', your email zips through complex networks, facing off against AI-powered spam filters guarding your recipient's inbox.

The success of your email’s journey to the primary inbox is captured in email deliverability - a key metric usually expressed as a percentage.

Spam filters employ a variety of techniques to ensure emails are relevant and safe to receive.

Here's a quick rundown:

  • Content Filters: Scan your email's text for spam words.
  • Header Filters: Delve into the technical details of your email, like sender information and routing paths, to spot any signs of fraud.
  • Blacklist Filters: Block emails from senders who have been flagged in global spam databases.
  • Language Filters: Watches out for emails in unexpected languages, which might indicate spam.
  • Rule-Based Filters: Allows users to set custom rules for what they consider spam, adding another layer of personalization to spam detection.

What Successful Email Deliverability Looks Like

For effective email deliverability, the goal is clear: land your email in the primary inbox, not the junk or spam folder.

Different email clients have varied criteria for success.

For instance, Gmail categorizes emails into several tabs like promotions, social, and updates, in addition to the primary inbox.

Ensuring your email lands in the desired tab (the PRIMARY inbox) is crucial, especially in such a segmented environment.

Email deliverability checklist is one way to make sure your emails are delivered to the primary inbox.

How Do I Know Whether My Emails Are Being Delivered?

1. Do an Email Deliverability Test

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are rigorously filtering spam, which now comprises an astonishing half of all email traffic.

So, it's more important than ever to conduct email deliverability tests before starting any cold email campaign.

These tests are your secret weapon in keeping your legitimate emails from being mistakenly labeled as spam.

Maintaining a spam rate below 0.1% is essential to safeguard your sender‘s reputation.

Typically, the results of a deliverability test are presented as a score, providing a concrete metric to measure and guide improvement efforts.

The objective is to attain an acceptable deliverability rate, typically around 95% of successful deliveries, with a bounce rate not exceeding 3%.

2. Direct Inquiry

Send a quick message to your recipients asking for confirmation of receipt.

This method is simple and direct.

Remember to give a brief contextual overview of your initial email & be polite.

Here’s an example:

Subject line

Quick Check-in: AI Campaign Paid Collab Proposal

Email body

Hi there [Graphic Designer's Name],
Just circling back to make sure my previous email hit your inbox.  
To recap, I’m planning a AI content campaign for a big client of mine, would you be interested in crafting a few comic-style graphics to support it?  
If you are - shoot a quick reply & I’ll send over the deets.  
Thanks a bunch!
Cheers,
[Your Name]

Sending cold-emails? Try these tried and tested follow-up templates to secure more replies!

3. Watch for Bounce Notifications

Keep an eye on bounce notifications - they indicate that your emails haven't been delivered.

In Gmail, click on the 'Show original' option in sent emails by clicking on the three dot expander.

A new tab will open and display the full header - click ‘Copy to clipboard’.

Then go to this site, paste the header text & click ‘Analyze’ for feedback on delivery status.

Outlook users can rely on delivery receipts or the 'Tracking' feature, while Apple Mail users should activate 'Delivery and Read Receipts'.

For detailed guidance on enabling read receipts, check out our dedicated post titled 'How to see if someone read your email'.

4. Try Chrome Extensions

Extensions like MailTrack and Email Tracker by Mailtag can help you gain easy oversight over when and how often your emails are opened.

5. Use Dedicated Email Software

Email automation tools let you track open rates, clicks, replies and more.

Explore lemlist if this option interests you, here’s a snapshot of our campaign analytics dashboard:

How To Improve Email Deliverability

We have a comprehensive email deliverability checklist ready if you want a step-by-step breakdown instead.

For now, here’s a nifty overview of the email deliverability basics you need to follow:

1. Warm Up Your Email Domain

Sending emails in bulk?

Just like warming up before a physical activity, your emails need to ease into the sending process.

Begin by sending a few emails per day and gradually increase the number.

This 3-4 week warm-up period acclimatizes your emails to the digital environment, boosting your deliverability score.

