If I’m Not Spam, I Won’t Be Marked as Spam… Right?
A common misconception about cold email is that it’s all just as simple as buying a domain, setting up a Gsuite, and sending emails — & honestly, it’s easy to forget about spam filters when we usually never even see a single spam email that we get.
While actually starting is often half the battle when it comes to execution in marketing, there are a few critical prerequisites that beginners often miss when it comes to cold email or email marketing in general.
Today, I’m going to the 3 critical protocols you need to use in order to avoid your emails being marked as spam emails — No matter if it’s cold, warm, a newsletter, to your mom, whatever.
Spam Email is Everywhere
Today with the vast amount of spam out there, Gmail, Outlook, & Hotmail all have amazing spam filters that can stop you in your tracks before you even begin.
The Gmail spam filter specifically has become exceptionally powerful and if you’re marked as spam by just a few @gmail.com accounts, you’re pretty much screwed.
The Gmail spam filter isn’t the only one either. Basically every large email provider has gotten exceptionally efficient at determining what is or isn’t an unsolicited email.
What the Spam Email Filters Check For
While there’s a whole range of keywords, characters, and phrases that spam filters are checking for before they deliver you to your prospects inbox — there are 3 primary protocols that they are checking for without exception.
These protocols are SPF, DKIM, & DMARC.
Yeah, I didn’t have any idea what those stood for either, and honestly, you don’t really need to in order to implement them effectively.
What is important, is that you do implement them, as they are critical in not being marked as spam.
Assessing Your Domain Health
Before we even start to go out & mess around with your email settings themselves, it’s best to go ahead and ask the Gmail spam filter itself what exactly is harming your deliverability.
What better a place to get a diagnosis, right?
Use this tool to see what is missing in your settings: https://toolbox.googleapps.com/apps/checkmx/
How to Set up SPF (Sender Policy Framework)
You might be asking: “What exactly is SPF?”
SPF or Sender Policy Framework is an email authentication method designed to detect forging sender addresses that might be delivering emails.
Basically, it makes sure that the email address that appears in your inbox is actually the email that is sending the message.
So, to set it up:
- Find your DNS settings panel, this is usually located under domain settings on the website from which you purchased the domain.
- Scroll down to TXT records.
- Create a text record in your DNS settings with the following:
- The name field should state your domain: domain.com OR be simply be written as “@”
- The text field should state: v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com ~all
How to Set up DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)
Our Second key protocol is DKIM or DomainKeys Identified Mail — is again, imperative in not being marked as spam email.
If you’re using a Gsuite, the process is extremely easy to go through (Gsuite also has one of the highest daily sending limits for the price so I always recommend making one for cold email.)
- Go to your Google a\dmin account > Apps > Google Mail (Gmail) > Authenticate Email
- Hit “create a new authentication key” and copy that down to your clipboard.
- Go back to your DNS settings to create another TXT record.
- For the “name” field it should state: google._domainkey
- In the text field copy the record Google generated for you.
- Your last step is to press “Start Authentication.”
When this is done allow your DNS settings to roll out globally it can take up to 48 hours, if you are using Cloudflare it is almost instant.
How to Set Up DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance)
Our last protocol to implement is called DMARC. This one is rather straightforward — it’s just another TXT record — one that is fairly important when it comes to spam email filters.
Simply go into your DNS settings, & create a new TXT record.
- The host will be set as: _dmarc.yourwebsite.com
- The value will be: v=DMARC1; p=reject
& that is it!
There are additional DMARC settings that can be configured for more or less restrictive filtering but this is all you need in order to appear more friendly to the Google Spam filter & any other spam filters that you might come in contact with.
All Finished — Never Be Marked As a Spam Email Again
Now that you finished everything, go ahead and use the Google Toolbox again to check if everything is set up correctly.
If you followed everything correctly, you have now secured your domain from phishing attempts and ensured you are unlikely to hit the spam folder ever again.
If you’re interested in learning how you might be able to automate parts of your email outreach process, feel free to check out my blog regarding what Zapier is and how it works.