Email marketing is the best way to generate leads and retain customers. There is no point in arguing that. The data and the facts all support that statement and no one should be questioning that.
However, all the emails you send will be absolutely useless unless they actually make it to your intended recipient’s inbox. If your emails are not getting delivered to their intended destination, then email marketing is a massive waste of your time and your money.
You have to focus on things like increasing your open rates, spicing up your subject lines, creating engaging content, mastering calls to action and much more, true. But sometimes, people forget to take a moment and think about the underlying factors that affects your email marketing campaign at a fundamental level – Email deliverability.
Email deliverability is, in the simplest of terms, the ability to deliver emails to your subscribers’ inboxes. There are many factors that affect deliverability and a low deliverability score will obviously affect your email marketing campaign negatively.
In this article, we will look at some of the most effective and smartest methods you can implement to improve your campaign’s deliverability.
Prime Your IP
The internet is a vast thing and it can be a chaotic mess at times. To combat this, internet service providers have implemented a large network of internet regulators. Spam filters/spam traps are such regulators and they are constantly on the lookout for any emails that could be considered as spam.
You don’t want to get caught in that. The best way to combat this issue when you are starting out your email marketing campaign is to send out small batches of emails only to subscribers who you can reasonably be certain will engage with your campaign.
By doing this, you can slowly build up a positive IP reputation. As people receive these emails and engage with your brand, the ISP will see this to be a sign of trustworthiness. You can slowly increase the scale of your campaign, send out more and more emails, building and protecting your reputation along the way and continue growing.
Check Your Sender Reputation
One of the biggest factors affecting your emails ability to reach their intended destination is the sender reputation. ISPs are very strict and they will automatically reject any emails that fall below a certain score.
Your sender reputation score is on a scale from 1-100 and you need to make sure it’s as high as possible. This value is affected by a number of things including your open rates, unsubscribes, complaints and spam reports. You need to take measures to protect your sender reputation score to ensure that it doesn’t take critical hits.
Keep a close eye on your sender reputation by using Return Path’s Sender Score and take the necessary measures to ensure that your campaign doesn’t face any issues due to a low sender score.
Send the Right Number of Emails
Here’s the truth: if you send too many emails, you risk alienating your subscribers and earning some well received complaints. If you send too few emails, you revenue will obviously take a hit.
So, the solution is to send the right number of emails. However, while it is easy to just say “send the right number of emails”, the right number will inevitably vary for each company, each campaign, even.
While the exact right number can be found by thorough testing, which will take a long time and a considerable amount of effort, you do have an easier alternative. Stick the general benchmark and start with one email per week. Scale it up two emails per week if you have the quality content to back it up, but as a general guide… don’t go above or below this benchmark. So… send either one or two emails a week. This should keep you in a sweet spot and keep your deliverability score positive.
Have a Schedule
It’s all well and good to say “send either one or two emails a week”. But like everything else in life, it’s not that simple. You can’t just randomly send emails at random times and expect everything to be fine.
If you are sending one email per week and you send this week’s email on Thursday and then send the next week’s email on Monday… You will face problems. One of the biggest reasons for low sender score and IP reputation is an erratic email schedule.
So, instead of sending emails whenever fancy strikes you, create and maintain a regular schedule. You might want to look into optimum times for sending emails and adapt your campaign as necessary.
According to MailChimp’s study into optimum email send times, Tuesdays and Thursdays are good days to send your emails. They even have breakdowns on the optimum times to send emails. Do your research and figure out a schedule that fits the needs of your campaign. Then, do your absolute best to stick to it.
Use Double Opt-ins/Confirmed Opt-ins
The most popular form of opt-in currently is the single opt-in. The user doesn’t do much more than simply check a box in a form to agree to receive an email. In most cases, the box is usually pre-checked and they don’t even have to expend the effort of clicking on it.
While this may seem like the way to go about collecting subscribers, it is not. Often, people don’t even realize they’ve signed up for a email campaign or click on the box just for the sake of it and forget. Later, these users will simply ignore your emails, delete them immediately or in worst case scenarios, lodge a spam complaint against you. Spam complaints are dangerous.
The actual best to gather subscribers and protect against any possible spam complaints is to use double opt-ins, also known as confirmed opt-ins. All it takes is for you to send a confirmation email to your new subscriber so that they can validate their email address again and provide actual consent to be part of your marketing outreach.
Clean Your List
Email lists have a way of growing and growing. This may sound good, but the truth is, a significant portion of your thousands-strong list will be people who don’t engage with your and another portion, just as large, is most likely made up of fake emails and non-existent users. This will ramp up your bounce rates and as a result, your credibility will take a huge hit.
Combat this by cleaning your email list every now and then. While you can go through all your emails, see who hasn’t opened your emails or clicked on your emails and then remove them, the more efficient and effective thing to do is to hire a professional paid service to clean your list for you.
These services come with the advantage of being able to catch any duplicates, possible typos, outdated or inactive domains, do-not-email records, fake email addresses, and other common human errors.
While it may seem a waste to often purge your list of hundreds of emails, you have nothing to lose by getting rid of them. In fact, you will gain something and see a positive impact on your email metrics.
Filter Contest Entry Emails
If you conduct any contests, competitions or giveaways, it is inevitable that people will attempt to enter multiple times by using multiple emails and often outright fake ones. Sometimes, people will not use real emails at all. They just want to take the reward without any real giving on their part.
Competitions and giveaways can be a very effective way to gather a large number of emails and you don’t want your list infested with fake emails and unengaged people. A good method to fight this is to filter this list separately before you add it to your pool of overall subscribers. Employ a professional email list cleaner to do this for you, add it to your list and you will have less to worry about in the future.
Effectively Use the From Field
One of the proven methods to improve open rates is to use either your given name or your brand name in the “from” field. It also has the added benefit of reducing spam complaints. These two factors will, in turn, increase your deliverability score.
People like seeing who the email is from at a glance. So, instead of using the standard “email@example.com” or “firstname.lastname@example.org” as some email marketing campaigns tend to do, use your name or your brand name.
There is also another benefit to doing this: it will add a personal touch to your email. And as studies have conclusively proven, people tend to like a bit of personal touch in the emails they receive. By doing one simple thing, you can effectively garner multiple benefits.
This is less of a method to increase deliverability and more of a general piece of advice that will help your campaign overall. If you’re experiencing any problems in sending emails, and even if you’re not, keep an eye on email blacklists. There are DNS-based blacklists created to protect users from IPs that have a large number of spam complaints and you should be avoiding that.
If you have good sending practices and take the necessary actions to avoid any hits to your campaign, you should not be in the blacklists. However, if you find yourself in one, you can take the necessary action before it’s too late and try to get yourself out of it.
Email Deliverability is Key
An email marketing campaign can send out a hundred and one high-quality emails, but if only the one reaches its intended recipient, your campaign is useless. That’s the harsh truth.
While you go crazy with crafting the perfect subject line and writing quality content, always make sure you are also taking measures to protect and improve your deliverability. The best advice we can give is to say always consider your email marketing campaign holistically and work to improve it across the board.
Email marketing is a wonderful thing, just make sure your emails are delivered.