Blog

Get access to our community's favorite templates. Clay gives your prospecting superpowers! 🧙

Blog

Get access to our community's favorite templates. Clay gives your prospecting superpowers! 🧙

Up next!

Updates on feature releases, product improvements, and our roadmap as we keep molding Clay.

← Back to all posts
Table of Contents
🔔  Subscribe to Clay
21 Tips for Keeping Cold Emails Out Of Spam in 2023
02/02/2023

21 Tips for Keeping Cold Emails Out Of Spam in 2023

Eric Nowoslawski
13
 min.

Mastering the art of sending relevant and effective cold emails is crucial for any sales team that wants to convert new customers. The email deliverability landscape, however, can be overwhelming, with hundreds of strategies to consider amidst a constantly changing set of rules and red flags. In this post, we'll share our 21 best tips to help you land cold emails in prospects’ inboxes and acquire customers in 2023. Our guide includes mastering the basics, like setting up essential authentications, cleaning lists, and following sending limits, as well as creative techniques like how to use personalizations and spin taxes. No matter what the tip is, our overall philosophy is simple: whatever spammers do, try to do the opposite. 

Don’t send marketing emails and cold sales emails from the same inboxes 

It's essential to send your marketing and cold sales emails from separate inboxes. This ensures that any spam reports sparked by your cold emails do not tank the deliverability of your marketing emails. 

Remember, marketing emails are for people who've opted in to your email list and given you permission to contact them. Cold emails, on the other hand, are for people who haven't given you permission to contact them. No matter how great your cold emails are, some people will mark them as spam. Send from separate inboxes to avoid spreading the negative effects of these spam reports.

Set up your MX, DKIM, SPF, or DMARC records

To ensure your cold emails reach the right inboxes, you need to set up MX, DKIM, SPF, and DMARC authentications. These acronyms sound obtuse, but they’re critical: they tell email service providers that you're a valid sender from your domain. 

These authentications are often overlooked but simple to set up. When you buy a domain, Google how to set up a DMARC record on your provider (GoDaddy, for example) and follow the instructions. If you buy your domain and inboxes from the same provider, they will set up the MX, DKIM, and SPF for you—all you have to do is buy a DMARC. (This applies to you if you have a Google domain with Google workspace inboxes, for example). When you’re done setting up your authentications, check that you did everything right using tools like Mailgenius or Mailtester.

Send cold emails from multiple inboxes and domains

It’s best practice to send cold emails from a variety of inboxes that are tied to different domains than your main domain. This is known as inbox rotation. 

Salesforce’s main domain, for example, is Salesforce.com. This domain enjoys a great SEO reputation, domain authority, and sender reputation. Any marketing emails sent from this domain are set up for success. 

If a Salesforce team were to send cold emails, however, we’d advise them to use satellite domains like “gosalesforce.com,” “getsalesforce.com,” or “trysalesforce.com.” Salespeople could set up two inboxes per domain, like “eric@gosalesforce.com” and “eric.n@gosalesforce.com.” This way, any one inbox getting marked as spam will not affect the deliverability of the others.

Warm up your email lists

If you are unsatisfied with your domain reputation, you may want to try warming up your email lists. Email warming tools, such as Instantly.ai, Smartlead.ai, or Uptics.ai, can assist you in this process, which typically takes 3-4 weeks.

When you use an email warming tool, you’ll be added to a pool of email users who’ve opted in to sending and receiving each other’s emails for mutual benefit. You’ll agree not to mark them as spam and reply to them, and they’ll reciprocate—boosting both parties’ domain reputations. 

We’d suggest starting with any of the tools above and warming up to fifty emails per day. The platforms will gradually increase the number of emails sent over the course of several weeks, sending 3-5 emails per day to the others in your pool to get you a ~33% response rate.

If you don't have the time to warm up your lists and want to start sending emails right away, we recommend setting up twice as many inboxes as you need, using half of them immediately, and letting the others warm up over time. Remember to start with a low sending volume. Warming up your lists is crucial for long-term success in email marketing, so make sure to incorporate this process in your email strategy.

Follow daily sending limits

In general, it’s good practice to send 30-60 emails per day per inbox, excluding any warm-up emails. If you want to reach out to 250 people per day and average 50 daily emails per inbox, you’ll need at least 250/50 = 5 inboxes—though we’d advise setting up a few extra. For best results, spread your inboxes across several domains.

Track open rates with custom domain tracking

When you’re first setting up an email campaign, it’s important to track open rates to check that your emails aren’t going to spam. If your open rates are above 35%, for example, you’re probably landing in the inbox. 

Email management platforms will help you track open rates by including an invisible pixel in each of your emails. When the email gets loaded, the pixel will fire to record that it was opened. 

Most platforms use a shared pixel across several senders to track email opens. This means that other senders’ poor campaigns can contaminate your reputation. For example, if you use a shared pixel from a platform like Hubspot, you'll likely be sharing it with a large pool of other users, including spammers. If Google sees that your email includes a pixel that has been associated with spam, they may move your email to spam as well.

To avoid this, consider using custom domain tracking which allows you to control your own independent reputation. Instantly, Smartlead, and Uptics all have guides on how to set it up. You’ll need your CNAME set up to track opens effectively.

A word of caution: Open rates are heavily inflated and not always reliable. For example, if someone has their email account connected with their iOS mail app, the open pixel is triggered as soon as the email comes in—not necessarily when it’s opened. If it looks like someone is opening your emails 40-50 times, the open rate is likely inflated by some other factor.

Once you’ve verified that a campaign is working, it might be time to turn off tracking. Including open tracking pixels make email providers more likely to flag you as promotional or spam. 

Send plain text emails only: avoid images and links

Sending plain text emails is a simple way to improve your email deliverability. As a basic security measure, you should never click on links from unknown senders; don’t make your prospects do so either. Avoid using images or links in your first email, as they can slow down loading times and make it more likely for email providers to mark you as spam.

Once your first email has been delivered and possibly even replied to, you'll have a better chance of getting your subsequent emails delivered. You can add necessary images or links in your second, third or fourth email in a sequence, but never in the first. This will help increase the chances of your emails reaching the inbox.

Instantly and Smartlead have features that allow you to send completely plain text emails, turning off all the HTML.

Don’t use spam words

Many words immediately trigger spam filters (mention Jesus, Bitcoin, or Viagra and you’re putting yourself in trouble!) It’s good practice to sanity check your emails to avoid words on spam lists. Hubspot has a great list broken down by industry that includes phrases including “eliminate credit,” “increase your sales,” “remove wrinkles,” and more.

Personalize your emails

Personalizing emails to your recipient’s background, profile, or location can make them more likely to engage with you. Using the recipient’s first name is a basic step, but your emails will really stand out if they convey that you’ve taken the time to look at someone’s LinkedIn profile and done research on them. 

One common personalization that we like utilizes your recipient’s job title, company name, and start date in the email, like this: Hey [first name], I’ve noticed you've been the CEO at [company name] since [join date]. These kinds of personalizations stand out, because marketing tools like Seamless or Apollo can’t scrape details like a CEO’s start date. (If you want to easily run hundreds of these personalizations, check out Clay!) Another quick hack is to look up a top restaurant in their location and add that into your email as a “P.S.” line. 

Relevance and product messaging matter much more than personalizations for the overall success of your campaign. However, personalizations can help you draw your recipients' attention and garner more replies. In a previous campaign, one of our teammates reached out to business owners who wanted to sell their business. The emails personalized with start date and a local restaurant generated 5x more responses than the emails with just first name/company name.

Cleaning lists / bounce rate

Make sure you only send emails to valid accounts. Emails that bounce to invalid email addresses will hurt your deliverability and domain reputation. Before you send a campaign, clean your email list. There are several tools that can help. ZeroBounce is the highest quality and highest cost tool on the market. Other tools like Debounce are more affordable and have gotten us similar results. If you have a pre-validated list, you can clean them up using a lifetime deal with a service like Appsumo. 

In addition, we recommend that you avoid sending emails to catch-all domains. A catch-all domain accepts all incoming email messages, regardless of whether the email address is valid. Sending emails to catch-all domains can result in a high rate of undelivered or bounced emails, which can negatively impact your email reputation and the ability to reach recipients' inboxes. When validating email lists, catch-all domains will not be able to confirm if an email address is valid or invalid, making it difficult to ensure the quality of the list and the effectiveness of the campaign. There are ways to overcome this, like using Google Sheets to validate email addresses that are connected to a Google account.

Control your sending velocity

Spammers send many emails at once; thoughtful marketers avoid this behavior. An ideal sending velocity is close to one email every 8-15 minutes. The tools we’ve recommended above make this easy to set up.

Send emails at a consistent pace

Keep the same sending level across your inboxes. Avoid sending fifty emails one day, none the next, and one hundred the third day. Increase or decrease your email sending volume slowly.

