Each day, email marketers must think outside the box, since it’s the only way their emails will reach target customers. Luckily, email is still the top digital marketing channel, 61% of consumers still prefer to be contacted by brands through this medium, and 72% of people prefer promotional content from emails when compared to 17% who prefer social media. What does this mean for you? You have a huge opportunity to reach your audience and convert those subscribers into loyal customers. But are your customers actually receiving your emails? Spam filters are becoming smarter, helping people receive the emails they want. Because of this, your emails as a marketer have to offer content people enjoy and want to read, and this is where email deliverability comes into play. If you’re new to email marketing, one of the most important areas to focus on is deliverability—that is, making sure recipients actually see your messages. To do that, you may need to spend some time building up the reputation of your IP address and making sure you’ve done everything possible to avoid being labeled a spammer. » Free Bonus: Click here to learn about the ways you can encourage interested people to opt in.
What is email deliverability?
Deliverability is an email’s ability to reach the inbox. In fact, it’s the make-it-or-break-it aspect of your entire email marketing campaign, if you’re hoping to actively engage with your audience. By monitoring important metrics like bounce rates, open rates, click-through rates, and spam complaints, marketers are able to infer the audience’s engagement and activity levels for a deeper understanding of deliverability and where to improve for future campaigns. When it comes to deliverability, engagement is crucial because it directly impacts your sender reputation. A poor sender reputation can have a negative impact on whether your emails are successfully delivered to your subscribers or sent to the spam folder. To build a positive sending reputation, consider the following:
- Send emails to subscribers who opted-in and gave you permission to communicate with them. Avoid purchasing lists from a third party who has no expressed interest in receiving your emails.
- Emailing consistently ensures you have an active sending history. If you haven’t emailed your subscribers in more than 12 months, you will experience low engagement rates and could even be denied by your email service provider.
- Send targeted and personalized emails that offer your subscribers value and is relevant to their own life. By sending dynamic content, you can see a 13% increase in conversions and open rates.
Why should I care about email deliverability?
When you send snail mail, you can usually ensure deliverability by writing the correct address legibly and using the right postage. But ESPs and ISPs are a bit trickier, using engagement, consistency, and responses to gauge the relevancy of emails before allowing them into the inbox. If you’re not doing everything in your power to ensure good deliverability numbers, your metrics could be skewed, and you could miss out on subscribers who actually want to hear from you.
Scrub your email list often
Sometimes emails that fail to be delivered happen through no fault of your own. A wrong email address or outdated list can stop emails from arriving at their intended destination. Plus, invalid addresses may potentially harm your reputation as a sender. Therefore, it’s ideal to practice proper email list hygiene and scrub it regularly. Performing consistent list hygiene is a great way to not only improve your sender reputation, but it also ensures you’re only contacting subscribers who want to hear from you. When it comes to email list size, more is not always better. To maintain an effective list, it is recommended that you scrub your email list at least every quarter. To do this, consider automatically sending re-engagement campaigns. If people don’t respond, remove them from your list. Here is a list of email addresses every email marketer should try and avoid having on their email list:
Invalid or duplicate email addresses
Before you add an email address to your list, confirm it is a working one. You can do this by requiring double opt-in from your subscribers. Performing an email checklist for invalid email addresses is a must-do for every email marketing campaign.
If a subscriber has unsubscribed from your email campaign, make sure you have the address removed immediately. Sending emails to people who have opted to unsubscribe from your list will mar your reputation as a sender. And remember, never buy or scrap an email list; it’s unethical and can cause numerous issues.
