Picture this: You put in hours of work or have outsourced to experts who know emails. The messages, coupons and special codes are there. You scheduled the emails and hit send, but they didn't arrive in your test inbox. Customers haven't redeemed their coupons or visited the designated landing pages. Worse, spam filters hate you.
What went wrong? The messages never arrived. Marketing failed the email deliverability test.
What is email deliverability?
Email deliverability is the quality by which an email arrives at an inbox as it should. You have no deliverability if your email bounces back from a faulty address or if a spam filter tracks it.
Believe it or not, you can measure when or if an email will reach a target market’s inbox. Some online services include proactive steps to increase the odds. Even so, you and your team should also plan out viable strategies. Email marketing should always factor in deliverability to engage users with valuable content.
How do you maximize the chances of being read?
As the CEO of an internet marketing services company, I've developed countless strategies to help small business and email marketing content have value. Below are a few tips that can save you from earning a dreaded spam label:
Implement opt-in, not opt-out, mailing lists.
"Opting in" is when a user volunteers their email address for a subscriber list. "Opting out" is when a website automatically signs them up, and they have to manually unsubscribe or file a request for the subscription to stop. I've observed that in Europe, opting in is often the standard, whereas opting out is more common in the U.S.
When people opt in, I've found they are more likely to respond. Signing up with their address means that they want to hear what you have to say and are interested in receiving your messages. Or, you can incentivize opting in by promising discounts on orders or other digital perks, such as extra videos. Either way, you sweeten the deal.
When implementing an opt-in mailing list, use two-factor authentication to verify that a user wants to receive your emails. Always give a user an easy means of unsubscribing. Using an opt-in or opt-out mailing list is also regulated by law, so ensure your email marketing is in compliance with legal requirements as well.
Check your email volume, consistency and frequency.
Know how many emails you’re sending out, especially if you’re not doing it manually, and send out the same amount of emails at a regular time.
You want more users, but it's important to refine your list and increase gradually, rather than all at once. High email volume triggers spam alerts, as do inconsistent frequencies and volumes. When you send out too many messages at once, spam filters will peg you as someone trying to reach multiple users without discrimination. That is not your intent.
It’s like when you add more koi to a pond: One fish is okay, but dozens of them splashing through the water can cause an aquatic panic if you dump them without warning. So, how high is this number? It depends. Obviously, you would rather have a curated mailing list that grows slowly. Don’t introduce all your digital koi at once.
Take your time, and keep track. An electronic or paper trail will help when you need to figure out why your deliverability rate has dropped abruptly, and work backward.
Track spam complaints, and keep them minimal.
Email servers allow users to flag certain messages as spam. Over time, spam filters might peg the address that sent those messages as a red flag. The email address you use as the default will need to enter the digital scrap heap.
Keep track of your spam complaints. You want users to like you, and if they keep attaching red flags to your emails, then you have a problem. Unhappy users mean no converted customers or building a positive reputation.
Don't purchase email lists.
Seriously, don’t. From my perspective, it's unethical. People can take offense when learning that someone sold their email address to a strange, unknown party. Users might get angry online or report you to the authorities.
Sending unsolicited email to a purchased list could also put you in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act in the U.S., and you could receive a fine or prison time. And though renting a list is technically legal, I also do not recommend it because I believe you will be tossing your marketing budget dollars into the wind.
Email lists also have a higher likelihood of having junk addresses. These will bounce back or, in turn, trigger spam filters when you send out to them. Spam filters and internet service providers know better and take proactive steps to handle these lists. Some even set up honeytraps -- booby-trapped email addresses that only exist on those sort of lists -- to filter out the spammers. Send a message to them, and your email address is flagged as a spammer.
Perfect your content.
You want people to love what you write. That way, they will read every line and buy from your business. Consider hiring copywriters who can string sentences together and turn nonfiction prose into page-turning content.
Check your subject lines so they don’t blare “Buy My Stuff!” These types of phrases sound more like ads and less like messages. Most importantly, check spelling and grammar. People might view typos and grammatical errors as red flags. They also will not be impressed if you confuse “form” and “from” or misspell “antidisestablishmentarianism” in an attempt to incorporate complicated vocabulary.
Out Into Cyberspace
In the long term, you want to build your online reputation. That means creating and delivering meaningful content.
You can do it. If you build it and send it, consumers will know. And if they know, they are more likely to come to your website. Just follow these steps, and the digital packages will arrive at people’s figurative doorsteps.