Turn off tracking pixels

Once you’re satisfied that your emails aren’t going to spam, you should turn off your tracking pixels, even if you have a custom CNAME. Having tracking pixels in your emails makes it more likely for email providers to mark you as a marketer or promotional sender. This applies to both link tracking and open-rate tracking.

Track blacklists

If you notice that your open rate or email reply rate is tanking, make sure that you aren’t on any email blacklists. Organizations that maintain blacklists (e.g. Spamrats) often partner with email providers like Google to help fight spam. Getting off a blacklist sometimes requires a fee, but other times, it only takes an inquiry. Tools like MXToolbox, Glock apps, or Gmass can help you see if your IP address or domain is listed on any blacklists and help you get off them.

Turn off bad campaigns ASAP

As soon as you notice a bad campaign, turn it off. (You’ll know what’s “bad” when you hear it—look for angry replies or mass instances of people asking to get off your list.) Don’t risk your domain reputation by attempting to save a languishing campaign. Take a step back to re-evaluate your copy, product positioning, and email strategy. This will increase your odds of future success and prevent you from getting extra spam reports or unsubscriptions.

Use a global do-not-contact list

Sending an email to someone who has unsubscribed from your list is a surefire way to generate irritation and land in spam folders. To prevent this, it's important to maintain and adhere to a global unsubscribe list. A common error is to use separate lists for different campaigns, which can make it difficult for recipients to unsubscribe and increases the likelihood that you violate their unsubscription requests. Smartlead and Instantly make it easy to maintain global unsubscribe lists.

Choose between opt-outs and unsubscribe links

Some geographies like California mandate that you include unsubscribe links in emails. Unfortunately, unsubscribe links may lower deliverability because (a) they are links, (b) they mark you as more likely to be spam or promotional, and (c) they usually flag to users that they’re part of an automated email sequence. When possible, we like to use lines like “if this is not relevant to you, let me know” to let email recipients opt out of a sequence without having to click a link.

Use spintax to generate variations of your emails

Spintax is a technique you can use to generate multiple variations of any given text in an email. It uses a specific syntax, where curly braces {} and pipes | are used to indicate different options for a given word or phrase. A subject line using spintax could be "{Don't miss out|Don't let this opportunity slip by|Don't miss your chance} to save 10% on your purchase" — which will result in three different subject lines to send to a recipient.

Using spintax to generate multiple variations of email subject lines and content can increase your odds of landing in the inbox. Providers are more likely to mark you as spam if you send templated emails to many people, changing only minor variables like “first name.” There are many ways to generate multiple synonymous variations of an email. You can rotate through different headings (“hey [first name] versus “hello [first name]”), use Google Docs or Grammarly to find synonyms, or even rotate a variation of motivational quotes through your signature. You can use tools like sp1in.me to set these up quickly.

Aim for a reply, not a click

It’s much better to ask someone to reply to your email with interest than to use Calendly links. Remember: stay away from links in cold emails! One of our favorite calls to action is “if we could solve [insert problem here], would that be useful to you?” To respect recipients’ time, we also sometimes include lines like “No need for a call right now—could I send you an under four minute Loom video explaining how we do this?” 

Be as relevant as possible 

Crafting a relevant message for your target audience is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a response. The more specifically you connect your tool to your recipient’s problems, the better. 

For example, a relevant cold email to a MailChimp user that aims to market an alternative platform might say something like this: “I noticed you're using MailChimp to send 12,136 emails every month. Using our tool, you’d save $800/month.” The more specific and numerical information you can get (e.g. by scraping your recipient’s website to learn how many emails they're sending) the better. 

It helps to make your target audience as specific as possible. “Chief marketing officers of companies with 50 to 100 employees” is a very general target. “CMOs of companies with 50 to 100 employees, who’ve been at the company for less than a year, are hiring for copywriters, and don't post on LinkedIn” is much better. 

Use MX matching to send from the same domain as your recipients

MX matching is one of the newest features of the email deliverability landscape in 2023. This is the process of sending emails using the same domain as your recipients—sending from Google inboxes to Google inboxes, from Outlook to Outlook, and so on.

How can MX matching help you land more cold emails into inboxes? Email providers like Google and Outlook generally track their own domain reputation information and don’t fully share it with others. When Google receives an email from an Outlook inbox, it needs to trust Outlook’s sender scores on that inbox—and vice versa. Email providers may block some extra accounts from different providers, because they don't completely trust each other.

Email deliverability and strategy is a constantly changing world. We may reach a point in the future where spam filters get even more stringent, personalizations are more creative, and newer strategies like spintax become table stakes. We’ll do our best to keep you updated on the latest here—reach out to Eric with any questions!

Showing
0
Items
Mar 2023

How IntroCRM cut its prospecting data budget by 65% and built better lead lists lists with Clay

My company, IntroCRM, is a fractional sales agency that helps small sales teams excel with email deliverability, list building, and messaging. Clay is a critical part of how we help our customers generate, qualify, and book time with leads. In this blog post, I’m going to describe our life before Clay, why and how we use it today, and show you an example of a creative prospecting campaign that we ran for a client.

Mar 2023

Automate 6 cold email campaigns in a single Clay workflow

Clay Team

In this post, we’ll go over how we automated six different outbound cold email campaigns using a single Clay table. Follow along step-by-step in our video.

In this campaign, we were selling sales engagement tools to marketing leaders in American B2B companies with under 100 employees. At a high level, we started with just a broad list of prospects’ names and emails from Apollo. From there, we used Clay to sort prospects into the following buckets: management consulting, recruiting, or financial services.

Mar 2023

Troubleshooting outbound sales and prospecting: a comprehensive guide

Clay Team

Nailing your outbound sales and prospecting process can help you generate leads, acquire customers, and drive revenue growth. In this guide, we’ll share a step-by-step approach to troubleshooting each stage of your outbound sales campaign—whether you’re a new sales professional or a seasoned team leader.

We’ll cover how to check early campaigns, identify quality prospects, analyze insights from metrics, double down on well-performing sequences, and more, with detailed examples from our own experiences. You can use the table of contents to easily navigate to the areas that are most relevant to you.

Feb 2023

B2B Sales Prospecting: 15 Strategies to Drive More Conversions

Clay Team

When it comes to B2B sales, one of the biggest challenges is identifying potential customers and transforming them into qualified leads. However, by utilizing effective sales prospecting methods and tools, you can achieve more conversions and grow your business. In this ultimate guide to B2B sales prospecting, we'll delve into the most effective techniques, tools, and strategies to help you generate more quality leads, build a strong sales pipeline, and close more deals.

Feb 2023

How To Create Your Own Sales Prospect List in Minutes

Clay Team

Sales prospecting efforts can be a time-consuming and challenging task for any business. Finding the right prospects and gathering the necessary information to approach them can often feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. You may spend hours scouring various sources such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and company websites, only to come up with a fragmented and incomplete picture of your potential customers. The process of aggregating this information and organizing it into a usable format can take even more time and effort. However, what if we told you that you could create a sales prospecting list in just a few minutes? With Clay, an in-depth  sales prospecting tool, you can quickly and easily import prospects from multiple sources and enrich them with valuable information. You can also export this data to your preferred platform such as a CRM, saving you time and allowing you to focus on what you do best - closing deals!

Feb 2023

How To Get More Customers By Using Outbound Sales - A Complete Guide

Clay Team

In today's fast-paced and highly competitive business landscape, it's more important than ever to have a solid sales strategy in place. While inbound sales and social media marketing can be effective in attracting potential customers, outbound sales is still a crucial component of any successful sales plan. Outbound sales refers to the process of actively reaching out to potential customers through methods such as cold calling, email marketing, and cold outreach. In this blog post, we'll explore the benefits of outbound sales, the types of businesses that can benefit from it, and how to execute a successful outbound sales strategy.

Feb 2023

Cold Email Copywriting Frameworks for Private Equity Firms in 2023

Clay Team

Private equity firms often seek out new investment opportunities and are always on the lookout for promising startups. In this blog post, our expert Eric Nowoslawski provides his tips and frameworks for launching successful lead generation strategies using cold email campaigns to target potential customers and qualified leads. The topics covered in this post include: the critical importance of the subject line, personalizing your cold email approach, focusing on getting a response instead of a sale, including a compelling call-to-action (CTA), emphasizing what your firm enables, keeping your emails short and sweet, limiting follow-up emails, defining your investment offer and marketing strategy, and utilizing cold email templates.

Feb 2023

Cold Email Copywriting Frameworks for VC Firms in 2023

Clay Team

Lead generation is a crucial aspect of sales and marketing for venture capital firms. In this blog post, our expert Eric Nowoslawski shares his tips and frameworks for lead generation through cold emails. By following his strategies, you can secure new investment opportunities, generate high-quality leads, and reach your target audience effectively. This post covers topics such as the importance of personalization in cold emails, the role of a clear call-to-action (CTA), defining your value proposition and marketing angle, and tips for crafting an effective cold email sequence.

