The term “email deliverability” is a number that tells you how many emails that you send out to your subscribers actually make it into their inboxes. This figure is usually expressed as a percentage. For instance, 67% deliverability means 67 out of every 100 emails you sent were delivered.
An email intelligence report published in 2012 by Return Path stated that 18 percent of permission-based emails in the United States and Canada never reaches the recipients’ email boxes.
On the one hand, email providers are constantly creating new ways to keep spam out of users’ inboxes. Whenever a company sends an email, providers including Gmail, AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail all ensure that the email comes from the claimed source, is legitimate and has not been tempered with en route.
On the other, spammers have become more and more clever at sneaking spam through the barriers.
That means email deliverability becomes a challenge. We’ve compiled below a list of email deliverability best practices. While not exhaustive, it covers the 7 things that impact email deliverability the most.
1. Understand and avoid getting blacklisted
A mail server that is known to send spam on a regular basis will become blacklisted. Blacklists protect against potentially harmful or malicious content, but they are not always accurate. Even if your server is not the one sending spam, if your emails are coming from a shared server that does, the deliverability of your emails could be affected.
To prevent blacklisting of your domain, email address or IP address, it’s a good idea to use an email marketing service. Keep an eye on major blacklists such as Invaluement, SpamCop and Spamhaus to make sure your server does not show up on them. If you do get blacklisted, take immediate action as suggested by the blacklist website.
2. Segment your list based on recipient preferences
Instead of sending bulk emails to your entire subscriber list, segment the list as per recipient preferences. Then you can craft emails that will better interest each segment.
You can also use lead generation software to integrate with leading email service providers to allow you to access your subscriber lists and make sure that they are automatically segmented.
Give your subscribers choices. That makes them feel like they are in control. Over 43 percent of all subscribers mark emails as spam because they are tired of receiving your emails and don’t know how to unsubscribe.
Include a link in each email that allows people to change the email address where the emails are sent. Let them also choose the frequency at which they’d prefer receiving your email and they will be happier, more engaged subscribers.
3. Take care of your Sender Reputation
If you sender reputation is poor, most emails will not even reach the spam folder, let alone the inbox. Sender reputation is determined based on several factors, some of which are beyond your control.
As an example, if you are a new domain, you will not have a track record. Therefore, you will not have a reputation yet. You can boost your reputation by timing the release of your email campaigns to send only a few emails to engaged subscribers. You can then build up slowly to your desired email quantity and frequency.
The reputation of your email host also plays a part in determining your reputation.
4. Clean up your email lists
One of the most important email deliverability best practices is cleaning up your email lists. This process is easy to perform even if you are not tech-savvy. It can boost your ROI significantly.
Email scrubbing rids your subscriber list of invalid, incorrect, and not-safe-to-send email addresses.
Why does this matter?
When your list has a number of invalid or unsafe addresses, naturally emails sent to these addresses will bounce. The email ecosystem counts these bounces against you. It begins to believe you might be a spammer who sends out emails randomly.
To protect other recipients, the email server will begin diverting some of your emails into the spam folder of recipients. And then begins the fall in your reputation and engagement. Your ROI suffers too.
A bulk email checker is a useful tool to help you with the validation of your emails as one of several best email practices to follow.
5. Do not purchase email lists
While you might think it will be helpful to grow your subscriber numbers by purchasing email lists, it is strongly recommended against.
The first reason is using purchased email lists is illegal in countries like Canada. The recent GDPR enforcement too bans such practice.
Not only can it be a waste of time and resources, but it can also negatively affect your sender reputation and cause conflict with our service provider. Spam reports can violate the terms of service for your email provider and may result in the closure of your account.
If you send emails to addresses obtained illegally, you could be fined up to $16,000 for each email you sent under the CAN-SPAM Act.
Another reason not to purchase email lists is the likelihood of poor response rates. Most people do not open emails that fail to target them. Poor response rates will also lead to a lowered reputation.
6. Track your email statistics
Keep tabs on the delivery reports that your email service provider sends you on a regular basis. These reports can help you pinpoint and resolve problems that may be affecting the deliverability of your emails. Although open-and-click rates are generally used to measure conversions, bounces and complaints are equally as important.
Having a high bounce rate means that you are using outdated information for your marketing campaigns, such as purchased email lists. Complaints (emails marked as spam) will also affect your deliverability. An excess number of complaints and marked-as-spam emails will drastically reduce the quality of your sender reputation and can work against your email deliverability best practices.
7. Go for email authentication
If you use an email market service, you will not need to worry about authenticating your emails. However, if you are sending emails from your own server, the server admin will need to ensure that your email authentication settings are verified. Once you’ve completed the authentication, you can check email authentication with free tools to see everything is in place.
In order to understand email authentication, you will need the following information.
Sender Policy Framework (SPF): SPF decreases email spoofing, which takes place when an email header is altered to make it appear as though it was sent from somewhere other than the actual source. Email spoofing is often part of phishing and spam campaigns.
DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM): DKIM is essentially a digital signature that identifies your email with your domain. A DKIM proves that your email is legitimate.
Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting And Conformance (DMARC): DMARC prevents legitimate domains from being hijacked and used in phishing and email spoofing. DMARC validates your email’s origins by making sure the header matches the DKIM signature and is authenticated by SPF.
How does your email marketing campaign compare to what you’ve read here? Are there any ways you can improve? Staying on top of the email marketing game by following email deliverability best practices can go a long way toward helping you and your business succeed in today’s internet-based economy.