You can write the most convincing and well-targeted email to your customer, but it won’t mean anything if the email never reaches them.
Email deliverability is a broad concept that requires you to follow a set of rules that can have serious consequences if you break them. Like, “My email is blocked entirely and now I need to switch providers” levels of seriousness.
The challenge, though, is that the rules that affect your email deliverability aren’t clearly explained when you open an email account. So, many marketers are left guessing why their bounce rates are up and sender reputation is taking a dive.
To help you improve email deliverability for your company, let’s first discuss the elements that can decrease your email deliverability. Then, we’ll share expert tips to strengthen your email marketing approach and protect your sender reputation.
Email deliverability refers to the rate at which your emails actually arrive in your subscribers’ inboxes, instead of being routed to a spam folder or blocked altogether.
On the surface, poor email deliverability means your team is taking time to plan and send emails that aren’t reaching the intended buyer. This wastes your team’s time and hurts your ability to drive revenue through email marketing.
Digging deeper, low email deliverability signals something that can be much worse than wasted time. Poor deliverability suggests your email marketing fundamentals are flawed, or that you’re sending emails people don’t want to read.
If you keep sending emails to your customers without addressing these issues, your sender reputation will plummet and your internet service provider (ISP) may block you from sending emails. This means you’ll need to migrate to a new provider, change your IP address, and entirely rebuild your email infrastructure. Yikes.
At the highest level, your email deliverability suffers if you engage in poor email marketing behaviors and receive too many spam complaints. But even well-intentioned marketers can suffer from low email deliverability.
Here are a few things every marketer should be aware of when investigating why they may have poor email deliverability.
A hard bounce happens if your email fails to deliver because the domain name or recipient address is incorrect. This can be because:
Your email deliverability worsens if you receive too many hard bounces. Limit your hard bounces by verifying all emails, double-checking for spelling errors in your recipient addresses, and immediately removing any addresses that begin to bounce.
If you’re unfamiliar with your email infrastructure, we recommend you bring in an outside expert to explain its components and optimize your infrastructure setup. Your message infrastructure includes your domains, IP addresses, mail agents, and the feedback loops associated with your emails. This can get technical, but your team needs to enable Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC).
If you’re using a new IP address, note that you’ll need it to “warm up” before it can send typical volumes of email. Your team should also consider following the advice below to keep emails from being blocked.
Single opt-in for email marketing is when someone provides their email address and is then automatically enrolled in your email marketing program. This may seem like a good way to provide a simple customer experience—you asked for emails, and now you’ll get them. However, it fails to protect your recipients if a bad actor enrolls someone else’s email address to multiple email lists without their consent. This could get your messages marked as spam.
A spam trap is an email address that ISPs use to catch spammers. The spam trap address may have once existed but no longer be in use. For example, if someone changes companies, their old company address can become a spam trap. A spam trap address can also be created solely to catch email marketers that scrape sites for emails or purchase email lists. If you send an email to a spam trap address, then you are flagged by that ISP and your email deliverability suffers.
Your IP reputation is a major determinant of your email deliverability. There are several factors that can hurt or strengthen your IP reputation, including if you send too many emails in a short period of time, have a high bounce rate, receive too many spam complaints, and if your IP has a history of malicious behavior.
Understanding the importance of email deliverability and what can hurt it sets your team up for achieving meaningful email marketing results. But as your program scales and you mature in your outreach strategies, protecting your sender reputation becomes increasingly difficult.
We recommend you follow the 12 tips below to improve email deliverability and prevent any simple mistakes from turning into significant problems for your team.
You need to know the health of your sender reputation today so you can track it and monitor for any dips. Get your free Sender Score to see how mailbox providers view your IP address and adapt your email marketing strategy based on how your score improves or declines. Having a strong Sender Score is one of the best ways to improve email deliverability.
The sender reputation of your IP address will directly affect your email deliverability. Because of this, your team needs to allocate its IPs properly and be conscious of what IP you use, for which messages, and how often.
Many email marketing tools allow you to use an IP shared with other users/brands or a dedicated IP solely for your company. When you’re a low-volume sender a shared IP is likely sufficient, but you may need a dedicated IP as your list grows, or if someone who shares your IP has destroyed its reputation.
It can be tempting to purchase an email list as a way to reach new leads and drive sales, but it is a horrible practice that can seriously damage your sender reputation. Why? If people have not opted in to receive emails from your brand, your messages will come across as random and unsolicited (so, spam). Or you may reach out to a spam trap address, which also hurts your reputation (as we explained above).
There is a lot of bad advice about how to write an effective email subject line, like that you should type in all caps to stand out or you should say things like “open NOW” or “activate your FREE offer TODAY.” However, this is a great way to get caught in a spam filter. Be sure to avoid these common email spam trigger words in your subject lines and email copy, and ask yourself, “Does my email sound like spam?”
It’s a best practice to enable double opt-in confirmation (sometimes called confirmed opt-in) for email marketing. This means that once a person signs up for your marketing emails, they receive a confirmation email asking them to click a link that officially enrolls them in your email program. Double opt-in ensures the people receiving your messages actually want to receive them.
A preference center gives your customers a one-stop shop to customize how and why they hear from your brand. Mature organizations enable customers to select exactly what messages they receive and how often—such as daily item spotlights, weekly sales digests, or monthly product changes.
Poor data hygiene means you could be reaching out to the wrong email addresses or contacting the same people multiple times. The first line of defense against poor email deliverability is ensuring your CRM data is clean and you know exactly who to reach out to and how. A data cleansing tool is an incredibly smart investment to make the process as simple as possible.
One of the easiest ways to protect your sender reputation is to make unsubscribing from your emails effortless. Include an opt-out link in all messages you send so your customers can simply opt out instead of blocking your address or flagging your messages as spam.
Your email recipients should clearly understand how often you’ll email them and what your emails are about. After someone finishes their double opt-in confirmation to your email list, we recommend you send a “welcome” email that thanks them for signing up and explains how you’ll contact them moving forward. Let them know they can unsubscribe at any time and that you welcome any feedback.
More people will open your email if it is addressed to them, instead of a general “Hello” or “Hi customer.” Make your emails personal and develop a unique brand voice that engages your subscribers. Focus on your reader as an individual and their unique needs, and use their name, conversational copy, and emojis to personalize the experience.
You need to reach out to each customer with a highly relevant message or you risk them unsubscribing. Segment your email list so you can group recipients based on important details, such as their location, past shopping behavior, age, gender, rewards club status, and history with your brand.
Your sender name is the “from” name that your recipients see in the inbox. People are more likely to open and engage with an email if it is from someone they know and trust. Send your emails from a familiar sender name, like a real human from your team. If you send from “No Reply,” then your recipients are unlikely to recognize you and open your message. If it helps, you can use different sender names for different customer needs, such as order and shipping confirmations, newsletters, or customer support threads.
There is no simple solution for how to improve email deliverability, and there are many mistakes that could hurt your sender reputation without you realizing it. It’s important to regularly monitor your email deliverability and implement best practices to ensure your team is responsible when it comes to email sending.
Want to learn more about how to improve email deliverability? Download our free, 5-minute deliverability guide to learn more about how you can measure, track, and boost email deliverability. Plus, find expert tips and foolproof steps that will help you make a noticeable difference today!