Feb 2023

Cold Email Copywriting Frameworks for Recruiting Agencies in 2023

Clay Team

As a recruiter, having a well-rounded lead generation strategy is essential for reaching potential job candidates and securing new clients. In this post, we will go into detail about the key elements that can help optimize your lead generation and increase the chances of making a sale. The topics covered will include lead generation through cold email outreach, leveraging social media, the importance of having a sales team, creating landing pages, lead scoring, lead generation tools, and much more.

Feb 2023

Cold Email Copywriting Frameworks for Marketing Agencies in 2023

Clay Team

Cold emails are a crucial component of lead generation for marketing agencies looking to expand their customer base and drive sales growth. In this post, we will highlight the key elements of a successful cold email marketing strategy, including optimizing subject lines, utilizing personalized email templates, and measuring metrics for lead generation optimization.

Feb 2023

Cold Email Copywriting Frameworks for SAAS Companies in 2023

Clay Team

Cold emails are a crucial aspect of a successful b2b sales and lead generation strategy for SAAS Companies. In this blog post, our expert Eric Nowoslawski shares his tips and techniques for crafting personalized and effective cold emails that can generate new customers through a cold email outreach. Key topics discussed include optimizing cold email subject lines for better open rates, crafting compelling email body and email signature, tracking metrics, and identifying pain points to drive lead conversion.

Feb 2023

11 AI Prompts to Automate Your Prospecting Research

Eric Nowoslawski

Open AI has taken the world by storm with their generative image and text capabilities. The use cases in Sales and Marketing seems almost infinite. From coming up with ideas, writing customer facing copywriting, and automating customer support, every business can leverage AI in some way to boost their productivity.

The ‘job to be done’ for us is to prompt AI correctly to give better answers than what a person could write on their own.

I like to say, “Open AI is wildly powerful but it’s like a five year old at a bowling alley. On their own, the odds of getting a strike are zero. With bumpers, bowling ball ramp and some heavy direction, they can get a strike every time.”

When creating your own prompts, remember to be specific and feed as many details and examples into the data as you can.

Feb 2023

A 7 Step How-To Guide: Successful Outbound Sales Campaigns

With love from the Clay team

Why should you do outbound sales?

You need to prove/disprove your hypothesis about the market.

Outbound sales is beneficial if you have hypotheses but need more certainty about who must have your product and why. It enables you to quickly create, test, and validate these hypotheses with real potential customers.

You get more control than you would with marketing.

Marketing allows you to get content in front of groups of people, but you have far less control over the exact people who will see it. In contrast, outbound sales allows you to pick the specific people that you want to target. This level of control removes the uncertainty of "did the people I want to test this with actually see my message?"

Feb 2023

Cold Email Copywriting Frameworks and Best Practices for 2023

Eric Nowoslawski

Cold emails are one of your most powerful tools for landing new customers, but a few factors can determine whether your messages get trashed or earn replies. In this blog post, we take a look at cold email copywriting tips and frameworks from our resident expert Eric Nowoslawski, who has helped companies with cold email and outbound marketing. We'll cover what to keep in mind before you start an email sequence, how to write your offer and marketing angles, a framework for an effective initial cold email, and how to structure a complete cold email sequence.

Feb 2023

21 Tips for Keeping Cold Emails Out Of Spam in 2023

Eric Nowoslawski

Mastering the art of sending relevant and effective cold emails is crucial for any sales team that wants to convert new customers. The email deliverability landscape, however, can be overwhelming, with hundreds of strategies to consider amidst a constantly changing set of rules and red flags. In this post, we'll share our 21 best tips to help you land cold emails in prospects’ inboxes and acquire customers in 2023. Our guide includes mastering the basics, like setting up essential authentications, cleaning lists, and following sending limits, as well as creative techniques like how to use personalizations and spin taxes. No matter what the tip is, our overall philosophy is simple: whatever spammers do, try to do the opposite. 

Feb 2023

How to Use OpenAI To Write the Perfect Cold Email from Scratch

Eric Nowoslawski

Effective cold emails are critical for any business, but they’ve been extremely time-consuming to write—until now. Instead of spending hours reading LinkedIn bios and company websites, you can use OpenAI with Clay to quickly mass personalize your email outreach with the click of a few buttons. In this post, we’ll show you how to use OpenAI to write personalized outreach emails from scratch based on someone’s LinkedIn bio, company description, and more.

Jan 2023

How to Use Formulas in Clay

Eric Nowoslawski

When building a Clay table, the sources, integrations, and CRM plugins can accomplish the goals of most users. Sometimes, there is a need for some data merging, splitting, or otherwise clean up that is needed in your table. This is where you can use Formulas to accomplish your goals!

In this blog, we are going to first go over how to think about formulas using the AI formula generator and then we will go over common formulas that you can write yourself in your Clay table.

Jan 2023

Optimize your Credit Usage in Clay

Eric Nowoslawski

Clay is a spreadsheet that fills itself with data from many data providers across the internet. We partner with data providers on your behalf to bring lots of different data sources — like job listings, tech stacks, news and more — into your workflows.

In this blog, we will go over a couple of functions in Clay that can will help you optimize your credit usage in Clay. There are many ways to optimize credit usage in Clay that the team has built into the product that we will go over in this blog. We will cover formulas that optimize your workflows and some features that are often overlooked that can help keep your credit usage down.

Here are 3 ways to optimize your Clay credit usage

Nov 2022

Basics of Google search operators

Eric Nowoslawski

Getting started with Google's Search Operator to creatively find new leads

Sep 2022

Lead scoring in Clay

Varun Anand

Welcome to the second post in our series on how to use formulas in Clay!  We’re going to walk you through prioritizing your lead list using scoring formulas in Clay 🌶️

Aug 2022

Formulas in Clay: conditional statements, waterfalling data and qualifying leads

Varun Anand

Ever wanted to learn formulas in Clay but didn't know where to start? Join the club. Just kidding. Read this and you'll be well on your way to mastering the basics of formulas.

Jun 2022

How to prioritize your waitlist

Matt Maiale

If you’re an early stage startup, you’ve probably built a waitlist (or are considering one). And for most startups, it makes a lot of sense.

Nov 2021

🧙‍♀️ The many lives of spreadsheets

With love from the Clay team

Ever wondered how many people use spreadsheets? Some estimates say around 800 million people use Microsoft Excel, and another 160–180 million use Google Sheets. Not bad for a tool that started as a basic visual calculator.

Mar 2023
Mar 2023
Mar 2023

Merge Column

Clay Team
Mar 2023
Mar 2023

GPT-4

Clay Team
Mar 2023

Scrape Website

Clay Team
Mar 2023
Feb 2023
Feb 2023

Find A User's Recent LinkedIn Posts

Clay Team

We hope you're having a wonderful Valentine's Day! On a day filled with love and joy, we thought we'd give you something close to our hearts- new Clay features 💝

Get ready to fall in love 👇

Jan 2023

Get Mobile Phone Number

What's new at Clay

Hey friend,

New Year, new features! 🎊 We've been working hard on building out new integrations to give your teams superpowers for 2023.

We're also super pumped to announce that we've been selected as a finalist for the Golden Kitty Awards! We would love your help by upvoting us here.

Now for the good stuff!! 👇

Aug 2022

Using Google As A Source

Matt Maiale

As you're getting ready for your wonderful Labor Day Weekend break, we're pumped to share some exciting updates to our sources and integrations within Clay 🧚

Aug 2022

Salesforce Integration

Matt Maiale

We hope you're staying cool with your Birkenstocks, bucket hats, and wonderful office AC. We're so pumped to share some new features and updates from Clay.

Dec 2021

Closing out the year with Clay

With love from the Clay team

As we wish this year farewell, we're excited to share some of the bells, whistles, and magic the Clay team is building for you. We're forever in awe of each of you, and can't to see all you'll build in the new year 🎊

Nov 2021

New features, documentation series, and sneak peeks of Clay!

With love from the Clay team

As we get closer to releasing Clay to a larger community, we're excited to share some new features and improvements with you 🤩. With some big features right around the corner, this month we're focused on making all of your interactions in Clay, big and small, absolutely delightful. Check out some of our recent updates:

Oct 2021

Life is getting easier with Clay

With love from the Clay team

We have a couple of new features up our sleeve, but before sharing those with you we are laser focused on making your time in Clay a little more magical - from duplicating tables, to smoother keyboard interactions, record counts and more.

Sep 2021

HTTP API

Matt Maiale

In Clay 2.0, you can now source leads directly from Linkedin within the table. Our 'Clay Find People' source takes queries such as location, title, company, experience, skills, and more to search LinkedIn and add matches to your table.

Sep 2021

Introducing Clay's New Interface

With love from the Clay team

While we'll be migrating all of our users over the fall, we're jazzed to be currently onboarding teams that have ✨ a waitlist to enrich and prioritize✨. This use case is ideal for those with a product in beta, whose signups are feeling unruly (don't be shy if that's you - that was us, too).

