As email marketers, you’re likely in constant search for how to improve your email deliverability. Preparing for success doesn’t end with following basic email marketing best practices. Before you hit send, make sure there’s little to no chance your emails go straight to junk folders.
Your email campaigns won’t make inboxes if your content still ends up flagged as spam. Emails that don’t arrive don’t get read, and unopened emails mean less revenue.
What exactly is email deliverability?
Let’s clear up a misconception: Email deliverability is different from email delivery. The latter happens when your email reaches its receiving servers successfully. Email deliverability is when your email actually appears in people’s inboxes. In other words, good email delivery doesn’t guarantee good deliverability.
Each email you send that’s marked as spam–or outright blocked–pulls down your email deliverability rate.
Get technical with these anti-spam solutions
There are technical practices that can have far-reaching effects on improving your email deliverability, such as:
Using the correct Sender Policy Framework record: Assure internet service providers (ISPs) of your identity by implementing an updated SPF record, making them more likely to deliver your message to the inbox.
Setting up DomainKeys Identified Mail authentication: DKIM is a method that legitimizes a sender’s email address, preventing third-party spoofing.
Checking DNS-based blacklists: If you find yourself featured in one, you can take steps to remove your IP from the list. Most blacklist companies will provide information to help you with this once you contact them.
If these sound intimidating to you, don’t worry. You can start enhancing your email campaigns right now and increase your email deliverability by doing what you already know. Work on these more advanced steps later on.
Try these 9 easy fixes
Time to get down to business. At this point, you may look for third-party tools to assess your email sender score and help pinpoint which components of your email campaigns to strengthen first. Think of this as a credit score for email marketers.
Next, we’ll focus on easy fixes email marketers (new and experienced alike) can accomplish.
1. Add a double opt-in feature to your email subscriptions.
This is sometimes called a confirmed opt-in, It’s not only a good practice but it’s also compliant with multiple laws. This feature sets up an activation email for users to verify their subscription.
This prevents adding bogus or inactive email addresses to your list, particularly when email signups are part of a promotion or contest. Think of it as the beginning of an engagement pattern between you and interested subscribers.
Source: Really Good Emails
A double opt-in gives new subscribers a chance to confirm they want your content. This feature can help lower your bounce rate and increase your open rates.
2. Don’t buy email lists.
Purchasing an email list is never (ever) a good idea. If your subscriber list is full of people that didn’t opt-in voluntarily, they may ignore your emails–or worse, mark them as spam.
Many email service providers also count list-buying as a violation of their terms of service and grounds for account termination. It also goes against the 2016 General Data Protection Regulation. You risk developing a bad reputation with your audience, and you might not have the means to execute your email campaigns.
3. Segment email campaigns and reach out to your most engaged subscribers first.
This practice builds your IP’s credibility in the eyes of your subscribers' ISPs. Start your campaigns by sending out a small batch of emails to your most engaged and loyal subscribers–the ones that are most likely to open your message the moment it arrives.
After this, you can send the rest in similarly small and targeted batches. A flood of non-targeted emails can frustrate your subscribers and make your messages as good as spam to them, no matter how hard you worked on your content. Consider segmenting your email list by purchase history, location or demographic.
4. Allow subscribers to manage preferences or unsubscribe hassle-free.
Giving your audience a way to update their subscriber preferences at will–through well-placed footer links or targeted reminder emails–can provide you ample information for list segmentation. It can also inform how to improve your email deliverability. When your subscribers only receive the kinds of emails they want from you, your metrics will be better for it.
Source: Really Good Emails
In the same vein, you should make unsubscribing easy. Place an unsubscribe link in a conspicuous spot on every email you send. You want to avoid people getting bothered by your opt-out process and deciding to mark everything you send as spam.
5. Include your brand in the email sender name.
Personalizing your email sender name while keeping your brand name visible–like “Joe from Brand A” or “Jane from Brand B,” for example–not only helps with email deliverability but it also complies with the CAN-SPAM Act. Also be sure to add your company address to the email footer.
The point here: Assure your subscribers of the truth–one or more hardworking humans are behind your email campaigns, and not robots or scammers.
6. Use only high-quality email subject lines.
One of the best ways to drive your email campaigns’ engagement is to use good email subject lines. This figurative act of putting your best foot forward is an integral part of improving email deliverability.
What’s the worst that can happen when you send out emails with poorly written subject lines? Unread or deleted emails are typical. What’s worrying is subscribers can assume the worst and report your emails as spam—especially if the subject line contains one or more common spam words.
7. Prune your email list from time to time.
This is as necessary as proper hygiene. Cleaning email lists every six months keeps them healthy, removing the inactive and unengaged members of your email audience. These people may be pulling down your email marketing metrics and holding your email campaigns back from being even bigger successes.
What happens when you don’t prune your email lists? Your bounce rates will skyrocket and even your most well-crafted emails may be mistaken for junk. Both situations lead to a lower email sender score.
You can send a reconfirmation opt-in email to non-responsive subscribers, even adding a link to a preferences setup page.
Source: Really Good Emails
8. Send an appropriate number of emails on a consistent schedule.
Finding the appropriate number in a day or a week is much easier said than done. The perfect schedule for these emails can also take some experimentation to figure out. How to improve your email deliverability rests on these magic numbers–though it’s essential to keep on testing until you uncover the answer.
We can sum up email frequency and sending consistency in two words: “just right.” Too many emails can cause you to lose subscribers or get you placed on a blacklist. Too few emails can kill your audience rapport and brand revenue.
Start small–one email a month–and slowly increase the frequency until you see an adverse reaction from your subscribers. A consistent schedule is also important, as erratic email send patterns are one common sign of spam.
9. Create emails that your subscribers will love.
No pressure... but this is a necessity. Great email marketers will accept this challenge as part of the job, and will strive to outdo themselves. The happier your subscribers are, the more their ISPs will trust your IP.
Create email campaigns not only to generate revenue but also to build relationships with your core audience. In between ads and promotions, send informational messages they will appreciate.
Source: Really Good Emails
This practice isn’t only about content creation, but also layout and presentation. Even the most engaging text can be unreadable with terrible visual design. Take special care to have concise, mobile-friendly coding–and make sure there aren’t too many images in your emails. If needed, add a “view in browser” link.
Email marketers like you are probably always thinking of how to improve your email deliverability. It has a massive impact on the execution and eventual success of your email campaigns. Maintaining a healthy email sender score also practically ensures that your email campaigns are compliant with all applicable laws.
Ask your email marketing platform or service for help regarding the more technical aspects of email deliverability, such as SPF and DKIM.
The rest should mostly fall within email marketing best practices, with a few adjustments here and there.
Here’s how to improve your email deliverability:
Add a double opt-in feature to your email subscriptions.
Don’t buy email lists.
Segment email campaigns and reach out to your most engaged subscribers first.
Allow subscribers to manage preferences or unsubscribe hassle-free.
Include your brand in the email sender name.
Use only high-quality email subject lines.
Prune your email list from time to time.
Send an appropriate number of emails on a consistent schedule.
Create emails that your subscribers will love.
Looking for more tips and tricks to improve and increase the quality of your emails? Here’s a helpful preflight checklist that you can refer to before sending out future email campaigns.
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