5 tips to improve your email marketing campaign’s deliverability rate

Any digital marketer will concede the fact that email deliverability isn’t getting any easier.

No longer do you have to rely on anecdotal evidence to argue the fact. In the last couple of years, there have been important data points making the rounds to prove that it’s getting harder for digital marketers to send their emails to potential customers.

In 2014, a Return Path deliverability benchmark report discovered that one out of every six emails never reaches its intended recipient. This is either because the emails are being sent directly to spam or have been outright blocked. The results varied by country. For instance, in Australia, there was an 89 percent success rate, while Brazil had about a 60 percent inbox placement rate.

What about the United States? The latest numbers from the same organization suggest 76 percent of marketing emails reach the inboxes of their desired recipients. This is down from 87 percent in 2014, an 11 percent dip. In other words: close to one in four emails either go missing or are found in the spam folder.

There are many reasons for the declining rates of deliverability. Some of them consist of new spam filtering methods, features allowing consumers to block specific email addresses, ISPs being a lot more diligent and even lawmakers passing legislation that affect certain types of emails (remember the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003?).

Marketing Land explained the difficulty digital marketers face today:

“While the worldwide average hasn’t moved much over the years, engagement-based spam filtering, smartphones, and inbox productivity tools have kept the path to the inbox as challenging as it was five and ten years ago, and will likely continue to do so for another ten.”

Or, in a more succinct manner, as Paul Kincaid-Smith of Multi Channel Merchantswrites: the combination of the aforementioned spam filtering methods “would make even the most experienced marketers pull their hair out.”

As a marketer, if your email deliverability bounce rate hits three percent then you have embarked upon unwanted territory. Indeed, it’s normal to have one or two percent, but once you start exceeding the three percent mark then you have likely have failed at a few things:

  • You’re not correctly vetting emails at times of sign up.
  • You’re not maintaining, updating or cleaning your email list.
  • Your email has garnered many complaints so you’ve been blacklisted.
  • Your competitors have spammed your email list already (black hat methods).
  • There’s something wrong with your emails.

If you’re experiencing a low email deliverability rate then it means that at least one of the above incidents are occurring right under your nose. So, how do you remedy the matter and improve your deliverability count?

Here are five ways to improve your email marketing campaign’s deliverability rate:

  1. Send Quality Emails to Subscribers
  2. Don’t Give in to Spam Traps
  3. Maintain a Consistent Volume of Emails
  4. Receive Very Few Complaints
  5. Avoid Appearing on Blacklists

Send Quality Emails to Subscribers

If your emails are full of graphics, font styles, colors and specific words then your chances of having your emails going AWOL increase significantly. Simply put: your emails have to be quality and can’t look spammy (think of the emails you used to receive in the 1990s).

How do you send quality emails to subscribers and prospective clients? Here are a few tricks:

  • Format: When you begin to compose your email, ensure that your HTML is properly formatted and coded well. Emails that are poorly coded will be noticed by filters. Also, be conservative in your graphics, font styles, sizes and so on.
  • Simplify: Each email you send should be simple, direct and straight to the point. If you refrain from embracing Thoreau’s concept of “simplify, simplify, simplify” then not only will it be ignored, it could also go missing.
  • Your Email Address: Professional marketers often wonder why exactly campaigns insert “[email protected]” in the From section of emails. What’s the point? Emails from unknown senders will often end up in spam or deleted by the recipient.
  • Unsubscribe: With all of your emails, be sure to offer your recipient an unsubscribe link, and ensure that it’s properly visible. This will help the recipient feel appreciated and will bypass the spam filter.
  • Personalize: A customized email will often avoid spam software. You don’t have to be creepy and pretend you know every facet of information of your recipient, but being personal can go a long way for both your brand and deliverability rates. The little things matter a lot, especially names.

The spectacular email campaigns embrace these characteristics. Without them, digital marketers would be out of work, and brands and websites wouldn’t be able to maintain contact with their clientele.

