Why email warmup is essential before a cold outreach campaign

Posted by Andre Oentoro on 25 Aug, 2023
View comments Marketing
Actionable steps to make sure your emails reach recipients and don't end up in the spam folder.

Email warmup.

Image: storyset on Freepik

Creating a catchy email for a cold outreach campaign is one thing. Making sure it lands in prospects’ inboxes smoothly is another. That is what makes email warmup so important.

Astonishingly, SuperOffice reports reveal that over 20% of marketing emails never reach a subscriber's inbox. But why does this happen?

One common mistake is jumping right into an outreach campaign with a brand-new business email without properly warming it up first.

Email warmup is a fail-safe way to prepare your email domain so your emails don't end up languishing in the spam folder. When you create a new email account, the email service provider gives daily sending limits. This means that you can’t send a large number of emails in one day.

In this article, we’ll break down the importance of email warmup and provide you with actionable steps to ensure your emails reach your intended recipients smoothly.

Why you need email warmup before cold outreach

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s deal with the basics. We’ve mentioned that email warmup helps prevent your messages from being flagged as spam. However, there's much more to it than that.

  • Establishing a positive reputation:  Email warmup allows you to gradually build a positive sender reputation with email service providers (ESPs). By gradually increasing your sending volume and maintaining engagement, you demonstrate to ESPs that your emails are actually legitimate and valuable.
  • Improving deliverability rates:  When you take small steps by gradually increasing your send volumes, you ensure high engagement rates. This will enhance the likelihood of your emails successfully reaching your intended recipients.
  • Building trust with recipients:  When you approach your recipients in a timely and respectful manner, you have a valuable opportunity to build trust. This long-term connection increases the likelihood of them engaging with your emails, improving the effectiveness of your cold outreach.
  • Monitoring and adjusting email metrics:  Email warmup allows you to closely monitor and adjust important email metrics, such as open rates, click-through rates, and bounce rates. Having these key metrics during the warmup process makes it much easier for you to make more informed, data-driven decisions to optimize your email campaigns for better performance.

How to do email warmup

Now we've covered the game-changing potential of email warmup for your cold outreach campaign, the burning question is: "How exactly do you go about warming up your emails?"

Here are some actionable practices to warm up your cold outreach emails so you can be sure they bypass the dreaded spam folder and go directly to your recipients' inboxes.

Gradually increase the volume of emails sent over time

Rather than bombarding your recipients with a sudden influx of messages, take a more measured approach. Start with a conservative sending volume and gradually escalate it over a period of days or weeks.

Let's say you're launching a new cold outreach campaign and have a list of 1,000 potential prospects. Instead of sending all 1,000 emails in one go, you decide to gradually increase the volume over a span of two weeks.

In the first week, you start by sending 100 emails per day. And the next week, you slightly increase the volume to 150 emails per day, continuing to observe the response rates and adjusting as necessary. It takes about 8 to 12 weeks to get your email warmed up and achieve a good sender reputation.

By gradually increasing the volume, you give email service providers the opportunity to recognize your sending patterns as legitimate and establish a positive sender reputation

Remember, patience and a gradual approach are the keys to success when it comes to increasing your email send volumes during warmup.

Start with a small list of engaged and familiar contacts

A good way to kickstart the email warmup is with close, familiar contacts or those who have previously interacted with your brand or expressed interest in your offerings.

These can be people from your company, previous customers, subscribers to your newsletter, or people who have engaged with your content or participated in your webinars.

In this smaller, more receptive group, you can establish a strong foundation of engagement and positive responses more easily,  since they are already familiar with your business. You can gradually expand your outreach to larger audiences as you gain positive engagement and response rates from this initial list.

Use a consistent sending pattern

Choose a specific schedule for sending your emails and stick to it. Maintaining a predictable schedule for sending your emails shows that you are a reliable and consistent user who relies on email for day-to-day communication.

Whether it's daily, every other day, or weekly, the key is to maintain the same frequency throughout the warmup process. Consider factors such as time zones, work schedules, and industry norms to optimize the timing of your sends.

Consistency also plays a role in establishing a positive sender reputation – which can lead to an improved overall email marketing campaign. The consistency we’re talking about here includes the sending frequency, email copy or content quality, and recipients’ engagement patterns.

Monitor email metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and spam complaints

Email warmup is about so much more than just making sure your emails reach the inbox swiftly. It's also about ongoing efforts for continuous improvement and data-driven optimization. That’s why monitoring email metrics should be included in your email warmup efforts.

Three key metrics to pay close attention to are:

  • open rates
  • click-through rates
  • spam complaints

However, there are many further metrics which can provide further insights, such as unsubscribe rates, bounce rates, read time and more.

Email metrics.

Image: Litmus

These key metrics act as your compass, guiding you towards an understanding of what engages your audience and what needs improvement. High open rates and click-through rates indicate that your emails resonate with recipients, while a low spam complaint rate reflects a positive sender reputation.

One thing to bear in mind, though; monitoring email metrics is not just about tracking performance. It's a dynamic tool that empowers you to refine and optimize your email strategy for maximum impact through continuous improvements and tweaks.

Personalize your emails to make them more relevant

A well-personalized email will do more than just capturing the recipients’ attention from the get-go; it will also make them feel valued and understood. That’s why personalization in email warmups is about more than just using the recipient's name. It's about crafting messages that resonate with each recipient on a personal level. It’s about showing that you understand their pain points and offer a solution to resolve them.

Doing so increases the chances of your emails being opened, read, and engaged with. The positive response from those recipients signals to the email provider that there’s a real person behind the email domain and not just some robot doing the email blasts. At the end of the day, it helps build a strong sender reputation and enhances your deliverability rates.

You can also include a short explainer video in the email to add more personalization. The video will humanize your outreach, allowing the recipients to put a face and voice to the name.

Video in email.

Image: Impact

It’s also the case that recipients are also more likely to open personalized emails as legitimate and valuable, reducing the risk of your emails ending up in spam folders. To nail email personalization, consider leveraging data from your CRM, past interactions, and segmentation strategies.

Subscribe to newsletters

Email subscription validates your email account and will increase the email inflow. Find at least 5-10 other publications in your industry and subscribe to their email list.

Receiving their weekly newsletter is just as important as sending emails to warm up your new email account. When you actively sign up for newsletters, you generate positive signals to email service providers that your domain is actively participating in legitimate email interactions, and you’re a legitimate member of the community.

All this aside, you can also learn from high-quality newsletters. They can provide insights into the type of content and messaging that may resonate with your target recipients. In other words, observing how other reputable senders structure their emails and engage their subscribers can provide valuable inspiration for your own email content.

Wrapping up

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to cold email outreach strategy. But one thing for sure is that email warmup is a must-have. Without a proper warmup, you could miss the chance of reaching your recipients' inboxes altogether. If the email doesn’t even make it to the inbox, then how can you expect your recipients to engage?

Remember, email warmup isn’t a one-day job. It takes weeks for your new business email to earn its reputation and gain the trust of email service providers. The key is to be patient and consistent throughout the process.

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