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Cold Email, emails are bouncing... how bad is it doctor 🚑 ?

Cold Email and bounce rate

Emailing

If you do emailing / mass-mailing (e.g. >5,000 emails/day) with a high Hard Bounce rate (>20%) and repeatedly, this will impact the reputation of your sender domain and limit the deliverability of your future campaigns.

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Cold Email

On the other hand, if you do Cold Email (less than 100 emails/day) and 100 emails/day) and contrary to the urban legend, your Hard Bounce rate has absolutely NO impact on the reputation of your sending domain.

When you get bounces, don't panic!

Let's take the time to analyze your bounce together and discover THE winning strategy 😉.

Cold email and bounce: the winning strategy

A bounce is the return of an email that you have sent and which has not been temporarily or permanently delivered to the recipient. You then receive an error message informing you of this.

The bounce rate is an indicator of the deliverability of your campaigns.

But be careful, for a relevant analysis, you must differentiate between the 3 types of bounce and their impacts:

  • Soft Bounce: A soft bounce is a temporary delivery error related to the inbox server: inbox full, message too heavy, server temporarily unavailable... However, the email address is correct đŸ€—Â 
    → shoot again.
  • The Hard Bounce: We talk about hard bounce when an email address is invalid. There are several reasons for this: either a typo in the email address, or the contact is no longer part of the company, or the email address is fake ⚠ 
    → delete the email address and don't shoot anymore.
  • Reject/Refuse Bounce by mail servers that identify an email as unsolicited and some have recently implemented automatic rejection/bounce rules 😬.
    → follow the recommendations below 👇 and shoot again.

It is important to distinguish between Hard Bounce and Reject/Refuse Bounce.

To our knowledge, no Cold Email solution has implemented an analysis and rules to differentiate between these 3 types of bounce.
But we are convinced that the most performant of them (lemlist, QuickMail, Mixmax, Woodpecker...) will soon make an update 😉.

📣 June 2020, the rules have changed: The cat and mouse game

As email users, we are happy that unsolicited promotional emails, newsletters, spam, phishing ... are increasingly filtered and processed automatically to free up our mailboxes.

Since June 2020, messaging and anti-spam solutions have made a major update and have perfected the detection of unsolicited emails, including Cold Emails.

Some email rules automatically reject these emails (Reject/Refuse bounce) which, since June 2020, increases the overall bounce rate.

The fact that a domain is not blacklisted no longer guarantees good deliverability.

As a Cold Email sender, this requires to adapt strategy.

We reveal you 7 anti-bounce rules

In order for your Cold Emails to no longer be rejected in Refuse bounce, some elements are hints of unsolicited email. We deliver the right tactics!

1. IMPERATIVELY configure your ⚠ Custom Domain ⚠


Why is that important?
If you have not set up your Cold Email solution to track openings and sent emails using your domain name, then you are sharing a domain name with other campaign senders.

And since they most likely do not apply all the good practices 👿, you unfortunately inherit their "reputation" and suffer the consequences.

That's how since June 2020, more and more Cold Emails are identified and rejected - Rejet/Refuse Bounce

How do you do it?
If you have not configured your Custom Domain, let our tutorial guide you.

2. Your Custom Tracking Domain must be the same as your sender's domain.

Why is that important?
If the domain you use to send your emails is different from the one that tracks open rates and link clicks, your emails are more likely to be identified as unsolicited.
You should not send your emails with, for example, dc@dropcontact.io and track openings and clicks with track.dropcontact.net.

How do you do it
?
Configure your Custom Domain with the same domain to send and track your emails.
For example, send an email with dc@dropcontact.io and track openings and clicks with track.dropcontact.io.

3. Delete your indicators / KPI's đŸ˜±đŸ˜‡

Why is that important?
In order to identify the opening of emails, Cold Email solutions use the "one-pixel call" technique that are stored on their servers.

In the same way, click and link tracking will also point to these servers.

In the first few days of launching your Cold Email campaign, it is important to measure its effectiveness (open rate, click rate) and iterate until you achieve a minimum open rate of 60%-70%.

Once this rate is reached, this information has no operational use for the rest of the campaign. It becomes only "Vanity KPI", for itself or for reporting purposes. The tracking in place is a real indicator of identification of unsolicited emails: is it more important to have numbers or results?

In the example below, we can see that the tracking link (even though it is configured as a Custom Domain) is on a lemlist.com server with the IP 147.135.229.201 (the Cold Email solution that Dropcontact uses 😉):

tracking lemlist link

The tracking link therefore refers to a Cold Email solution server and can be identified as unsolicited.

How do you do it?
Caution tip;
after a few days, remove the opening tracking and link tracking, as soon as you have reached the desired opening rate.

The deliverability of your campaign will soar.

In addition, the opening and tracking links for Cold Email solutions, included in the email content, point to an address such as http:// and not https://.

This is also a hint for detecting unsolicited emails, but the most advanced solutions will probably adapt in the coming weeks/months.

4. Please do not create a new domain for sending Cold Emails!

Why is that important?
In Cold Email, the number of emails sent per day should be kept low and the sender's email address should behave as close as possible to a normal mailbox.

The forwarding address of a new domain that only sends emails has a high chance of being identified as a sender of unsolicited emails.

In Cold Email, you don't have to create a new domain!

This is in contrast to emailing, where it may be recommended to create a new domain close (e.g. dropcontact.net) to its usual domain (e.g. dropcontact.io), and then to "heat the sending email address", by sending progressively and daily an increasing number of emails.