Don’t Give in to Spam Traps

Email marketers with the best of intentions won’t consider themselves as spammers.

Unfortunately, it’s that kind of thinking that will help the major ISPs (Yahoo, Gmail and Microsoft) catch you like the criminals in episodes of “Dragnet.” If you get caught then you’ll understand the consequences: a lower deliverability rate.

How can an email marketer avoid the spam traps? Here are just a handful of suggestions to mull over:

  • Email Size: By avoiding text and images that are superfluous, you will have an email size that is under 30kb. When it’s under that threshold then you’ll have better chances of it hitting the inbox of your intended recipient.
  • Don’t be Tricky: Most importantly, do not be tricky! This includes avoiding such things as adding “RE:” or “FWD:” in the subject line, making misleading claims in the subject line and having a link that leads somewhere else entirely instead of the promoted landing page.
  • Avoid Buying Lists (see above): A lot of marketers have been burned by acquiring subscription lists. These lists are usually not vetted properly or they’re corrupted with black hat techniques. If your list is spammed then your sender reputation will be quashed for a very long time.
  • Power of the Double Opt-In: If a person signs up for your newsletter with a single opt-in then how can you confirm with them that it’s the correct email? With the power of the double opt-in, not only can you avoid the spam trap, you can also increase your open and click rates.
  • Typo Domain Traps: One of the most common way for businesses to collect emails is offline. For instance, they’ll have an event and ask attendees to write down their emails on a sheet of paper. This will come with errors for at least a fifth of those who jotted down their emails. ISPs will trap you if there is an error in the user’s handle (johnd vs. johnb) or in the domain name (Yahoo vs. Yahou).
  • Testing:It may sound obvious, but before sending your exciting newsletter or ebook to your potential clients try to send the email to yourself. You can check and see whether the email went straight into your mailbox or if it’s waiting for you in the spam filter. You can also use 3rd party servicesfor validating whether the mail you are sending is qualifies as spam or not.

Maintain a Consistent Volume of Emails

Did you know that high-volume email senders are automatically given a red flag? That’s right, particularly if those volumes are inconsistent. Consistent volumes of marketing emails that is predicated on subscriber preferences is a major component considered by ISPs. Ask yourself: do you send the same 1,000 emails every week or is it sporadic? If it’s the latter then start thinking about incorporating a more steady stream of emails into your campaign.

Receive Very Few Complaints

Your brand can be damaged greatly if your subscribers regularly complain about you. They don’t necessarily have to send out a tweet deriding your website or company. Instead, they just have to tag your emails as spam or send them over to the junk pile. This is noticed by ISPs, whether it’s a small or a large increase in complaints.

The solution? Work very hard to keep that complaint rate under one percent. Here are just a few tips to try:

  • Offer all of your subscribers the unsubscribe option.
  • Do not overload their inboxes with several emails a day, week or month.
  • Always get right to the point; they’ll get frustrated if you’re going on and on.
  • Make sure the email template matches the style of your brand or website.
  • Compose stellar copy without spelling mistakes and grammatical typos that insult our intelligence.

Avoid Appearing on Blacklists

Once your email has made it to one of the major blacklists then you’re in for a vast amount of trouble with some of the ISPs. This ties in with the previous point: senders who avoid complaints, evade spam traps and send a consistent volume of emails do not get blacklisted. Once you do get blacklisted then revamping your sending reputation with the above methods will at least help remedy the situation with the blacklist administrator, who will then either remove your IP from the list or highlight it! Let’s hope you never get on that undesired list.

Final Thoughts

The trend right now suggests that it’s becoming much more difficult for marketers to deliver their emails successfully. Whether it’s because of heightened spam filters or a proactive recipient, digital marketers have to tread carefully moving forward. You can’t be careless or indifferent. You have to ensure you’re following all of the correct practices and protocols when sending out emails.

Once you have achieved one of your primary goals – making your customers love your emails – then you’ll at the same time accomplish another strenuous target: making ISPs love you, too.

The simplest recommendation of all: just make every email you send count.


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