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Email is one of the most effective tools marketers possess — for the simple reason that it works. Email marketing generates a whopping $44 for every $1 spent, according to the Direct Marketing Association. That generous payout potential, however, only has a chance if your email gets delivered. So, what steps can you take to improve your company’s email deliverability rates? In this post, we’ll look at eight ways we find to effectively get your email into inboxes.
1. Start small with an engaged audience
We recommend you start small with any new email marketing efforts. Blasting an email to thousands of addresses from an IP address that doesn’t usually engage in that activity will send up red flags with your ISP. Be certain you’re using a clean list — remove anyone who’s unsubscribed in the past, double check spelling, and be certain the individual still works for the company you’re sending to. A vetted list of subscribers who have opted in to receiving your communication is best, such as those who signed up on your company’s landing page.
2. Add value with each delivery
We’ll go out on a limb and say that any email that doesn’t add value is spam. Be certain that every communication adds value. New product or service offerings, special pricing, explanatory videos, announcements for recent blog articles and customer case studies are all examples of touches that add value. Quality matters, so if you’re not a copywriter, engage a good one or leverage cobranded content from your vendors.
3. Maintain a good reputation
Once your company IP address has established a good reputation, do everything within your power to maintain it. The most common reason your emails don’t get delivered is due to a low “sender score” since ISPs automatically reject any email that falls below a certain score. Think of your sender score as akin to your personal credit score. You can learn more about this and check your sender score for free at SenderScore.org.
Another way to monitor your reputation is to subscribe to a feedback loop from your ISP. You know that “Report as Spam” option in Outlook? When a recipient of your email hits that button, your ISP may be informed. You can ask your ISP to subscribe you to your feedback loop so you’ll be informed about spam complaints. Naturally, you should remove the email addresses contained in that feedback loop from your marketing list. Keeping your spam complaint rate low will help endear you to your ISP.
4. A consistent send schedule works best
Consistent communications help establish your brand and put your name in front of prospects when they have a need. The consistency also helps “train” your ISP about the legitimacy of your activities. You can choose the cadence that fits your style and message (please, no more than once a week) but once chosen, make a commitment to delivering valuable content on that schedule.
5. Permission, permission, permission
We can’t reinforce this point enough. Only send emails to a recipients list of recipients that have actively opted in to receiving your communications. We’ll offer up some ways to build your list in an upcoming post. One of the quickest ways to prompt your ISP to cut you off is to send unsolicited emails that get reported as spam.
6. Keep it clean
Perform periodic reviews of your email marketing list, looking for duplicates or for recipients you know have moved on. It’s even a good practice to periodically (every couple of years) ask recipients to re-subscribe to your mailings — just to be sure you’re speaking to an engaged audience. And always (it’s the law) include an unsubscribe button on your email communications.
7. Use SPF to keep from getting burned
A sender policy framework (SPF) increases your perceived trustworthiness in the eyes of the receiving email server. SPF allows the receiving mail server to check whether an email claiming to come from a specific domain is submitted by an IP address authorized by that domain’s administrators. Without SPF, it’s too easy to send an email claiming to be from any source address, making it more difficult to trace a message back to its source, and easier for spammers to hide their identity. You should consider creating an SPF record for each domain used to send email and for each sender. It’s not difficult to do, but you’ll need some specific technical data, so we recommend you loop in your IT team if this is something unfamiliar.
8. Make your mark with DMARC
Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance — or DMARC — is an email authentication, policy, and reporting protocol. It builds on the SPF and DKIM (more on that later) protocols, taking them several steps further. DMARC is designed to protect against direct domain spoofing — or phishing. DMARC is a free and open technical specification and requires a change to your DNS record. Here again, loop in your IT team for details.
Email marketing sometimes gets a bad rap, but that’s because there’s still too many bad actors out there. The good news is that technology is getting better at both detecting spam and legitimate marketing communications. If we all strive to follow best practices for email marketing, nearly all of us will be happier to open our inboxes each morning.