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The Ultimate Cold Email Checklist

What you need to know before you send your first cold email

We designed our tool to help you ensure maximum deliverability!

Now here's the ultimate checklist you need to follow before you send your first cold email.

1. Never use your own domain

You are going to do things wrong and it’s too risky to use your primary professional domain.

You could use G Suite with a new domain.

When getting a new domain, you could be put into a spam list (fresh) automatically. It’s only for a higher risk of spam and it lasts about 1 month before you’re automatically de-listed. You can use lesser-known extensions (as opposed to .com) to avoid this, as not all extensions are monitored.

2. Never use a free email account for cold outreach

Free Gmail (, Outlook... accounts have better deliverability in general.

BUT, they are blocked quickly when a mistake is made, with no possibility to re-open them.

With professional accounts like G Suite, you have access to business support in case your account is blocked, and that usually can be resolved within 24 hours.

3. Use Outlook/Office 365 as an email provider for best deliverability

We’ve tested many email providers and Office 365 is the best email provider in terms of deliverability. We recommend creating a professional business email account with them and using QuickMail to automate.

If you have to stay on GSuite: Sending follow-ups will increase your volume quickly, so do plan that in advance.

By default, all G Suite accounts are limited to 500 emails per day until you reach $30 in billing.

Pre-pay $30 to unlock 2,000/day to avoid bounces from Gmail when your volume will increase with follow-up.

4. Make sure SPF and DKIM are set for your domain

You’ll go straight to the junk folder if you don’t.
SPF with Office 365
DKIM with Office 365

5. Check your deliverability

Use services like to determine your deliverability score. Then look at how it can be improved by addressing all of their recommendations.

6. Warm up your inbox

Use an email warm-up tool like Mailflow to warm up your inbox before and during campaigns. 

Using a tool like Mailflow, your email account will automatically send emails to a network of real people inboxes talking to each other. Your emails will automatically be opened, and some of them will be replied to. This positive engagement will result in higher deliverability for your outreach campaigns.

Users have reported seeing a ~20% increase in open rates just from using this free tool.

7. Verify your email list prior to sending

It’s of utter importance to make sure the email addresses on your list won’t bounce. Google and other mail providers will block your account quickly. Bounce = spammer. So make sure all your emails are verified.

Never buy lists, and make sure you always use services like Neverbounce to clear your list first.

8. Avoid similar content

Similar content gets flagged as spam. Use custom attributes to make sure each email is unique and create a few different email variations (like A/B testing).

9. Delay message sending

By default, QuickMail spaces out emails by 30 seconds (you can always increase this number). The higher the number, the less likely you’ll be to be flagged as spam.

10. Don’t add images in the first email

Don’t add images in your first touch email if you can avoid it. Usually, the text on the first email is short. Adding an image has a bad text-to-image ratio, and spam filters don’t like that.

Tracking pixels (to determine open rate) are images. So to increase deliverability, you should consider disabling the tracking of opens in the first message.

Once follow-ups kick in, there will be enough text so that the ratio is not completely off.

11. No more than 1 link per email, and don’t mask links

If you track links, make sure they’re not coming from a shortening service (e.g Those are likely to be listed in spam lists already. Spammers use these link shortening techniques all the time, and you don’t want to be lumped in with the spammers.

Use description instead of URL. For example, if your link is, use “My Domain”… don’t put “,” as the tracking link will point to another address and services will often think it’s a phishing attack. Either write the URL without making a clickable link or disable click tracking in the first message.

12. Don’t contact more than 50 people/day

If you do it right, you can get around a 20% reply rate.

No need to max out Gmail’s limit.

– It’s hard to find 2k valid emails that won’t bounce each day

– You don’t have the bandwidth to seriously engage with 400 replies anyway

Don’t go for quantity, as you’ll be punished in many ways. Try to nail it down with low volume first.

13. Avoid unusual bursts of emails

It’s way better to send 50 emails each day, than to send 250 emails one day a week.

Spam filters pay attention to things that are out of the ordinary. So to fly under the radar, have a continuous amount of emails sent daily rather than a one-time event that may be caught.

14. Only send to individuals

Send to individual addresses, not groups such as marketing@, info@, sales@ … if you do, you’ll run the chance of getting flagged as a spammer.

15. Send to business emails, not personal emails

Avoid,, and other free types of emails, as they are more likely to be personal emails and not business emails. Personal emails addressed with business activities lead to greater spam complaints.

16. Don’t sell on the first email

The goal of cold emails is to engage in a conversation, not to get a sale from the first email. It’s best to sell only once you’ve created a relationship; not before.

People who try to sell right away get flagged as spam super fast, and future emails will end up in junk folders.

17. Don’t repeat yourself in a follow-up

Include the previous email for context, and provide a different call to action. Remember to always add new value with each follow-up.

18. Type as if it was text only

It’s not a beauty contest. Write like a human. No color, no bullet points, bold text, or custom fonts… resist the urge!

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