Mastering the Art of Sending Cold Emails: The ULTIMATE Guide

The proven cold email marketing & sales outreach system used by over 5,000+ B2B Companies, Founders and agencies to predictably drive qualified leads, close deals, and generate revenue.

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Unleash the Power of Cold Emails: Transform Your Ideal Prospects
into Loyal Customers

Discover the secrets to crafting irresistible cold emails used by 1,000s of our clients
that win hearts and boost your business bottom line month after month

How To Send Cold Emails: 
What To Know To Build The Ultimate Cold Emailing Automation Machine

The 3 Ways Cold Emails Can Be Sent

Through a personal server — unless you have the technical prowess or assistance to set up your own personal email server, cold emailing via a personal server is likely not your best option. The biggest advantage of cold emailing through your own personal server is avoiding email sending restriction limits.
Through email accounts — e.g. Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo!Mail. These are typically the most popular due to their ease of use, affordability, and dependable sending — however, these email servers will limit the amount of emails you can send making scaling difficult.
Through an email tool/software — e.g. MailChimp or ActiveCampaign. These emailing tools integrate with your existing email account to provide scale via email blasts — however, in many cases, email providers will ban your account after a few cold email blasts rendering this method ineffective for long term cold emailing.

So how do you properly send out cold emails?

While each use case and scenario may be slightly different, here are 10 guidelines to ensure you are running and optimizing your cold email campaigns as efficiently as possible:

1. Define your target audiences
2. Ensure your email list is of highest quality
3. Secure/buy your domains for email sending 
4. Set up your email, domain records and master inbox properly
5. Follow a proven email warm-up procedure
6. Use proven (“tested”) email copy and a high quality email list
7. Set up an email sending tool and personalization process
8. Launch your cold email campaign
9. Monitor your results and know what to look for
10. Optimize your strategy based on your results/KPIs

How To Set Up Your Email Server - MX, ESP, DNS, SPF, DKIM, DMARC (Terms To Know & Understand)

Before we dive into setting up your email server, buying an email sending domain, and maximizing your email deliverability, there are a few technical terms to know and understand:
  1. ESP: Stands for “Email Service Provider”.
  2. DNS: Stands for “Domain Name Servers” and acts as a phonebook for the internet (providing a domain name list). Your DNS translates your 12-digit IP address to a domain name.
  3. MX: Stands for “Mail Exchange” as in a DNS “mx record” which directs email to a mail server. An MX record states how emails should be routed.
    SPFStands for “Sender Policy Framework” as in an “SPF record.” An SPF record tells email servers that your email is coming from an authorized and verified mail server. An SPF record must be in place and authenticated otherwise your emails will be marked as spam.  
    Stands for “Domain Keys Identified Mail” as in a “DKIM record”. A DKIM record is a digital signature associated with every email sent from you/your company. A receiving email server will verify this digital signature and confirm your email is coming from the correct domain. 
    Stands for “Domain-Based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance”. DMARC utilizes both DKIM and SPF records to help identify phishing and fraud emails.

What Factors Affect Email Deliverability? IP Server Reputation & Domain Reputation

IP Server Reputation — each email is associated with an IP address. IP addresses can either be white listed or black listed. When sending a cold email, the recipient’s spam filter will check whether or not your IP address is white or black listed. If it’s black listed, your cold email will end up in the spam folder.
To see the “health” of your cold emailing IP address, send a few emails from your cold emailing domain address to a few other email addresses you have. Log into these other email accounts and open your cold email. Your cold emailing IP address will typically be listed in the header of the email.

Take this IP address and plug it into and/or — these free services will either score your IP address as good, neutral, or poor:
Good = your cold emails are being delivered to an interested or engaged audience.
Neutral = optimize your score by setting up a DKIM or DMARC record.
Poor = best to set up a completely new cold emailing domain and/or switch ESPs (email service providers).

Domain Reputation — your cold emailing domain reputation can be affected by a few factors namely its classification (i.e. what type of website you have — business, education, finance, etc.) and the age of your domain (i.e. whether it was purchased 5 years ago or 5 days ago).

With a new domain, it is critical to “warm-up” your domain prior to sending out a bunch of cold email campaigns/blasts. We’ll go into depth on the precise steps you need to take to warm up your new domain properly later in this guide.

How To Purchase A Domain For Cold Emailing

Always utilize a secondary domain (or have several secondary domains available) for all your cold emailing campaigns. Your primary/company domain should be used solely for personal and client emails — as such, you’ll want to ensure your domain reputation stays spotless and all your emails associated with your primary domain maintain great deliverability. 

The two best practices for buying a secondary domain for cold emailing: 

1. If possible, stick with a “.com” domain. Other domain endings (e.g. .net, .info, .xyz, etc.) may not be as favorable or preferred when it comes to avoiding spam email filters and triggers. 

2. Add action words (e.g. “try” or “get”) to your primary domain to get a few possible secondary domain permutations. So for example, becomes “” or “”. 

