If you’re seeing far too many bounces for outbound emails, the first thing you may do is blame your email copy, the whole target list of emails, or the domain itself.
It’s easy to blame processes or systems. However to fix things you need to know the root cause of the issue. Email marketing is a big part of how many businesses attract and retain clients and you don’t want to be sloppy.
I would like to start by saying that you shouldn’t stress. You can fix most of these things. However, it’s hard to fix a domain that’s been blacklisted for spam. Things shouldn’t reach that sad place. One of the biggest factors responsible for bounced emails is domain reputation. So, start by doing everything you can to improve your domain reputation. There’s a definite link between domain blacklisting and blacklisting an entire mailbox.
So you need to be sure of each step of the way. That’s not to say domain or IP warmup is easy or simple. Warming up a domain takes a long time and domain warmup can take longer than email address warmup. You need to spend two to three months before you start sending outbound emails.
Importance of Email Deliverability in the Context of Cold Domain/IP
Email deliverability is of great importance when you’re conducting a cold outreach campaign. Almost 1.5 billion users use Gmail every month and 5 million businesses use the platform through G Suite. Starting 2015, Gmail has been blocking almost 99.9% of the spam on its network with AI. This adds up to blocking 100 million spam messages a day.
A SuperOffice report pegs the number of emails not making it to the inbox as more than 20%. Whenever a domain is used for sending cold emails, more often than not, ISPs block emails from them. It’s frustrating. But the solution is right before your eyes. To send mass emails from your new domain you need to warm it up.
What is Domain Warm-up?
Domain warm-up is a way for you to establish a reputation for a new email account on your new domain and increase its email sending limits.
A great warm-up process run for a good duration ensures that the IP and domain have time to build their reputation with the mail service provider. This improves your odds of hitting the mailbox with your emails. The warm-up process at times can feel slow. However, you must avoid the spam folder. You will also stop experiencing throttling, greylisting, or blocking of your domain. The warmup process requires you to gradually start sending emails with a smaller number of emails at the start and increase the number of emails you send later.
Here’s the logic behind this.
When a new user creates a fresh new email account the email service provider sets limits on how many emails it can send per day. That doesn’t however mean that the fresh account can use up the entire limit of emails sent per day. G Suite account provides you with 2000 emails per day. But you can’t use it all up in one go. At least at the start. To use the full limit you need a good solid reputation. It can take anywhere between 8 to 12 weeks to reach this deliverability rate.
The email warmup process is required to ensure a great reputation and a better delivery rate. If you’re planning to send large numbers of cold email campaigns you need to first make sure that most of your emails are delivered.
Once you’re there you can get a good engagement that morphs into a stronger relationship. So let’s get started and understand the entire process of warming up your IP and domain before sending the emails.
Domain Reputation is Important for Sending Emails
Each domain comes with a certain degree of reputation. The reputation derives itself from multiple factors like the domain age, the history of the domain, and the history of its email accounts. You build domain reputation over time. It doesn’t happen either on its own or in one day.
When you register a fresh domain, it’s seen with suspicion. Normally, spam filters look at the domain age and if it is younger than a month old then mark those domains as suspicious. This happens by default. When you send emails from this suspicious domain the emails are automatically marked as spam. Ideally, you must warm up your domain for three months before sending cold emails from an email account of a new domain.
Can I simply Use the Company Domain?
When you do outreach to your customer base you may want to use the company domain to send your emails. The site has a reputation and it has been there for years. You don’t need to warm up the domain. But you should not use the domain to start getting leads. Because if you send too many emails you may burn the main domain that you’re using to generate leads.
It’s better to be safe and register a new domain and use that for conducting outreach.
What are the Steps of Warming up a Domain?
Once you register a domain, you need to prepare it for sending emails. This will take about three months. You need to be careful of a few things like
- Don’t start sending way too many emails
- Make sure your list is clean and doesn’t have a lot of bounced addresses
- Don’t create too many email accounts
Sending mass email campaigns to prospects or sending follow-ups to everyone who didn’t respond the first time(which is a majority) spoils your domain reputation if you didn’t follow all the steps of domain warm-up. Begin with these baby steps at the start.
The domain name must match the name of your business. This helps build trust.
Examples of Different Warm-up Scenarios
The domain is long-running, but you’re using a fresh IP
In this, you have a good domain. However, as you send more and more emails you might want to opt for a new second IP.
A new IP even when it's from a dedicated server will be treated with suspicion. It’s cold. The IP hasn’t had any traffic and therefore there’s no reputation around it either. To build this reputation from scratch you need to warm up the IP either manually or through automation.
You can set a daily sending limit and increase the limit gradually. In addition, some tools do it automatically for you.
You have a new domain, but with an established IP
Another potential scenario is when you’re adding a new domain to handle new messages you want to send out.
In this case, your IP is warm and has a great sender reputation. This is also true. But if you send too many emails starting from day 1 you risk the domain reputation of your new domain and you risk the overall deliverability you may get.
You have a new domain and new IP
In the last scenario, both the domain and the IP are new. You want to warm both of them together.
You need to use a manual warmup for the IP and the domain. It is important to have daily limits. If you’re sending it on days 1 to 5 don’t send it on the 6th and 7th day and for the 8th day don’t pick it up where you left it on day 5. Go slowly.
