Incendium's Email Warmup Playbook
When we begin working with clients, the challenge that we highlight to start with is not email copy or even targeting. The first thing we focus on is actually a subtle yet crucial process called email domain and account warm-up. Warming up email domains and accounts correctly will not guarantee success, but doing so incorrectly will nearly guarantee failure (even more today).
Message number one (the only thing to take away if you only take away one thing) is this: Do not, under any circumstances at all, begin sending cold emails at any volume without warming up accounts and domains. If you are already doing so, stop immediately. If you are thinking about doing so, don’t. Not even one!
With that out of the way, below are some of our best practices for domain and account warmup - you can skip to the bottom if you’d like to see how we do things.
To start: Why warm up domains? There are four main reasons, each of which boils down to ensuring that the emails you are sending end up in front of the prospects you are trying to send them to. We’ve listed them below. Generally, this is not new information for modern marketers, but some of the specifics around the pace at which warmups need to be maintained have changed in the last several months and years.
1. Avoiding the Spam Folder
One of the primary reasons to warm up your email domains and accounts is to steer clear of spam folders. Internet service providers (ISPs) employ complex algorithms to filter emails, and they often scrutinize the sending patterns of domains and accounts. Sending a barrage of cold emails from a new or inactive domain is a clear red flag, increasing the chances of your messages being marked as spam. Warming up your email domain establishes trust with ISPs, making it more likely for your emails to land in the inbox.
2. Establishing Reputation and Credibility
Building a positive email sender reputation is a vital aspect of email marketing. Warming up your email domain and accounts allows you to gradually establish this reputation by sending legitimate and engaging emails to a small, targeted audience. This helps email providers recognize you as a credible sender, which can lead to improved deliverability rates and inbox placement.
3. Reducing Bounce Rates
Sending cold emails from an unprepared domain can result in high bounce rates, which negatively impact your sender reputation. Bounce rates occur when emails are sent to non-existent or invalid addresses, and a high bounce rate signals to ISPs that your email list may not be properly maintained. By warming up your email accounts, you can gradually identify and remove invalid email addresses from your list, reducing bounce rates and protecting your sender reputation.
4. Avoiding Email Blacklists
Email blacklists are databases of known spammers and problematic senders that ISPs consult to filter incoming emails. Sending cold emails from a new or inactive domain can result in your domain or IP address being added to these blacklists, making it nearly impossible to reach the inbox of your recipients. Warming up your email accounts reduces the likelihood of being flagged as a spammer and added to these lists.
Incendium’s Warm-up Playbook
1. Domain setup
- Never send cold email from your core domain
- Purchase domains (using Squarespace, GoDaddy, etc) with similar, yet distinct, names from your own
- Allow domain to sit 7 days without doing anything
- After domain has sat for 7 days: set up auto forwarding to your website, and configure SPF, DKIM, and/or DMARC settings (this is a lengthy topic, but there are many guides available online)
- After domain has sat for 60 days: begin setup of email accounts (plan to use one email account for reaching out to up to 200 new prospects each week) using Google Workspace or Outlook
2. Email Warmup
- After domain has warmed for at least 60 days, individual email accounts should warm for at minimum 15 business days before use
- There are many softwares available, we prefer Instantly
- Follow necessary steps to connect your email account(s) to the software of your choice
- If possible, ramp up email volume gradually (E.g. begin by sending 2 warm-up emails/day, and increase by 2 emails every day until you hit 40; set open % between 35-50%)
- Roll out usage of warmed up email on a gradual basis
- Keep warmup on while email is active to ensure # of replies the account receives is adequate. Dial down settings so that total # of emails sent/day does not exceed 150