About 1 in 5 emails never reaches the intended inbox, according to Return Path's 2015 Deliverability Benchmark Report. Yet email deliverability rate remains one of the most overlooked email marketing metrics.
Though most email marketers focus on optimizing click-through rates and open rates—and for good reason—those popular metrics won't add up to success if your emails don't land in your contacts' inboxes in the first place.
If you feel as if you've tried everything to optimize your email campaigns but you're still not seeing the results you'd like, it might be time to check into your deliverability rates.
As with anything in marketing, there are certain things to do and other things to avoid when optimizing deliverability. Try the following 17 do's and don'ts in your email campaigns.
10 Tips to Increase Email Deliverability
1. Send high-quality emails every time. Repeated low engagement (very few opens, clicks, etc.) may cause your future emails to land in the spam folder. Improving engagement metrics starts with email creation. Focus your efforts on providing valuable, high-quality information, including a subject line that matches your email content.
2. Use a real sender name. When recipients see an email from "email@example.com" or "firstname.lastname@example.org," they automatically recognize it as a promotion and are prone to delete it. Using the name of your CEO, CMO, or a salesperson helps to build trust between sender and receiver, and establishes a human connection that is often lacking from online communications.
3. Build your list naturally. The best way to do so is with double opt-in (sending a confirmation email following the initial request to join your list) to ensure the people you are sending your emails to actually want to receive your email. A novel idea, right? The positive engagement metrics you get from these subscribers will go a long way toward keeping your deliverability rates high. If you absolutely must purchase an email list, do your research first; there are many low-quality list sellers out there.
4. Be up-front and honest with your subscribers. Setting clear expectations from the start will help you keep the subscribers you have. Be honest about the nature of the email communications they can expect to receive from you and the frequency. If you send out a high volume of emails, it's best to give your subscribers frequency options (daily, weekly, or monthly emails). The quickest way to annoy and lose subscribers is to bombard them with unwanted email.
5. Ask your subscribers to whitelist you. Being whitelisted is a foolproof way to ensure your emails land in your subscribers' inboxes. Simply send out a welcome message asking your new subscriber to add your sending address to their contact list. Many people will gladly do so if they have detailed instructions.
6. Segment your lists. One reason people don't engage with your emails is that the content doesn't interest them. Keeping tightly segmented lists enables email marketers to send targeted messages to match each recipient's interests.
7. Clean your lists. As an email marketer, you should be doing this regularly, especially if you've ever purchased a marketing list. If a contact on your list shows no activity or engagement with your emails in the previous 12 months, it's best to remove the address altogether. There are tons of list cleansing services that will remove inactive contacts and those with hard bounces.
8. Implement email authentication protocols. This tip is more on the technical side, but most any email marketer should be able to figure it out. Your marketing automation company will likely offer support if you get stuck. Authentication protocols help email clients identify the source of incoming email as a legitimate, trusted sender. Some popular protocols to try are DKIM, SenderID, and SPF.
9. Preview your messages on all devices. It's common to preview email messages on your desktop before sending them, but how often do you preview the same message on a tablet or smartphone? Some 57% of emails are opened on a mobile device, so it's important to verify that your emails render appropriately on all devices. If your marketing automation software doesn't have this functionality built in, there are several tools on the market you can use.
10. Run every email through a spam filter before sending. This should be a no-brainer, and any marketing automation system should have a built-in tool to check for spam. If your email has any indications of spam, do not send it until all you've resolved all issues. Once an email client marks your domain as spam, it's hard to recover.
7 Email Deliverability Pitfalls to Avoid
1. Don't violate the CAN-SPAM Act. You should always identify advertisements as such, list your official business address in the email, provide an opt-out link, and avoid deceptive subject lines to stay compliant. (See more on the CAN-SPAM Act.)
2. Don't send your emails to a distribution email account. These include addresses such as "email@example.com" and "firstname.lastname@example.org." Recipients are likely to mark your messages as spam.
3. Avoid common words and phrases that can trigger spam filters. Free, guarantee, click, save, bonus, etc. have at one time or another triggered filters. See number 10 in the previous list for what words might be triggering spam filters these days.
4. Refrain from using too many links. Exercise some discretion when adding links to your emails. If the link doesn't provide clarity or add value to the reader, don't include it.
6. Avoid embedded content and attachments. Offer forms and other content via a hyperlink instead. It's okay to include images in your email as long you maintain a high text-to-image ratio and the files aren't too large.
7. Don't send emails to addresses that have bounced in the past. Repeatedly sending to these contacts can get your IP address blacklisted.
Do you have additional tips for boosting email deliverability? Add your suggestions in the comments below.
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