What is Email Warm-Up?

Are you wondering why your email campaigns are falling flat? Research has shown that over 20% of emails fail to reach the inbox, putting all of your effort into the trash folder. Did you know that the new email account you just set up to handle your masterful campaign probably got blocked before it even got itself going? No? You’re not alone. Few people realize that email accounts need to be “warmed up” before they can be used to start email outreach/marketing campaigns.

Google updated their spam rules in the beginning of 2019, which is making it harder for businesses to reach their target audience and their inboxes. This is why, before you even think of starting your email campaign, you need to get that account all warmed up, so Google trusts it, and your email lands in the inbox, not the spam folder.

What is Email Warm-Up?

What the heck is email warm-up anyway? Well, in essence, it’s the building of your email account’s reputation, so that Google won’t ban your emails to the spam folder. The email warm-up process includes sending a small number of emails, and then gradually increasing, daily. When a new email account is created, the email service provider gives a limit for how many emails can be sent. G-Suite, for example, has a 2000 email/day limit, but if your account is brand new, you won’t be allowed to access that level of sent emails. To get to the 2000+ level, you have to build up your account’s reputation.

In addition to sending emails, email warm-up services can help with providing positive interactions for your account. This means that the emails you send, get opened, replied to, marked as important, etc. This helps to increase your reputation, and therefore your deliverability.

It can take about 8-12 weeks to get to maximum deliverability (your emails into your prospective clients’ inboxes). The length of time depends on email volume, and how your emails are being engaged with. It may take longer if the engagement is too low.

Why is Email Warm-Up Important?

If you’re planning on any type of email outreach or marketing, having a warm email account is essential. Your main goal is to reach a recipient’s inbox - it is well known that once it’s there, there is a much higher open rate than if it landed in spam. Otherwise, you’re spending time and money to craft this amazing outreach campaign, only to never have it be seen. You want to be more efficient with your email campaigns, and that’s where the email warm-up is vital.

How does email warm-up work?

Authenticate your Account

SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are all standards that enable different aspects of email authentication. They address complementary issues.
SPF allows senders to define which IP addresses are allowed to send mail for a particular domain.
DKIM provides an encryption key and digital signature that verifies that an email message was not faked or altered.
DMARC unifies the SPF and DKIM authentication mechanisms into a common framework and allows domain owners to declare how they would like email from that domain to be handled if it fails an authorization test.

Send Individual Emails

Email warm-up works by building up the account’s reputation, so you’ll need to send 10-20 individual emails from the new account, to people you know are going to open them (friends and colleagues). You need to make sure that these initial emails have a consistent engagement, which is going to help you increase the volume of emails (remember, most email service providers have a large limit, but don’t let new accounts access those levels in the beginning). Once you have engagement going on, your email service provider feels more confident about your authenticity and your reputation increases, which makes your account ready for your campaigns.

If you’re doing this manually, make sure to email a variety of email providers (Yahoo, iCloud, Gmail, etc.) - don’t just send to emails from one service provider.

Maintain Conversation Threads

Emails accounts aren’t just for sending. You need to receive things as well. So, start the conversation from one of your other email accounts, CC your new account, and reply from that new account. One pro tip, add your new email address on your website for inbound emails and then quickly reply to any inquiries. This will help to drive your authenticity reputation.

Subscribe to Newsletters

Regardless of your profession, there are likely to be tons of newsletters available. Subscribe to a minimum of 10-15 newsletter. Each newsletter needs a confirmation, so that’s positive interaction with your account and will increase your inbound and outbound emails.

Have a Time Gap Between Two Consecutive Emails

Every email service out there is scared of ‘bots. So, to avoid having your account labeled as one, make sure to space out your emails. You don’t want to send too many at once and be condemned as a bot machine. It will affect your account reputation and get your emails blocked when you do campaigns. Keep some time in between emails so it appears more realistic and doesn’t impede your reputation.

Setup a Personalized Test Campaign

After you have completed your email warm-up (8-12 weeks, approximately), your account will be ready for its outreach and marketing campaigns. Begin your first campaign with a small list, maybe 20-30 recipients whom you trust (friends and colleagues so you get a response).

Part of the email warm-up process is making sure your emails are opened and responded to. Personalizing your email helps with this. You need to write as personalized an email as possible, along with a personalized subject line.

You also want to avoid spammy content. Email service providers like Google, also authenticate an account based on content, not just the deliverability of your emails. Avoid overly salesy language like FREE, 60% off, etc., as this will trigger the email provider and your email lands in the spam box. Keep the content concise, clean, and with a limited number of links.

Lastly, add an unsubscribe link/button. Even though you're doing a small trial run, one “mark as spam” against your account will negatively affect your reputation. Give the recipient a chance to unsubscribe versus marking your email as spam.

Bonus Tips

Here is a small cheat sheet to add to the tips above:

  • Use a limited amount of links in the content of your email
  • Write like an actual human being, not a bot
  • Choose your email service provider wisely
  • Don’t use a lot of media files (images, videos, GIFs, etc.) Avoid, or don’t use, automation during the warm-up process (it’s the manual processes during the warm-up phase that will allow you to reach a high level of authenticity, and then you can start with automation)

Final Thoughts

The algorithms are in place to protect people from spam content. Following some best practices can show providers that you’re a real human, and not a spammer.

To end, it is a lot easier to build your sender reputation than it is to improve on a spammer reputation. Take the time to properly warm-up your email account, and you should be well on your way to getting your ROI out of your email outreach and marketing campaigns.