Even in an increasingly real-time Web, email remains a critical channel to embrace for B2B marketing success.  However, it’s a channel that’s poorly treated due to our excitement at the extreme ROI potential.  Marketers need to get back to basics and implement smart, tested strategies in order to increase engagement, grow a targeted list and accomplish business objectives.

Following are 5 must-follow tips to ensure email marketing deliverability success and optimize this critical marketing tool.

1.  Always include a compelling welcome message

A welcome message is extremely powerful and falls under the category of email marketing 101.  Yet most companies neglect to send a welcome message.  It is essential as it sets the tone for what readers can expect from the email, plus if placed at the beginning it ensures deliverability.

Best practices for the welcome message include:

  • Isolating welcome messages on a separate IP to catch unknown users and improperly formatted addresses immediately.

  • Track responses to welcome messages by source to identify high performing partners, keywords or ads (then, you’ll have data to allocate more funds to sources that drive the highest engagement).

  • Use welcome messages to educate new subscribers about areas of your service/Website they may not have known about.

2. The cleaner your list, the better

Poorly kept email lists are a top factor hindering email deliverability.  Continual upkeep on a list is vital in order to maintain quality and clear off bad addresses.  Generally speaking, these bad addresses fall into three buckets:

  • Unknown users: email addresses that have been turned off.  These accounts usually just bounce and should be removed from your list immediately.

  • Inactive addresses: These addresses are still in use, however are not responsive, or addresses that have been abandoned yet not closed.

  • Spam traps: Aspam trap is an address that was created to catch senders who harvest records.

Focus on eliminating these addresses from your current list, and add steps in place to keep your list clean, such as quarantining new data, making it easy for customers to provide updated information, considering a confirmed opt-in, and vetting new data sources carefully.

3.  Always authenticate

Authentication is an important step to be a trusted sender of information.  The good news is that authentication is simple, all it means is that you validate emails submitted are being distributed by you. The benefits of authentication are separating you as a legitimate business as opposed to someone involved in spamming or phishing scams.  The two types of email authentication are IP-based, which uses a path registration approach and cryptographic, which uses a message-validation approach.  It’s best practice to implement both of these (if practical) for your business.  But be sure to implement at least one.

4. Organize your infrastructure

The quality of your reputation as an email marketing sender is directly tied to the quality of your infrastructure.  Work in conjunction with your IT department or email broadcast provider to pinpoint and then fix issues.  This can be challenging, but the pay-off is well worth it.

5.  Send ultra-relevant messages

Take the time to listen to your audience.  Learn their behaviors and motivations; do this through both qualitative and quantitative methods.  Also, study your past campaigns in order to determine what content archetypes work best.  Overall, refine as you move forward and sharpen messages carefully over time.  Relevancy is critical to maintaining subscribers and growing your email marketing ROI.

Of course, these tips are just the start. Getting to a mature point with your email marketing requires iteration, practice and constant learning.  What else would you add to help those who are new?

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Maria Pergolino works as Director of Marketing at Marketo, where she specializes in demand generation, inbound marketing, and campaign optimization. She has worked in marketing for over ten years, and specifically in online marketing including social media, search marketing, and lead generation and nurturing for the past six. Maria has a Marketing Degree and MBA from the School of Business at Rutgers University, is a Salesforce Certified Administrator, and a speaker at numerous marketing events. She is the author of the most success social media book created specifically for B2B Marketers, The Definitive Guide to B2B Social Media, and has also written for many marketing blogs, including frequent contributions to Marketo's popular blog, Modern B2B Marketing, found at https://blog.marketo.com. You can reach Maria at https://www.twitter.com/inboundmarketer or maria@marketo.com. For questions about marketing automation please email sales@marketo.com.