Jul 2021

Join our Clay 2.0 beta

With love from the Clay team

We are looking for users interested in testing our revamped UI! We've been teasing our revamped UI and are excited to get you in as soon as humanly possible 🏃.

This month we're prioritizing waitlists in the new UI. You would be a great fit for our beta if you need to better understand people and prioritize sign ups. Shoot us over a note if this sounds like you!

Showing
0
Items
Mar 2023

How IntroCRM cut its prospecting data budget by 65% and built better lead lists lists with Clay

My company, IntroCRM, is a fractional sales agency that helps small sales teams excel with email deliverability, list building, and messaging. Clay is a critical part of how we help our customers generate, qualify, and book time with leads. In this blog post, I’m going to describe our life before Clay, why and how we use it today, and show you an example of a creative prospecting campaign that we ran for a client.

Mar 2023

Automate 6 cold email campaigns in a single Clay workflow

Clay Team

In this post, we’ll go over how we automated six different outbound cold email campaigns using a single Clay table. Follow along step-by-step in our video.

In this campaign, we were selling sales engagement tools to marketing leaders in American B2B companies with under 100 employees. At a high level, we started with just a broad list of prospects’ names and emails from Apollo. From there, we used Clay to sort prospects into the following buckets: management consulting, recruiting, or financial services.

Mar 2023

Troubleshooting outbound sales and prospecting: a comprehensive guide

Clay Team

Nailing your outbound sales and prospecting process can help you generate leads, acquire customers, and drive revenue growth. In this guide, we’ll share a step-by-step approach to troubleshooting each stage of your outbound sales campaign—whether you’re a new sales professional or a seasoned team leader.

We’ll cover how to check early campaigns, identify quality prospects, analyze insights from metrics, double down on well-performing sequences, and more, with detailed examples from our own experiences. You can use the table of contents to easily navigate to the areas that are most relevant to you.

Showing
0
Items
Mar 2023
Mar 2023
Mar 2023

Merge Column

Clay Team

Blog

Get access to our community's favorite templates. Clay gives your prospecting superpowers! 🧙

Blog

Get access to our community's favorite templates. Clay gives your prospecting superpowers! 🧙

Up next!

Updates on feature releases, product improvements, and our roadmap as we keep molding Clay.

← Back to all posts
February 2, 2023
21 Tips for Keeping Cold Emails Out Of Spam in 2023
02/02/2023

21 Tips for Keeping Cold Emails Out Of Spam in 2023

Eric Nowoslawski

Mastering the art of sending relevant and effective cold emails is crucial for any sales team that wants to convert new customers. The email deliverability landscape, however, can be overwhelming, with hundreds of strategies to consider amidst a constantly changing set of rules and red flags. In this post, we'll share our 21 best tips to help you land cold emails in prospects’ inboxes and acquire customers in 2023. Our guide includes mastering the basics, like setting up essential authentications, cleaning lists, and following sending limits, as well as creative techniques like how to use personalizations and spin taxes. No matter what the tip is, our overall philosophy is simple: whatever spammers do, try to do the opposite. 

Don’t send marketing emails and cold sales emails from the same inboxes 

It's essential to send your marketing and cold sales emails from separate inboxes. This ensures that any spam reports sparked by your cold emails do not tank the deliverability of your marketing emails. 

Remember, marketing emails are for people who've opted in to your email list and given you permission to contact them. Cold emails, on the other hand, are for people who haven't given you permission to contact them. No matter how great your cold emails are, some people will mark them as spam. Send from separate inboxes to avoid spreading the negative effects of these spam reports.

Set up your MX, DKIM, SPF, or DMARC records

To ensure your cold emails reach the right inboxes, you need to set up MX, DKIM, SPF, and DMARC authentications. These acronyms sound obtuse, but they’re critical: they tell email service providers that you're a valid sender from your domain. 

These authentications are often overlooked but simple to set up. When you buy a domain, Google how to set up a DMARC record on your provider (GoDaddy, for example) and follow the instructions. If you buy your domain and inboxes from the same provider, they will set up the MX, DKIM, and SPF for you—all you have to do is buy a DMARC. (This applies to you if you have a Google domain with Google workspace inboxes, for example). When you’re done setting up your authentications, check that you did everything right using tools like Mailgenius or Mailtester.

Send cold emails from multiple inboxes and domains

It’s best practice to send cold emails from a variety of inboxes that are tied to different domains than your main domain. This is known as inbox rotation. 

Salesforce’s main domain, for example, is Salesforce.com. This domain enjoys a great SEO reputation, domain authority, and sender reputation. Any marketing emails sent from this domain are set up for success. 

If a Salesforce team were to send cold emails, however, we’d advise them to use satellite domains like “gosalesforce.com,” “getsalesforce.com,” or “trysalesforce.com.” Salespeople could set up two inboxes per domain, like “eric@gosalesforce.com” and “eric.n@gosalesforce.com.” This way, any one inbox getting marked as spam will not affect the deliverability of the others.

Warm up your email lists

If you are unsatisfied with your domain reputation, you may want to try warming up your email lists. Email warming tools, such as Instantly.ai, Smartlead.ai, or Uptics.ai, can assist you in this process, which typically takes 3-4 weeks.

When you use an email warming tool, you’ll be added to a pool of email users who’ve opted in to sending and receiving each other’s emails for mutual benefit. You’ll agree not to mark them as spam and reply to them, and they’ll reciprocate—boosting both parties’ domain reputations. 

We’d suggest starting with any of the tools above and warming up to fifty emails per day. The platforms will gradually increase the number of emails sent over the course of several weeks, sending 3-5 emails per day to the others in your pool to get you a ~33% response rate.

If you don't have the time to warm up your lists and want to start sending emails right away, we recommend setting up twice as many inboxes as you need, using half of them immediately, and letting the others warm up over time. Remember to start with a low sending volume. Warming up your lists is crucial for long-term success in email marketing, so make sure to incorporate this process in your email strategy.

Follow daily sending limits

In general, it’s good practice to send 30-60 emails per day per inbox, excluding any warm-up emails. If you want to reach out to 250 people per day and average 50 daily emails per inbox, you’ll need at least 250/50 = 5 inboxes—though we’d advise setting up a few extra. For best results, spread your inboxes across several domains.

Track open rates with custom domain tracking

When you’re first setting up an email campaign, it’s important to track open rates to check that your emails aren’t going to spam. If your open rates are above 35%, for example, you’re probably landing in the inbox. 

Email management platforms will help you track open rates by including an invisible pixel in each of your emails. When the email gets loaded, the pixel will fire to record that it was opened. 

Most platforms use a shared pixel across several senders to track email opens. This means that other senders’ poor campaigns can contaminate your reputation. For example, if you use a shared pixel from a platform like Hubspot, you'll likely be sharing it with a large pool of other users, including spammers. If Google sees that your email includes a pixel that has been associated with spam, they may move your email to spam as well.

To avoid this, consider using custom domain tracking which allows you to control your own independent reputation. Instantly, Smartlead, and Uptics all have guides on how to set it up. You’ll need your CNAME set up to track opens effectively.

A word of caution: Open rates are heavily inflated and not always reliable. For example, if someone has their email account connected with their iOS mail app, the open pixel is triggered as soon as the email comes in—not necessarily when it’s opened. If it looks like someone is opening your emails 40-50 times, the open rate is likely inflated by some other factor.

Once you’ve verified that a campaign is working, it might be time to turn off tracking. Including open tracking pixels make email providers more likely to flag you as promotional or spam. 

Send plain text emails only: avoid images and links

Sending plain text emails is a simple way to improve your email deliverability. As a basic security measure, you should never click on links from unknown senders; don’t make your prospects do so either. Avoid using images or links in your first email, as they can slow down loading times and make it more likely for email providers to mark you as spam.

Once your first email has been delivered and possibly even replied to, you'll have a better chance of getting your subsequent emails delivered. You can add necessary images or links in your second, third or fourth email in a sequence, but never in the first. This will help increase the chances of your emails reaching the inbox.

Instantly and Smartlead have features that allow you to send completely plain text emails, turning off all the HTML.

Don’t use spam words

Many words immediately trigger spam filters (mention Jesus, Bitcoin, or Viagra and you’re putting yourself in trouble!) It’s good practice to sanity check your emails to avoid words on spam lists. Hubspot has a great list broken down by industry that includes phrases including “eliminate credit,” “increase your sales,” “remove wrinkles,” and more.

Personalize your emails

Personalizing emails to your recipient’s background, profile, or location can make them more likely to engage with you. Using the recipient’s first name is a basic step, but your emails will really stand out if they convey that you’ve taken the time to look at someone’s LinkedIn profile and done research on them. 

