Back to guides
May 22, 2024

Email Marketing Best Practices

If you want to capture a large audience and contact people you’ve never interacted with before, cold emailing is a valuable marketing strategy. In the worst-case scenario, you’ve introduced your brand to someone unfamiliar with it. In the best-case scenario, you generate demand and attract new customers.

Sending emails is low-cost and easy, and with the right automation tools - you can easily send hundreds of messages with minimal work. Woodpecker’s integration with Dux-Soup in 2023 combined email outreach and LinkedIn outreach, join up the efforts of both channels to maximise response rates from target prospects. 

If you’ve never tried Dux-Soup, take advantage of our free 2 week Turbo trial. There’s no credit card needed - just give it a try and see what it can do for you!

In this blog, we cover the email best practices that will get the very best results from your email campaigns, including the set up and warm up of your email domains, cold email approaches and the do’s and don’ts of multi-channel outreach. These tips were shared by Woodpecker in a webinar on how to use LinkedIn and email outreach together.

1. Infrastructure

When you’re starting out with cold email, keep things simple and stick with the main email providers such as Google and/or Outlook. Google works better when you have healthy engagement with good open rates and replies, and Outlook is more lenient when you don’t.

Use dedicated domains and email for your outbound outreach and your business domain. Why? Because if something goes wrong, the emails will go to spam and then your normal business communications will also start to go to the spam of your existing clients and your reputation will take a hit.

The more email accounts you have on each domain, the cheaper they become. Therefore, having 2-5 email accounts on each dedicated domain is common practice as it reduces costs. As long as the domain stays healthy and you keep it in check, it’s a value benefit. However it’s also worth noting that if anything happens to the domain all of the email accounts will be lost.

Use authentication methods to improve the reliability and trustworthiness of your email communication. SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are three key technologies used to authenticate email messages, ensuring they’re not forged and helping to prevent spam and phishing attacks. 

  • SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is an email authentication method that allows senders to define which IP addresses are allowed to send mail for a particular domain.
  • DKIM (Domain Keys Identified email) provides a way for the sender to include a digital signature in the emails sent from their domain. It’s like a seal of authority for the email, confirming it really came from the stated domain and hasn’t been altered.
  • DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) builds on SPF and DKIM by adding a reporting function. DKIM is a set of instructions for the receiving mail server on what to do if an email doesn’t pass the SPF or DKIM checks, such as rejecting it or marking it as spam. 

Maintaining backup domains and email at around 20% is a proactive measure to safeguard against issues that could disrupt your business. Should a domain go down, the backups are your risk management strategy.

2. Warm-Up

The email warm-up process builds reputation and trust with each email service provider increasing deliverability.

Use automation tools that can take care of the warm-up process for you because sending emails by hand to friends and asking them to take the email out of spam is very hard to do at scale. These tools will send emails in your name and the mailboxes will reply, mimicking human conversation. They will take emails out of spam and mark them as important - all the signals that tell the email service provider that the emails are wanted. 

It’s common practice for warm-up to take ~0-30 days for new domains. Most lead generation agencies will do a ~14 day warm-up, but don’t rush it. There can be repercussions if it’s too fast, which we’ll look at shortly. The message here, is the longer the better. 

3. Sending and volumes

A standard best practice when it comes to send volumes is approximately 30 cold emails per day, per mailbox. If the engagement is low, add to the mix 20 warm up emails per mailbox per day. The higher engagement of the warm-up emails will counteract the low engagement with cold emails. That’s a total of around 50 emails a day.

4. Copy

Crafting cold emails that engage the reader and encourage them to take some form of action can seem like a challenge to get right. There are many different ways to do it, here are some tips to get started:

  • Keep the body of the email to 30-100 words
  • Include one value proposition to the body. More than that can be confusing and will make the copy too long.
  • Include one soft CTA. Rather than asking a direct question, such as time in their calendar, ask for their permission, for their engagement, or gauge their interest in something.
  • Avoid starting sentences with “I” and “We”. Don’t waste copy space introducing yourself and your company. Keep it prospect-centric and focus the attention on their problems.
  • Make the copy easy to digest by aiming for 5th-7th grade reading level. Keep the 7th grade level for terminology that showcases the expertise you have in your domain, for everything else stick to grade 5.
  • If you’re new to copywriting use a framework. The predefined structures help create effective and persuasive email content more efficiently. Popular frameworks include Attention, Interest, Desire, Action (AIDA) and Problem, Agitate, Solution (PAS).
  • Keep the subject line relevant to the copy and short (2-5 words).

