Cold Email Deliverability 101: How to Land in Inbox And Ensure a 70% Open Rate?

Cold Email Deliverability 101: How to Land in Inbox And Ensure a 70% Open Rate?
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Cold Email Deliverability 101: How to Land in Inbox And Ensure a 70% Open Rate?

What Is Cold Email Deliverability and Why Does It Matter?

You open your inbox, hoping to see some exciting new emails, but instead it's a sea of unopened newsletters and promotions. What gives? As someone trying to grow your business with cold outreach, it can feel impossible to stand out in the endless torrent of emails.

But here's a secret - with the right cold email deliverability strategies, you can consistently land in the inbox and get your emails opened. In this article, you'll get an in-depth look at the factors that impact deliverability so you can optimize your outreach.

With a few simple tweaks, you'll be well on your way to an inbox placement and open rate you can count on. Get ready to learn the insider tips to make your cold emails impossible to ignore.

Cold email placement refers to the percentage of your cold emails that make it to the recipient's inbox. If your deliverability rate is low, most of your emails end up in the spam or junk folder—or worse, get blocked altogether. As a marketer, your goal is to achieve a high inbox placement rate so your messages get opened and read.

Why is deliverability important?

For cold email campaigns, deliverability is everything. Emails that don’t make it to the inbox have virtually no chance of being opened or generating a response.

A high deliverability rate, on the other hand, means more of your prospects will see your message, increasing your open and response rates. Some studies show that inbox placement can improve open rates by up to 70% compared to the spam folder.

What affects your deliverability rate?

Reputation: Email providers analyze the content and volume of all emails sent from your domain or IP address. If you send spammy or low-quality emails, your reputation will suffer and more of your emails will end up in the junk folder.

Engagement: Most major email providers track how recipients engage with your emails. Low open rates, high unsubscribe rates, and lack of responses signal that your emails may be unwanted, hurting your deliverability.

Content: The actual content of your emails also impacts deliverability. Vague subject lines, spammy language, lack of personalization, and aggressive CTAs are red flags for email providers.

List Hygiene: The quality and accuracy of your email list play a role in deliverability. Outdated, invalid, or purchased email lists often contain “spam traps” set up by email providers to detect unsolicited bulk email.

Authentication: Most major email providers now require senders to authenticate their emails to verify the sender's identity. Failure to properly authenticate your emails will severely damage your deliverability.

To boost your deliverability of cold emails, focus on sending relevant, personalized, and engaging emails to a high-quality list. Continually optimize your campaigns based on metrics like open and response rates.

And make sure you follow all recommended email authentication and list hygiene best practices. With time and practice, you'll build a reputation as a trusted sender and see your inbox placement rates climb.

Key Factors That Affect Cold Email Deliverability

Key Factors That Affect Cold Email Deliverability

Relevance and Value

The content and subject line of your cold email must be highly relevant to the recipient. Focus on offering value rather than promoting your product or service. Share useful insights, resources or tips related to their industry or role. This approach makes them more likely to open and engage with your email.

SDR struggling to hit the quota


Personalize each email by addressing the recipient by name and referencing their company or role. Mention a common connection or experience you may share. People can tell when an email has been mass-produced, so personalizing as much as possible helps build trust and rapport.


Establish your credibility and expertise. Share details about your background, experience, accomplishments, and credentials related to what you're emailing them about. You want to come across as a trusted resource in your field and offer value. This is crucial for any type of outbound lead generation.


Include a clear call-to-action that makes it easy for the recipient to take the next step, whether that's scheduling a call, downloading a resource or visiting your website.

Make sure your CTA stands out and provides value. For example, offer to provide tailored advice or a solution to one of their business challenges.

Subject Line Optimisation

The subject line is the first thing people see, so it must capture their attention. Mention the recipient by name, highlight the key benefit or value, use power words that elicit curiosity like “secrets” or “the truth about”, and convey urgency and scarcity. Subject lines with questions also tend to have high open rates.

Avoiding Spam Filters

Carefully follow anti-spam best practices including using a permission-based list, authentic sender details, a professional email signature and avoiding spammy words/phrases in the content and subject line. Double opt-in and re-permission your list regularly. Staying up to date with spam filter rules will help maximize your cold email deliverability.

Another fact to keep in mind is the content of your email. For example, while video prospecting in emails is good for personalization and engagement, it may have a severe impact on your cold email deliverability.

Always send links, videos and heavy HTML content as a part of follow up strategy for cold emails.

How to Monitor and Track Your Cold Email Deliverability

When tracking campaign performance of your cold emails, there are several metrics to keep in mind.

email landing in inbox

Check Your Open and Click Rates

The open and click rates are two of the most important metrics to track for your cold email campaigns. An open rate of over 50% and a click rate of 5-10% are good targets to aim for. Monitor these rates for each email send to see how your messages are resonating with recipients. If open or click rates drop, it may indicate your subject lines or content need improvement.