One common personalization that we like utilizes your recipient’s job title, company name, and start date in the email, like this: Hey [first name], I’ve noticed you've been the CEO at [company name] since [join date]. These kinds of personalizations stand out, because marketing tools like Seamless or Apollo can’t scrape details like a CEO’s start date. (If you want to easily run hundreds of these personalizations, check out Clay!) Another quick hack is to look up a top restaurant in their location and add that into your email as a “P.S.” line. 

Relevance and product messaging matter much more than personalizations for the overall success of your campaign. However, personalizations can help you draw your recipients' attention and garner more replies. In a previous campaign, one of our teammates reached out to business owners who wanted to sell their business. The emails personalized with start date and a local restaurant generated 5x more responses than the emails with just first name/company name.

Cleaning lists / bounce rate

Make sure you only send emails to valid accounts. Emails that bounce to invalid email addresses will hurt your deliverability and domain reputation. Before you send a campaign, clean your email list. There are several tools that can help. ZeroBounce is the highest quality and highest cost tool on the market. Other tools like Debounce are more affordable and have gotten us similar results. If you have a pre-validated list, you can clean them up using a lifetime deal with a service like Appsumo. 

In addition, we recommend that you avoid sending emails to catch-all domains. A catch-all domain accepts all incoming email messages, regardless of whether the email address is valid. Sending emails to catch-all domains can result in a high rate of undelivered or bounced emails, which can negatively impact your email reputation and the ability to reach recipients' inboxes. When validating email lists, catch-all domains will not be able to confirm if an email address is valid or invalid, making it difficult to ensure the quality of the list and the effectiveness of the campaign. There are ways to overcome this, like using Google Sheets to validate email addresses that are connected to a Google account.

Control your sending velocity

Spammers send many emails at once; thoughtful marketers avoid this behavior. An ideal sending velocity is close to one email every 8-15 minutes. The tools we’ve recommended above make this easy to set up.

Send emails at a consistent pace

Keep the same sending level across your inboxes. Avoid sending fifty emails one day, none the next, and one hundred the third day. Increase or decrease your email sending volume slowly.

Turn off tracking pixels

Once you’re satisfied that your emails aren’t going to spam, you should turn off your tracking pixels, even if you have a custom CNAME. Having tracking pixels in your emails makes it more likely for email providers to mark you as a marketer or promotional sender. This applies to both link tracking and open-rate tracking.

Track blacklists

If you notice that your open rate or email reply rate is tanking, make sure that you aren’t on any email blacklists. Organizations that maintain blacklists (e.g. Spamrats) often partner with email providers like Google to help fight spam. Getting off a blacklist sometimes requires a fee, but other times, it only takes an inquiry. Tools like MXToolbox, Glock apps, or Gmass can help you see if your IP address or domain is listed on any blacklists and help you get off them.

Turn off bad campaigns ASAP

As soon as you notice a bad campaign, turn it off. (You’ll know what’s “bad” when you hear it—look for angry replies or mass instances of people asking to get off your list.) Don’t risk your domain reputation by attempting to save a languishing campaign. Take a step back to re-evaluate your copy, product positioning, and email strategy. This will increase your odds of future success and prevent you from getting extra spam reports or unsubscriptions.

Use a global do-not-contact list

Sending an email to someone who has unsubscribed from your list is a surefire way to generate irritation and land in spam folders. To prevent this, it's important to maintain and adhere to a global unsubscribe list. A common error is to use separate lists for different campaigns, which can make it difficult for recipients to unsubscribe and increases the likelihood that you violate their unsubscription requests. Smartlead and Instantly make it easy to maintain global unsubscribe lists.

Choose between opt-outs and unsubscribe links

Some geographies like California mandate that you include unsubscribe links in emails. Unfortunately, unsubscribe links may lower deliverability because (a) they are links, (b) they mark you as more likely to be spam or promotional, and (c) they usually flag to users that they’re part of an automated email sequence. When possible, we like to use lines like “if this is not relevant to you, let me know” to let email recipients opt out of a sequence without having to click a link.

Use spintax to generate variations of your emails

Spintax is a technique you can use to generate multiple variations of any given text in an email. It uses a specific syntax, where curly braces {} and pipes | are used to indicate different options for a given word or phrase. A subject line using spintax could be "{Don't miss out|Don't let this opportunity slip by|Don't miss your chance} to save 10% on your purchase" — which will result in three different subject lines to send to a recipient.

Using spintax to generate multiple variations of email subject lines and content can increase your odds of landing in the inbox. Providers are more likely to mark you as spam if you send templated emails to many people, changing only minor variables like “first name.” There are many ways to generate multiple synonymous variations of an email. You can rotate through different headings (“hey [first name] versus “hello [first name]”), use Google Docs or Grammarly to find synonyms, or even rotate a variation of motivational quotes through your signature. You can use tools like sp1in.me to set these up quickly.

Aim for a reply, not a click

It’s much better to ask someone to reply to your email with interest than to use Calendly links. Remember: stay away from links in cold emails! One of our favorite calls to action is “if we could solve [insert problem here], would that be useful to you?” To respect recipients’ time, we also sometimes include lines like “No need for a call right now—could I send you an under four minute Loom video explaining how we do this?” 

Be as relevant as possible 

Crafting a relevant message for your target audience is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a response. The more specifically you connect your tool to your recipient’s problems, the better. 

For example, a relevant cold email to a MailChimp user that aims to market an alternative platform might say something like this: “I noticed you're using MailChimp to send 12,136 emails every month. Using our tool, you’d save $800/month.” The more specific and numerical information you can get (e.g. by scraping your recipient’s website to learn how many emails they're sending) the better. 

It helps to make your target audience as specific as possible. “Chief marketing officers of companies with 50 to 100 employees” is a very general target. “CMOs of companies with 50 to 100 employees, who’ve been at the company for less than a year, are hiring for copywriters, and don't post on LinkedIn” is much better. 

Use MX matching to send from the same domain as your recipients

MX matching is one of the newest features of the email deliverability landscape in 2023. This is the process of sending emails using the same domain as your recipients—sending from Google inboxes to Google inboxes, from Outlook to Outlook, and so on.

How can MX matching help you land more cold emails into inboxes? Email providers like Google and Outlook generally track their own domain reputation information and don’t fully share it with others. When Google receives an email from an Outlook inbox, it needs to trust Outlook’s sender scores on that inbox—and vice versa. Email providers may block some extra accounts from different providers, because they don't completely trust each other.

Email deliverability and strategy is a constantly changing world. We may reach a point in the future where spam filters get even more stringent, personalizations are more creative, and newer strategies like spintax become table stakes. We’ll do our best to keep you updated on the latest here—reach out to Eric with any questions!

Showing
0
Items
Mar 2023

How IntroCRM cut its prospecting data budget by 65% and built better lead lists lists with Clay

My company, IntroCRM, is a fractional sales agency that helps small sales teams excel with email deliverability, list building, and messaging. Clay is a critical part of how we help our customers generate, qualify, and book time with leads. In this blog post, I’m going to describe our life before Clay, why and how we use it today, and show you an example of a creative prospecting campaign that we ran for a client.

Mar 2023

Automate 6 cold email campaigns in a single Clay workflow

Clay Team

In this post, we’ll go over how we automated six different outbound cold email campaigns using a single Clay table. Follow along step-by-step in our video.

In this campaign, we were selling sales engagement tools to marketing leaders in American B2B companies with under 100 employees. At a high level, we started with just a broad list of prospects’ names and emails from Apollo. From there, we used Clay to sort prospects into the following buckets: management consulting, recruiting, or financial services.

Mar 2023

Troubleshooting outbound sales and prospecting: a comprehensive guide

Clay Team

Nailing your outbound sales and prospecting process can help you generate leads, acquire customers, and drive revenue growth. In this guide, we’ll share a step-by-step approach to troubleshooting each stage of your outbound sales campaign—whether you’re a new sales professional or a seasoned team leader.

We’ll cover how to check early campaigns, identify quality prospects, analyze insights from metrics, double down on well-performing sequences, and more, with detailed examples from our own experiences. You can use the table of contents to easily navigate to the areas that are most relevant to you.

Feb 2023

B2B Sales Prospecting: 15 Strategies to Drive More Conversions

Clay Team

When it comes to B2B sales, one of the biggest challenges is identifying potential customers and transforming them into qualified leads. However, by utilizing effective sales prospecting methods and tools, you can achieve more conversions and grow your business. In this ultimate guide to B2B sales prospecting, we'll delve into the most effective techniques, tools, and strategies to help you generate more quality leads, build a strong sales pipeline, and close more deals.

Feb 2023

How To Create Your Own Sales Prospect List in Minutes

Clay Team

Sales prospecting efforts can be a time-consuming and challenging task for any business. Finding the right prospects and gathering the necessary information to approach them can often feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. You may spend hours scouring various sources such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and company websites, only to come up with a fragmented and incomplete picture of your potential customers. The process of aggregating this information and organizing it into a usable format can take even more time and effort. However, what if we told you that you could create a sales prospecting list in just a few minutes? With Clay, an in-depth  sales prospecting tool, you can quickly and easily import prospects from multiple sources and enrich them with valuable information. You can also export this data to your preferred platform such as a CRM, saving you time and allowing you to focus on what you do best - closing deals!

