Maximizing the Deliverability of your Documents with Email Whitelisting

Making sure your documents land in your clients’ inboxes and not their spam/junk folders ensures you have the best possible chance of closing the deal

Business documents are pretty useless if they end up in your clients’ junk or spam. We’ve all been there - you check in with your client to ask them if they’ve received your proposal or quote and they tell you they haven’t. You then have to ask them the inevitable question of:

”Did you check your spam and junk folders?”

It’s awkward, it looks unprofessional, and it doesn’t get the working relationship off to a good start. Imagine sending a proposal for running an email marketing campaign for your client and you can’t even make a simple email land in their inbox. It happens far more often than you might think.

So, this guide, or the Bible of anti-spam awesomeness, will gear you up so you’ve got all the tools and knowledge to make sure you’ve done everything in your power to get your proposals into your clients inbox.

Whitelisting your email domain

What is whitelisting?

Whitelisting your email domain essentially confirms the incoming email is coming directly from your domain. With Better Proposals, you’re sending documents through a third-party system. This means that, when you initially set up your account, the origin of the document email can’t be determined if your email domain isn’t whitelisted.

Why is it important?

By whitelisting your email domain, you’re giving your client's email server the green light that the email is legitimate and not some malicious bot trying to get you to download malware. Think of email whitelisting as a VIP pass to your recipient's inbox.

How do you do it?

First, you need to log into your account and click Settings > Email Whitelisting > Whitelist a domain. Insert your domain and click on Whitelist my domain. Once you’ve done that, a set of 3 CNAME records will be generated and you’ll need to add these records to your DNS.

If you’re not sure how to add CNAME records to your DNS, we’ve got an article here which has quite a few common hosting companies. When you click on your provider, it’ll take you to their help article on how to make DNS changes in your account. If your provider is not listed, simply contact their support, send them the records and they should be able to add them for you without any issues.

Once they’ve added the records, click Verify - all three records should go green and that’s it. You’re whitelisted and ready to rock and roll.


Why Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo can’t be whitelisted

The reason you can’t whitelist email providers like Gmail is because you don’t own the Gmail domain. Because of that, you don’t have access to the DNS setup to add the CNAME records that we mentioned earlier - you can only whitelist the domains that you own.

Pitfalls with using Gmail and other providers

While we won’t stop you from using Better Proposals with Gmail/Hotmail domains, it’s important to be aware of the consequences of not using your own business domain (a domain which you own). Quite simply, if you can’t whitelist email providers like Gmail, then you have no other means of avoiding your documents landing in spam/junk or worse, blocked entirely. You’re at the mercy of your clients’ spam filters which, in this day and age, are quite strict in terms of emails that can’t be verified.

What to do if you don’t have a domain

If you don’t own a domain, buying one is a very quick and easy process. A couple of decent sites which you can buy cheap domains from are 123-reg and GoDaddy. You can search the domain name and see if it’s available to buy for as little as $1 for the first year. There are, of course, monthly hosting costs on top of that, but those can be as little as $3/month per email.

Optimizing your document email

So, here we are - you’ve spent blood, sweat, and tears perfecting your document and you’re about to send it. Your email is whitelisted, so you’re bulletproof, right? Not quite.

While email whitelisting is paramount in terms of maximizing the deliverability of your documents, there’s still plenty you can do wrong at this stage and light up your email like a Christmas tree for your client’s spam filter.

Make sure you’re not making any of the following mistakes and you’ll have done everything you can to ensure your documents get delivered without any issues.

But first, a quick little exercise...

Before we go into the list, I've got a small task for you so you can gauge where your current anti-spam radar is at.

I want you to take a look at the screenshot of a proposal email below and see how many mistakes you can count.

Just make a mental note or write it somewhere on a bit of paper if you like. It’s not a test so don’t stress over it, but try and do this before reading the checklist below. You can have another go later on once you’ve gone through the checklist, and we’ll reveal the answer at the bottom of this article.

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Your anti-spam checklist

The general idea behind any of your email content is to sound as much of a human and less of a bot as possible.