Review Bounces and Complaints

Check your email inbox for any bounce or complaint notices from email providers like Gmail or Outlook. Hard bounces, where the email address is invalid, are unavoidable. But soft bounces or spam complaints mean your email ended up in the junk folder or was marked as spam. Review the content and subject line of those emails to determine how you can improve for next time. too many bounces or complaints can hurt your sender reputation and deliverability.

Check Placement in the Inbox

Email providers use algorithms to determine if an email lands in the inbox, spam folder or is blocked altogether. The ultimate test is to send a test email to personal email addresses you have access to, like Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo accounts. See where your test email lands for each provider. If it ends up in the spam folder, you’ll need to make adjustments to your content, subject lines or sender information to improve placement.

Review Any Blocked Email Notices

Some email providers may send notices if they have blocked one of your email sends. Review these notices carefully to determine why your email was blocked and any steps needed to be removed from blocklists. Getting blocked by major providers like Gmail or Outlook can significantly hurt your deliverability and sender reputation. You’ll need to take corrective action quickly to resolve any issues and get removed from their blocklists.

Monitoring and tracking your key email metrics and inbox placement is critical to maintaining good deliverability rates. Make it a habit to check on these weekly or monthly to ensure your cold emails continue landing in the inbox. When issues arise, take proactive steps to resolve them and avoid damage to your sender reputation.

Best Practices to Improve Cold Email Deliverability

Personalize Your Emails

Personalizing your cold emails is key to improving deliverability and open rates. Mention the recipient by name and reference something specific about their company or role. For example, you might say something like “As the VP of Marketing at Acme Corp, I’m sure you can appreciate the value of our social media management software.” Personalization establishes a connection and shows you’ve done your research.

Build a Strong Subject Line

Your subject line is the first thing recipients see and can determine whether your email is opened or deleted. Aim for subject lines that are personal, compelling and highlight a key benefit. For example, “Reduce Your Social Media Workload by 75%.” Keep subject lines between 3 to 10 words for the best deliverability. Avoid spammy phrases like “free offer” or excessive punctuation.

Keep Your Content Relevant and Valuable

The content and offer in your cold email need to be tailored and relevant to your recipient. Focus on educating them or solving a problem rather than a hard sales pitch.

For example, you might offer a resource like an ebook or checklist to address their challenges. Keep your language benefit-focused, speaking to the value and outcomes they will gain. This approach is more likely to generate a response and build trust.

Follow Up

Don't send a cold email and hope for the best. Follow up with another email 3-5 days later for the best response rates. Your follow up should reiterate your key message and offer, while also addressing any questions or concerns they may have had regarding your initial outreach. Be polite yet persistent, and you'll increase the chances of connecting.

By personalizing your emails, crafting strong subject lines, providing value, and following up, you can significantly improve your cold email deliverability and open rates. With practice, you'll be well on your way to effective prospecting through cold outreach.

Tools to Enhance Cold Email Deliverability

Use Outlook, Gmail or SMTP Setup

Using a dedicated email service, instead of your company’s general email server, will significantly improve your deliverability rates. Google, Outlook or custom SMTP setup are the most common options.

logos of Gmail, Outlook and custom SMTP email server

Focus on Permission & Relationship Building

The foundation of good deliverability is getting permission to email your contacts. Build relationships by providing value upfront before asking for the email subscribe. Explain how you will use their email and what benefit they will get from subscribing. Stay compliant with CAN-SPAM and GDPR regulations.

Buy New Domains and Warm Up New Sending IPs

If you switch email services or get a new IP address, you’ll need to “warm it up” to build a good reputation.

Experts recommend that you always but alternate domains for cold outreach purposes. Depending on a volume of your outbound, we suggest starting with 3 new domains. You can buy these on GoDaddy or Namecheap.

Start by sending to engaged subscribers who regularly open your emails. However, for cold emails keep the volume low, around 50-70 emails per day per mailbox at first. Open and click rates will be higher for these engaged contacts, helping establish your IP’s credibility.

Earlier, we mentioned that you can use Lemwarm or Smartlead, but there are number of tools on top of that such as Instantly, Warmup Inbox and others.

Maintain High Engagement

High open and click rates signal to spam filters that your emails are wanted. Aim for at least 50-70% open rates and 10-30% click rates. Keep your subject lines compelling, use personalization, and focus on valuable content to drive engagement. Monitor clicks to see what resonates with your audience and do more of that!

Be Transparent & Provide An Unsubscribe Link

Always include an easy unsubscribe link in your emails. This not only complies with anti-spam laws but proves to spam filters you have your contacts’ permission. Be upfront that your emails contain marketing messages. Explain in your permission statement how often contacts can expect to receive emails from you.

Following these best practices for cold email deliverability and building strong sender reputation will help ensure your campaigns achieve an inbox placement rate of 70% or higher. With time and optimization, you can get that number even higher! The more you send, the more you learn. So start building those email lists and happy sending!