2. Choose a Professional Email Service Provider (ESP)

Investing in a professional ESP can significantly enhance your email deliverability.

Think of an ESP as a skilled postman, ensuring your emails are delivered correctly and efficiently.

If you’re unsure about the difference between an ESP, an email client and email automation software - here’s a nifty breakdown:

Email Services Comparison
Feature Email Service Provider (ESP) Email Client Email Automation Software
Primary Function Provides email hosting services, including the infrastructure for sending, receiving, and storing emails. A software application used to access and manage emails from one or more ESPs. Automates email outreach campaigns, often for sales and marketing purposes.
Examples Gmail, Outlook.com, Yahoo Mail Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Apple Mail lemlist, Mailchimp, HubSpot
Key Services Email hosting, spam filtering, security, webmail access Email management, organization, reading, and composing emails Automated follow-ups, audience segmentation, email personalization
User Interface Often provides a web-based interface for email access Desktop applications, web-based services, or mobile apps Web-based platforms for managing and automating email campaigns
Integration with Other Services Typically limited to the provider's ecosystem (e.g., Google Workspace, Microsoft 365) Can integrate with multiple ESPs and may include additional features like calendars and task lists Often integrates with CRM systems, social media platforms, and other marketing tools
Customization and Personalization Basic customization of email settings Extensive customization of email management and organization features Advanced customization for email campaigns, including content personalization
Use Case Ideal for individuals and businesses for basic email communication needs Suited for users needing to manage multiple email accounts in one place Best for businesses focusing on marketing and sales outreach with a need for automated email sequences and tracking

3. Personalize Your Emails

Personalized emails foster a connection with the recipient, thereby increasing engagement.

Aim for a reply rate of about 10 to 15% as a healthy benchmark.

Here’s an amazing resource to master email personalization at scale!

4. Maintain Email List Hygiene

Regularly update your email list to ensure you're not sending emails to outdated addresses.

Remember, about 30% of the workforce changes jobs annually.

Keeping your email list fresh can drastically reduce bounce rates.

5. Optimize for Mobile

With 42% of emails opened on mobile devices, mobile optimization is crucial.

Emails not optimized for mobile are often deleted or marked as spam.

6. Avoid Common Email Pitfalls

Here are some quick don'ts to keep in mind:

  • Personal Emails for Professional Use: This is a big no - always use a professional email address.
  • Overzealous Sending: Sending too many emails at once can harm your deliverability.
  • Content Imbalance: Strike the right balance between text and visuals - keep your emails under 100 words and limit to one image.
  • Neglecting A/B Testing: This is crucial for understanding what resonates with your audience.
  • Link Overload: Limit to one link per email to avoid being flagged by spam filters.
  • Red Flag Words: Avoid spam trigger words.
  • Ignoring Unsubscribe Requests: For newsletters - always include an unsubscribe link and respect opt-out requests.

7. Technical Foundations

Using a custom domain?

Understand and implement authentication protocols like DNS, SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.

These act as security checkpoints for your emails, ensuring safe passage to the inbox.

8. Adhere to Regulatory Compliance

Stay compliant with regulations like GDPR to avoid hefty fines.

Utilize accurate enrichment tools (like lemlist’s built-in email verifier) to further bolster compliance.

9. Quality Over Quantity

Focus on sending quality emails rather than mass emailing.

Targeting the right people is key to higher engagement rates (= better email deliverability!)

So if you’re pushing bulk campaigns, make sure your contact lists are segmented properly.

FAQs

Is it safe to use images in my emails?

Yes, images won't automatically doom your emails to the spam folder.

However, balance is key - we wrote an entire post about whether images send your cold emails to spam if you’re interested.

Do I need a custom tracking domain?

Not essential, but a custom tracking domain can safeguard your main domain's reputation.

We created an entire guide on custom tracking domains, check it out!

Can using emojis in subject lines impact email deliverability?

Emojis are like spices – a little can bring life, but too much might spoil the dish.

Test their impact and use judiciously to avoid spam filters.

