Email marketing is one of the best tools for reaching your audience. Why wouldn’t it be? Email is a relatively cheap tool, it’s easy to use, and with four billion users worldwide (or almost half of the world’s population), it means that the majority of your target segment has at least one account. Plus, out of all the content ideas out there, it is one of the least expensive.
So, you write an email, send it out to your mailing list, and watch as new customers arrive? If only it were so simple. Some email providers might find your message undeliverable, and then your targets won’t even see the subject line because your email hasn’t reached their inboxes.
How do you make sure your emails reach your target audience? You increase your email deliverability.
Keep reading to find out what email deliverability is and how to increase it.
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What Is Email Deliverability?
It’s one of the key metrics in email marketing—the percentage of emails your audience is likely to see in their inboxes. This rate excludes the number of emails that bounced, reached an account but went to spam, or was blocked altogether.
Transactional emails usually have a higher deliverability rate than promotional ones because they contain words that would prompt email providers to flag such messages as important. An example is when you receive an email receipt after you purchase on an eCommerce site.
Transactional emails are automatic and sent upon a certain action, so let’s see what the email delivery pipeline looks like:
- You designed your email, added a subject line, and added target email addresses or a relevant mailing list.
- You clicked the Send button or scheduled the newsletter for a particular time. And you hope the email instantly lands in recipients’ inboxes, but it actually involves a few more steps.
- First, your email is checked against the spam filters of the email provider you are using.
- If it passes, it is then released into the Internet, where it travels (thanks to the SMTP server) to the inbox server of your recipients.
- Then, the receiving email provider checks your IP, determines whether it’s whitelisted or blacklisted, and runs its spam filters. Only if your email checks out at this stage is it delivered to the target inbox.
How to Check Email Deliverability
You could judge email deliverability by the open rate, but doing this could cost you valuable time. Moreover, open rate is not the most telling metric as a lot of people use PixelBlock-type tools that prevent email tracking.
Instead, use tools that check for email deliverability. These come as standalone web apps or as a feature in marketing software. Here are a few examples:
- Mail Tester
- G-Lock Apps
- Email on Acid
Usually, you’ll get a test address where you send your email newsletter or promotional message, and once you do, the service calculates your email deliverability.
My Email Deliverability Is High
Then you’re doing everything right! But you can do more. Analyze your emails and figure out what works best. Remember, just because your email deliverability is high now doesn’t mean it will always be! The results of your analysis will be your benchmark for doing A/B testing and improving your campaigns.
What Affects Deliverability?
If your deliverability is low, before you try something new to increase it, it’s better to identify where the problems might be coming from. Three major indicators affect deliverability rate:
- Sender reputation. This is your past email performance. If you don’t send to non-existent recipients, and if users don’t block you or mark your emails as spam, your reputation will likely be high.
- Email content. If you want a higher rate, your email content shouldn’t be spammy, mainly based on your emails containing zero spam-trigger words.
- Technicalities. This involves signing your emails properly and using appropriate domain and IP addresses.
If you identify a single source for your problems (though this is rarely the case), you can prioritize fixing it first. However, there may be underlying issues, so check out the following best practices and make your emails even more deliverable.
6 Ways to Make Your Emails More Deliverable
1. Optimize and improve email content
Email providers care about your email content and quality. Well, their filters do. So, ensuring that your content is up to standard makes it more likely that your emails will pass through all the filters and reach your targets. Here are a few factors to consider:
- Avoid spam triggers. There are lists of words that trigger spam filters and mark your email as undesirable. You can find lists of these words with a simple Google search, but, in general, avoid manipulative, pushy, cheap, shady, and gimmicky-sounding words, such as “you’re a winner,” “act now,” or “satisfaction guaranteed.”
- Write professionally. The content should be clear, concise, and free of grammar and punctuation errors. Don’t use numerous exclamation marks or write all in caps – it’s as unnecessary as shouting into a microphone. And if it’s a text-based email (as opposed to a graphic newsletter), avoid red font. Too many emojis in the body and subject line can also negatively affect deliverability.
- Avoid HTML errors. Abandoned or empty tags, incorrect phone numbers or addresses, and overloaded code give HTML emails a bad rating. Make sure you tidy up and remove any unnecessary fluff.
- Make emails mobile-friendly. Excessive text and too-large-to-fit images make it impossible to view a message on mobile. What if your audience prefers mobile devices?
Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act compliance
Another way to make sure you’re in the safe zone with your email content is to ensure that it complies with the CAN-SPAM Act. It’s a US law, but even if you are based outside of the US, it provides good guidance on how to write high-quality promotional emails, such as:
- No part of the content should be false or misleading.
- Promotional emails should be identifiable as ads.
- You should disclose your company’s location.
- You should add an opt-out link or button to every email.
- The opt-out mechanism should be automatic.
- You may be liable for messages sent on your behalf, so check partner emails for the above.
2. Send emails from a domain
Have you heard that a website is the number one tool for any company? If you’re a sole entrepreneur and you only send business emails to individuals or small groups, you can make do with an ordinary business address (such as firstname.lastname@example.org). However, if you bulk message, you need a working website to use as a domain name for your marketing emails, i.e., email@example.com.
You want to avoid sending in bulk from a free address because email providers will consider it shady that an individual wants to send an email to hundreds of users. They are more than likely going to consider you a bot or a scammer. Neither of which will end well for your email marketing campaign.
Most email services offer custom domains for a small fee. For example, if you use Gmail, this feature will cost you $6 per month.
The “from” name can be determined based on purpose. Good examples are newsletters@, promo@, marketing@, info@, and so on. Avoid the no-reply address for marketing—it’s an acceptable “from” name for transactional emails, though, because you rarely expect any response to those.
3. Use a shared or dedicated IP
An IP address is where your domain is located. The two types of IPs that fit bulk messaging are:
- A shared IP. If a web server can host multiple domains, then its IP address is shared. In this case, all domains share the server’s reputation, so be picky about choosing a host server.
- A dedicated IP. In this case, only one domain is hosted on one IP address. This type is preferable for sending huge volumes of messages, but it also means that the reputation of a dedicated IP is all in your hands.
4. Use email-authentication protocols
Did you know that some scammers disguise themselves as known brands? Both users and email filters have become savvier at reporting such incidents. However, if you don’t want to be swept along accidentally, you need to authenticate your email. You can do this by enabling the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) or Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) protocols:
- SPF. On its own, the protocol protects all email users from phishing and other scammer attempts. It can also validate the sender’s identity.
- DKIM. This protocol allows you to assign keys to your domain, signifying that an email was sent from your domain and not elsewhere.
These protocols make your email easily identifiable for when your messages reach the inbox server.
5. Curate your mailing list
A mailing list is your hard-earned gold, but unengaged and inactive subscribers can sometimes ruin it. Why is that bad? Because if you continuously send emails to subs that delete it straight away or if an account is inactive and your messages bounce back, you’re in for the spammer treatment.
Here are a two things you can do to keep up good mailing-list hygiene:
- Offer double opt-in. This means that when a user signs up for newsletters on your website, they get an email that asks them to confirm a subscription. This way, you weed out people who could end up ignoring your email.
- Delete accounts that don’t engage with you. Email addresses that bounce back and accounts that don’t read your emails shouldn’t be on your mailing list. Avoid getting penalized and only send your content to those readers that appreciate it.
Again, if you send emails to just anyone, your emails might be treated as spam, and that gives you a bad rep and low deliverability. This is also a good reason to avoid purchasing mailing lists—you have no idea if the emails are real or generated, and almost certainly, no one on that list consented to you sending them your offers.
6. Monitor your metrics
Email metrics give you an idea of how well the deliverability of your email campaigns is going. Keeping an eye on them also helps you step in at the right time if something goes wrong, such as open rates plummeting or when rates start getting better.
That’s why you need to pay attention to email delivery reports and look for
- Bounced emails. This is definitely something to get rid of.
- Open rates. Take note of how many people on the mailing list opened and likely read your email.
- Click rate. Take note of how many people opened and read your email, and clicked on a link.
Another indicator of email performance is spam complaints. Get back to that email and see how it can be improved. Sometimes it’s simply a case of improving your mailing list, but be aware that getting a lot of complaints will negatively affect your sender rep.
Don’t Hope It Gets Delivered—Act
Email deliverability is crucial to your marketing campaigns, and the rate defines how well your emails reach your targets. Keep a post-it highlighting these takeaways to maintain high deliverability and improve your email marketing efforts:
- Weed your mailing list. If someone doesn’t want to read your messages, remove them from your audience.
- Authenticate your email. Make sure your subs know where the message is coming from.
- Avoid having your emails labeled as spam-like it’s the plague.