Feb 2023

How To Get More Customers By Using Outbound Sales - A Complete Guide

Clay Team

In today's fast-paced and highly competitive business landscape, it's more important than ever to have a solid sales strategy in place. While inbound sales and social media marketing can be effective in attracting potential customers, outbound sales is still a crucial component of any successful sales plan. Outbound sales refers to the process of actively reaching out to potential customers through methods such as cold calling, email marketing, and cold outreach. In this blog post, we'll explore the benefits of outbound sales, the types of businesses that can benefit from it, and how to execute a successful outbound sales strategy.

Feb 2023

Cold Email Copywriting Frameworks for Private Equity Firms in 2023

Clay Team

Private equity firms often seek out new investment opportunities and are always on the lookout for promising startups. In this blog post, our expert Eric Nowoslawski provides his tips and frameworks for launching successful lead generation strategies using cold email campaigns to target potential customers and qualified leads. The topics covered in this post include: the critical importance of the subject line, personalizing your cold email approach, focusing on getting a response instead of a sale, including a compelling call-to-action (CTA), emphasizing what your firm enables, keeping your emails short and sweet, limiting follow-up emails, defining your investment offer and marketing strategy, and utilizing cold email templates.

Feb 2023

Cold Email Copywriting Frameworks for VC Firms in 2023

Clay Team

Lead generation is a crucial aspect of sales and marketing for venture capital firms. In this blog post, our expert Eric Nowoslawski shares his tips and frameworks for lead generation through cold emails. By following his strategies, you can secure new investment opportunities, generate high-quality leads, and reach your target audience effectively. This post covers topics such as the importance of personalization in cold emails, the role of a clear call-to-action (CTA), defining your value proposition and marketing angle, and tips for crafting an effective cold email sequence.

Feb 2023

Cold Email Copywriting Frameworks for Recruiting Agencies in 2023

Clay Team

As a recruiter, having a well-rounded lead generation strategy is essential for reaching potential job candidates and securing new clients. In this post, we will go into detail about the key elements that can help optimize your lead generation and increase the chances of making a sale. The topics covered will include lead generation through cold email outreach, leveraging social media, the importance of having a sales team, creating landing pages, lead scoring, lead generation tools, and much more.

Feb 2023

Cold Email Copywriting Frameworks for Marketing Agencies in 2023

Clay Team

Cold emails are a crucial component of lead generation for marketing agencies looking to expand their customer base and drive sales growth. In this post, we will highlight the key elements of a successful cold email marketing strategy, including optimizing subject lines, utilizing personalized email templates, and measuring metrics for lead generation optimization.

Feb 2023

Cold Email Copywriting Frameworks for SAAS Companies in 2023

Clay Team

Cold emails are a crucial aspect of a successful b2b sales and lead generation strategy for SAAS Companies. In this blog post, our expert Eric Nowoslawski shares his tips and techniques for crafting personalized and effective cold emails that can generate new customers through a cold email outreach. Key topics discussed include optimizing cold email subject lines for better open rates, crafting compelling email body and email signature, tracking metrics, and identifying pain points to drive lead conversion.

Feb 2023

11 AI Prompts to Automate Your Prospecting Research

Eric Nowoslawski

Open AI has taken the world by storm with their generative image and text capabilities. The use cases in Sales and Marketing seems almost infinite. From coming up with ideas, writing customer facing copywriting, and automating customer support, every business can leverage AI in some way to boost their productivity.

The ‘job to be done’ for us is to prompt AI correctly to give better answers than what a person could write on their own.

I like to say, “Open AI is wildly powerful but it’s like a five year old at a bowling alley. On their own, the odds of getting a strike are zero. With bumpers, bowling ball ramp and some heavy direction, they can get a strike every time.”

When creating your own prompts, remember to be specific and feed as many details and examples into the data as you can.

Feb 2023

A 7 Step How-To Guide: Successful Outbound Sales Campaigns

With love from the Clay team

Why should you do outbound sales?

You need to prove/disprove your hypothesis about the market.

Outbound sales is beneficial if you have hypotheses but need more certainty about who must have your product and why. It enables you to quickly create, test, and validate these hypotheses with real potential customers.

You get more control than you would with marketing.

Marketing allows you to get content in front of groups of people, but you have far less control over the exact people who will see it. In contrast, outbound sales allows you to pick the specific people that you want to target. This level of control removes the uncertainty of "did the people I want to test this with actually see my message?"

Feb 2023

Cold Email Copywriting Frameworks and Best Practices for 2023

Eric Nowoslawski

Cold emails are one of your most powerful tools for landing new customers, but a few factors can determine whether your messages get trashed or earn replies. In this blog post, we take a look at cold email copywriting tips and frameworks from our resident expert Eric Nowoslawski, who has helped companies with cold email and outbound marketing. We'll cover what to keep in mind before you start an email sequence, how to write your offer and marketing angles, a framework for an effective initial cold email, and how to structure a complete cold email sequence.

Feb 2023

21 Tips for Keeping Cold Emails Out Of Spam in 2023

Eric Nowoslawski

Mastering the art of sending relevant and effective cold emails is crucial for any sales team that wants to convert new customers. The email deliverability landscape, however, can be overwhelming, with hundreds of strategies to consider amidst a constantly changing set of rules and red flags. In this post, we'll share our 21 best tips to help you land cold emails in prospects’ inboxes and acquire customers in 2023. Our guide includes mastering the basics, like setting up essential authentications, cleaning lists, and following sending limits, as well as creative techniques like how to use personalizations and spin taxes. No matter what the tip is, our overall philosophy is simple: whatever spammers do, try to do the opposite. 

Feb 2023

How to Use OpenAI To Write the Perfect Cold Email from Scratch

Eric Nowoslawski

Effective cold emails are critical for any business, but they’ve been extremely time-consuming to write—until now. Instead of spending hours reading LinkedIn bios and company websites, you can use OpenAI with Clay to quickly mass personalize your email outreach with the click of a few buttons. In this post, we’ll show you how to use OpenAI to write personalized outreach emails from scratch based on someone’s LinkedIn bio, company description, and more.

Jan 2023

How to Use Formulas in Clay

Eric Nowoslawski

When building a Clay table, the sources, integrations, and CRM plugins can accomplish the goals of most users. Sometimes, there is a need for some data merging, splitting, or otherwise clean up that is needed in your table. This is where you can use Formulas to accomplish your goals!

In this blog, we are going to first go over how to think about formulas using the AI formula generator and then we will go over common formulas that you can write yourself in your Clay table.

Jan 2023

Optimize your Credit Usage in Clay

Eric Nowoslawski

Clay is a spreadsheet that fills itself with data from many data providers across the internet. We partner with data providers on your behalf to bring lots of different data sources — like job listings, tech stacks, news and more — into your workflows.

In this blog, we will go over a couple of functions in Clay that can will help you optimize your credit usage in Clay. There are many ways to optimize credit usage in Clay that the team has built into the product that we will go over in this blog. We will cover formulas that optimize your workflows and some features that are often overlooked that can help keep your credit usage down.

Here are 3 ways to optimize your Clay credit usage

Nov 2022

Basics of Google search operators

Eric Nowoslawski

Getting started with Google's Search Operator to creatively find new leads

Sep 2022

Lead scoring in Clay

Varun Anand

Welcome to the second post in our series on how to use formulas in Clay!  We’re going to walk you through prioritizing your lead list using scoring formulas in Clay 🌶️

Aug 2022

Formulas in Clay: conditional statements, waterfalling data and qualifying leads

Varun Anand

Ever wanted to learn formulas in Clay but didn't know where to start? Join the club. Just kidding. Read this and you'll be well on your way to mastering the basics of formulas.

Jun 2022

How to prioritize your waitlist

Matt Maiale

If you’re an early stage startup, you’ve probably built a waitlist (or are considering one). And for most startups, it makes a lot of sense.

Nov 2021

🧙‍♀️ The many lives of spreadsheets

With love from the Clay team

Ever wondered how many people use spreadsheets? Some estimates say around 800 million people use Microsoft Excel, and another 160–180 million use Google Sheets. Not bad for a tool that started as a basic visual calculator.

Mar 2023
Mar 2023
Mar 2023

Merge Column

Clay Team
Mar 2023
Mar 2023

GPT-4

Clay Team
Mar 2023

Scrape Website

Clay Team
Mar 2023
Feb 2023
Feb 2023

Find A User's Recent LinkedIn Posts

Clay Team

We hope you're having a wonderful Valentine's Day! On a day filled with love and joy, we thought we'd give you something close to our hearts- new Clay features 💝

Get ready to fall in love 👇

Jan 2023

Get Mobile Phone Number

What's new at Clay

Hey friend,

New Year, new features! 🎊 We've been working hard on building out new integrations to give your teams superpowers for 2023.