Here's a data-backed guide on how to use emojis in cold emails.

What impact does the length of an email have on its deliverability rate?

Length isn't a deal-breaker, but crisp, focused emails usually win the race.

Keep it valuable and to the point.

How can I maintain a good sender reputation when sending emails to new or unfamiliar recipients?

Start gentle, increase volume gradually, and keep your content engaging.

Check out lemwarm for automated IP warmup!

Does sending emails at specific times or on certain days affect deliverability?

Yes! Experiment with different send times to catch your audience when they're most receptive.

Get weekly outreach tips
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Thanks! You've successfully subscribed to lemlist newsletter
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
G2 Rating
Price
Best for
Standout feature
Con
4.9
star
star
star
star
star
$30/mo
$75/mo
$2,999/mo
Large, distributed sales teams
AI evaluation precision, gamified KPIs
Lack of tracking system
4.6
star
star
star
star
star-half
Not publicly available
Sales operations and finance teams
Powerful configurability
Limited training resources and complex to navigate
4.4
star
star
star
star
star-half
Not publicly available
Mid-market and enterprise businesses
Comprehensive incentive management
Potentially high cost and steep learning curve
4.7
star
star
star
star
star-half
$15/user/mo
$40/user/mo
Enterprise: custom price
Complex sales structures and businesses of all sizes
Complex sales structures and businesses of all sizes
Steep learning curve
4.6
star
star
star
star
star-half
Not publicly available
Collaborative teams
Connected planning
Complexity and steep learning curve
4.6
star
star
star
star
star-half
Not publicly available
Companies with complex sales structures
Complex incentive compensation management (ICM) with high efficiency and accuracy
Complexity for smaller teams and potentially high costs
4.7
star
star
star
star
star-half
Not publicly available
Companies who want to automate commission calculations and payouts
Simplicity and ease of use
Lack of features like redirection
4.7
star
star
star
star
star-half
$30/user/mo
$35/user/mo
Custom: upon request
Businesses that need a comprehensive and user-friendly sales compensation management software
Ease of use and adoption
Lack of ability to configure the product based on user needs
4.8
star
star
star
star
star-half
Not publicly available
Companies with modern sales culture and businesses who want real-time insights
A built-in dispute management and real-time visibility
Users say it works slowly, customer support is slow
4.9
star
star
star
star
star
$30/user/mo
$50/user/mo
Smaller sales teams
Powerful automation
Lesser user base and average user interface
4.7
star
star
star
star
star-half
Not publicly available
Companies with scalable needs
Automated Commission Calculations
Lack of filtering by date, no mobile app
ERP vs. CRM
ERP
CRM
Summary
Backbone of a business's internal operations.
Backbone of customer-centric interactions and operations.
Goal
To centralize and streamline core business processes in a company.
To increase customer experience, satisfaction and loyalty, and boost sales.
Focus
Internal operations and processes across departments (finance, accounting, inventory, supply chain, HR, and sales).
All interactions with leads and customers.
Manages
Internal business data like financial data, inventory levels, production details, supply chain, HR info.
All customer data like contact info, purchase history, communication history, customer preferences and more.
Users
Finance, accounting, operations, supply chain, and HR departments.
Customer-facing teams like sales, marketing, and customer service.
Benefits
Streamlines operations, improves data accuracy, enhances decision-making, boosts collaboration, increases productivity.
Improves customer relationships, increases sales, strengthens customer service, personalizes marketing campaigns, provides insights.
Price
$150 per user per year on average.
$10 to $30 per user per month on average.
PRM Tool
Rating
Feature
Pro
Con
Mobile App
Integrations
Free Plan
Pricing
4.65
star
star
star
star
star-half
Org-wide alignment
User-friendly layout and database
Suboptimal as a personal CRM