With new regulations from Google and Yahoo (in effect from February 2024) you must add one-click unsubscribe.

Importance of technical setup and emails warmup

In today's space of strict email regulations by providers like Google, Outlook and Yahoo, your DNS technical setup is of a paramount importance.

This includes adding the following records to your DNS settings of domains:

  • SPF
  • DKIM

Upon completion, a minimum of 2 weeks of email warmup is necessary. You can use tools like Lemwarm or Smartlead to warmup your email accounts.

More on this topic can be found in our detailed email deliverability guide.

What is the success rate of cold emails?

Cold emailing can be an effective way to generate new leads and sales, but only if done right. The average open rate for cold emails is only about 22%, according to recent studies.

However, with the proper technique and targeting, you can achieve an open rate of 70% or higher and a solid response rate.

When crafting your cold email campaign, focus on personalization and value. Address the recipient by name and reference their company or role to make a connection.

Explain clearly how your product or service can benefit them. Keep your message concise while highlighting the key benefits and solutions you provide.

To improve your open and response rates, research your prospects beforehand. Check their company website and social media profiles to understand their needs and priorities.

Mention a common connection or interest you share to build rapport. Focus on prospects with a high likelihood of interest to avoid wasted time and resources.

Well-targeted, personalized cold emails with a valuable offer or solution can yield response rates of 10-30% or more. While a single campaign may only generate a few opportunities, the compound effect of consistent outreach over time can lead to a steady stream of new leads and customers.

The keys to cold email success are:

Personalization: Address the recipient by name and reference their company or role.

Value: Explain how you can help them and the specific benefits they will gain.

Brevity: Keep your message concise while highlighting the key points. People have short attention spans.

Research: Learn about your prospects to understand their needs and build connections. Focus on the most promising targets.

Consistency: Continually work your cold email campaigns to generate opportunities over the long run.

Testing: Try different subject lines, content, timing, etc. to optimize your campaigns. Measure and track your results.

With the right approach, cold emailing can be an effective method for business development and lead generation. Pay close attention to your open and response rates and make adjustments to continually improve your results over time.

Cold Email Deliverability FAQs

While there are guidelines that will help you boost your open rates, and land in inbox, there are always questions that will arise.

Why do cold emails end up in the spam folder?

Cold emails frequently end up in the spam folder due to a variety of reasons. The major ones are:

  • Your email domain or IP address has a bad reputation. Many bulk senders and spammers use certain domains and servers, so emails from them are more likely to be marked as spam.
  • Your subject line seems spammy. Avoid subject lines that are all caps, contain exclamation points, money symbols or urgency. Keep your subject simple and straightforward.
  • You have a high complaint rate. If many of your recipients mark your emails as spam or unsubscribe, it hurts your reputation and future emails are more likely to go to spam. Focus on targeting the right audiences and providing value.
  • Your content seems spammy. Emails with little text and a lot of images, or that focus heavily on sales promotion rather than providing useful information are more likely to be flagged as spam. Share helpful advice and build a connection.
  • You have a bad sender reputation. Most major email providers use machine learning to determine sender reputations. Frequently sending to invalid emails or high unsubscribe rates will hurt your reputation over time. Double check your lists and give recipients a reason to engage.

How can I improve my cold email deliverability?

There are a few key steps you can take to improve your cold email deliverability:

  • Build a good sender reputation. Focus on engaging the right audiences, providing value, and keeping complaint and unsubscribe rates low. This establishes you as a trusted sender over time.
  • Use a professional email domain and IP address. Avoid domains used by spammers and get your own dedicated IP address if possible. This helps establish your credibility.
  • Craft effective subject lines. Keep subject lines simple, personal and avoid spam trigger words. Mention the recipient by name if possible for the best open rates.
  • Share valuable content. Focus your emails on providing useful information to your recipients rather than heavy sales promotion. Educate and build connection to improve engagement and build trust.
  • Double opt-in and scrub your lists. Only email those who have actively opted in to hear from you. Regularly check your lists against spam trap and complaint databases to remove invalid contacts. This prevents wasted sends and improves your reputation.
  • Be authentic and build relationships. Write in a genuine, personable style. Engage with your recipients by responding to their questions and feedback. Build real connections to become a trusted sender over the long run.

With time and consistency, following these best practices can significantly improve your cold email deliverability and open rates. But remember, real relationship building is key.


So there you have it! With a little planning, strategy, and elbow grease, you can master the art of cold emailing. Remember to personalize your messages, offer value to the recipient, and avoid common spam triggers. Test different subject lines, follow up politely, track your metrics, and optimize over time.

It may seem daunting at first, but with some patience and persistence, you'll be landing in the inbox and opening conversations in no time. The connections and opportunities are waiting for you. All it takes is crafting emails people actually want to read. You've got this! Now get out there and start emailing.


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Cold Email Deliverability 101: How to Land in Inbox And Ensure a 70% Open Rate?
Jovana Stojanović
February 24, 2024
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