We're also super pumped to announce that we've been selected as a finalist for the Golden Kitty Awards! We would love your help by upvoting us here.

Now for the good stuff!! 👇

Aug 2022

Using Google As A Source

Matt Maiale

As you're getting ready for your wonderful Labor Day Weekend break, we're pumped to share some exciting updates to our sources and integrations within Clay 🧚

Aug 2022

Salesforce Integration

Matt Maiale

We hope you're staying cool with your Birkenstocks, bucket hats, and wonderful office AC. We're so pumped to share some new features and updates from Clay.

Dec 2021

Closing out the year with Clay

With love from the Clay team

As we wish this year farewell, we're excited to share some of the bells, whistles, and magic the Clay team is building for you. We're forever in awe of each of you, and can't to see all you'll build in the new year 🎊

Nov 2021

New features, documentation series, and sneak peeks of Clay!

With love from the Clay team

As we get closer to releasing Clay to a larger community, we're excited to share some new features and improvements with you 🤩. With some big features right around the corner, this month we're focused on making all of your interactions in Clay, big and small, absolutely delightful. Check out some of our recent updates:

Oct 2021

Life is getting easier with Clay

With love from the Clay team

We have a couple of new features up our sleeve, but before sharing those with you we are laser focused on making your time in Clay a little more magical - from duplicating tables, to smoother keyboard interactions, record counts and more.

Sep 2021

HTTP API

Matt Maiale

In Clay 2.0, you can now source leads directly from Linkedin within the table. Our 'Clay Find People' source takes queries such as location, title, company, experience, skills, and more to search LinkedIn and add matches to your table.

Sep 2021

Introducing Clay's New Interface

With love from the Clay team

While we'll be migrating all of our users over the fall, we're jazzed to be currently onboarding teams that have ✨ a waitlist to enrich and prioritize✨. This use case is ideal for those with a product in beta, whose signups are feeling unruly (don't be shy if that's you - that was us, too).

Jul 2021

Join our Clay 2.0 beta

With love from the Clay team

We are looking for users interested in testing our revamped UI! We've been teasing our revamped UI and are excited to get you in as soon as humanly possible 🏃.

This month we're prioritizing waitlists in the new UI. You would be a great fit for our beta if you need to better understand people and prioritize sign ups. Shoot us over a note if this sounds like you!

Showing
0
Items
Mar 2023

How IntroCRM cut its prospecting data budget by 65% and built better lead lists lists with Clay

My company, IntroCRM, is a fractional sales agency that helps small sales teams excel with email deliverability, list building, and messaging. Clay is a critical part of how we help our customers generate, qualify, and book time with leads. In this blog post, I’m going to describe our life before Clay, why and how we use it today, and show you an example of a creative prospecting campaign that we ran for a client.

Mar 2023

Automate 6 cold email campaigns in a single Clay workflow

Clay Team

In this post, we’ll go over how we automated six different outbound cold email campaigns using a single Clay table. Follow along step-by-step in our video.

In this campaign, we were selling sales engagement tools to marketing leaders in American B2B companies with under 100 employees. At a high level, we started with just a broad list of prospects’ names and emails from Apollo. From there, we used Clay to sort prospects into the following buckets: management consulting, recruiting, or financial services.

Mar 2023

Troubleshooting outbound sales and prospecting: a comprehensive guide

Clay Team

Nailing your outbound sales and prospecting process can help you generate leads, acquire customers, and drive revenue growth. In this guide, we’ll share a step-by-step approach to troubleshooting each stage of your outbound sales campaign—whether you’re a new sales professional or a seasoned team leader.

We’ll cover how to check early campaigns, identify quality prospects, analyze insights from metrics, double down on well-performing sequences, and more, with detailed examples from our own experiences. You can use the table of contents to easily navigate to the areas that are most relevant to you.

Showing
0
Items
Mar 2023
Mar 2023
Mar 2023

Merge Column

Clay Team

21 Tips for Keeping Cold Emails Out Of Spam in 2023

February 2, 2023
Eric Nowoslawski

Mastering the art of sending relevant and effective cold emails is crucial for any sales team that wants to convert new customers. The email deliverability landscape, however, can be overwhelming, with hundreds of strategies to consider amidst a constantly changing set of rules and red flags. In this post, we'll share our 21 best tips to help you land cold emails in prospects’ inboxes and acquire customers in 2023. Our guide includes mastering the basics, like setting up essential authentications, cleaning lists, and following sending limits, as well as creative techniques like how to use personalizations and spin taxes. No matter what the tip is, our overall philosophy is simple: whatever spammers do, try to do the opposite. 

Mastering the art of sending relevant and effective cold emails is crucial for any sales team that wants to convert new customers. The email deliverability landscape, however, can be overwhelming, with hundreds of strategies to consider amidst a constantly changing set of rules and red flags. In this post, we'll share our 21 best tips to help you land cold emails in prospects’ inboxes and acquire customers in 2023. Our guide includes mastering the basics, like setting up essential authentications, cleaning lists, and following sending limits, as well as creative techniques like how to use personalizations and spin taxes. No matter what the tip is, our overall philosophy is simple: whatever spammers do, try to do the opposite. 

Don’t send marketing emails and cold sales emails from the same inboxes 

It's essential to send your marketing and cold sales emails from separate inboxes. This ensures that any spam reports sparked by your cold emails do not tank the deliverability of your marketing emails. 

Remember, marketing emails are for people who've opted in to your email list and given you permission to contact them. Cold emails, on the other hand, are for people who haven't given you permission to contact them. No matter how great your cold emails are, some people will mark them as spam. Send from separate inboxes to avoid spreading the negative effects of these spam reports.

Set up your MX, DKIM, SPF, or DMARC records

To ensure your cold emails reach the right inboxes, you need to set up MX, DKIM, SPF, and DMARC authentications. These acronyms sound obtuse, but they’re critical: they tell email service providers that you're a valid sender from your domain. 

These authentications are often overlooked but simple to set up. When you buy a domain, Google how to set up a DMARC record on your provider (GoDaddy, for example) and follow the instructions. If you buy your domain and inboxes from the same provider, they will set up the MX, DKIM, and SPF for you—all you have to do is buy a DMARC. (This applies to you if you have a Google domain with Google workspace inboxes, for example). When you’re done setting up your authentications, check that you did everything right using tools like Mailgenius or Mailtester.

Send cold emails from multiple inboxes and domains

It’s best practice to send cold emails from a variety of inboxes that are tied to different domains than your main domain. This is known as inbox rotation. 

Salesforce’s main domain, for example, is Salesforce.com. This domain enjoys a great SEO reputation, domain authority, and sender reputation. Any marketing emails sent from this domain are set up for success. 

If a Salesforce team were to send cold emails, however, we’d advise them to use satellite domains like “gosalesforce.com,” “getsalesforce.com,” or “trysalesforce.com.” Salespeople could set up two inboxes per domain, like “eric@gosalesforce.com” and “eric.n@gosalesforce.com.” This way, any one inbox getting marked as spam will not affect the deliverability of the others.

Warm up your email lists

If you are unsatisfied with your domain reputation, you may want to try warming up your email lists. Email warming tools, such as Instantly.ai, Smartlead.ai, or Uptics.ai, can assist you in this process, which typically takes 3-4 weeks.

When you use an email warming tool, you’ll be added to a pool of email users who’ve opted in to sending and receiving each other’s emails for mutual benefit. You’ll agree not to mark them as spam and reply to them, and they’ll reciprocate—boosting both parties’ domain reputations. 

We’d suggest starting with any of the tools above and warming up to fifty emails per day. The platforms will gradually increase the number of emails sent over the course of several weeks, sending 3-5 emails per day to the others in your pool to get you a ~33% response rate.

If you don't have the time to warm up your lists and want to start sending emails right away, we recommend setting up twice as many inboxes as you need, using half of them immediately, and letting the others warm up over time. Remember to start with a low sending volume. Warming up your lists is crucial for long-term success in email marketing, so make sure to incorporate this process in your email strategy.

Follow daily sending limits

In general, it’s good practice to send 30-60 emails per day per inbox, excluding any warm-up emails. If you want to reach out to 250 people per day and average 50 daily emails per inbox, you’ll need at least 250/50 = 5 inboxes—though we’d advise setting up a few extra. For best results, spread your inboxes across several domains.

Track open rates with custom domain tracking

When you’re first setting up an email campaign, it’s important to track open rates to check that your emails aren’t going to spam. If your open rates are above 35%, for example, you’re probably landing in the inbox. 

Email management platforms will help you track open rates by including an invisible pixel in each of your emails. When the email gets loaded, the pixel will fire to record that it was opened. 

