At DataValidation, we are some of the biggest fans of email on the market. We know email marketing is a proven channel for businesses small and large, we track best practices and constantly come up with tips and tricks for our customers. We care about your email results as much as you do. But we also know that achieving email goals can be a tricky challenge, especially if you don’t follow email regulations to protect deliverability and reputation.
Guided by our motto, “Reach the inbox every time”, this article will explain how email deliverability can be improved to make sure that your newsletters actually land in your customers’ inboxes. Even if you do everything right, from generating an attractive subject line, creating engaging call-to-actions, checking the copy, to validating the links, if your communications are going to be flagged as spammy or potentially unwanted, you will not be able to accomplish your objectives.
What is email deliverability?
Email deliverability refers to the situation when an email arrives successfully in the client’s inbox. Read more about the difference between email delivery and email deliverability from CampaignMonitor.
How to improve email deliverability?
Here are our top 10 suggestions for improving email deliverability and protecting email reputation:
Set up your domain for authentication protocols
Depending on the Email Service Provider that you are currently using, you will probably need to set up your sender domain for authentication protocols. While this can be challenging, there are three main aspects you need to consider:
- Enable Sender Policy Framework
By enabling SPF you allow a receiving domain to check the domain the email appears to be from against a database of IP addresses that have been granted permission to send emails from that domain.
- Set up DomainKeys Identified Mail
With DKIM registered at the domain level, you will create an encrypted private key that encodes the message header. Whenever you send out a newsletter, the servers that are receiving your email will check its validity by referencing that private key.
- Comply with Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance
The DMARC policy simply states that if the previously described conditions are not met, the message needs to be quarantined.
2. Build up your IP reputation
If you’re just starting to send out emails from a new IP or domain, make sure to begin by scheduling small batches so that you can build trust with Internet Service Providers. Proceed to increase that number slowly, until you reach the total number of your email lists. That way, ISPs will already recognize your IP and pass your emails as reputable and trustworthy.
3. Allocate IPs properly
You should never use the same IP for sending out more than 25,000 daily emails. If your usage increases beyond that threshold and if you have to set up the IPs manually and your ESP doesn’t take care of it automatically, you will need to allocate a new IP for those emails.
4. Verify your email reputation
Internet Service Providers automatically create sender scores for each sender domain. If your emails are not being delivered, it might mean that your overall sender reputation is negatively impacted by your email practices. To check your sender standing, you can use Sender Score, by just providing your sender IP address. Based on the information provided by their report, you can prioritize measures that will improve your sender score.
5. Ensure your opt-in strategy is optimized
Email deliverability is directly impacted by the actions you take to generate new subscribers. Make sure you constantly exclude unengaged subscribers from your lists and keep them clean, fresh and up-to-date. Implementing a double opt-in mechanism will ensure that only recipients who want to subscribe to your communications are eventually included in your campaigns. Find out more tips and tricks for growing your email list.
Another strategy that you can use is to start validating email lists with a third-party app, like DataValidation. With tiered pricing, free Quality Report and a subscription-based periodical email list health checker, DataValidation helps protect email reputation by improving email deliverability. Check out our features to see how we can help you.
6. Check compliant feedback loops
Mailbox providers, like Yahoo or Outlook, have a system of inter-organizational feedback loops for collecting user complaints. Users can submit their feedback by marking an email as spam or by contacting the mailbox provider support channels. If you send out emails to contacts that have not given you explicit consent, that might harm your ability to reach the inbox, because those users will just report your communication as spam. What’s more, considering user behavior, with email users tending to just mark emails as spam rather than unsubscribe, you should make an effort to not overwhelm subscribers with too many emails.
To check feedback loops for major Mailbox providers, consult the list from The Anti Spam Research Group.
7. Don’t include spammy words in subject lines
This might seem like a no-brainer, but avoid using words usually associated with spam messages in your subject lines. The most common examples have to do with get-rich-fast schemes, with words or expressions such as “free,” “fast cash,” “earn money” or “earn $,” words from the medical or pharmaceutical sphere such as “valium,” “viagra,” “xanax” but there are many more examples. HubSpot has compiled an extensive look at words that you will want to avoid in your emails and we highly recommend you consult it before composing your subject lines.
8. Give subscribers more freedom
Not all of your subscribers will want to receive every email you send out. That’s why it’s a good idea to create email categories to which users can subscribe to. You have two main options for doing so.
- Create content-based categories
Say you have an eCommerce business and you regularly send out drip campaigns based on user interaction. Then you have your weekly newsletter with recent items and blog articles. And you also send out periodical emails with updates, discounts and promotions. Those would be three types of content-based categories that you could create for your subscribers.
- Create time-based categories
Time-based email categories allow users to choose how often they want to hear from you. Depending on the type of business you are running, those options could range from daily, weekly, monthly to quarterly or bi-annually.
Providing a preference center for your subscribers will mean that your communication will fit their needs, which in turn will mean that they are more likely to remain subscribed and engaged, thus helping protect your email deliverability.
9. Adhere to your email marketing calendar
As we have already covered in our email marketing strategy article, creating and respecting your schedule is a healthy habit for every entrepreneur or digital marketer. If your broadcasts do not maintain a regular schedule, that might cause an ISP or mailbox to perceive emails as being abnormal, therefore blocking them from reaching the inbox.
10. Avoid spam traps
Spam traps are email accounts generated by Internet Service Providers or Mailbox Providers with the purpose or catching unwanted emails. Generally, if you grow your email list organically and not by purchasing contacts, you should be fine. If you, however, end up sending out a campaign to a spam trap, the consequences are pretty harsh. You could even lose access to your ESP account and be permanently or temporarily blocked from deploying new ones. The lesson here is to never purchase an email list, no matter what.
Email deliverability is probably one of the most important yet overlooked elements of email marketing. Here is what you need to know to improve it:
- Set up your domain with all the required authentication methods
- Check your email reputation by verifying your IP sender score
- Collect addresses for your email list using double opt-in
- Avoid spam-like words or expressions
- Give your subscribers the option to personalize how often they want to hear from you or the type of content they want to receive
- Maintain a clear email marketing schedule
- Avoid spam traps by making sure to never purchase email lists