Guest post by Chris Tweten.
When you launch an email marketing campaign, you can look back on all the hard work that you’ve put into crafting each email message and smile. It’s time to send them and begin to receive replies. But what if those emails never see the light of day again, and end their lives in a spam filter or junk folder? You’ve done all that work for nothing.
Email deliverability matters, and improving it should be near the top of your agenda.
Email Deliverability Explained
Put simply, email deliverability is the measurement defining the likelihood an email you send is going to be received by a recipient’s inbox. There’s no clear guidance on what makes an email message more deliverable, but there are a number of contributing factors known to result in better deliverability. Each email message is evaluated on an individual basis by ISPs and email providers, so one email might be delivered successfully and another won’t be.
Email Deliverability Factors
It’s clear that email deliverability is worth paying attention to. Of the hundreds of billions of emails sent daily, over 300 billion will end up in spam folders. The majority of these will be actual spam, but many will be genuine campaigns that failed to consider email deliverability.
Here are six of the core factors that determine how deliverable an email is:
Bounce Rate: Emails bounce when you attempt to send them to an address that doesn’t exist or is no longer active. This can happen because of an error in the email address, either on your end or what was submitted to you; a website visitor gave you a fake email address; or someone left a company, and the email address they provided is no longer valid. In any case, bouncing emails are bad, and a high bounce rate is seen as an indicator that you’re trying to send spam to a large, outdated, possibly dodgy list. Spam messages have a far higher chance of ending up in junk mail folders.
Spam Filters: Almost all email systems or providers have spam filters as part of their core service. The spam filter scans the email content and instantly redirects any that look like they’re spam. It will scan for images, links, and the actual wording. Certain words that convey urgency or are hard-selling words are the main culprits, such as free, buy now, and act fast.
IP Address Rating: Every IP address in the world has a spam rating. The ratings are assigned and stored by providers. If an IP has been flagged as sending spam, almost all emails from it will end up in junk mail. Once this “accolade” has been achieved, there’s not a lot one can do to fix it.
You’re Not Using Email Warm-up: Email warmup is especially important for accounts that haven’t run campaigns before, but is significant for all accounts serious about email deliverability. Most email addresses don’t send significant amounts of mail, so if you suddenly launch a campaign that sends hundreds or thousands of emails, it will look like you’ve been hacked by spammers and had your account hijacked. Email warmup mimics the natural process of slowly ramping up email send volume so your email address doesn’t get flagged as a source of spam.
Poorly Selected Images: Images aren’t great for deliverability, and huge images that make up the majority of the email are often seen as spam. Use compressed images and make sure your message makes sense even without them (as some recipients will block images), or even try to avoid them altogether to improve deliverability.
Manual Marking: Manual marking is when a user selects your email and marks it as spam. You can’t really avoid this except to be sure that you’re sending genuinely helpful, valuable, personalized email content. No one likes getting email messages addressed to “Hi there” or “Hey.” Be sure to include a clear unsubscribe button to allow users to stop receiving your emails if they no longer want them.
Improving Email Deliverability: Five Methods
Email deliverability matters. Paying attention to the factors above is important, but there are many other ways to improve it.
Use Double Opt-In
An effective way to reduce the number of invalid emails in your list is to ensure that those added to it have to opt-in multiple times. It’s not unusual to have automatic validation for many lists, where a new joiner is sent an email with a link that verifies their email address when clicked.
Using double opt-in ensures the email address is valid, meaning your future marketing will arrive in their inbox, but also reduces your bounce rate, further improving deliverability.
Make Unsubscription Straightforward
Sending users through a labyrinth just to unsubscribe from your email list isn’t just annoying, it’s seen as a spam tactic. Understand that, at some point, some users just won’t want to receive emails from you anymore and those users should be able to sever ties without having to jump through hoops.
Provide a simple link at the bottom of your email messages so they can unsubscribe. Without one, you risk them trying to force your emails to spam by manually marking them. Plus for most countries, clear unsubscribe options are a legal requirement.
Segment Your Email Lists
It can be tempting to send the same email message to everyone on your list; after all, the larger the net the more fish you’re likely to catch. But this isn’t always the case, especially in email marketing.
By segmenting your email lists into smaller groups, you’re able to share far more personalized information and target your content and offers more narrowly. More valuable and relevant emails are far better received, far less likely to be marked as spam, and will lead to a far greater number of conversions.
Only Send to Engaged Recipients
Don’t pay too much attention to the overall number of people on your list. If you do, it’s easy to make that top-line number a key metric, and that means you’re far less likely to remove inactive users from your list.
Inactive users are those who have stopped engaging with your campaigns. These people are no longer interested in what you have to say, so you can save them the trouble and just remove them from your list. It keeps your whole list engaged and improves your open rates, which, in turn, increases your deliverability.
If it’s too painful to remove those names directly, at least send out a “Do you still want to hear from us?” message to inactive subscribers. Many will unsubscribe themselves at that point, but others may actual re-engage with your content.
Don’t Switch Aliases
Email aliases (e.g., email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org) are an incredibly useful tool, especially when multiple users are accessing one inbox. But they’re not useful for sending large email campaigns.
All deliverability rates are attributed to the primary email account anyway, so there’s no hiding from the true numbers. Emails that appear to come from one account but are actually from another are a sure way to trigger spam filters.
If you’re running marketing email campaigns on a regular basis, and particularly cold email outreach campaigns, you have to pay attention to email deliverability. Ensuring that your emails are likely to be delivered justifies all the hard work of crafting the campaign. What’s more, it means your campaign will produce better results, a happier audience, and more conversions.
- Email warmup is an absolute must-do for all email accounts.
- Always consider what the audience actually wants to receive. Make your campaign valuable and useful for them.
- Use list segmentation and message personalization to deliver the right messages to the right recipients.
- Give users an escape route by ensuring unsubscription is an easy process.