Most platforms use a shared pixel across several senders to track email opens. This means that other senders’ poor campaigns can contaminate your reputation. For example, if you use a shared pixel from a platform like Hubspot, you'll likely be sharing it with a large pool of other users, including spammers. If Google sees that your email includes a pixel that has been associated with spam, they may move your email to spam as well.

To avoid this, consider using custom domain tracking which allows you to control your own independent reputation. Instantly, Smartlead, and Uptics all have guides on how to set it up. You’ll need your CNAME set up to track opens effectively.

A word of caution: Open rates are heavily inflated and not always reliable. For example, if someone has their email account connected with their iOS mail app, the open pixel is triggered as soon as the email comes in—not necessarily when it’s opened. If it looks like someone is opening your emails 40-50 times, the open rate is likely inflated by some other factor.

Once you’ve verified that a campaign is working, it might be time to turn off tracking. Including open tracking pixels make email providers more likely to flag you as promotional or spam. 

Send plain text emails only: avoid images and links

Sending plain text emails is a simple way to improve your email deliverability. As a basic security measure, you should never click on links from unknown senders; don’t make your prospects do so either. Avoid using images or links in your first email, as they can slow down loading times and make it more likely for email providers to mark you as spam.

Once your first email has been delivered and possibly even replied to, you'll have a better chance of getting your subsequent emails delivered. You can add necessary images or links in your second, third or fourth email in a sequence, but never in the first. This will help increase the chances of your emails reaching the inbox.

Instantly and Smartlead have features that allow you to send completely plain text emails, turning off all the HTML.

Don’t use spam words

Many words immediately trigger spam filters (mention Jesus, Bitcoin, or Viagra and you’re putting yourself in trouble!) It’s good practice to sanity check your emails to avoid words on spam lists. Hubspot has a great list broken down by industry that includes phrases including “eliminate credit,” “increase your sales,” “remove wrinkles,” and more.

Personalize your emails

Personalizing emails to your recipient’s background, profile, or location can make them more likely to engage with you. Using the recipient’s first name is a basic step, but your emails will really stand out if they convey that you’ve taken the time to look at someone’s LinkedIn profile and done research on them. 

One common personalization that we like utilizes your recipient’s job title, company name, and start date in the email, like this: Hey [first name], I’ve noticed you've been the CEO at [company name] since [join date]. These kinds of personalizations stand out, because marketing tools like Seamless or Apollo can’t scrape details like a CEO’s start date. (If you want to easily run hundreds of these personalizations, check out Clay!) Another quick hack is to look up a top restaurant in their location and add that into your email as a “P.S.” line. 

Relevance and product messaging matter much more than personalizations for the overall success of your campaign. However, personalizations can help you draw your recipients' attention and garner more replies. In a previous campaign, one of our teammates reached out to business owners who wanted to sell their business. The emails personalized with start date and a local restaurant generated 5x more responses than the emails with just first name/company name.

Cleaning lists / bounce rate

Make sure you only send emails to valid accounts. Emails that bounce to invalid email addresses will hurt your deliverability and domain reputation. Before you send a campaign, clean your email list. There are several tools that can help. ZeroBounce is the highest quality and highest cost tool on the market. Other tools like Debounce are more affordable and have gotten us similar results. If you have a pre-validated list, you can clean them up using a lifetime deal with a service like Appsumo. 

In addition, we recommend that you avoid sending emails to catch-all domains. A catch-all domain accepts all incoming email messages, regardless of whether the email address is valid. Sending emails to catch-all domains can result in a high rate of undelivered or bounced emails, which can negatively impact your email reputation and the ability to reach recipients' inboxes. When validating email lists, catch-all domains will not be able to confirm if an email address is valid or invalid, making it difficult to ensure the quality of the list and the effectiveness of the campaign. There are ways to overcome this, like using Google Sheets to validate email addresses that are connected to a Google account.

Control your sending velocity

Spammers send many emails at once; thoughtful marketers avoid this behavior. An ideal sending velocity is close to one email every 8-15 minutes. The tools we’ve recommended above make this easy to set up.

Send emails at a consistent pace

Keep the same sending level across your inboxes. Avoid sending fifty emails one day, none the next, and one hundred the third day. Increase or decrease your email sending volume slowly.

Turn off tracking pixels

Once you’re satisfied that your emails aren’t going to spam, you should turn off your tracking pixels, even if you have a custom CNAME. Having tracking pixels in your emails makes it more likely for email providers to mark you as a marketer or promotional sender. This applies to both link tracking and open-rate tracking.

Track blacklists

If you notice that your open rate or email reply rate is tanking, make sure that you aren’t on any email blacklists. Organizations that maintain blacklists (e.g. Spamrats) often partner with email providers like Google to help fight spam. Getting off a blacklist sometimes requires a fee, but other times, it only takes an inquiry. Tools like MXToolbox, Glock apps, or Gmass can help you see if your IP address or domain is listed on any blacklists and help you get off them.

Turn off bad campaigns ASAP

As soon as you notice a bad campaign, turn it off. (You’ll know what’s “bad” when you hear it—look for angry replies or mass instances of people asking to get off your list.) Don’t risk your domain reputation by attempting to save a languishing campaign. Take a step back to re-evaluate your copy, product positioning, and email strategy. This will increase your odds of future success and prevent you from getting extra spam reports or unsubscriptions.

Use a global do-not-contact list

Sending an email to someone who has unsubscribed from your list is a surefire way to generate irritation and land in spam folders. To prevent this, it's important to maintain and adhere to a global unsubscribe list. A common error is to use separate lists for different campaigns, which can make it difficult for recipients to unsubscribe and increases the likelihood that you violate their unsubscription requests. Smartlead and Instantly make it easy to maintain global unsubscribe lists.

Choose between opt-outs and unsubscribe links

Some geographies like California mandate that you include unsubscribe links in emails. Unfortunately, unsubscribe links may lower deliverability because (a) they are links, (b) they mark you as more likely to be spam or promotional, and (c) they usually flag to users that they’re part of an automated email sequence. When possible, we like to use lines like “if this is not relevant to you, let me know” to let email recipients opt out of a sequence without having to click a link.

Use spintax to generate variations of your emails

Spintax is a technique you can use to generate multiple variations of any given text in an email. It uses a specific syntax, where curly braces {} and pipes | are used to indicate different options for a given word or phrase. A subject line using spintax could be "{Don't miss out|Don't let this opportunity slip by|Don't miss your chance} to save 10% on your purchase" — which will result in three different subject lines to send to a recipient.

Using spintax to generate multiple variations of email subject lines and content can increase your odds of landing in the inbox. Providers are more likely to mark you as spam if you send templated emails to many people, changing only minor variables like “first name.” There are many ways to generate multiple synonymous variations of an email. You can rotate through different headings (“hey [first name] versus “hello [first name]”), use Google Docs or Grammarly to find synonyms, or even rotate a variation of motivational quotes through your signature. You can use tools like sp1in.me to set these up quickly.

Aim for a reply, not a click

It’s much better to ask someone to reply to your email with interest than to use Calendly links. Remember: stay away from links in cold emails! One of our favorite calls to action is “if we could solve [insert problem here], would that be useful to you?” To respect recipients’ time, we also sometimes include lines like “No need for a call right now—could I send you an under four minute Loom video explaining how we do this?” 

Be as relevant as possible 

Crafting a relevant message for your target audience is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a response. The more specifically you connect your tool to your recipient’s problems, the better. 

For example, a relevant cold email to a MailChimp user that aims to market an alternative platform might say something like this: “I noticed you're using MailChimp to send 12,136 emails every month. Using our tool, you’d save $800/month.” The more specific and numerical information you can get (e.g. by scraping your recipient’s website to learn how many emails they're sending) the better. 

It helps to make your target audience as specific as possible. “Chief marketing officers of companies with 50 to 100 employees” is a very general target. “CMOs of companies with 50 to 100 employees, who’ve been at the company for less than a year, are hiring for copywriters, and don't post on LinkedIn” is much better. 

Use MX matching to send from the same domain as your recipients

MX matching is one of the newest features of the email deliverability landscape in 2023. This is the process of sending emails using the same domain as your recipients—sending from Google inboxes to Google inboxes, from Outlook to Outlook, and so on.

How can MX matching help you land more cold emails into inboxes? Email providers like Google and Outlook generally track their own domain reputation information and don’t fully share it with others. When Google receives an email from an Outlook inbox, it needs to trust Outlook’s sender scores on that inbox—and vice versa. Email providers may block some extra accounts from different providers, because they don't completely trust each other.

Email deliverability and strategy is a constantly changing world. We may reach a point in the future where spam filters get even more stringent, personalizations are more creative, and newer strategies like spintax become table stakes. We’ll do our best to keep you updated on the latest here—reach out to Eric with any questions!

Copy link
https://www.clay.com/blog/21-tips-for-keeping-cold-emails-out-of-spam-in-2023