square-check
Lack of tracking system
square-check
Team: $20/month
Business: $45/month
4.7
star
star
star
star
star-half
Social Media Integration
Easy contact data collection
No marketing/sales features
square-check
Lack of tracking system
square-xmark
7-day trial
$12/month
4.75
star
star
star
star
star-half
Block Functions
High customization capability
Not a dedicated CRM
square-check
Limited
square-check
Plus: €7.50/month
Business: €14/month
N/A
Open-source
Open-source flexibility
Requires extensive manual input
square-xmark
Limited
square-check
Self-hosted
$9/month or
$90/year
3.1
star
star
star
Simple iOS app
Ideal for non-tech-savvy users
iPhone only
square-check
iOS only
Limited
square-xmark
1-month trial
$1.49/month or
$14.99/month
3.6
star
star
star
star-half
Smart Contact Management
Feature-rich and flexible
Reported bugs
square-check
Rich
square-xmark
7-day trial
Premium: $13.99/month
Teams: $17.99/month
4.4
star
star
star
star
star-half
Customizable Interface
Customizable for teamwork
Pricey for personal use
square-check
Rich
square-xmark
Standard: $24/member
Premium: $39/member
4.7
star
star
star
star
star-half
Integrated Calling
Integrated Calling
Too sales-oriented & pricey
square-check
Rich
square-xmark
14-day trial
Startup: $59/user/month
Professional: $329/user/month
4.8
star
star
star
star
star
Business Card Scanning
Business Card Scanning
Mobile only
square-check
Limited
square-check
$9.99/month
4.45
star
star
star
star
star-half
160+ app integrations
Comprehensive integrations
No free app version
square-check
Rich
square-xmark
14-day trial
$29.90/month or
$24.90/month (billed annually)
Capterra Rating
Free Trial
Free Plan
Starting Price (excluding the free plan)
Maximum Price (for the most expensive plan)
Best for
4.5
star
star
star
star
star-half
square-check
14-day
square-check
€15/month/seat billed annually
€792/month/3 seats billed annually + €45/month for each extra seat
Versatility and free plan
4.2
star
star
star
star
square-check
30-day
square-xmark
But it offers reduced price to authorised nonprofit organisations
€25/user/month
€500/user/month billed annually (includes Einstein AI)
Best overall operational CRM
4.3
star
star
star
star
star-half
square-xmark
square-check
Limited to 3 users
Comprehensive incentive management
€52/user/month billed annually
Small-medium businesses and automation
4.5
star
star
star
star
star-half
square-check
14-day
square-xmark
€14/seat/month billed annually
€99/seat/month billed annually
Sales teams and ease of use
4.1
star
star
star
star
square-xmark
square-check
Limited 10 users
$9.99/user/month billed annually
$64.99/user/month billed annually
Free plan for very small teams up to 10
CRM goal
Increase the sales conversion rate for qualified leads from marketing automation campaigns by 10% in the next 6 months.
SMART Breakdown
1. Specific: It targets a specific area (conversion rate) for a defined segment (qualified leads from marketing automation).
2. Measurable: The desired increase (10%) is a clear metric, and the timeframe (6 months) allows for progress tracking.
3. Achievable: A 10% increase is possible based on historical data and potential improvements.
4. Relevant: Boosting sales from marketing efforts aligns with overall business objectives.
5. Time-bound: The 6-month timeframe creates urgency and a clear target date.
Actions
Step 1: Refine lead qualification criteria to ensure high-quality leads are nurtured through marketing automation.
Step 2: Personalize marketing automation campaigns based on lead demographics, interests, and behavior.
Step 3: Develop targeted landing pages with clear calls to action for qualified leads.
Step 4: Implement lead scoring to prioritize high-potential leads for sales follow-up.
Step 5: Track and analyze campaign performance to identify areas for optimization.
Outcomes
Increased sales and revenue
Improved marketing automation ROI
Marketing and sales alignment
Data-driven marketing optimization

What you should look at next

Receive weekly outreach tips in your inbox, sent to 210 000+ salespeople, marketers, founders, and entrepreneurs worldwide!

Subscribe to the lemlist newsletter
You've successfully subscribed to the lemlist newsletter!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.