How do you do it?
Use the email address that you use professionally on a daily basis.
That is to say an email address that sends and especially receives emails: an email address that already has a history and where there is no need to heat it up.

In short, your real business email address 😎

Don't forget that unlike email campaigns, in Cold Email your objectives, attainable, are an opening rate higher than 60%-70% and a response rate higher than 20%-25%.

5. Configure SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records

Why is that important?
These protocols are technologies used to secure your messaging system, in particular to authenticate and legitimize an email and its sender.

The SPF and DKIM are the minimums to set up and there are many articles and posts on the web that describe and explain how to do this.

Nevertheless, DMARC settings have become a decisive element since June 2020 in the criteria for detecting unsolicited emails. It is used as a contributor to the anti-abuse controls of a domain.

If your sender's domain and email address is not authenticated or certified, the server will not be able to confirm that your email has not been intercepted or altered during transmission or that your address is not spoofed.

How do you do it?
In our tutorial, we give you all the keys to configure your domain correctly, including the configuration of DMARC.

📣 On July 21, 2020, Google launches the BIM pillot (Brand Indicators for Message Identification). Ultimately, it will allow organizations that authenticate their emails via DMARC to validate the ownership of their corporate logos and securely transmit them to Google. This will be an opportunity to create a trusted brand presence via email.

6. Check email addresses

Why is that important?
To get a good opening rate and a good quality of Cold Email campaign, you need to send your emails to a maximum of valid and fully verified addresses.

How do you do it?
Only use email addresses that have been checked beforehand.

There are many email verification solutions on the market. For your information, but đŸ€«, most of them use exactly the same white label service/API.

💡 The special case of CATCH-ALL domains đŸ§Č

Your recipient's company domain can be configured as standard or catch-all.

Verification (before sending) on a domain configured as standard gives a reliability of results higher than 90% for most solutions (98% for emails verified or delivered by Dropcontact).

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⚠ Email verification test ≠ email sending test

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On a catch-all domain, verification is IMPOSSIBLE because the domain accepts all emails sent on this domain. For example, if the domain @dropcontact.io is configured in catch-all, the email address blablablabla@dropcontact.io will never be identified as invalid.

By definition, on a catch-all domain, no verification solution on the market (ZeroBounce, NeverBounce, Bouncer, BriteVerify, Debounce, Dropcontact...) is able to identify if a catch-all email address exists or not.

Nevertheless, on some catch-all domains, when you really send an email to a catch-all address, it can send a Hard Bounce if the address is non-existent.

That's why even if you have checked your email address file, you may still get Hard Bounce on catch-all domains.

đŸ’„ Our recommendation:

In Cold Email

Never ban catch-all domains from your Cold Email campaigns, otherwise you will remove many large companies from your prospecting.

And even if some emails will bounce and others will never be received (example: the recipients are no longer part of the company) others will be read and will generate great opportunities 💰💰

💡All email addresses provided by Dropcontact.io are already fully tested and qualified đŸ€© by our own algorithms and test servers.

There is absolutely no need to check them again in solutions such as ZeroBounce, NeverBounce, Bouncer, BriteVerify, Debounce... unless you want to spend money unnecessarily 💾😜


Detection comparison of 469 invalid catch-all email addresses

Status Invalid
Correct detection
Valid
Incorrect detection
Catch-all Incorrect detection
Dropcontact 9% 13% 78%
NeverBounce 6% 15% 79%
ZeroBounce 4% 17% 79%
Debounce 14% 16% 70%
BriteVerify 4% 21% 75%
Bouncer 7% 16% 77%
DataValidation 5% 4% 91%

This analysis is carried out on the basis of a file of 469 invalid catch-all email addressesafter sending an email and receiving a message back from Hard Bounce. 
This table reveals that no verification solution of the market is not able to

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7. Be smart with the unsubscribe link

Why is that important?
Since the implementation of the GDPR, B2B commercial prospecting by email is still allowed but requires to put an unsubscribe link in your emails.

Warning, unsubscription links are elements that contribute to Rejection/Refuse Bounce.

Here are the 3 revealing clues of an unsolicited email đŸ“Ș :

  • the structure
  • the terms used (type: unsubscribe, unsubscribe ...)
  • the location of the link

How do you do it?
Here, you have to be smart and we let you imagine your own tricks💡 to set up to have an unidentifiable unsubscription link by re-reading the 3 clues above ... 🧐

A final check before launching your campaign

Check your settings before launching a cold email campaign

Check that your domain has not been blacklisted.
For many years, mail servers have been registering domains in blacklist databases (SORBS, Spamhaus, BARRACUDA, DNSBL, RBL...) to reduce the number of spam messages.

If your domain has been blacklisted in one or more of these lists, many of the emails you send will never be delivered đŸ€·â€â™€ïž

Make sure your domain is not in any of these lists by testing your domain on mxtoolbox.

Finally, one last point to make sure that your domain and its configuration are correctly set up.

Send an email from your sender address, the one you use for your Cold Emails, to your personal Gmail address for example. Once received go to the menu, select View Original or View Message Details.

Checking the header details of an email to ensure deliverability

Then copy and paste the content into the Mxtoolbox email header parser.

You will know if your domain is clean and perfectly configured đŸ—œ

You now have all the secrets and techniques to get around Rejection/Refuse Bounce (the game of 🐈 and 🐁) not to confuse them with Hard Bounce and to ensure good deliverability.

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If you want to see our webinar on the subject, there is still time to check out the replay 😉.


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