Instantly Review: The Best Cold Email Platform?

For the past several months I’ve been using Instantly.ai to send out some of our internal and client emails.

In this article I’ll outline why Instantly is one of the best cold email tools on the market. And why we’ll definitely be using it for more projects going forward. If you’re serious about email outreach, you need to seriously consider this platform.

Everyone’s use-case is different. So we’ll also look at why Instantly might NOT be the right platform for you.

And I’ll share my ‘wish list’ of things I’d like to see them add to the development roadmap.

Let’s get started!

Built For Outreach Agencies

The founders of Instantly have experience running a successful email outreach agency. And it shows!

As an agency owner I feel like Instantly was created with our biggest pain points in mind.

Instantly offers all the usual features you’d expect to see in a cold email tool. For example, they offer workspaces with unique log-ins so you can keep client contacts separate.

But the biggest innovation that makes them stand out from their competitors is the way they handle account pricing. You can add unlimited email accounts to your campaigns, under a single account.

This is a huge advantage!

Lower Cost To Scale 

I’ve been helping business owners with cold email campaigns for over a decade. And Instantly is one of the first tools to really address the big problem all cold emailers face…

…the problem of scale. 

The more emails you send per email account, the less likely they are to be delivered.

If you send 20 emails a day from one account they’ll probably get inboxed. But if you try sending 200 emails a day from one account, your messages will go to the spam folder.

In the past we could ‘sort-of’ solve this problem by purchasing multiple accounts. But other cold emailing tools charge per account. So it gets expensive, fast! 

Also our data isn’t shared between accounts. Which creates duplication issues and other data management challenges.

Instantly solves all this. 

For a flat monthly fee you can add as many email accounts as you’d like. Which means there’s (almost) no incremental cost to scaling your email campaigns.

Better Email Delivery With Rotating Accounts

Instantly Rotating Accounts

Aside from cost, using multiple email addresses has a huge impact on delivery. So you can send a large volume of email with little impact on your sender reputation.

Say you want to contact 300 people a day. One email address can’t handle that many cold messages without being blacklisted. 

With Instantly you can set up multiple emails across multiple domains to spread the load. For example, you could set up 5 domains with 2 email addresses each. So each email address will only send 30 messages a day. Which is well within safe sending thresholds.

Personally, I like to be really conservative with our email domains. Every domain has a maximum of 2 email accounts.

And each account has a daily email sending limit of 10 – 12 emails per day.

These constraints mean our domains and email addresses are always safe. The volume is just too small to attract notice.

But the TOTAL volume is significant. With just 5 domains (10 email addresses) we can send over 2400 messages a month (5 domains x 2 email addresses x 20 days).

Every month I create a new domain, and create 2 new email accounts. I add them to the warming tool, and let them warm up for 30 days before adding them to a campaign.

This approach means we always have new, fully warmed emails available for use.

And we can scale our campaigns at a moment’s notice with no concern about hurting our domain reputation.

The Reply-To & Unibox Features

Instantly Reply-To Feature

Instantly also makes response management a breeze.

Imagine you’ve got 30 email addresses sending out emails. Ordinarily your responses will be fragmented across all 30 inboxes . Which is a nightmare to manage. Who wants to check 30 inboxes several times a day!?

Instantly solved this issue in a couple of ways. First, they offer a Reply-To option. When your prospects reply, the responses are sent to a single email address. So you only need to set up a single email account – very simple!

Instantly also provides a ‘Unibox’ where all your email responses are received and categorized. This puts all your replies in a single place. And you can reply to your interested prospects directly from the Unibox. Definitely one of their best features!

Instantly Unibox

Attractive UX & Intuitive Reporting

Cold email tools don’t have to be aesthetically pleasing, but it’s nice when they are. 

Instantly has a very pleasant user experience – it looks great. 

And campaign reporting is very intuitive. You can tell at a glance whether your emails are being seen, and if your response rate is in line with expectations.

The outreach campaign performance chart can be adjusted to view timeframes. And you can even see how many times your message was opened relative to the total number of sends. If your prospects open your emails multiple times, then that’s a good thing!

Instantly UX

A Powerful Email Warmup Tool

These days, many cold email platforms offer an email warmup tool as part of their offering.

Instantly’s warming process is better than average, boasting several ‘advanced’ features. Several of which aren’t found even in stand-alone email warming tools.

For example, you can choose to warm your domains only on weekdays to appear more natural.

You can decide what percentage of emails are marked as ‘important’.

And you can even use the ‘Read Emulation’ option to make it look as though your warm-up emails are getting human engagement.

At the time this article is being published (March 2023) the email warmup space is going through a major transition period.

