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Seven Tips to Increase Your Email Deliverability

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Email marketing has the highest return on investment of any marketing medium. It's a powerful tool that's not going away any time soon.

High success rates come when you put forth the effort to ensure your lists are clean and current, your content is sound and simple, and your ability to track results helps you fine-tune future campaigns to increase engagement.

Most small businesses operate on a very tight marketing budget. They usually have one person dedicated to handling email marketing; often, that person is also wearing other hats. Being able to efficiently create, send, and track email campaigns that work takes trial and error and lots of practice.

Below are seven tips to help you be successful in getting the most out of your email marketing efforts.

Tip 1: Start with clean-list-building practices. It's important to create a list based on people who have already expressed an interest in hearing about your product or service. When you have consent or the proper permission to send an email to someone, success rates and deliverability go way up. You want the sender to recognize you when you send them an email. You also might consider segmenting your list so you can be more accurate when personalizing your content to a more specialized audience.


Tip 2: Keep lists current. The age of your list also matters. People's interests change and their addresses change. Send a campaign at least every three months to make sure your list is still good. Lists that are over a year old put you at risk of getting blacklisted or blocked; once that happens, it is very hard to get your emails delivered. If you are concerned that you might already be blacklisted, see the current list of sites at the end of this article; use them to search your domain and IP address to ensure you're in the clear.

Tip 3: Have an online presence. Stop using a Gmail (or Yahoo or Hotmail) address to promote your brand. Get your own domain and website. Include an email submission form on your homepage to help build your list. When you send an email with your domain name in the address, it is more likely to be recognized and opened. To improve delivery in the future, add a call to action at the beginning of each email asking your email recipients to add your address to their address book.

Tip 4: Develop engaging content. Personalize emails when you can. Keep content simple with a good balance of text and images. Spammers don't usually "waste" time doing so, whereas some marketers want to dazzle with too many images. Emails with JavaScript and attachments also send a red flag.

Tip 5: Test. Trial and error is very valuable for testing email campaigns. We provide our customers with an A/B or split-test function, which allows them to divide their lists and test campaign content. One quarter of the list is sent one concept while another quarter is sent a different concept. Based on which quarter's content has the higher opening rate, the winning concept is sent to the remaining 50% of the list. These tests give emailers a better understanding of what works.

Tip 6: Track performance over time. Gaining a window into your campaign's open rates and click-through rates will help with tracking growth and success over time. This data helps you to get insights into what content and subject lines are successful and how to improve your approach.

Tip 7: Hire an Email Service Provider (ESP). ESPs help with monitoring your email deliverability and bounce-backs and ensuring your compliance with anti-spam regulations. When you send your email campaign through an ESP, it will include a standard opt-out and global opt-out link as well. If you have no design experience, ESPs can help provide templates to make email campaigns look professional.

Never underestimate the power of email marketing. Although social media has been getting a lot of buzz, not everyone is always logged into Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. But most people constantly check their emails, even when they are not at their computers.

Meet people where they are at and have fun while you are doing it!

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Kevin Huxham is director of deliverability for CakeMail, a Montreal-based creator of an email marketing application for small businesses. Kevin manages delivery, fights abuse, and educates clients on compliance, reputation, and engagement, including the Canadian Anti-Spam Law and its effects on businesses worldwide.

LinkedIn: Kevin Huxham

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  • by Arvind Sehtia Fri Aug 29, 2014 via web

    Hi Kevin,
    You mention very good points. Having the right list and and an ESP both are equally important. Here are a few more tips on how to build targeted Email lists.
    http://www.salesinsideinc.com/blog-0/bid/106743/5-Ways-to-Build-Targeted-B2B-Email-Lists-for-Email-Marketing

    Needless to say how important it is to run a permission pass before sending out the emails.

  • by Fabienne RaphaŽl Sun Aug 31, 2014 via web

    Thanks Kevin for so many great tips for keeping our email list "healthy" and always growing.

    I just wanted to add something about the presence on social media, which is, as you said, extremely important if this is where your audience is.

    But we should never neglect the fact that an email list is a must: we can't be dependent of all these social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) What I mean is that, for example, if all your time and money is invested into Facebook and none on building your list, then what will happen if Facebook disappears?

    Having your own list makes you able to connect directly with your audience without having to count on other platforms.

  • by austen selby Tue Sep 2, 2014 via web

    That was fantastic guidance on keeping email communication healthy..

  • by Nik Wed Sep 3, 2014 via web

    Great article. I agree. Not only do I use clean list practices and a great ESP I also regularly ask if they are interested in still getting our eblasts. I use a subject line like, "Just want to make sure you're still interested" and have found the open rates for those emails are pretty high. I think it resparks interest and also does help the clean up the list if someone then unsubscribes.

  • by Didi Thu Sep 4, 2014 via web

    Hi Kevin. Great post. As someone who works closely with email marketing, I would like to say that I really like the list that you have complied. I would also add segmentation and personalization as key factors. Segment - not all your customers fit the same box. They have different needs, they require different approaches to marketing to them. Targeting the different segments individually with relevant content is bound to increase your open and click-through rates. Personalize - empirical research (and my own personal experience) suggest that personalized emails get higher open rates and they nurture leads more successfully than non-personalized emails. Gone are the days of Dear Sir/Madam, make sure that you address the person in name for greater success and improved email efficiency.

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