The number of emails you're sending every day varies depending on factors like your list hygiene and the engagement it generates. You need to closely monitor the emails you are sending during the warmup process to avoid a large number of errors or to avoid the spam folder.
In other cases, you need to create a warm-up plan that’s particularly dedicated to a specific email provider. These plans help you build a reputation and land the inbox. Targeted plans can mean lower daily sending quotas or lower hourly sending to spread the traffic more evenly.
The fact is there’s no cookie-cutter warmup plan you can use. Use a plan that’s built around your needs as an email sender.
How to Warm up the Domain?
There are many things you can do to make the emails hit the user’s inbox. The current engagement rate of the emails sent from the domain can make a big difference in whether the emails get marked as spam.
Your email content must be well-written so that you generate great engagement. You can get a virtual assistant to write these emails for you. In addition make sure the lettering, and the graphics you use in the email are of high quality.
Also, ensuring that you optimize your email forms to build up subscriber expectations of how many emails they’ll get from you in a month will help boost engagement rates.
Without the necessary engagement, your emails can potentially go to spam. That damages the reputation of your sender id and its deliverability. It only makes sense. If you continually send emails that no one ever opens replies to or gets reported as spam it’s indicative that your emails don’t interest others.
Email and domain warm-up is useful to raise your domain reputation. Warming up the email domain increases the volume sent from the domain or the email address and gets more engagement from you. You can warm up the domain either manually or automatically. Here’s a brief description of both ways.
Warm up the Email Domain Manually
If you don’t want the services of an email warmup tool you can always go with the method of manually warming up the domain. You need more resources for the same and more time. When the domain is new you want the world to know that you’re a great person with friends who reply to your email.
Here’s the step-by-step process.
STEP 1: Start with a new email account
When you’re setting up a new domain then use a new email account for sending outbound emails. You may set this up inside your CRM tool. You should start by testing the sending limits of the email service provider and know how many emails you can send every day. Once one or two months are over you can add yet another address to your domain. Keep things slow and get the domain warmed up quite easily.
If you’re using the G-Suite trial you have a limit of 500 emails. You may want to upgrade to the premium version to send over 500 emails per month.
STEP 2: Configure your email address
You need to start by setting up the MX record or the mail exchange record. This is used for sending the replies. Start by creating the “from the line” and add an email signature. Ensure the SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records are up to date. These are important aspects that pertain to getting and sending emails.
STEP 3: Send a handful of emails
Craft your emails rather than using an automated program to send them. But don’t start sending new emails the same day or the same week you register a domain. Start sending emails by the second week or the third week. Send only a few emails every day. Start by gradually sending emails to high-reputation addresses.
Let these emails get opened and generate engagement.
Once your emails are opened, replied to, and engaged with these are signals for the ISP or service providers that your domain is reputable. A high reputation email address can be :
- A professional email address on a domain with 2 years of history that sends emails.
- And gets replies
- A personal email id that sends emails and gets replies on its one.
You may need only as few as 5 email addresses to start. Ask the owners to respond to these emails, reply to them and mark them as important.
You can then amp this up later to 10 and then 100 emails per day. You may want to send these emails to accounts using different providers like AOL, Yahoo, or Yandex. Engagement isn’t just the measure of opens and replies to your emails. Include social sharing links in your emails. For services like Gmail, the reply rate matters most. They use the reply rate to determine email engagement. When conducting the warm-up, try sending emails to business addresses too. Ask them to reply to your emails as they’d normally do to business correspondence. The number of emails you’re sending at this juncture should seem like a natural number achievable for a human sender. That’s why it's best to avoid automation now.
Write like a human instead of copying some random content you found somewhere. The content of the email should be conversational.
STEP 4: Prepare and send a test campaign
A domain needs time to prepare itself for sending outbound emails. It needs work too. Don’t rush things because that can destroy the warm-up process. Both domain and IP reputations are important because both entities maintain separate reputations. And ensuring that their reputations are intact, helps ensure that you deliver the emails you’re sending.
Warm up the Domain Automatically
To warm up domains automatically use a paid service. You can use a service like Mailreach to send your automated email campaigns. You need to log in to the site to create your automated campaign. You need at least 20 addresses that belong to friends or people you know well. Write a test email at Mailreach and send them to the email addresses you added. The tool will read through your email copy and suggest changes if needed and afterward, you can send the emails.
Did the Warmup work?
Was the exercise successful? You need to keep an eye on error messages and engagement metrics. A tool like the Google postmaster tools let you monitor the Ip and domain reputation in the same way Google sees.
When Stop Warming up?
It’s best to keep the warm-up processes running. This isn’t going to affect your cold email campaigns but is going to positively be healthy and advisable to keep your email warm-up activity running. Doing this will not hinder your email campaign(sequence) at all but create a positive impact. You can maintain a healthy balance of the activities to ensure that your deliverability is top-notch.
If you use Google Postmaster Tools that can help you monitor reputation the same way Google sees it and it can be a good solution if you’re sending mostly to Gmail addresses. There’s no guarantee that a warm-up plan will work for you.
If you execute the plan correctly, that gives you a solid foundation for all the email campaigns you send later. Warming up the email sending domain helps you build trust with email service providers and get you great results from campaigns. You should learn and implement each step of the way I described here.
Keep warming up the domain and email addresses than just doing some temporary work to generate long-term engagement.