Top 5 Most Common Cold Email Outreach Mistakes

Vladislav Podolyako
Jun 17, 2021
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Frankly speaking, we can’t say where your first email marketing campaign went wrong. But we can make sure that certain outreach elements will definitely get things right all thanks to just one post! It’s incredible how a timely warning can save you a lifetime of trouble.

So, what kind of cold emailing pitfalls will you learn about in this post?

1. Being impersonal

2. Being too personal

3. Sending emails in bulk 

4. Abusing new domain

5. Ignoring tools 

As you can see from this list, we’re going to be talking about cold outreach mistakes that make a legitimate sender look like a spammer. Being associated with spammers is a serious blow to your reputation and your cold email outreach goals, so it’s something you should be wary of.  

Let’s go! 

1. Being impersonal

Spammers aren’t known for being considerate and attentive to their recipients. They don’t care about the user's comfort, occupation and concerns. All they want is to launch their spammy campaigns and reach as many inboxes as possible before spam filters kick them out. So, whenever anyone gets a generic-looking email, they’re not excited. Instead, they’re alarmed.  A sender, who uses writing cliches and cookie-cutter templates, is inexperienced and unable to navigate the world of the latest outreach trends or ill-intentioned, hiding malicious intent under lackluster content and robotic messaging. 

You want to be mistaken neither for an amateur nor for a cybercriminal. Therefore, you must embrace personalization. 

  • Categorize your mailing list. If you have a long list of recipients from a wide range of industries and niches, you messed your personalization up. Different prospects have different requirements and need to be convinced in different ways. If you intend to reach out to C-level executives and tech directors, you can’t use the same tone and arguments. You have to come up with an individual approach. Breaking your mailing list down into segments and organizing your recipients by title and industry will help you come up with the right words for each group and improve email deliverability. 
  • Stay relevant to the timeline. When in doubt about what to write in your body text, think about the events that occurred at your recipients’ workplace. Have they made any announcements? Did they make it to the list of Fortune 1000 companies? Have they introduced a new service or started selling to a new market? Every little detail helps. The more awareness you show, the more you prove that you can do your homework and are actually interested in your potential buyers. 
  • Customize your subject lines. Recipients get suspicious even before they open a generic email. A boring subject line such as “Email for [Name]” or  “Message from [CompanyName]” looks shifty enough. Users, especially those who had experience with spam, don’t really need to read the entire email to make up their minds. They instantly remove the message from their inbox and mark the sender as a spammer.

2. Being too personal 

“Now wait a minute!” you might say now. “You said that spammers and spoofers don’t care about personalization! How can my outreach email be too personal?”

That’s right — spammers don’t care about their recipients. But there are different kinds of spammers. Some of them don’t target any recipient in particular, so they’re generic and robotic in their approach. However, there are also spammers who target a certain company and its employees. Since they’re determined to reach corporate inboxes, they do the opposite of impersonal and assume a friendly facade to trick the recipients into reading the message. They resort to all kinds of mind games, from misleading subject lines to cute images and videos to show that they are harmless. 

Aside from spammers, being overly chummy with your recipients is a bad tone, even if you operate in a B2C area or represent an email marketing agency. Modern clients want to work with businesses that are friendly and value humanity over profit. But it also means that modern clients know phony when they see it. Adopting a casual, informal tone, peppering your text with slang and memes for the sake of being “hip” and “relevant” actually makes your recipients respect you less. There is something about a vendor that knows how to build a solid identity and values it enough not to trade it for temporary trends. 

  • Value your recipients’ boundaries. They’re not your friends…yet. However, if you start your communication pretending that you’re long-time pals, stick your nose into your prospects’ business and hit pressure points before you’re allowed to, you’ll never build any trust. Take things slowly and accept your recipients’ pace. Be polite and considerate, not clingy. If you target B2B prospects, your potential clients are professionals who have a lot on their plate. If you target B2C recipients, they are human beings, not walking wallets. Remember that. 
  • Don’t appeal to emotion. Good writing always manages to pull at the readers’ heart strings. But sometimes senders go overboard with it. It’s not wrong to add a cute dog photo or a cat video, but when your recipients expect you to get to the point and be transparent, you may come off annoying and try to hide your agenda under cutesy stuff. So, put aside the entertaining content and share it with your actual friends. The same goes for trying to tell your prospects how they feel. Lines like “Aren’t you shocked?” or “We know you understand us. Anyone with a heart does” have such a condescending vibe that your readers are more likely to cringe and close your email than respond. 
  • Say “no'' to misleading subject lines. There are tasteful jokes, like a flying penguin documentary made for April’s Fools Day. And there are CAN-SPAM act violations, like giving your email an urgent subject line, such as “Workplace guidelines update” or “Need this TOMORROW”. This is sheer manipulation that instantly finds and presses the recipient’s panic button, prompting them to open the email now and think later. Needless to say, nobody likes being manipulated, and we surely don’t appreciate it when someone rattles our nerves just to get our attention. Even if your recipients know you’re not a spammer, they will mark you as one just to teach you a lesson. Moreover, the use of misleading subject lines is punishable by the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act or CAN-SPAM act for short. It means that continuing with deceptive subject lines will cost you both clients and money. There is nothing to gain. 

3. Sending emails in bulk

Another thing spammers are notorious for is sending massive amounts of emails. Each email address from their extensive list is literally assaulted by identical messages. It feels like a locust swarm, just in a digital format. This is also the fastest way to trigger internet service providers and get blacklisted.

But what about email blasts? It’s a common practice to send one and the same email to many addresses if there is a one-of-a-kind proposition, a discount offer or any marketing event. How do business owners pull that off?