For cold emailing, the two best email service providers are either through Google (G Suite) or Microsoft Outlook. There are pros and cons for each. 

If you decide to go with G Suite, then purchase your secondary emailing domain from Google Domains (this’ll aid in the setup). 

For Microsoft Outlook, we recommend purchasing your domain from While vendors like GoDaddy are much more popular, they also offer an abundance of services and add-ons that can complicate the setup process. 

You shouldn’t send more than 50 emails per user, per domain per day. That’s why we suggest having at least three secondary domain permutations with at least three sending domains under each. That way you can send a ton of cold emails daily, and if one inbox gets put in spam, it won’t halt your cold email strategy.

What To Know About Email Deliverability 

First, we need to understand the types of email bounces and how bounce rate affects your email deliverability. 

The Difference Between Soft & Hard Bounces 

Soft Bounce — occurs when there are issues from the recipient’s inbox (e.g. out of space or temporarily not working) 

Hard Bounce — occurs when the recipient’s email does not exist or is blocked

While these two types of bounces arise from different issues, the end result is the same — too many bounces (specifically over 2% of all your emails sent) will negatively impact your email deliverability rate. A bounce rate beyond 2% will likely get you blacklisted by ESPs. 

Here’s how to moderate your email deliverability: 

How To Optimize Your Email Deliverability - 3 Aspects (email account configuration, email content, high quality email contact list) 

1. Configure your email account(s) properly — as mentioned before, use a separate/secondary emailing domain other than your primary business/company domain for cold emailing purposes. Set up your SPF and DKIM records properly. Use a proper ramp up sequence/cadence when warming up your cold emailing domain (see process below) 

2. Use proper/optimized email copy — this includes personalized email copy tailored for each recipient (vs. templated or canned copy), avoiding spam words or spammy copy (check against existing spam words lists), and keeping your email formatting simple (i.e. avoiding too much HTML, having a simple email signature)

3. Utilizing a high-quality email contact list — as mentioned earlier with bounces, building and sending to a high-quality email list (one that’s been tested/verified) will ensure you maintain a high email deliverability rate and your messaging reaches its intended prospect (see our process for building a high-quality email list below)

How To Properly Warm Up Your Cold Emailing Domain 

Properly warming up your cold emailing domain helps ensure that ESPs don’t ban or blacklist you for spamming hundreds of contacts from a relatively or completely new domain. There are two ways to properly warm up your cold emailing domain: manually and automated.

How to manually warm up your new cold emailing domain:

1. Start by sending out a few emails to friends and colleagues you know for the first 2-3 weeks after registering your new domain. Ask them to reply and engage with your email(s). 

2. Slowly ramp up your daily volumes of emails. Avoid big increases in email volume. Send to recipients with different ESPs (e.g. or or 

3. Send your emails at different random times of the day.

4. Make sure your friends and colleagues are responding and engaging back with you. 

Best practice tip: increase your daily volumes of emails by no more than 5 each day. So if you send 5 emails on day one, you should not send more than 10 emails on day two. 

How to automate warming up your new cold emailing domain:

1. Use a tool like to automate and simulate the above manual process. 
2. Connect your email account to Inboxy, set your parameters, and let Inboxy properly warm up your cold emailing domain.

How To Build A High Quality
Cold Emailing List

Building/sourcing a high-quality cold email list is critical for ensuring your email and domain reputation stays high and your cold emails are met with a healthy level of engagement and interest. As such, it’s of paramount importance to verify/test your cold emails (to ensure they exist) and strip out unverified emails and emails that do not exist.

Here are three major tips on how to ensure a high-quality cold email contact list: 

Always verify emails — this is a must as you’ll discover which emails exist or aren’t verified. Strip both of those out immediately.
Quality over quantity — this is also a must as a bunch of low-quality or wrong emails will tank your email reputation and deliverability. Better to err on the side of less, but highly targeted and ideal customer cold emails
Only send to actual people — refuse the urge to send to general or broad company email addresses (e.g. or

How To Automate Building/Scraping A Quality Cold Email List

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of building a high-quality cold email list, let’s get into the details on how to do it efficiently. First, you’ll need to build an ICP “Ideal Customer Profile” based on the following five (5) criteria: 

1. Vertical/Niche
2. Geography (of Niche) 
3. Company Size
4. Job Title
5. Function

Once this is done, you can either automate or manually perform the following processes: 

1. Automate — enter the above criteria into a tool such as, Sales Navigator, etc. and have it generate your list
2. Manual — manually go through LinkedIn and pull matching contacts

If you’re deciding between email tools, here’s a bit more info on Apollo vs. other similar ones:

1. There’s no reason to use ZoomInfo, Outreach, Seamless or Salesloft, unless you run a big sales org.
2. is an email provider plus sending tool in one. It’s $99/mo, and similar in quality and features.
3. One of our guys booked three mid-market meetings in his first week learning Apollo.

What makes email work is your copy and targeting strategy, and iteration off open/reply rates. Which is the same for all tools.

