How to improve the deliverability of your marketing emails

Email marketing is powerful, but only when you manage to get your message in front of people. How many of your emails make it to your subscribers’ inboxes? Many marketers are confronted with high bounce rates, which in turn attract an even lower deliverability. In this article, you’ll learn a few essential tactics to ensure your marketing emails reach the inbox and accomplish their mission.

What determines your email deliverability?

In a nutshell? Your sender reputation, which describes the way Internet Service Providers (ISPs) see you. The more you follow email marketing best practices, the stronger your sender reputation becomes in the long run.

Side note: We are not talking about your regular business email hosting here. We are talking about your marketing emails. The email you send to prospects and customers on the regular to engage and convert to sales.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the things that make a difference in your reputation. There’s a combination of factors worth keepin an eye on:

  • Your email hygiene: emailing invalid addresses has an immediate impact on your bounce rate
  • Your SPF and DKIM authentication: this helps ISPs know that you are a legitimate sender, so they can deliver your emails with confidence
  • The number of emails you send: it’s crucial to warm up your IP and avoid sending too many emails at once
  • How people react to your emails: if your engagement is low and your spam complaints are high, you’re bound to land in the Spam folder

Let’s dive in deeper and see what are the most important steps you could take to ensure constant email deliverability.

Set up your domain authentication with DKIM and SPF

First, what do SPF and DKIM mean and how do they affect your email marketing?

  • SPF is an abbreviation for Sender Policy Framework. It is an email authentication method that verifies whether an IP is authorized to send emails from a certain domain. In plain English, SPF’s role is to make sure that the email that’s being sent comes, indeed, from the person or organization claiming to send it. Designed to detect forged email addresses, SPF establishes your lawfulness as a sender. Once you deploy this type of authenticaton, ISPs are more likely to trust you and deliver your emails.
  • DKIM stands forDomain Keys Identified Mail. It is another email authentication protocol that works hand in hand with SPF to ensure safe and transparent email communication. DKIM uses a digital signature and an encryption key to verify that an email hasn’t been altered in transit. If it detects anything suspicious, the recipient server will either flag your email as spam or completely reject it.

Setting up SPF and DKIM email authentication helps you build trust with ISPs, and building trust is the first step to better deliverability. Learn more about how to set up DKIM and SPF records on your domain.

Grow your list wisely: use the double opt-in

You may be tempted to go the easy route and not ask your new subscribers to confirm they want to join your list. After all, it’s a faster way to grow your database, and what business owner doesn’t want that? However, it comes with great risks. When you leave your door unlocked, anyone can come in:

  • Misspelled email addresses
  • Temporary accounts (also known as disposable)
  • Spam traps
  • Complainers (abuse emails)

They all wreak havoc on your email hygiene.

So don’t hesitate to use the double opt-in subscription model. It’s true that it makes things more uncomfortable for your new subscribers. But it also makes it harder for bad email addresses to get on your list. Plus, when someone is willing to go through a two-step process to join your list, that means they are truly interested in your emails. Hence, they’re more likely to engage with them, and that contributes to a positive sender reputation.

Hire an email verification system to reduce bounces

Using the double opt-in is a good way to protect your email list from bad signups. But great email hygiene takes a bit more than that. That’s because bots can still click your confirmation email, skew your metrics, and affect your deliverability.

So, what do you do? Hello, email verification!

What is it and how exactly does it help you avoid the Spam folder? It’s a smart piece of software that scans your list and detects all those email addresses you need to get rid of – such as invalid, dormant, catch-all or abuse emails. Some services will even detect a large number of spam traps, which are notoriously hard to validate.

A good email verification system doesn’t require any download, is easy to use and helps you to:

  • Weed out email addresses that are risky to your sender reputation and deliverability
  • Remove dormant subscribers who don’t support – but sabotage – your email marketing
  • Focus on communicating with genuine people and increase your conversions

Monitor blacklists

In today’s online landscape, blacklists are a necessity. Email services and spam-blocking platforms use them to reduce the circulation of spam and create a safer email environment. They use specific criteria to determine whether an email is legitimate and deserves to be delivered.

Getting on a blaklist is something any email marketer is afraid of, and for good reason. Getting off a blacklist is a hurdle, as it can cost you money, not to mention you email marketing will be on hold indefinitely. Depending on the reason you got blacklisted, you will either land in the Spam folder, or not get delivered at all.

Some of the reasons your domain or IP can be blacklisted include:

  • Poor email hygiene
  • Failing to warm up your IP
  • Getting lots of spam complaints
  • Not authenticating your emails

If you see your open rates dramatically decreasing all of a sudden, there’s a chance your IP or domain was added to a blacklist. A blacklist monitoring service can help you keep track of your status, so you can take the right steps in case of trouble. You can check if your domain is blacklisted here.

Focus on your engagement metrics

Remember when we talked about the factors that influence your sender reputation? Your email engagement is one of them. How your subscribers react to your content is a good way for inbox providers to decide what to do with your emails. So, paying attention to your metrics is crucial to your deliverability.

After each campaign, take a look at your reports. Are your open rates as usual? Are people clicking through your content? Has anyone labeled you as spam? What kind of emails generate the most interest? Keeping a close eye on these metrics not only helps you stay on top of your deliverability. It also gives you the opportunity to fine-tune your marketing emails and make the most of your subscribers’ attention. Learn more about engagement metrics.

To spike your open rates and overall performance, gravitate towards a more inbound approach. Avoid suffocating your audience with aggressive marketing emails, and instead offer them valuable information.

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Charles Coxhead

Written by Charles Coxhead

Charles has been building and promoting websites and services in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and China for nearly 20 years.

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