5. Benchmarks

Using metrics to evaluate the performance of your cold email gives you an indicator of how your emails are perceived, engaged and converted by your audience. 

If you can achieve these rates you’ve got a great level of engagement:

<2% bounce rate 

% of email addresses that could not be delivered to successfully

50%+ open rate per email

% of the total recipients that opened the email

~3% - 5% reply rates per email

% of total recipients that respond to the email

Two approaches to cold email

Let’s now look at how to improve email deliverability by comparing two different approaches, focusing on the warm-up of a new domain; the 'Best practice' approach and the 'High deliverability' approach.

Note: The ‘email reputation score’ is the rating given to your email sending IP address by the email providers. They measure the likelihood of the email address being a spammer. A good sender score increases the chances of your emails landing in the inbox, while a bad sender score may result in emails being rejected or marked as spam.

1. "Best practice"

If you follow the “best practice” approach and start your cold emailing after the 14-day warm-up your email reputation will still be quite low. The graph shows it only reaches a score of +10. 

When there is such a short warm-up the reputation drops over time. The drop could be due to too many emails being sent, an email bounce spike, or because emails are being marked as spam. By the time 90 days is reached, the reputation is down to -50.  As the reputation continues to decrease more emails land in the spam folder, and if those emails aren’t taken out there’s a cascade effect as more and more land in there.

While the best practice approach is easy to set up and fast, if the email domain isn’t looked after it’s likely to burn out. At 90 days the open rate could drop to as low as 10-20%; with the emails landing in spam, the majority of prospects aren’t reached.

2. High deliverability approach

The set-up and monitoring:

A strong foundation is required to set up a high deliverability approach, the essence of this is an email domain with a minimum of 30+ days warm-up. Taking time at the start will pay dividends and the longer the warm-up, the more solid the outreach.

Setting up the authentication methods and taking the time to monitor the authentication reports (SPF, DKIM, DMARC reports) is essential, for if something changes in the setup and you don’t notice it, the authentications will fail. This in turn will damage your reputation.

If you have a high sending volume, consider signing up for Google Postmaster Tools. Google has a huge amount of data on email deliverability which they share through Postmaster Tools. By reviewing your email reputation data over time, you will see any fluctuations and that will help you to understand how Google treats your sending domain.

Maintaining and building the reputation:

The higher your reputation, the more the email service provider will trust you, and the likelihood of your emails getting into your prospects' inboxes goes up. 

To maintain your reputation, avoid the following:

  • A high bounce rate >2%
  • Sudden spikes in sending. If you normally send 30-50 emails a day and suddenly increase it to 200-300 in a day, the service provider will get nervous about the change, they will assume you’ve been hacked, and you’ll be punished for deviating from your normal behavior. If you want to increase the volume, work up to it slowly over time.
  • Sending to “spam trap” emails. A spam trap email is an abandoned or invalid email address. It may have been legitimate at one time but it no longer belongs to a real person. They are used by the email service providers to identify senders who aren’t following best practices. That means regularly cleaning up email lists and removing any addresses that have not engaged with their emails over a significant period of time.

To build your reputation, do the following:

  • Send emails like a human would do. Automation tools such as Woodpecker use algorithms that mimic human behavior.
  • Invest in the creation and iteration of an offer that’s meaningful for your target. Does your offer solve a pain point your prospects want to change and to invest in? By investing time in the offer, you’re building the foundations for success. 
  • Everyone has their own preference of communication. Using multiple channels for communications allows each prospect to find one that suits their style, and it gives you solid, natural engagement that builds reputation.

Why use multi-channel communication?

Follow this example of a 4 step sequence and all will become clear.

Step 1: An email is sent with an open rate of 60%

Step 2: A follow up email is sent which achieves an open rate of 50% (less people open a second email).

Step 3: After these two emails have been sent, the prospects are split into two groups. 

Group 1 (Yes): those who opened one of the first two emails.

Group 2 (No): those who didn’t open either of the first two emails.

Step 4:

The group that opened one of the emails is sent a third email. This achieves an open rate of 80% which is high simply because they were interested in one of the first two emails. They are then sent a follow-up email which achieves a 70% open rate.

