How Maggie Blume of Mailshake uses email deliverability best practices to increase cold email engagement rates.
Imagine this…you’ve just finished writing a great cold email. It’s relevant. It’s timely. It moves the soul (ok, slow down…)
It’s sure to get you a response. So you hit the send button with confidence and… * crickets *
🤔 Maybe your email wasn’t that compelling?
🌴 Maybe they’re OOO and haven’t seen it yet?
🚫 Or maybe your server reputation is so low that your email was flagged as spam?
Deliverability is an underrated component of sales development success. And nobody knows that better than our guest, Maggie Blume.
Her work at Mailshake is all about helping sales reps generate more engagement with their emails through a combination of good copywriting, relevant examples, and deliverability best practices.
We sat down with Maggie to pull back the curtain on deliverability. What is it, why is it so important, and how can you (yes reader, you) follow Maggie’s advice and best practices to help boost your email engagement?
Episode Outline / Questions
You mention in your LinkedIn bio that you’re here to help SDRs with cold outreach, boosting open rates, and understanding how buyers buy. I want to touch on all of those, and we can start with your video series – How Buyers Buy to Help Sellers Sell. There’s a lot of advice in there from buyers about how they like to be prospected. What were some of the biggest takeaways you learned from that series?
Let’s turn the lens to boosting open rates. Your hint is that it’s all about deliverability – why is that the case? Why is deliverability so important?
As an SDR I always viewed deliverability as more of a “systems” or IT issue than my problem. Was I wrong in thinking that? What can an SDR or AE do themselves to help their deliverability?
Is there a playbook of some kind to help systematize things?
What are people not thinking about when it comes to deliverability? What not to include, what you should include, how to avoid the spam folder, etc.
Something else you mentioned in your Bio is helping SDRs with their cold outreach cadences. Is there a tie-in between deliverability and crafting solid cold outreach cadences?
Top 3 Takeaways
🥱 How am I supposed to get anyone to engage when my emails look really boring or they don’t see my logo there? And I was like, well, if you have bad deliverability, no one’s going to be reading those emails. No one’s going to ask if your logo is in there or anything like that.
Let’s start with the basics here. If your deliverability is bad, you’re probably getting pushed into spam folders. And if you’re getting pushed into a spam folder, no one’s reading your emails. And if no one’s reading your emails, you’re not going to get any results from them. Put simply:
Regardless of how well-written or appealing your message is, if your deliverability is bad no one is going to read it. This is the root problem that teams need to solve before they can tackle downstream issues like subject line variations or CTAs or message cohesion.
That being said, Maggie gives all of the memers and gifers some hope:
The first cold email you send to someone is like your first impression. Same for servers and spam filters. So if you’re putting images in there, that’s the first impression of you as a spammer. If you want to put a meme in there, wait until the 3rd email. After the 3rd email, you’ve been cleared and it’ll probably be fine… If you’re not like mixing that in with “free” and “diet pills.”
🧑💻 For the non-tech-savvy SDRs who don’t think they have any control over their deliverability…Yes, you can control it. It’s not just an IT issue. Maggie created a framework to help SDRs control their deliverability – SCAR.
S: Segment – The more you can slice and dice your prospects by responsibility, industry, etc. the better. The number of people in your campaign drops (good for deliverability) and the relevance of your message increases (also good for deliverability).
C: Clean – You want everyone on your list to actually be someone who you could have a productive conversation with. Irrelevant titles and departments can be cut – focus on the people that move the needle.
A: Analyze – There are plenty of tools out there that can skim your email and flag anything that might push you into spam. Components like images/gifs, specific formatting, and certain words (free, discount, etc.) can all increase your chances of landing in spam folders. Analyzers help you catch any you missed and keep your email clean.
R: Revise – This is the step that most reps skip. If you have a template that’s worked for a couple of months, don’t assume it will work forever. Every couple of months you should go in and make updates to verbiage, structure, your CTA, etc. Templates can become stale, and spam filters are smart.
And if you want to sound really smart, bring these things up to your IT team:
It’ll help your deliverability and you’ll earn brownie points with IT & leadership. Win-win!
👀 There’s proactive and reactive spam. The proactive is the server that’s just going to filter you right in there. The reactive one is the human eyeballs reading it, deleting it, or some people marking you as spam.
There’s a balance that reps have to strike between writing emails that make it past spam filters and writing emails that prospects actually want to read. If your emails are boring, look automated, and don’t pique their interest, prospects might mark you as spam on their own – and that can chip away at your server reputation.
Don’t use Maggie’s advice to justify writing bland emails. You can still be compelling and unique within the guard rails she’s set up.
🤖 Sales can actually be pretty simple if we step back from all of these processes we have in place. Of course, processes work, playbooks work, templates work, all these different things work. But we have to remember, at the end of the day, we’re dealing with another human. I shouldn’t say deal, but we’re interacting, engaging, creating a relationship with another person on the other side.
Buyers can feel “locked” into a process – especially when you sell to other salespeople. As a rep, you can do yourself a LOT of favors by simply recognizing that there’s a human on the other end of your phone/email. Your job is to build a relationship with them, not rigidly follow the steps in your cadence.
Maggie has done a thousand demos. She can probably run them in her sleep. But her prospect has never seen a demo of Mailshake before. Just because Maggie’s done it a thousand times doesn’t mean she can pull back on the next one. Everything you do – calls, emails, demos, LI requests – should have the same level of energy and intention behind it.
At the end of the day, I would just say act like a human…Can a human send out 1000 emails in a day?… Maybe they could, but that would take a long time. Automation is great, but don’t send over 100 emails or set that as your limit in your sales engagement platform. And that’s the way I like to think of it. Think like a human. How would you send these emails just normally if you didn’t have any of this automation?
Maggie reinforced that point later in the episode. It’s easy to be robotic. Engagement and automation tools are popular enough that anyone and everyone can send 1000 emails with the click of a button.
But that noise alerts spam filters, and it’s getting harder and harder to move around them. The more robotic you are, the less likely you are to actually land in someone’s inbox. And last we checked, the point of sending an email to someone is for them to read it – impossible to do if they never see it.
Hey reader! AJ here 👋
For me, this was an illuminating conversation. Going in I knew about the importance of deliverability, but like I said during our conversation I always assumed that a majority of it was out of my control.
~40 minutes with Maggie and I know that’s not the case.
She really knows her stuff. Maggie dropped a TON of resources and frameworks for anyone (yes, even the non-tech-savvy reps) to help improve their email deliverability. From tools like GlockApps to her SCAR framework to The Cold Email Academy, there is no reason for reps to have their emails land in spam.
Heck, she even opened her inbox for anyone to ask her questions about deliverability. An offer I strongly suggest taking advantage of.
Because if your emails are landing in spam, people aren’t reading them. And if people aren’t reading them, you’re not going to hit quota. Period. So if you’re looking for things to fix or tweak, deliverability should be at the top of your list.