What does Gmail's Anti-Spam policy mean for your outbound strategy?

Todd Busler
November 15, 2023
What does Gmail's Anti-Spam policy mean for your outbound strategy?

Google and Yahoo's approach to blocking spam emails is the latest signal outbound teams need to adapt or die.

Like us, you may have gotten an email from your sales engagement platform citing major changes coming to Google and Yahoo mailboxes. Google and Yahoo are taking some pretty extreme measures to reduce the amount of spam via email. Great news for everyone sending high quality, personalized emails - there’s going to be less noise in inboxes overall to compete with.

However, there are huge implications for teams using mass scale email as their primary outbound channel.

What is the new rule? 

As an organization (including marketing emails) - if your company is sending more than 5000 messages each day to the Google or Yahoo network, you will need to keep your abuse complaint rate below 0.3%, or else Google and Yahoo will automatically block all messages coming from that organization.

The role of email is changing - this both limits the reach and changes the cost to using email as your primary channel for outbound.  Cold outbound has already been decaying, with less than a 1% conversion rate to opportunity. With this change, cold, automated  outbound is not only ineffective, it can destroy your email reputation from your entire company if you keep sending them from your company's domain.

At a minimum you need to make sure your company is implementing the requirements around authentication and opt outs.

But how do you change your approach to outbound. First, buy your team time to shift strategies by updating your systems. Then shift your approach moving towards warm outbound.

Here's the 9 things successful teams are doing to maintain outbound as a sales channel.

Want the details? keep reading.

  1. Cut back on your spam immediately
  2. Implement rules about the number of email touches each cadence can have
  3. Use a different domain for outbound (and don't link it to your primary domain)
  4. Reduce your daily email limits per rep (10-20 if your starting with a new domain)
  5. Ensure you have clean email addresses
  6. Target your audience. Hit warm audiences for higher response rates and fewer spam complaints
  7. Focus on what you are saying (yes personalize, no one-size fits all templates)
  8. Experiment with new channels (hopefully you're already using omni-channel cadences)
  9. Meet your customers where they are at to create more warmth

Step one, get your tech stack in order

First you need to get your tech stack in order. This means setting limits, ensuring you have the right domain strategy in place, good email addresses, etc. Here are the steps you need to take.

1. Cut back on your “spam” immediately

Look through your sales engagement platform and kill all of your lowest performing campaigns. Look at response rates and opt out rates to determine what is performing poorly. 

If performance is not great across the board you should remove all cadences with <2% reply rate (that’s industry average) and as a catch-all you should remove all cadences with a >1% opt-out rate. Although these cadences are not necessarily being flagged for abuse, they have a higher probability of triggering complaint thresholds. 

2. Implement rules about how many email touches a specific cadence can have

Long gone are the days of 27 step cadences all emails. At Champify we have 2-3 email steps in our outreach. Lavender recommends four steps

3. Use a different google org (make sure it is not linked to your primary domain)

This we will caveat is likely only a short term fix. This doesn’t follow the spirit of the new limits, and we can all expect Google to become wise to this trick. Although this is likely a game of cat and mouse, it is a critical next step to give you time to adjust your outbound strategy.

We recommend spinning up an ops tiger team to buy and warm domains in the event your outbound emails trigger the spam thresholds. Many teams also rotate sending from different domains. 

Note this  adds additional costs and a higher level of effort to make email a success, so start thinking about your channel mix.

4. Reduce your daily email sends from reps

On a new domain you also need to warm the email as well as the domain. Initially limit each rep to send between 10-20 emails daily.

Once each email address has been warmed, make sure to stay under your email service provider (ESPs) sender limits. Google’s threshold is 500, but we recommend staying under that. Best practices are to stick around 50-100. 50 if you’re not seeing high response rates (that’s about 9 min an email in a work day), 100 if your response rate is high (10-20%). 

Additionally, you need to make sure that email send times are staggered (100 emails being sent at the same time is suspicious). 

5. Ensure you have clean email addresses

Don’t: buy lead lists - they probably contain at least one spam trap (honey pots used to see who is not collecting consent before emailing). 

Do: clean lists regularly. Validate your emails and make sure everyone you are prospecting has up to date job info. Emails need to land an inbox and have engagement to build a good sender reputation.  

Next, set your BDR Team up with new strategies

With the changes in technology and channel efficacy, your outbound strategy needs to become more focused on creating and captilizing on warmth. Changing the technological approach only buys you time to adjust your strategy. It does not solve the problem of outbound effectiveness.  No matter what tricks you have up your sleeve - people know what spam looks like. It's time to shake up the status quo

6. Target your outreach. Hit warm audiences for higher response rates.

Focus on audiences who will welcome an email from your team. Map out your account plan to hit on warmth and intent signals. High converting prospects include:

  • Former buyers and product users
  • Website + Review visitors
  • Closed-Lost Contacts
  • Abandoned Hand-raisers (free trials, ghosted demos)
  • Exec and Team connections
  • Customers who will give you referrals
  • Contacts who have reached a threshold of engagement with Marketing + Product actions (note - one engagement doesn't meet the bar for outreach)

7. Focus on what you are saying: Build warmth with Personalization, Relevance, and Context

Don’t rely too heavily on templates. If there are hundreds of emails with the exact same format and content, you will be way more likely to trigger spam filters (not to mention your prospects can tell).

Focus on messaging and short, meaningful emails that highlight problems relevant to your audience. We (like most Sales teams) love Lavender’s advice and email coach.  

This means:

  1. People know you want a meeting. Soften your ask - don’t necessarily go for the meeting right away. . Instead lean on interest based CTAS
  2. Start lower in an org and spend time getting to know the end users and their challenges. use this to create context driven emails to power.
  3. Personalize your content: use company and individual data to make sure your message is compelling

8. Experiment with other channels

LinkedIn Messaging and Cold Calls are the two other channels readily available to SDRs. Pick ups are down and anti robocall legislation is making cold calling more difficult, but depending on your persona it can still be a great avenue. 

LinkedIn requires a conversational approach. Nobody wants to be pitch slapped. This will mean retraining SDRs on the soft sell.  (Seriously soft - here's an example of how we're starting conversations).

Soft intro to start a conversation leads to stronger and lasting relationships

Your team should also experiment with other places you can find your customers. Are they in Slack communities? Discord? Reddit? Other communities?

Keep in mind that each channel is increasingly personal so if you come in with the goal to sell instead of the goal to learn and connect, you will likely get banned. It requires an entirely different touch. 

Similarly tapping into partner networks can introduce a new channel. Create a team of a handful or reps at different complimentary tech and you’ll be able to foster intros. Doesn’t have to be an official partnership program.

9. Meet your customers where they are at

Create other opportunities to meet and connect with your customers. 

  • Can your SDR team put on small zoom networking events to connect customers and target accounts?
  • Can you meet your customers at networking events and meetups where relevant problems are being discussed?
  • Can your company host happy hours, panels, and workshops to create more opportunities to engage and then convert?

Looking for help revamping your OB strategy - grab time with our team here.