1. Good subject line

The subject field is probably one of the most important aspects of your email. This is the primary content that will get checked so, if you fail here, nothing you do inside your email content is going to make a difference. You need to make this as clean as possible and steer clear of any spammy buzzwords. HubSpot have written an awesome article that breaks these down by industry and scenario if you want to go through your content with a fine-tooth comb.

2. Using a personal email rather than a generic, team one

Emails coming from sales@ or contact@ are not only hurting your deliverability, but also removing that personalized approach that makes the experience more warm and relatable for your client. You want your client to feel comfortable and get the sense that a person is trying to help them with their problem.

3. Email content too long

This isn’t so much about long emails getting flagged, it’s the fact that the longer your email is, the more chance you’ve got of using spammy phrases. Also, keep in mind that this email isn’t designed to sell. The selling is in the proposal, so get your clients in there as quickly as possible and keep the unnecessary waffle to a minimum.

4. Email content too short

If you can go too big, you can certainly go too small. It’s pretty self explanatory, but you need to actually put something in the email, not just have an empty email or a quick “Here you go”. Remember, you want to come across as human, so tell them you’re excited to work with them and you’re there if they have any questions.

5. Mentioning pricing

Mentioning any form of pricing in your email is probably one of the biggest spam risks. Spam bots tend to try and get you to send them money for some form of service, so don’t allude to any costs. Apart from it being spam-worthy, that is most certainly information that should be inside the proposal itself.

6. Alluding to any ‘offers’, ‘deals’ or ‘discounts’

Creating a sense of urgency can work, but it’s a method that’s been overused in the sales world and, of course, replicated by those pesky bots. If you do want to create any urgency or mention any reduction in pricing, save that for the proposal itself.

7. Telling your client to “Click the link”

As mentioned earlier on in this article, the idea behind spam bots is to get you to click a link in the email which will most likely download some form of malware to your device and give them access to your personal data.

Now, that’s not the case when your clients click the link in our document emails, but their spam filters don’t know that. When they see a link in the email and the content urging you to click the button, they put two and two together and game over.

The button in the email is very obvious, so you don’t need to give them a call to action to click the link. Instead, you could try softening it a little and say something like “You can view our proposal below” rather than directly mentioning the action of clicking the link.


Apart from looking a bit unprofessional (unless done right), slapping something like URGENT! ACTION REQUIRED in the subject line or email content is a sure-fire way of getting flagged. Use capitals sparingly, if at all. There’s rarely a good reason to use them to any great effect, so steer clear unless you have Jedi mastery in using capitals in your email content.

9. "Free"

Similar to mentioning anything about offers or deals. Trying to upsell your client in the email with anything “free” is A) not the place to do it and B) potentially flaggable as that “free” thing is usually one of those nasty attachments from those pesky bots.

10. Know who you're emailing

Starting your email with “Hey there!” or “Hi Sir/Madam” only increases your chances of getting flagged. Instead, do the legwork, find out who the decision maker is, and address them directly - it will come across much nicer.

11. Descriptions/Adjectives/Selling

Continuing the theme of including content that should be inside the proposal itself, you’ve got to try and steer clear of over-explaining your product/service in your document email. Your potential clients should be primed and expecting your proposal, so you shouldn’t need to be going into detail at this stage. Get them inside that proposal instead and you can lay it on them as thick as you want.

12. Adding testimonials

We’ve worked hard to enable you to add testimonials with ease and make them look stunning inside your documents with image backgrounds and font styling. Adding them into your document email in plain text reduces the aesthetics of how the testimonials are presented. At the end of the day, it’s just unnecessary fluff delaying clients from clicking on the document link.

That’s about it - not a crazy long list. You could certainly dig down with each of these areas and explore them extensively, but at least you’ve got an idea of where to start if you find your deliverbilty isn’t up to scratch despite being whitelisted.

How many can you spot now?

Hopefully, your eyes have been opened a bit more to all the potential pitfalls when writing your email content. Before you go, let’s see how many more spammable issues you can spot in our example now..

Click and hold image below to reveal where all potential issues are with this email.


Hope this helps and, if you find you’re still having deliverability issues with your documents after accounting for all of the above, get in touch with support - we’ll do our best to help in any way we can :)

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