Indeed, mass email is a thing. If you want the receiving server to identify you as a mass mailer rather than a spammer, you have to remember the following things. 

  • Work with email service providers that have the capacity for large email volumes. When you send a large volume of emails from a service that isn’t designed to handle such an amount, your messages get bottlenecked. In other words, they aren’t sent all at once, resulting in a slower response waiting time and distorted performance metrics. The delayed emails would also arrive at an inappropriate time, resulting in a lot of complaints from your recipients.
  • Inform your email service provider about the upcoming email blast. Whenever you’re about to increase the number of emails, you should warn your email service provider about it. It will let you make the support team’s work easier since they will be aware of the reason for an increased sending volume and assist you with avoiding any friction with recipient servers. 
  • Use a hand-curated mailing list. Mass mailing can instantly punish you for not checking your seed list for irrelevant, obsolete and abandoned emails as well as spam traps. The more it looks like you know who you want to send your emails to, the higher the probability of your emails getting to their intended recipients without being intercepted by spam filters. So, whenever you’re about to start a new campaign, make sure to verify your contact data. 

4. Abusing new domain

More good domains have been lost to haste than to malware and poor DNS records. Only five years ago, it was uncommon for business owners to try and switch to digital sales channels, get a brand business domain and instantly start sending emails to all promising recipients from their list. 

Naturally, they ended up banned after sending thousands of emails each day. Such a turn of events got them confused, then angry and ready to give up on email outreach. However, there is no reason to blame the system for doing what it has been designed to do. 

Internet service providers and spam filters respond to suspicious behavior a thousand emails chaotically sent from a freshly-created domain is an instant red flag. It takes years of consistent sending and a gradual increase in the volume of emails for domains to send large numbers of messages without getting blacklisted only spammers ignore that rule and milk new domains without any caution. 

What steps can you take to avoid this mistake?

  • Introduce your domain to internet service providers. It is the best way to show that you’re a legitimate participant and make your email exchange as normal as possible. Start with sending around ten emails to ten addresses. Those addresses must belong to the recipients that know you and are guaranteed to respond. This way, internet service providers will see normal email communication instead of a one-sided conversation.
  • Build stability.  Choose the most appropriate time slots for sending emails and stick to that. Your schedule should be consistent, not erratic and unpredictable. The same goes for responding to any emails that you receive. A standard email marketing agency practice says that there must be no unanswered emails in your inbox by the end of the day. 
  • Test your performance. Monitoring is important at every stage of your outreach, but when it comes to introducing new domains, you must be particularly attentive to your metrics and carry out regular audits to make sure you got everything right. 

5. Ignoring tools for cold emailing

The world of email outreach is intricate and complicated, so there is a wide range of services to help you with building a sales funnel in your inbox, automate the process of sending emails and give you more visibility on your metrics. However, some senders are apprehensive of using digital tools. This behavior is common among both beginners who are overwhelmed by the variety of tools and long-time senders who prefer old-school ways and are anxious about adding a new piece of software to their network. 

In both cases, these people are doing themselves a huge disservice because they deprive themselves of the opportunity to simplify their outbound marketing and gain knowledge from every successful and failed campaign. So, if you feel that you’re falling behind your competitors and you don’t use any tools, solving the latter will let you figure out your outreach. 

  • You don’t need to install outreach tools to use them. Modern outreach tools are designed to be effective and non-invasive, so you’re not required to install any components or adjust your kit to accommodate a new tool. Some services like Streak provide widgets for inboxes and internet browser expansions solely for letting you work with data without having to switch between the tabs. 
  • Outreach tools aren’t “for pros” only. Sometimes, senders don’t use outreach tools because they don’t take their outbound marketing seriously. For example, a startup CEO may think, “I only need a business inbox to get in touch with some folks I met during Zoom conference” or  “I make connections through LinkedIn, I just need to send emails once a week to stay connected. I don’t need tools for sales reps to get things done.” The fact is, even such small goals can be obstructed due to a problem with DNS records or an inappropriate email format. Outreach tools come in a wide range to help you tackle as many issues as possible. Some of them are designed for sales development and prospecting, some are designed to keep your inbox healthy and let you make sure that your emails aren’t lost to spam folders. It doesn’t matter whether your business is small or large, whether you’re B2B or B2C, everybody gets scrutinized by email services. 
  • Good outreach tools come complete with helpful teams.  Another reason why senders hesitate to use outreach tools is the fear of the unknown. They don’t want to pay for a tool they can’t make sense of and be left in the dark. Luckily, this scenario is quite unlikely to unfold. Many good tools are extremely user-friendly and don’t require much time to get used to. In addition, a team of professionals is always available to sort out any questions and provide application tips.   


There is so much more to learn about the dos and don’ts of email outreach. Good and bad templates, visible subject lines, email formats and data processing…the process of learning and improving yourself is endless! But right now, you have become aware of how to distinguish yourself from a spammer and why you can’t skip some steps and measures on your way to success. 

Want to apply this knowledge right here, right now? Check out our Folderly tool and take a look at your inbox metrics. See what they have to tell you about your performance and don’t hesitate to give our team a holler if you need anything.

Vladislav Podolyako
Vladislav Podolyako
Founder & CEO
Vlad’s decades of entrepreneurial wisdom and business building experience have allowed him to successfully mentor a diverse group of business owners, entrepreneurs in growing their companies. A recognized expert in the areas of transforming organizational culture and leadership development, B2B Sales, Marketing, spent more than 10 years building technology products, with a background in communication networks and electronic device engineering.

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