5 tips to boost e-mail deliverability

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Spam is still a huge challenge for marketers. Last month, for example, spam messages accounted for 89.34% of all e-mails sent, according to antivirus provider Symantec’s “State of Spam” report for March. With that level of spam activity, it’s no wonder that deliverability issues continue to plague legitimate senders. How can marketers make sure their messages get into the inbox and aren’t flagged as spam? Lisa Arthur, CMO of Aprimo, a provider of integrated marketing software, provides these five tips to boost deliverability.

1) Create, follow and maintain e-mail best practices. How often a marketer sends e-mail—not just from the marketing department, but from any department in the company—is critical, Arthur said. Customers should receive no more than a few e-mails each week, depending on where they are in the sales cycle. Also, consider how unsubscribe requests and list segmentation are handled. All these particulars should be laid out in a written policy and disseminated to everyone in the company, including sales, customer service and R&D. Failing to do this can cause reputation and deliverability to suffer, Arthur said. “Integration is key for better compliance and control,” she said.

2) Don’t assume your list is too small for an e-mail service provider. Many b-to-b companies have streamlined, targeted lists and therefore assume it’s a waste of time to work with an ESP. Small list, small headaches, right? This is often a huge misconception, Arthur said. “It’s no longer a luxury to work with an ESP,” she said. “ESPs are working with ISPs every day. They are creating templates and services to boost deliverability. If there’s a problem with a particular campaign, they are going to let you know right away,” she said. “It’s not enough to worry about bypassing the spam filter. They have to worry about their reputation and overall deliverability.”

3) Watch for design glitches. The wrong design can scream spam, even if it’s a legitimate message. For example, templates make it easy to plug in information and create a newsletter without having to redesign every week. However, it’s worth noting that larger template headers often trigger spam filters, Arthur said. “It’s something else you have to be testing for,” she said. “How does your template affect deliverability?”

4) Share e-mail content in the social world. By posting links to e-mail newsletters, webinars and blog posts on social channels (such as Facebook, LinkedIn Twitter and your company blog), you’re assured those readers are better-qualified and less likely to flag incoming messages as spam. “When someone signs up after reading an example of your e-mail marketing, those people are more engaged and you get better deliverability overall,” Arthur said. “You’re also going to get more viral action when people share that information with friends and colleagues.”

5) Ask for preferred placement. If subscribers place your e-mail address into their address book or create a rule—for example, “Always place e-mail from this address in the inbox”—you’ll have a better chance of your e-mails getting through. You can encourage this with a brief reminder in the footer or in the body of your e-mail. “We’re constantly hearing from our b-to-b customers about the continually changing needs of their end customers and those customers’ desire to change and control interactions, including e-mail,” Arthur said. “You’re going to have to work more closely to make sure you’re providing them with what they need and in a method that works for them.”

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