Experiencing poor email deliverability is like spending hours preparing for a party only for one or two people to show up.
… Frustrating, disappointing and can feel like a waste of time.
Whilst we don’t know the magic formula to encouraging people to attend your events, we do know how you can boost the chances of your email campaigns actually arriving in recipients’ inboxes.
It all starts with three simple questions.
- Who are you sending to?
- What are you sending?
- How often are you sending?
Below, we take a closer look at each.
This blog post is based on our latest ebook: Email Deliverability for Retail Marketers, written by one of our in-house HTML experts Michela. If a comprehensive guide sounds more up your street, you can download your copy here.
Three questions email marketers should ask before hitting send
q.1) Who are you sending to?
Internet service providers (ISPs) (such as Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook...) dislike delivering emails that receive low engagement, so it’s vital to (a) build a clean list and (b) keep an eye on that list to see who’s engaging and who isn’t.
(a) Build a clean list
Here are a few of the biggest dos and don’t when building a clean list:
✔️ ... build a list of ‘genuine’ subscribers: that is, contacts who have proactively opted in to your marketing either through your website, your content or your landing pages. (By ‘proactively opted in’, we mean that they have ticked a box to say they would like to receive your marketing emails).
✔️ ... ensure contacts know what they’re opting in for during the sign up process. Include information such as:
- What you will be sending them
- How often you’ll be sending them
- Which communication channel(s) you’ll be using
✔️ ... try using a double opt-in process, where a recipient has to click a link in a confirmation email before they can be deemed ‘subscribed’. This makes doubly sure they want to be on your list and more likely that they’ll actually engage.
❌ ... count someone who has simply failed to un-tick a box that automatically signs them up when they (e.g.) made a purchase as a ‘genuine’ subscriber.
❌ ... fall into the trap of purchasing a contact list.
It may be a tempting shortcut to a bigger subscriber base, but contacts that receive an email they didn’t sign up for are far more likely to flag it as spam, impacting your sender reputation. Building a ‘healthy’ and clean list is the first (and most important) step to ensuring engagement with your subscribers remains high and strong. Your list might grow at a slower pace, but it will be worth it in the long-term.
(b) keep an eye on your list to see who’s engaging and who isn’t
Building a clean list is one thing; keeping it clean is another.
Bear in mind that there’s a chance people who subscribed to your newsletters a long time ago may not be interested in receiving them anymore (or they may simply have retired their former email address).
Ultimately, if a contact stops opening your emails, this suggests that account is no longer engaged with your brand—which can in turn impact your sender reputation negatively.
To stop this from happening, follow a list hygiene process every six months in order to identify contacts that haven’t opened an email in more than six months and more than a year. But before removing these inactive contacts from your list, try winning them back via a re-engagement programme.
(You can read more about re-engagement campaigns by downloading the full guide here.)
q.2) What are you sending?
The contents of your email marketing will also have an impact on whether or not your messages are delivered, so it’s crucial to be aware of the sort of stuff you should and shouldn’t include.
First off, be relevant. You want to send campaigns that engage your subscribers, so keep your content as meaningful as possible (i.e. good quality, personalised where possible and consistent with your brand).
Secondly, avoid content that might be deemed ‘spammy’. For example, email spam filters tend to dislike content that include:
- all capital letters
- too many exclamation points
- ‘50% off’ type subject lines
- spammy words or phrases
Also avoid sending emails made of images only; be sure to have a balanced amount of images and text. If you do have one large image, we recommend slicing the image into smaller images and coding them together in your HTML file.
Want to learn more about the relationship between email content (like images and GIFs) and your deliverability rate? Download the full guide here.
Thirdly, don’t be scared of your unsubscribe link. Whilst we get that you don’t want people to unsubscribe from your mailing lists, unsubscribing is a natural part of the customer lifecycle and for that reason you should not make it complicated.
If people cannot easily unsubscribe, they will raise a spam complaint— much worse for your sender reputation and deliverability.
q.3) How often are you sending?
Choosing the best frequency for sending emails is challenging: over-mailing your recipients can lead to high levels of unsubscribes or spam complaints, but infrequent mailing may cause your subscribers to forget they signed up in the first place and do the same.
We recommend sending emails two to three times a week at most. You should reduce this number if the recipient has already received marketing emails based on their own interactions (e.g. automated campaigns such as an abandoned cart email are much more relevant than a newsletter as the content is based on behaviour of the recipient).
If you’re monitoring your engagement metrics, you should be able to figure out how often your recipients would like to be contacted. However, if this information is not easily available, let them tell you how often they’d like to be contacted via a preference centre.
To learn more about optimal email frequency and sending volume check out the full guide, where we cover the topic in more depth.
Always keep in mind what ISPs think about deliverability
Follow these recommendations and you’ll see good improvements in your deliverability. And keep in mind what ISPs think about deliverability:
It is not a right, is a privilege.
To read the whole ebook this article is based on, download your copy here.