From Kelly Forst February 9, 2021
In order to read your emails, they must first get to your inbox. Because of this, email deliverability is a big deal.
If you’re just starting out in email marketing, you may be wondering what email deliverability is all about.
Whether you’re not sure how this will affect your email success, or just aren’t convinced that this is a big deal, we wanted to help clarify the sometimes puzzling subject.
Why email deliverability is a big deal
Reason # 1: You want people to read your email.
I know this one is kind of obvious. Of course, you want people to read your email! But there is quite a lot that contributes to that – and a large part of it has to do with email deliverability.
If you don’t pay close attention to the things that affect your deliverability, the basic goal of getting people to read your email is extremely difficult to reach.
Also, paying close attention to email deliverability can help you get better open and click rates.
Reason # 2: You don’t want to be labeled a “spammer”.
If people mark your messages as spam, it can affect your deliverability. If you receive a spam complaint, future emails may also be saved in the Spam folder.
Not sure if you are sending spam? Here’s a tell-tale sign: you’re sending email content that doesn’t live up to what your subscribers expected. Or the majority of your email content is too promotional.
To avoid sending spam, set clear expectations for your subscribers about the email content you send. Then keep this promise.
So what should you be doing to get to the inbox? Follow a few key email deliverability best practices.
Email Marketing Deliverability Best Practices
Tip 1: ask new subscribers to verify their email address
The first step to great email deliverability is to ask your new subscribers to confirm their intention to join your email list.
This process is known as a confirmed opt-in or verified opt-in, which is where you send a unique link to a new subscriber when they join your list.
Before adding the person to your list, you’ll need to click this unique link to make sure they are actually the same person who owns the email address and was asked to subscribe.
Tip 2: use a custom domain
Would you like your email to end up in subscribers’ inboxes instead of their spam folders?
Then don’t send your messages from Yahoo! Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, MSN, Outlook, rocketmail.com, ymail.com, Zendesk, or any other free internet service provider (ISP).
Signing up for a custom domain name to send your messages not only improves long-term deliverability, it also looks professional, strengthens authority, and creates brand awareness.
Additionally, many ISPs use domain-based message authentication, reporting, and compliance (or more commonly known as DMARC) to stop misuse of email.
DMARC is the current policy for email authentication. Basically, this is an ISP’s way of protecting themselves from spammers who pretend to be sending email from their network. Any unauthenticated email – no matter how legitimate its content – can end up in a subscriber’s spam folder.
For example, suppose you send your subscribers from your Yahoo! Address via AWeber (which has its own server). When Yahoo! can’t check if one of their own servers sent your email then the message will be rejected.
Note: This is not a problem specific to AWeber. It happens with any reputable email service provider.
Tip 3: make your unsubscribe link easy to find.
This may shock you, but unsubscribing is a good thing.
Really. They do you (and your email deliverability) and favors.
Perhaps someone signed in to your list by mistake, or discovered that they no longer want to receive your email. While these people should unsubscribe from your email list, many people often mark email as spam to prevent them from getting into their main inbox. After all, the average email subscriber is unaware of the impact this can have on a sender’s email reputation.
If so, make sure your unsubscribe button is easy to find in your email. You may also want to include a copy of it telling users to unsubscribe from your list when they no longer want to receive your emails instead of marking you as spam.
You can even have a little fun with it. Get inspiration from the Goldbelly bakery service and learn how the text around the unsubscribe button was phrased.
Tip 4: ask your subscribers to add you to their contact list.
Ask your subscribers to add your “From” address to their contact list the first time they join. This is commonly known as “whitelisting” and ensures that they never miss any news from you.
It also helps improve your email reputation score, which ultimately means more of your emails are going to the inbox instead of the spam folder.
Even the best email marketers in the game urge subscribers to take steps to make sure their messages get through to them. This is how Marketing Profs spokesperson, writer, and chief content officer Ann Handley handles this conversation with her list.
Tip 5: Maintain a Good Email Reputation Score
A big factor in whether or not you have good email deliverability? Your email reputation.
Every email sender has an email reputation rating. A number of factors determine the score:
- How many emails do you send?
- Your complaint rates
- Your bounce rates
- How many times have you ended up in the spam folder?
- How many inactive / old addresses do you have?
If your score is low, this can prevent your email from getting to the inbox.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to prevent you from being marked as spam or getting into the spam folder. Sending emails with content relevant to your subscribers, setting clear expectations for your email from the start, and not buying email lists are good places to start. It’s important to respect your subscribers’ inboxes as if they were your own to ensure your deliverability.
Pro tip: Before sending an email, check that it passes the “you” test. Would you like to receive these offers? Would you be happy with the number of emails you received and when you received them? That way you can find a good place to start your email. Review your email analysis to see if your intentions align with what your subscribers want. For example, if your subscribers prefer emails with short subject lines, send emails accordingly.
Tip 6: Maintain a Healthy Email List
The best way to improve and maintain your email deliverability is to keep a clean and healthy email list.
There are a number of factors that can affect your list hygiene:
- Typo in the email address
- Invalid email addresses
- Inactive email addresses
The easiest way to prevent email addresses with typos from appearing in your list is to use a confirmed opt-in (also known as a double opt-in), which requires people to confirm their subscription before they will be added to your list. If someone enters the wrong email address, there is no way they will receive this confirmation email. This helps keep your list free of undeliverable messages by not forwarding any typo email addresses to your list.
You can also use an email validation service like Kickbox to check which email addresses are legitimate and which are not. Just import your email list, start the validation process and remove the invalid email addresses.
If you find that someone hasn’t opened your email for several months, it may mean they changed their email address. In that case, you can either try re-enabling them or removing them from your list entirely.
Improve your email deliverability
Email deliverability is an important part of any marketing plan. Are there areas where you could potentially improve your own strategy?
Comment below to let us know what helped you improve your email deliverability!