Email Tips for Retailers

As of 2015, VebtureBeat reported that 222 percent is the average ROI generated from email. That’s a big return on investment! If someone told me that by investing $1 into marketing I could make $222, I would invest that $1 in a half a second. With email being the main channel of marketing for many retailers it’s important to capitalize on that investment in order to reap the largest ROI. With the intention to capitalize on email, we need to make sure it makes it into the inbox first. So how can I make sure my email will make it into the inbox? Look through this checklist of items:

#1 – Check your reputation
Reputation plays a huge factor in your overall ability to make it into the inbox. A poor reputation will yield poor inbox placement. Many factors play into reputation including complaints, infrastructure, list quality, spam traps, etc. The best way to make sure your reputation is up to par is by practicing good list hygiene. Good list hygiene includes removing hard bounces, setting up and processing feedback loop complaints, removing inactive subscribers, and offering an easy way for subscriber’s to unsubscribe. By keeping your list clean and up to date, you can make sure your reputation is as high as possible in hopes of increasing your chances of making it into the inbox.

#2 – Increase engagement
Engagement is an important factor to inbox placement to many mailbox providers, but Gmail and Yahoo place a very high importance on it. Return Path has categorized engagement into three different buckets:


The more engaged your subscribers are, the more likely your mail is going to land in the inbox. Some ways to increase engagement include:

  • Switch up your subject lines or pre-headers to make them more enticing or to add a sense of urgency
  • Remove subscriber’s that have not engaged with your mail for a certain period of time (e.g. 12 months)
  • Send targeted, and relevant mail
  • Personalize your sends
  • Play around with your text to image ratio and make sure you’re not overloaded one way or the other

#3 – Check Send Frequency2

Have you ever gotten 10 emails in a day from one company and hated it so much that you unsubscribed? Or have you ever received so little emails from one company that you forgot you were even on their sending list? Either situation is not an ideal situation for a subscriber to be in, but luckily Return Path has rolled out a brand new solution, Send Frequency Optimization, that allows for companies to test out frequency to determine the sweet spot for every subscriber.

#4 – Avoid blacklists and embrace whitelists
Blacklists have never gotten a good rap when it comes to inbox placement, perhaps it’s because it often hurts inbox placement. Some blacklists are more brutal than others, but most of the time you will want to be removed from them. If you hit a blacklist, check out their website and see if there is a request to delist from it. If the delist page indicates you will have to pay to be removed, DON’T do it, there are other ways to get off a blacklist:

  • Make sure you are acquiring addresses organically
  • Remove inactive users to avoid spam traps
  • Address any complaint issues

Whitelists are not the answer to all deliverability woes or even the remedy to a blacklist; however, whitelists allow customers to bypass some filters so that their inbox placement will increase as a result. At Return Path we do have our very own whitelist service covering over 80 mailbox providers including Yahoo and Hotmail. Those that have opted into our certification whitelist program have seen a 45 percent inbox placement lift at Microsoft and a 28 percent lift at Yahoo.

#5 – Authenticate
Many mailbox providers require certain methods of authentication in order to make it through the SMTP gateway, so it’s really important that your mail is authenticated properly. SPF (sender policy framework) and DKIM (domainkeys authenticated mail) are two very essential means of authentication. DMARC (domain based message authentication  reporting and conformance) is the latest and greatest type of authentication that is not yet required at mailbox providers but could be headed that way in the future.

DMARC requires both DKIM and SPF is be set up properly and is a method of authentication used to protect the sender’s brand and protect the subscribers from malicious mail. Email Fraud costs the average 10,000 person company $3.7 million per year.


Altogether, by checking off these items before sending any more retail mail to your customers, you are ensuring the best inbox placement possible. The more mail that makes it into the inbox, the more ROI you can be expected to make. Go forth and convert emails into purchases!

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