Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Email Deliverability in 2020

This is the guest post written by Iuliia Nesterenko.

In general terms, email deliverability is an indicator that tells you if your emails are successfully being delivered to your recipient’s Inbox.

Different email clients have a different Inbox structure: Gmail has 5 default categories (3 basic and 2 optional); Outlook allows to create 2 tabs; Yahoo Mail offers a tabbed interface where you can create a tab based on your own emails; other clients have their own categories. But whatever the client, emails are considered delivered if they land to Inbox or any of its tabs and not to Spam.

The more emails end up in the Inbox, the higher your deliverability. The reverse is also true: the higher your deliverability, the more chances new emails have to reach subscribers. And I believe there is no need to explain why high deliverability is important for your email marketing efforts: the more people receive your emails, the more people open them, and the more people consider your offers and make the target action.

But what really needs to be explained is how you can improve your deliverability rates. Below, there are three pillars responsible for ensuring that your emails are delivered where intended – a healthy contact list, proper domain verification, and appropriate content. Let’s take a look at how to upgrade each of them.

Best Tips to Achieve High Inbox Reach

Watch over Contact List Hygiene

A good contact list is a starting point of all your marketing strategies. By “good” I mean a contact list you’ve grown by yourself, steadily and (most probably) slowly, collecting contact on your platforms and avoiding seductive offers to “buy targeted contact base, 100% delivery guaranteed.”

But building a contact list is only a part of the effort; keeping it clean and healthy is equally essential. How to do it?

  • Don’t buy a contact base.

    As I’ve already said, a bought contact base is no good to you for several reasons. First, it may include spam traps, fake or no longer active addresses, etc. Yes, most probably you’ll figure them out after scanning the list with a good email validator, or after a warning by your ESP about a big number of invalid contacts. However, this would happen after you’ve actually paid for it. And since pricing on some lists can reach up to $1,000. I believe you can think of a better investment than spending with so unclear potential.

    Second, the list you buy doesn’t feature your target audience. It consists of random email addresses the supplier has collected around the net. These people have never agreed to hear from you and, very likely, have never heard of you. So what are the chances they’ll be interested in whatever you send them, provided you do it unsolicitedly?

    Willing or not (in 99% it’s unwilling), today we’re surrounded by offline and online advertising. And while some types of ads are hard or impossible to disable, emails can easily be sent to Spam. Which they will be if you send them without permission. The more of your emails are sent to Spam, the worse your sender reputation and email deliverability. And believe, it’s always easier to grow a list from scratch than to unspam and restore your good name.

  • Ask for permission.

    I would even say double-ask. Double Opt-In (DOI) is a type of subscription that requires confirmation by a user. It’s an official requirement by the GDPR which you need to comply with in order to send commercial campaigns.

    Don’t be afraid, there is nothing complicated about it. DOI works as follows: after a user fills in your subscription form, you send them a confirmation email, asking to confirm their email address. They do it and officially become your subscribers and get to your contact base. This way, you’ll secure your base from fake addresses, and people will receive offers they’re actually interested in.

    Confirmation email by Maniology
    Confirmation email by Maniology

  • Provide an unsubscribe link.

    An unavailable or not working unsubscribe link is another reason why people may report you as a spammer. Even subscribers who have once signed up to you on their own may lose interest in your service with time. It’s a natural process for all brands.

    By adding an unsubscribe link to your emails, you help people part with you on friendly terms. Otherwise, they’ll find another way out, and the Spam button will be how they do it. And as you understand, a high spam report rate doesn’t make your deliverability any better.

    Unsubscribe link in the footer of the email by DotDigital
    Unsubscribe link in the footer of the email by DotDigital

  • Delete inactive contacts.

    Nobody likes to let subscribers or even customers go, especially when you put so much effort into attracting them. But such a step is necessary to maintain a healthy list and run an effective marketing strategy.

    Segment your base and sort out contacts who haven’t been active for, let’s say, 6 months. Send them a series of reactivation emails, and in case of no response, delete them without regret. Inactive users hurt your open rate and sender reputation, signaling that your content isn’t worth opening.

    What’s more, if you pay for email and not for a certain amount of contacts, you waste your money on unpotential users.

Ensure Domain Authentication

A verified domain is like a passport that tells an email client that you are who you claim you are. It’s highly recommended to edit domain records with your DNS (Domain Name Service), setting up DKIM, SPF, and DMARC protocols. Emails sent from domains that fail authentication are more likely to be labeled as spam and less likely to see the Inbox.

If you send campaigns on your own, check these guidelines by Google to see where to get started. If you send via an email service provider, contact their support for more detailed instruction. Each platform has different procedures and verification options.

If you have registered a subdomain, you also need to set up a CNAME record. Subdomains are usually used to separate the reputation of a campaign sender from the main domain. They are also recommended for brands that, for any reason, have already faced reputation challenges or even got to Spam. A properly verified subdomain can help restore your reputation and avoid further deliverability issues.

What’s more, if your domain isn’t verified you won’t be able to send AMP emails, at least to Gmail, even if your regular emails are delivered. Dynamic content sent from an unauthorized domain won’t be rendered in this email client; instead, you’ll see this kind of error warning:

Error notification in Gmail Inbox
Error notification in Gmail Inbox

And even if you don’t send AMP emails now, it’s better to get ready in advance as the popularity of the AMP technology is growing, and it may very soon become the main email design trend.

Maintain Content Relevance

This advice is no rocket science but many marketers are still more eager to spend on ads than to revise the email content strategy.

But there is no ad that will make people open your emails. They do it knowing there is something for them in there: discounts, interesting or fun material, unusual content, emotionally engaging stories, offers considering their preferences, etc. As long as you provide this, you’ll enjoy their interest, a high open rate and, as a result, good deliverability.

There are several ways to find out what attracts your audience the most. Right after subscription, ask people to specify their preferences and pick topics of interest. Next, after an interaction with your brand, send a review request email asking to rate their experience and leave feedback.

However, the most effective method to keep track of your customer’s interests is to monitor their website behavior. This way, you’ll know everything about what, when and how often your users buy: popular browses and views, favorite products and brands, price category, purchase frequency, average check, payment method, etc.

Later, you’ll be able to use this data to segment contacts and send them relevant offers. And people would open them knowing that you send only good material worth checking.

To sum up, high deliverability is a metric affected by many components such as sender reputation, domain authentication, reliable and active contact base, appropriate content. Each of them requires a different approach and none should be left behind. Good deliverability isn’t built in one day; it takes time to make yourself a reputable sender. So, start step by step, naturally grow your contact list, analyze the campaign statistics and segment your audience for better engagement.

Author’s Bio: Iuliia Nesterenko is a technical writer at eSputnik. Her focus is on exploring current digital marketing trends and describing new strategies for email marketers.

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