While you’re reaching out to the accounts in your pipeline, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not your emails land in your prospect’s inbox.

But some sales reps are still plagued by emails that don’t make it to their intended destination. Since spam accounts for half of the messages sent worldwide, your recipient’s email servers are on high alert to protect their user from spam. Take Gmail for example. If your spam to send ratio is 1/1000 — meaning one email out of one thousand sent, is marked as spam — Gmail deems your reputation unacceptable, and will dump your message into spam.

Now that I’ve scared you, how can you make sure your messages end up in the right place?

While there are no guarantees, you can take certain measures to appease the all-powerful email servers that will send your emails directly to your prospect’s inbox.

Protect Your Reputation

Your reputation as a sender is everything when it comes to email deliverability. Email reputation is determined by factors like your existing sending habits and whether your domain is a verified sender. If you have a negative reputation, your messages will likely end up in the spam abyss.

Fortunately, you can take action to maintain a positive reputation. There are two ways to make this happen;

  1. Include an unsubscribe link. Normally unsubscribe links are reserved for mass email sends or marketing campaigns. However, if you are concerned about your email reputation, adding an unsubscribe link to your emails can be used as a precaution. If someone wants off of your email list they will do whatever they can to make sure that happens, including reporting your email account with their server. Messages being reported can harm your reputation. So it’s better to allow prospects to unsubscribe — and maybe give them a call instead.
  2. Add an “add to address book” statement in your messages. If you are in someone’s address book or contacts you will definitely land in their inbox. Plus, being listed in an address book is a positive mark on your email’s reputation.

Create Web-Approved Content

The content you send out inside your emails could be raising red flags to mail servers. Take a look at what your emails are made of — text, images, links, or video. Typically, text based messages with one or two branded links are accepted by email servers. But messages that are jam packed with images or contain a bunch of links could easily be sent to spam.

Web servers have been tricked by images and links in the past. Servers assume you’re hiding additional, spam-worthy text within images that take up majority of the email. A simple rule of thumb to apply with email content is to maintain an image to text ratio of 30 to 70. This means when you look at your email, images take up one-third of the email while the remaining content is text.

You can A/B test your emails to evaluate whether a message complies with web standards or not. Create templates and adjust one variable between your messages like different text to image ratios, emails with branded links versus no links, or switch between plain text mode emails versus html. Based off of higher reply metrics, you can determine which content is sent successfully and simultaneously improve your reply rates.

Maintain High User Engagement

Lack of interest to your email can also damage your reputation. You don’t want to send your email and have it sit dormant in your prospect’s inbox. Especially in sales, you need to elicit engagement, not just awareness.

While sales reps and marketers alike wish there was a set code for high user engagement, there isn’t. There are a number of factors that will play into whether or not someone clicks and interacts with your email, whether it’s curiosity, interest, or need.

So, we have another opportunity for you to test what works best for your prospects. The subject line of your emails alone can be a simple adjustment that gets people to engage. A/B test emails with different catchy subject lines — add emojis, try a joke, use a dynamic tag with the prospect’s name. See which messages collect positive interactions.

Keep Your Data Clean

The email addresses you send to are just as important as the content sent. Emailing incorrect or out of date addresses may result in a high bounce rate or — worst case scenario — you could get caught in a spam trap.

A spam trap uses out of date emails (like your first hotmail account from when you were 12) that are not actively being used to track down assumed spammers carelessly emailing the masses. If someone emails the formerly inactive account, the server flags the email as corrupt and blocks future messages.

The moral of the story here is to keep your contact data up-to-date. As you make your sales lists, double check and verify that you have the contact’s current email address. More importantly, if a prospect has left the company, be sure to remove or update their information so you avoid emailing and invalid use.

One last note, never — seriously, never — purchase a prospect list online. While it may sound ideal to easily purchase leads, the lists don’t check contact info and are typically a hotbed of spam traps.

The best advice I can give you is to put your modern sales professional skills into practice. Active prospect engagement proves to the servers that you are in fact a human reaching out to a fellow human, and not a spam source. By satisfying the web servers you can maximize the number of messages that get to your prospects with emails that will incite greater sales engagement.


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