Here’s the exact process we use with to sources our high-quality cold email lists: 

Cold Email Copywriting: Personalization, How To Write A Drip Sequence,
& Sending At Scale

Now that we’ve covered almost all of the technical aspects of cold emailing, it’s time to learn about the content that will go into these cold emails and ultimately convert your ideal customer into a paying client. 

At Cleverly, we’ve sent hundreds of thousands of cold emails and messages for ourselves and our clients. Without fail, there are four (4) components that make up every single great cold emailing message: 

1. Product market fit — the service or product you are pitching needs to solve a serious and specific pain point for your ideal customer’s niche/industry. This needs to be obvious. 
2. Personalization — in general, the more personalized the message, the higher your engagement rate will be. Manually, it can be an extremely tedious process, but fortunately with Quicklines (an AI tool for cold outreach personalization), you can truly automate the process — see more below. 
3. Short direct message — no fluff, get right to the point. Count on your prospect to have a really short attention span when it comes to cold emails. 
4. Questions (in place of meetings) — asking for a meeting so you can then further pitch your product/service can kill the entire sale. Instead, ask specific questions that drive back to your pitch or offer. 

Using For Cold Emailing Personalization 

Quicklines takes your cold email leads and creates custom email personalization lines. Here are five (5) ways Quicklines can help you personalize your cold email outreach: 

1. Compliments — Quicklines can help you open your email with a personalized compliment (e.g. their latest blog post/newsletter, how slick their website looks, etc.) 
2. Common Ground — Quicklines will help you identify common grounds between you and your prospect (e.g. college, same city, business philosophy, etc.) 
3. LinkedIn Abouts — Quicklines will identify standout or notables in your prospect’s LinkedIn About section and craft custom lines about those achievements. 
4. Companies Worked With — Quicklines will mention companies and clients you’ve worked with to help establish credibility. This is especially effective if your prospect is familiar with the company or companies mentioned. 
5. P.S. Line — Many times, prospects will quickly scan through your cold email and scroll straight to the bottom. A P.S. Line can be a powerful way to engage them at this point. Quicklines automates writing these highly personalized P.S. lines.

How To Write Effective Cold Email Drip Sequences [Templates Included]

In general, we recommend crafting at least a four (4) touch sequence (i.e. one initial cold outreach email followed by three follow-ups). 

Here are our top two most effective cold emailing templates: 

Cold Email Template 1: The Value Add

Subject line: Suggestions for {Company}


I saw {something relevant about your company}. I have a suggestion for improving {metric A} and {metric B}.

We helped {client name} {do this thing better}, that led to {result}.

{Frictionless, value-driven call to action}?

Touch 2 (same thread): 

Mind if I email over those suggestions? Worst case, you can ignore them.

Touch 3 (new thread): Hey FIRST NAME,

To {improve this metric}, we {value proposition}.

Is that relevant at all to you right now?

Touch 4 (same thread): Here’s a case study on how we helped {similar company to you} do {x thing better}.

I’m certain we can replicate those results for you. Worth a 15-min chat?

Example of formula 1:

Cold Email Template 2: The Problem/Solution

See the LinkedIn post below from Mike Gallardo for an amazing cold email framework. Mike directs a very successful sales development team for a massive company called Deel, steal his formulas:

Launching & Optimizing Your Cold Email Campaigns

As mentioned before, if you’re starting out with brand new secondary domains for your cold email outreach, you’ll need to precisely warm up your domain(s) following the manual protocol we’ve outlined or use a tool like Inboxy to automate the process. 

Here are four (4) critical cold emailing considerations if you are doing the entire process manually or automating with some tools: 

Leverage sending from multiple email domainsthis is a cold emailing best practice as it will help spread the volume of your emails across multiple domains (helping to preserve and maximize deliverability). 
2. Prioritize deliverability —
by using the above tactic, the total volume per inbox per day will be drastically reduced. Additionally, if there are soft or hard bounces, they’ll be spread over several inboxes (vs. tanking just one inbox). 
3. Keeping data costs low —
you’ll quickly find that building/scraping a high quality cold email list will be time and resource intensive. This is where a lot of your bulk costs and time will be spent. Leverage tools like or Sales Navigator to help minimize these costs and time spent. 
4. “Spintax” —
as a best cold emailing practice, you’ll want to vary and switch up your copy in all your cold emails to avoid spam detection. This can be a tedious (but necessary) process to coordinate if done manually, but can also be automated with the right tools. 

Once you start sending and receiving emails, you’ll want to keep track of certain KPIs and continue to test and iterate subject lines, copy, personalization, offer, etc. to optimize your cold email campaigns. 

The biggest KPIs to look out and optimize for include: Open Rate, Reply Rate and Booked Meeting Volume (or similar success metric e.g. booked demo, trial offer, etc.). 

When it comes to cold emailing engagement, we prioritize: fast responses, leveraging a CRM, following-up with everyone who becomes a warm lead at least 5-7 times and treating outbound leads differently than inbound — they’re inherently harder to close. 

If you'd like us to run your cold email efforts for you, learn more here.