The Best Cold Email Service Provider To Send Cold Outreach
If you’re starting out sending cold emails, then you’ve got a tough decision to make. One that has long-term ramifications for your sales results. And where there isn’t ‘perfect’ information available to make the right choice.
You have a lot of options but they all have pros and cons. And there’s no room for a mistake because you need to make your outreach campaign delivery as close to perfect as possible.
In this article we’ll demystify the best cold email service providers for your situation. So you can get a strong delivery, avoid the spam box. and feel confident about your cold email hosting.
Why Cold Email Hosting Matters
When you send a cold email, delivery is everything. Messages that don’t get delivered don’t get read. And they certainly don’t get a reply.
Your cold email service provider forms the underlying architecture of your email campaigns. Just like your website needs a company to host it, you need a cold email host to send email sequences.
If your email host has a bad reputation (or other problem) then your emails won’t be delivered. And that’s bad.
Choosing A Cold Email Service Provider Is Hard
With all the information available on the internet, you’d think choosing a cold email host would be pretty straightforward. Just look at what other people use and do the same.
Unfortunately it’s not that simple.
First, everyone has a different budget, and costs matter. If you’re generating lots of sales, optimizing your cold email hosting probably makes sense.
But if you aren’t, then you need to be aware that the cost of sending cold email can start to add up, depending on your cold email service provider.
the rules of the game are changing VERY quickly
I can’t emphasize this point enough.
To illustrate, in early 2023 Zoho was one of the best cold email providers. Few other ESP’s offered multiple account hosting for a low fixed price. And because of the value they offered, Zoho attracted a lot of businesses doing cold outreach.
Eleven short months later no one uses Zoho any more. Zoho aggressively bans anyone using their email servers for outreach campaigns. And the sales community has moved on to other options.
Technology and ESP permissions move very, very quickly in cold outreach. So stay flexible and accept the fact that you may need to change from time to time.
The Only Two ESPs That Matter For B2B
There are hundreds of ESPs that serve the business community. But only two of them really matter – Google and Microsoft. They’re the biggest players in business email services. And for larger companies (ie more than 50 staff) their share of market makes them basically an oligopoly.
Take a look at the image below.
In this snapshot, 80% of the target prospects use either Google Workplaces or Outlook for their email hosting. And these are small companies.
Overall, the two main business ESPs account for about 50% of business email.
So why does this even matter?
Well, ESPs are believed to have a slight bias towards delivery within their own network.
Which means if you’re paying for Google Workspaces, your delivery to a fellow Google Workspace user might be better than if you weren’t.
The same is true for Microsoft 365 users. If you are sending to other Outlook accounts, your delivery will probably be a bit improved.
This is why some cold email platforms will even allow you to set up email addresses with multiple cold email service providers. And then they’ll match the sending account ESP with the receiving account ESP.
What’s The Catch?
If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve probably figured out that either Google Workspaces or Microsoft 365 (Outlook) are the right ESP for you.
Well you’ll be in good company. Quickmail reported 94.5% of their members use one of these two options (mostly Google).
So why would anyone consider another option?
The main reason is cost. Both tools run around US$6 per user per month. If you’re using 10 – 20 unique email addresses per month then that’s a $60 – $120 expense per month. For agencies with hundreds of client accounts that expense goes into the thousands quickly.
Another BIG reason to consider alternatives to Google and Microsoft is the likelihood of getting banned.
Google (in particular) is increasingly closer to a ‘zero tolerance‘ attitude towards cold email.
In early 2023 Google abruptly announced it would ban email warmup tools at cold email platforms that use Google API. This was a kick in the teeth for email tools that spent ungodly amounts on product development and integration with Google services.
At the end of 2023 Google (and Yahoo mail) further announced their plans to tighten up on spam in early 2024. Most businesses won’t be directly affected by these changes. But it does suggest Google’s ‘latitude’ towards cold email may be in its final days.
Anecdotally, we are seeing an increase in people who complain that Google has paused their mail accounts on the basis of getting too many complaints.
So if you decide to skip Outlook or Google, what are your other options?
You’ve got several.
Shared Hosting For Cold Email Campaigns
One option is to use your website host to send your email sequences. This works best when your daily volume is quite low so you don’t attract adverse attention.
Shared Hosting Pros: The nice thing about shared hosting is other companies are using the same IP address so you get an average reputation of the other senders. If you’re sending a relatively small number of messages, your impact will be negligible.
The other advantage of shared hosting is cost. You’re already paying to host your website so the incremental cost is $0 in most cases.
Shared Hosting Cons: There’s a reason most marketers don’t use shared hosting to send email cadences. First, it’s against the terms of business for most shared hosting companies. If they get too many complaints they may discontinue your service.
Second, most shared hosting companies use technologies like MailChannels to ensure the quality of outbound email is high. If you get too many complaints the system will automatically block your messages from being sent.
Finally, since you are on a shared server you are somewhat at the mercy of other users. If some idiot decides to send 1000 emails an hour then their negative reputation becomes your own (at least until your IP gets rotated).
Using VPS As A Cold Email Service Provider
Another option is to use a virtual private server (VPS) to send your cold emails.
VPS Pros: The nice thing about VPS is that you have absolute control over your server environment (including email). Also, prices can be very affordable as Cloud VPS costs continue to drop.
VPS Cons: The biggest challenge with VPS is technical know-how. The expertise barriers are high enough that it’s not a practical option for the vast majority of sales and marketing professionals.
Some hosting companies offer semi-dedicated hosting as a compromise between inflexible shared hosting and a completely open VPS environment.
Semi-Dedicated hosting offers the best of both worlds. If you are considering shared hosting, consider paying a bit more for semi-dedicated hosting. You’ll get more control over your email, and your website will load faster, too.
Some semi-dedicated hosting solutions come with a dedicated IP address. In this case you’re entirely responsible for your own IP reputation, which can be a double-edged sword. Many sales professionals recommend NOT using a private IP for cold email because it’s hard to build enough volume to achieve a solid reputation. And since your messages are cold your IP reputation may not always be high.
SMTP Email Campaign Tools
Another possible option is using SMTP email marketing tools. Examples of these include:
And many, many others.
These solutions are designed for opt-in email newsletters and transactional emails. They are NOT intended for outreach campaigns. And using them as such almost certainly violates their terms of service.
That said, most of them can be connected to your cold email platform of choice.
Emerging Cold Email Hosting Solutions
While there are dozens of opt-in email hosting solutions, there are few cold email service providers. While this is not surprising, it does leave a hole in the email hosting market.
We’re slowly starting to see that hole get filled with some niche solutions. Recently Maildoso started to provide services aimed at replacing Google Workspace for sales professionals. As more tools like this emerge the eco-system for cold email hosting will improve.
How Do You Send Cold Email Campaigns?
How about you? What email hosting do you use to send outreach email sequences?
Any problems or changes you’ve noticed in the past 6 months?