Google Mail has made it very clear they’re not keen on email warmup tools. And some of the largest outreach email providers have decided to shutter their email warmup offering. At this point Instantly appears to be unaffected by Google’s decision (which may change). So for now their email warmup tool remains one of the best available. 

Private Tracking Domain

Email outreach tools all offer tracking pixels so you can see whether your target prospect opened your email.

Sounds good (maybe a bit stalkery…?).

But there’s a problem.

Tracking pixels are associated with a domain. And that domain is being used in hundreds or thousands of email outreach campaigns.

You can see where this is going…

These shared tracking pixels aren’t doing your email deliverability any favors. If some of them get their emails marked as spam your email might suffer from a low sender reputation too. Even though you did nothing wrong, you’re using the same domain as people who have been blacklisted.

Instantly allows you to use your own custom email tracking domain. No one else can use it – just you. 

This goes a long way to keeping your sending reputation strong. And keeping your emails out of the spam folder.

I (usually) like to keep open tracking on. So next to multiple rotating emails, this is by far the best feature for me.

Active Facebook Group

When you sign up to Instantly you’ll be invited to explore their learning content. It’s very comprehensive and filled with ideas to improve your email outreach. Well worth taking the time to go through it all.

Beyond that, Instantly has a Youtube channel where they discuss everything related to cold email.

They also have a strong cold email Facebook group. There’s a ton of information that gets shared. And the Instantly team is very receptive to feedback.

I’ve seen a couple of instances where community suggestions were adopted and implemented almost immediately. Which is incredible for any development team. 

Other Cool Features

Instantly has lots of other cool features, with varying degrees of utility.

Spintax: One thing I love is the ability to use spintax. Spintax just refers to words or phrases that are different. But where the underlying meaning isn’t changed. For example, {Random | Hi| Hello | Hey} {FirstName}. Using spintax can potentially help you get better inbox placement. Since your copy is different for every message you send.

BCC Option: The option to send yourself a copy of the message via BCC is really useful. For example you could send the contact to your CRM. Or just use it to track your daily sends across multiple campaigns.

Deliverability Score: One of their best tools is a simple deliverability score that checks whether your email is set up correctly (SPF, DKIM, etc). And assigns you a deliverability score out of 100. It’s not a huge innovation, but it’s a nice added benefit.  

Provider Matching: Most people won’t use this feature, but it highlights how serious Instantly is about taking email deliverability to the next level. Provider matching is when you can send emails from your Gmail hosted emails to Gmail hosted recipients. And use Outlook hosted domains to contact prospects also using Outlook. The idea is that these providers are less likely to block emails originating within their own network. 

Who Should Consider an Instantly Alternative?

Instantly does deliverability better than any other tool on the market – bar none.

But that doesn’t mean they’re the perfect solution for YOU. There are lots of factors to consider.

One reason you might consider a tool other than Instantly is if you plan to take a multi-channel approach to your outreach.

Multi-Channel Outreach

For example, say you want to contact your prospect via cold email to start. Then follow up with a LinkedIn connection. And round out the contact cycle with a cold call. 

For sales cadences like these, it’s easier to use a tool that’s built for this purpose. You can set up a workflow that incorporates tasks that need to be completed (ie a cold call). And check off the tasks one by one. And that’s something Instantly can’t do yet.

My Wishlist For Instantly’s Roadmap

Instantly campaign management & delivery works really, really well.

But lead management is kinda… meh.

So going forwards I’d love to see the development team allocate more resources to making it easier to manage contacts.

Here are a few suggestions for areas to develop:

Senders need to check messages before they go out. But in Instantly there’s no email queue or calendar. So you never know which of your contacts are next in line to be contacted.

Instantly does a great job of previewing the campaign as a whole. But we can’t really preview the individual contacts in the campaign. So we can’t see how the text looks for the individual users.

Without the ability to review individual contacts, it’s very difficult to add new contacts to an existing campaign. What if your new CSV file has an error in the header? The column will be skipped and you’ll never know.

Instantly has a blocklist function, but it’s a bit cumbersome. Ideally we could add contacts to a blocklist at a campaign level AND / OR at an account level, directly from the lead status menu.

Changes like these take time but Instantly has demonstrated their commitment to making the best cold email tool possible. Hopefully we’ll see some of these changes implemented.

Instantly Review Summary – Give It A Try

You’ll be glad you did!

Instantly isn’t the most well-rounded tool I’ve ever worked with. But it’s ideal for sending increasing amounts of email volume, without risking your outreach domains.

Are there any outreach tools you recommend? Let me know! Send me a message on our Contact Page, or hit me up on LinkedIn.

 

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Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray is the Managing Director of Sales Higher. He knows any company can THRIVE with enough qualified sales leads. So he’s spent the last decade helping companies meet engaged prospects and win new deals.

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