When you keep sending emails to the group that didn’t open one of the first two emails, the open rates become very low. The third email achieves a 10% open rate and the fourth email generates even less with only a 5% open rate.

The majority of campaigns don’t separate these two groups, they keep sending emails to the prospects that didn’t react to the first two emails. The low open rates for these groups will have an impact on reputation.

Switching to a multi-channel outreach approach changes the communication style; the people that didn’t react to the email are sent either a LinkedIn visit, a LinkedIn connection request or message, instead of another email. 

This approach is made easy using Woodpecker for the set up and Dux-Soup for the automation. Once it’s set up it will run in the right time-zone for each prospect, putting them on either the email path, or the multi-channel path according to their level of engagement.

Dux-Soup and Woodpecker are a powerful pairing that allow you to take control and give your engagement a boost. The service provider doesn’t see the LinkedIn requests, they only see the email open rates which show a very high email engagement rate. 

The importance of segmentation

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to outreach and finding different approaches to ensure your message meets the prospect where they’re at is paramount. To illustrate the value of segmenting let’s look at two approaches to cold email.

For both, you’re making a hypothetical offer of a ‘done for you service’ at $4,000 for one month.

Offer #1:

You’re in a hurry to get this offer out to your Total Addressable Market (TAM) and so you go ahead without:

  • Testing different value propositions/offers.
  • Building enough email reputation. (To start quickly, you just do the minimum 14 day warm up.)
  • Spending any time investing in validating and filtering out old email addresses from your list.

Now let’s imagine out of your TAM there are 20,000 prospects who are in a position to be able to buy your $4,000 offer.

Because you’ve used the same message, and because you didn’t invest in your email reputation you had low open rates, with the majority of the emails going into spam. With this approach you missed out on a lot of deals - the end result is a 1% reply rate. With a 10% positive rate and a 20% close rate you make just 4 deals, a total of $16,000. 

Success is low, but it can be improved with a few changes…

Offer #2:

This time you pull out the 20,000 prospects with the potential to buy your offer from your TAM. You use your knowledge and experience to make a clean and relevant list of those you believe to be in a position to buy this high offer. 

You invest time developing a meaningful offer but this time you don’t send the same proposition to everyone. The 20,000 are split into batches and the copy iterated until the approach resonates with everyone.

Finally, you optimize your email infrastructure for engagement by using multi-channel and/or condition campaigns to get the best natural engagement possible. Spending longer on the warm-up optimizes reputation and allows trust to build this time.

With the offer, the engagement and the reputation in place, a solid foundation has been laid. For further enhancement adding “multipliers” such as personalization and strong copy  makes it even more meaningful.

This approach gets you into the inboxes of many more high-value prospects and results in a 15% reply rate. With the same 10% positive rate and 20% close rate you make 60 successful deals, that’s a total of $240,000. 

For high-ticket offers, this is the infrastructure to follow, but we advise against using the same infrastructure for both high and low ticket offers. 

For low ticket offers it can be ok to use a ‘best practice’, quick-to-set-up infrastructure, but if you use that same infrastructure for high ticket offers and you land in spam, it will waste opportunities that could have closed if the email had landed in the inbox.

Next steps

With these tools, guidelines and examples, you can put together a cold emailing strategy for any offer you want to make. Keep an eye on your performance, track fluctuations and conversations and you’ll reap the full potential of cold emailing for your business.

Check out how to connect your Dux-Soup account to Woodpecker, to combine email and LinkedIn outreach.

For any thoughts or questions, email our support team at or find us on the live chat!

Get started with Dux-Soup

Handle your entire sales pipeline, track your performances, and in the end, close more deals.

Non User Discovery

From its targeting capabilities to message open and conversion rates, discover why LinkedIn is the superior lead generation platform.

Non User Discovery

From its targeting capabilities to message open and conversion rates, discover why LinkedIn is the superior lead generation platform.

From its targeting capabilities to message open and conversion rates, discover why LinkedIn is the superior lead generation platform.

Non User Discovery

From its targeting capabilities to message open and conversion rates, discover why LinkedIn is the superior lead generation platform.

Non User Discovery
Non User Research

Our top 6 ways to use LinkedIn automation to grow your sales pipeline and win more clients.

A 4-step strategy from Dux-Soup user on how to maximize your LinkedIn campaign success.

Discover the tools and strategies used to fill an IT company's diary to the brim with sales appointments