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Email Prospecting Best Practices & Delivery Rates

Ashwin Ramasamy
Ashwin Ramasamy
May 3, 2016
Min Read

A few days ago, I was on a call with the Sales head of one of the fastest-growing startup data platforms out there. They are high on outbound, sending over 25000 emails a month. But, as we all know, in email prospecting, the rubber meets the road when you get a desired level of responses. They had a problem there. We've been there before and thought we should write about what we learned. If you are new to email prospecting, let's get the definitions out of our way, so that we can focus on the best practices that will help you deliver more emails to the inbox. Assuming your content is good and relevant, more delivery means more responses.

What is Email Prospecting?

Email Prospecting is the act of sending targeted, personalized emails to specific people in businesses that could be your prospective customers. The operative words are 'targeted', 'personalized', and 'specific people'.

Factors that affect deliverability

I don't intend to get too technical here because your email prospecting tool provider (like PipeCandy) will be dealing with the technology behind your campaigns. You need to focus on the process and content to improve deliverability. With that in mind, here are some factors that affect the deliverability of your prospecting emails.

Your email id's reputation

The newer your email id is, the lesser the reputation it has. This is just like your domain reputation and Google's dislike for fresh domains when ranking content. That said, a fresh email id is better than an email id with a history of spam. Now that I've simplified it for you, let me say that what I just said isn't entirely accurate. Your email id belongs to a domain (for example my id is [email protected] and my domain is pipecandy.com). Your domain's reputation matters. We've tested this before and there is a correlation between the actions of your colleagues that share your domain and the deliverability of your email id, even if your id is new. For two reasons, it's better to start with fresh domains for your email prospecting campaigns:

  1. Your campaign reactions would not affect your main domain's deliverability, which is important for you to conduct business as usual
  2. Most email service providers restrict the number of emails you can send in a day. If you want to use the full quota for prospecting emails, it'd be better to have it done through a new domain and a new email id that goes with it.
While sending prospecting emails use new domains/Email ID. Change them whenever the open rate < 40%

You are judged by the actions of others

There is some more nuance to email deliverability. It's not just your colleagues that share your domain, affect your deliverability. Even completely unknown email senders affect your deliverability. Wondering how? Keywords. If you use certain keywords, you are considered to be a spammer. Don't use words like free, discount, amazing, offer, limited period, season, sale, stocks, etc. It's virtually impossible to keep track of these words in a manual way. But ISPs exchange notes between themselves and the email providers. Sophisticated machine learning and natural language processing tools keep track of words and their derivatives and the ultimate actions of the email recipients to decide which words or a bag of words mean spam.

There's no trick to skipping spam folder. Forget that it's an email. Write like you'd speak.

Use your email prospecting email id for other purposes

Do what a normal person does? Send and receive emails like how you'd normally do in the course of communication. Use your prospecting email id to send internal notes, announcements, memos, and such, where you are guaranteed to get responses. The more the responses, the better your email id's reputation is.

Your prospecting email ID can build a good reputation if you send emails to coworkers who'd respond.

Avoid Links

The more links your email has, the lesser normal it is. We can't for sure say that it affects deliverability but we suspect that it is a factor. Our email opens have always increased when we've had no links (all else remaining the same). It just makes sense. Who sends emails to business partners and colleagues with a dozen links in them? If you must include a link, add one. If you've more let it just be your business URL and nothing more. By that I mean, no Twitter, no Facebook, no links to the fancy award dinner photos you paid your way into!

The more the links in your prospecting emails, the less it is about the prospect. Promote less.

Control the urge to send more

It's always tempting to extract every ounce of juice out of every channel. Don't give in to that urge. Don't set off the tripwires of 'maximum sends' per day. Don't email every day. Don't send emails on a public holiday. Email prospecting tools such as PipeCandy are about doing the right things at scale - which is to send very personalized emails at scale. Don't draw attention upon yourself by doing what's unexpected in normal business communication. Email prospecting is business communication with individuals. Don't treat it like ad exposures & clicks which are intent-driven. Email prospecting is emailing other human beings who should like you. Don't treat it like a banner ad." username="pipecandyhq"]

Email prospecting is emailing other human beings who should like you. Don't treat it like a banner ad.

It's a good practice to send a bunch of 'friendly' emails, iterate on messages and response levels before cranking up the volume.

Beat the email fatigue

Let's assume that you are emailing all publicly listed companies' corporate secretaries about your really awesome financial disclosure compliance software. It's a very well-targeted email & it is very relevant as well. Unfortunately, email service providers don't think so. The only scale they've been exposed to is spam and they'd rather optimize for that norm than the exception that you are. But you can work within these limitations and still scale the delivery of your personalized emails. Here's how. You can alter the text of the email a bit, for every few emails you'd be sending. Example: Joe, we both met at the telco conference. Joe, remember? We met sometime back. They both mean the same but are two totally different sentences. Now, I do agree that it's hard to scale your campaigns if you've to rewrite every email. We hear you and that's why PipeCandy makes this and most of what you read above, a part of our product so that you'd always stay on the right side of the rules and do the right thing - build relationships with your prospects in the most humane way. Got friends who do better than us? Ask them to share their tips in the comments section. We write super awesome blog posts and some exclusive write-ups just for our subscribers. Why don't you go ahead and subscribe?

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Be a Segmentation Superpower
eCommerce-specfic lead qualification criteria
Freedom from non-Commerce databases.
Predictable demand generation. Very precise segmentation & messaging.
Free Trial
Slips poor jokes & gets away with a poker face. Carries a no BS attitude at getting things done. First to arrive at the office, Ashwin’s energy does not ebb through the day. Ashwin is one of the co-founders and he sets the tone for marketing, sales, design & culture.
Slips poor jokes & gets away with a poker face. Carries a no BS attitude at getting things done. First to arrive at the office, Ashwin’s energy does not ebb through the day. Ashwin is one of the co-founders and he sets the tone for marketing, sales, design & culture.
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hm.com, operated by H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB, is an internationally-focused online store that generates eCommerce net sales primarily in Germany as well as in the United States and the United Kingdom. With regards to the product range, hm.com achieves the greatest part of its eCommerce net sales in the “Fashion” category.
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Slips poor jokes & gets away with a poker face. Carries a no BS attitude at getting things done. First to arrive at the office, Ashwin’s energy does not ebb through the day. Ashwin is one of the co-founders and he sets the tone for marketing, sales, design & culture.
Slips poor jokes & gets away with a poker face. Carries a no BS attitude at getting things done. First to arrive at the office, Ashwin’s energy does not ebb through the day. Ashwin is one of the co-founders and he sets the tone for marketing, sales, design & culture.
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