There are two types of email bounces—hard bounce and soft bounce. Hard bounces are those that cannot be delivered permanently (e.g. incorrect or deleted email addresses). Such email addresses should be deleted immediately as it affects a sender’s reputation. Soft bounces, on the other hand, are those that have not been delivered due to some temporary problem (like a full mailbox). Soft bounces don’t need to be deleted immediately but have to be closely watched. If it continues to bounce, the address should be removed as the address can be inactive. Source: Really Good Emails
Disengaged email recipients
If your contact has not shown much interest in your email, or they’ve stopped opening or clicking through, take a good look at them. Low engagement rates are a clear signal to spam filters that your subscribers are uninterested in your content and brand. Try sending re-engagement campaigns where you ask for their specific feedback to determine their interests or needs, which you can then tailor your emails to suit their needs. Even after a re-engagement campaign, if your contact remains disinterested, then that email address needs to go. Source: Campaign Monitor Additionally, here are a few questions you can ask to find out how often your email list needs a thorough scrubbing:
- Where did you obtain your original email addresses from? This could be from subscribers who have opted-in, or someone who has passed on your information, or someone who visited your website or from an older database. If you have followed a good opt-in process and have verified the addresses before saving it to your database, you are assured of their validity and can reduce the frequency of email scrubbing.
- How often do you send out emails? If you send out an email every month, having a quarterly scrub is more than enough to maintain a clean list. But, if you send in emails only bi-monthly or once in three months or more, a list scrubbing is necessary to rule out invalid addresses each time you send your emails.
- How often do you get bounces? If you’re encountering more bounces than before you should be scrubbing your list more frequently. Sometimes you may find more invalid addresses in a random scrub. If so, it is highly recommended that you reduce the intervals between your email scrubbing.
Creating trust in your IP address
Internet service providers protect their email clients from spam and malicious emails by blocking suspicious messages and diverting some emails into the spam folder. If your IP address has been mostly inactive and then sends out 10,000 emails at once, ISPs are likely to flag your IP address as a machine sending spam. To build the trustworthiness of your IP address, start off with a small email marketing campaign. Warm your IP address for best results. Increasing your recipient list over time will help ISPs recognize you as a legitimate sender. If your company has only one IP address, and everyone uses that for company email, personal email and checking Facebook, you should strongly consider a dedicated IP address that’s solely for sending marketing emails. If even one employee has a weak personal password and a spammer is able to hijack their email account, that employee—and by association, your company—may be flagged as a spammer.
Using the double opt-in
When people sign-up on your website for your newsletter, ask them to verify their subscription by sending a follow-up email with a link they must click to activate their subscription. This double opt-in process ensures that all of the email addresses you collect are valid—if someone incorrectly types their email address, they’ll never receive the opt-in message, and you won’t be sending an email to the wrong person.
Simplifying the unsubscribe process
If people no longer want to receive your emails, they should be able to easily unsubscribe from your mailing list—and if they can’t, they might label your messages as spam, or apply a filter that sends all of your messages to the trash can. Every email you send should contain an obvious, clickable “unsubscribe” link. You could also consider offering subscribers a way to modify the frequency of your email communication. Maybe they just want to see less mail from you, instead of none at all.
Develop consistent, relevant content
While growing a permission-based email list is important, so is the type of content that you send and how often you communicate with your audience. The longer you wait to send an email to your subscribers, you run the risk of losing that first-impression with your audience and lowering your sender reputation. To avoid this, automate a welcome series that speaks to who you are and how you can solve your subscriber’s problems with your services. After the welcome email is sent, start communicating with your audience frequently. This can be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Source: Really Good Emails
Use clear subject lines
Your subject line is your email’s first impression and will affect whether or not your subscriber clicks through. Optimize your subject lines to make them more exciting to readers:
- Avoid dull subject lines by using a hook
- Personalize subject lines (even for promotions!)
If so much of deliverability depends on the behavior of the sender, and if all legitimate ESPs have similar technical controls in place to hold up their end of deliverability, then what’s the difference among email vendors, anyway? In Delivra’s case, the difference is experience. As one of the original email companies, going back to 1999, we have the expertise to diagnose your deliverability concerns. And our high standards cause us to turn away questionable clients whose sending practices–while they may be perfectly legal–are so poorly advised that they impact our ability to deliver mail on behalf of our customers who are committed to doing it right. If you’re ready to supercharge your email deliverability and avoid the spam folder, give Delivra a try. We offer a full suite of email marketing and automation tools that help you reach more subscribers.