A Guide to Email Deliverability Best Practices

It’s true what marketers say – “the money’s in the (email) list”. But it doesn’t matter how big your list is – if your emails aren’t getting delivered, it just doesn’t matter. This is why we’ve compiled this simple email deliverability best practices guide.

Increasing your email deliverability by 20% is (almost) like increasing your email list (and profits) by 20%. Click To Tweet

Think about it this way. If you increase your deliverability by 20%, that’s like increasing your list by 20%. And that’s probably a realistic number for many. Data from ReturnPath and its 2015 Email Deliverability Benchmark Report shows that 21 percent of opt-in emails don’t ever make it to inboxes.

Your deliverability is probably lower than you think

A lot of senders assume that if an email didn’t bounce, then it must be “delivered”. But that’s not true. An email can truly be considered “delivered” when it gets to rest in the recipient’s inbox. That means avoiding other folders like spam or junk.

Email Deliverability Best Practices

Send welcome emails, Build a Reputation

One of the best ways to starting building a reputation is to send a warm welcome email, right away. If you do it right, a welcome email will both introduce your brand and simultaneously inspire the subscriber to take action right away. If done well it might even produce some instant sales.

For example, you can invite the subscriber to like your Facebook page or follow your Twitter and Instagram accounts. You can also include additional previously unadvertised freebies (e.g. free PDF guides, tutorials etc.) Or, you might mention one of your best selling products or services and actually get some instant profits.

If you do it right, a welcome email can boost your reputation AND produce instant revenue.Click To Tweet

Be warned though. The trick is to not sound salesy. Yes, the welcome email can get people to buy things right away, but try to do it in a subtle offhand way. The main focus should be on starting a relationship and giving them a very warm welcome.

Email Deliverability Best Practices

Making a great first impression is a sure-fire way to prevent your emails being flagged as spam. Do note, however, a good welcome email can not rescue a low-quality recipient.

If you trick someone in getting onto your list and they never expected to hear from you – a welcome email can’t fix that. But, it will definitely do wonders in starting to build a relationship with those who are interested in what you have to share.

And starting off on the right foot will make sure that these people remember you, open more of your emails, and are less likely to flag them as spam. All of which are factors that improve your deliverability

Be(come) a familiar brand name

When sending emails, make sure to include your brand name in the sender section. Readers are less unlikely to open the email if it’s coming from an unfamiliar sender.

Even better, make sure the email is sent by an actual person in your company. Subscribers appreciate it more when they are receiving emails from a real person instead of a company. It’s more intimate and performs better in terms of click-through and open rates.

But which one do you use? The brand or the personal name? Actually, you can combine the two. For example, the sender can be “Amy from [Brand]”.

Make your emails easy to consume

Don’t ramble on and on in your emails. Keep your paragraphs short and specific. Read what you wrote several times to make sure it’s easy to ready. Does it “flow”, is it simple to understand and follow? If you burden your subscribers with loads of text they’ll either delete your email or flag it as spam.

Email Deliverability Best Practices

If you look at famous marketers, some of them have very long emails. But don’t let that fool you. These people are experts at writing. It takes a lot of skill to write an email that hooks a person from the first paragraph and keeps them reading until the end. Until you achieve that skill it’s better to start with shorter emails.

Longer emails are risky unless you're an experienced marketer. Start off with shorter emails. #email-marketingClick To Tweet

Making it easier for your readers to consume your emails increases the chances of them becoming paid customers. It really is that simple.

Send test emails

So, you’ve drafted the perfect email message for your subscribers. Before you actually send it to your email list though, send it as a test message to Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook or other providers.

Make sure that you use the same server and info that you will use with the email list. If the email bounces back or is flagged as spam, it means that it will do the same for your list users.

Nurture your list hygiene

Purging the non-respondents from your list on a regular basis is crucial. By doing this you ensure that people who remain on your list are the ones most likely to engage with you.

Moreover, email providers are less likely to penalize your IP or domain with a bad reputation if you’re sending emails to “clean” addresses. Remove non-existing accounts or those that have a full inbox. Keeping them in your list increases the chances of you being flagged as a spammer.

Send emails to those people who didn’t open or click on your emails in the past several months. Ask them if they still want to remain subscribers. This will make it less likely for your email account to be labeled as “spam”.

This is just a general overview, there’s more that goes into it. Try to learn about list-hygiene as much as you can. And remember, as an Emercury user you will get access to all the tools and help you need to perform list hygiene.

Make the unsubscription process clear

Placing unsubscribe instructions in each email you send is mandatory by law. But it isn’t enough to just follow the law. You want to do more than the bare minimum. There’s no reason to make the unsubscription process tricky or difficult.

Email Deliverability Best Practices

You actually do want to make unsubscribing as easy as possible. No, you won’t lose people who would have otherwise become raving fans and great customers.

Some companies place the unsubscribe links on the bottom of the email, others on top. There are also efforts by some brands to add these links in a more prominent place. Either way, make sure that every reader knows they can opt-out at any time.

Set a schedule and stick to it

Erratic sending schedule causes your sender scores and reputation with ISPs to plummet. Stick to a consistent sending schedule to prevent this from happening. Moreover, having a specific day of the week when you’ll send the emails creates an expectation in the minds of subscribers.

This will also prevent large gaps due to your own procrastination. If you want to only send emails when you feel like it, this can create a massive problem. You might go 3 months without sending them anything. And then when you do finally touch base after 3 months, many of them will just mark you as a spammer. This is quite common, so beware.

Frequency matters

Finding the sweet spot between too few and too many emails isn’t easy. It is however well worth the effort. A general guideline is to start off with one email per week. Test out the responses and adjust accordingly from there.

Emercury provides all the tools to keep track of how people are engaging. Just use our extensive reporting feature, and you will know exactly what’s happening. You can always decide if you want to send more emails and if see if the higher frequency is well received.

Sending too many emails is bad, sending too few is bad. To get it right, learn to 'read' your userbase using your email reports.Click To Tweet

In addition, if you want to delve even deeper, you can create segments. You might create different segments for more or less engaged readers. This way you can have a higher frequency for one segment, and a lower frequency for another. Emercury lets you do all of this with ease.

Avoid using enormous images (or image as text replacement)

Including images in the emails you send to subscribers is not necessarily a bad idea. However, sending one gigantic image as a replacement for text is a huge no-no. Spam filters are designed to detect these kinds of emails and flag them as spam.

Do not use an IP address as a link

This one might be obvious to some, but we still see people doing it. If you want to include a web page or an image in an email, don’t do it by linking to it with an IP address.

This is the quickest way for your email message to end up in the spam folder. Consequently, this will also lower your deliverability.

Don’t use “spammy” phrases

If your email sounds like spam, filters will treat it as such. A good email service should have a built-in spam checker. It will detect the phrases for you. But, in general, there are some common rules to follow when you draft an email:

  • Refrain from using ALL CAPS
  • Avoid excessive use of colored fonts
  • Avoid using the term “free” excessively
  • Phrases that will blacklist your email account include: Viagra, Porn

Let a delivery manager help you

Unfortunately, we can’t go into every specific that applies to you and your campaigns. These are some general tips that apply to most marketers. But to get really specific and dive into things, consider our delivery management service. We include it in every paid account. Other services will charge you extra for this. With Emercury this is always included.

Feel free to try our forever free plan to get a sense for the features. We include almost all of features in the free plan, so you get a sense for how it all works. If you like it you can upgrade to a paid plan and enjoy the high deliverability your campaigns deserve.

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