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Deliverability Checklist: Keep your cold emails away from spam

April 16, 2024
7 min.

Struggling to get replies to your cold emails? They might be landing in spam where your prospects can’t see them. In this checklist, you’ll find the 10 important steps you need to take to keep your cold emails out of spam and in your prospects' inboxes.

Why do cold emails land in spam?

The #1 reason your email could land in spam is if your prospect isn’t interested and marks your emails as spam. But technical factors like your technical setup, low sender reputation, or spam trigger words can also land your emails in spam. You can prevent this by defining the right target audience, writing effective emails, and following deliverability best practices!

In this checklist, you'll find the 10 essential steps you need to take to keep your cold emails out of spam.

10-step checklist to boost deliverability and keep your cold emails out of spam

Before sending cold emails

❒  Complete your technical setup

Completing your technical setup ensures that your cold emails are delivered and land in your prospects' inboxes. Email providers use these settings to verify your sender identity, so if you have a complete setup, you’re less likely to land in spam.

Your technical setup includes:

❒   SPF: Sender Policy Framework verifies that your emails have been sent from your domain

❒   DKIM: DomainKeys Identified Mail guarantees that your emails are not changed after they are sent

❒   DMARC: Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance helps protect your domain from attacks, phishing emails, etc.

ℹ️  Here's a guide to help set up your SPF, DKIM, DMARC

❒   MX Records: Mail exchange’ record helps providers know what servers accept emails for your domain. Without it, you won’t be able to receive emails

ℹ️  Here's a guide to help set up your MX Records

❒   Custom Tracking Domain: Allows you to track open and click rates in your emails safely

ℹ️  Here's a guide to help set up your Custom Tracking Domain

You can use your warm-up and deliverability booster to check your technical setup. ⬇

❒  Email warm-up

Email warm-up gradually increases your sending volume to avoid triggering email providers. Because if you haven’t been sending emails and suddenly send 100s of emails daily, it can look like spam.

The best way to do this is to use a warm-up and deliverability booster like lemwarm. Based on your goals, target audience, and email characteristics, lemwarm creates a custom deliverability strategy for you. This helps you boost your deliverability and avoid spam in the long run.

While doing your email warm-up, here are 3 things you should remember:

  • keep your warm-up and deliverability booster ON before-during-after sending campaigns
  • wait till your deliverability score is > 90 to send email campaigns
  • always use a safe warm-up tool to protect your sender reputation

Check out the improvement in this user's deliverability score within 3 weeks of using lemwarm 👇

❒  Create a clear sender identity

A clear sender identity helps you build trust with your prospects and email providers. This increases your chances of getting replies and prevents spam complaints.

Here are 3 tips for creating a clear sender identity:

  • use your real name or the name of a recognizable person in your company
  • use the same sender name in all your emails to build trust and familiarity
  • add a simple & clear email signature with your name, company, and job role

❒  Verify your email list

If the list of people you’re contacting has invalid addresses, there are chances that your emails might not get delivered. With a high bounce rate, you risk lowering your deliverability score and landing your emails in spam!

By verifying your email list, you can avoid contacting such addresses and protect your deliverability.

Here are 3 tips to verify your email list:

  • use tools like Debounce or Bouncer to remove invalid/undeliverable addresses
  • remove all contacts who unsubscribe from your email list
  • check your prospect's email address for typos or errors like these before sending 👇

While sending cold emails

❒  Write a personalized subject line

A spammy or salesy cold email subject line can instantly get marked as spam. On the other hand, a good subject line is personalized and shows your prospects the concrete value they’ll find in your email.

This can increase your open rate, motivate your prospects to reply, and prevent your emails from landing in spam.

Here are 3 tips for writing subject lines that avoid spam:

  • avoid spam-trigger words like “free”, “limited time”, “make money”
  • keep your subject line short & clear (between 6-10 words)
  • personalize your subject lines

You can also use these 100+ email subject line templates to personalize your subject lines and avoid spam.

❒  Use links instead of attachments

Link shorteners are common in spam and phishing emails. And attachments are known to carry viruses. So, avoid using these elements to prevent getting flagged as spam by email filters.

Instead, hyperlink your text or insert the entire link in your emails. This protects your deliverability when you share files with your prospects.

Here are 3 email content mistakes to avoid and keep your emails away from spam:

  • avoid adding attachments, use links instead
  • don’t use link shorteners, add the full link
  • keep a healthy image-to-text ratio

❒  Avoid using spam trigger words

Spam trigger words are commonly found in phishing or fraud emails associated with illegal activities. Email filters are programmed to flag emails with such words as spam. So if your emails have spam trigger words, they are likelier to land in spam where your prospects won’t see them.

To prevent this, avoid overly aggressive, pushy, or manipulative words. Focus on using a friendly and conversational tone with your prospects.

Here are 3 tips to avoid triggering spam filters with your content:

  • avoid using words such as "free", "guaranteed", or "limited-time offer"
  • limit the use of punctuation and symbols, especially in the subject line
  • avoid too many emojis or images

Other deliverability best practices to keep your emails away from spam while sending emails:

❒  Personalize your emails

❒  Keep your emails short and to the point

❒  Follow the right sending practices

❒  Avoid using all caps or excessive exclamation points

❒  Don’t use complex HTML in your emails

❒  Use spin syntax to personalize emails if your list is bigger than 300 people

After sending cold emails

❒  Monitor your email deliverability

Monitoring your email deliverability after sending cold email campaigns will help you spot deliverability issues and prevent them from affecting future emails. The best way to track your deliverability is by using a warm-up and deliverability booster like lemwarm and your email outreach tool’s reports.

Here are the top 3 metrics you should monitor:

  • Deliverability Score — should be > 90
  • Open Rate — aim for an open rate > 45%
  • Bounce Rate — keep your bounce rates < 5%

For example, lemlist gives you a clear overview of all email metrics 👇

❒  Keep your email list clean

Over time, email lists can become outdated or filled with invalid email addresses. It's important to regularly clean your email list to ensure that you're only sending emails to active and engaged contacts. This way, your emails are always delivered and avoid landing in spam.

Here are 3 tips for keeping your email list clean:

  • remove email addresses that show hard bounces from your list
  • verify your email list before sending the next campaigns
  • avoid re-contacting prospects who have expressed they aren’t interested in your offer

❒  Send follow-up emails

Not getting replies to your first emails doesn’t always mean your prospects aren’t interested in your offer. By following up, you can stay on top of their mind and increase your chances of getting replies!

Here are 3 tips to craft effective follow-up emails:

  • give your prospects a clear & precise reason to reply
  • stand out in your follow-up emails with custom images or videos
  • use your follow-up to build trust

You’ll find actionable tips on writing follow-up emails + 7 best-performing follow-up templates in this eBook 👉


Cold emails only get results when they land in your prospect’s inbox. Landing in spam hurts your credibility and reduces your chances of getting replies. These 10 steps will increase your deliverability and help you reach your prospects.

To easily follow all the steps, you can use this complete cold email deliverability checklist + links to detailed guides for each step 👇


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