18 Easy Tips to Improve Deliverability in 2022

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Let’s face it, you have to improve deliverability in order to stop bleeding potential profits. This is for the very simple reason that an email which doesn’t land in the inbox is an email that will generate a grand total of zero profit.

And unless you have been proactively working on your deliverability, I can guarantee you that you’re losing money and don’t even know it. The good news is that your competitors suck at deliverability as well, and you can easily surpass them by just making some easy tweaks.

With that said, in order to help you get started on improving your deliverability, we prepared this guide with 18 easy tips that you can apply starting today – fully up to date as of 2022.

1) Use our content scoring tool

I get people telling me that our content-scoring tool is one of the best things to happen for their deliverability. In fact, some even say we should add it as one of the steps in the sending email screen, because it’s that good.

So what does this tool do? It does a special proceeding-process for your email and then does all of the necessary industry-standard checks on the content inside of your email. And then, it gives you a score ranging from 0 to 150. Next, you are presented with an overview of exactly why you received the score, broken down into categories of criteria.

If your ESP doesn’t include a tool like this, it is probably time for you to try Emercury. You can grab a forever-free account while we are still giving those out, or book a free demo while I still have time for those.

2) Get a deliverability partner on your side

Let me tell you a dark secret about the email industry. Most ESPs don’t care about your deliverability. In fact, they can make more money by selling additional accounts to inexperienced newbie marketers who don’t even know what deliverability is. They don’t care if the rookie marketer is bleeding profits due to poor deliverability. They just know that novices will pay for shiny toy features that look good on paper. And this is why all of their focus is on the “shiny toy features over deliverability” strategy.

Emercury is different. Our primary obsession is deliverability. And we don’t just mean the software side of things. While we do build all the tools necessary to help you improve deliverability, this is just one half of it. The more important half is that we see Emercury users as partner businesses. We know that you are going to make more money with better deliverability. In turn, your business will grow and you will need more of our services.

This is why we will work with you to improve your deliverability. It is to both of our interests. And if you want to get a sense for what it’s like to have someone on your side, consider booking a free demo. Let’s talk about your deliverability and how it can be improved.

3) Think like an inbox provider

If I was forced to choose one best trick to improve deliverability, it would have to be this one. In fact, every other trick, tweak or tip logically revolves around this one. If you get this one thing, everything else will make a lot more sense, a lot faster.

So what do I mean by thinking like an inbox provider? Well an inbox provider wants to make sure that their users have an enjoyable experience, and that means an inbox that has no unwanted email.

A provider tries to achieve this by looking at two sets of criteria. The first set is whether people engage with your emails and demonstrate they want to read your emails. The other set of criteria are technical things that demonstrate your emails are technically different than those coming from spammers.

Let’s look at the first set of criteria, that is the criteria revolving around engagement. How does an inbox provider know if users want to get your emails or not? Well, since it cannot read minds, it has to use certain statistical techniques and make some assumptions in order to determine levels of engagement.

It looks at things such as how many of your emails get opened, whether people click on the links in your emails, and how much time they spend reading your emails. It even looks at things such as whether people apply labels to your emails or fish them out of the spam folder by marking them as “not spam”.

All of the tips that follow fall in one of the two categories. They are either tips that get people to engage with and look forward to your emails. Or they are technical measures that show ISPs you are technically different from a spammer.

4) Setup SPF and DKIM

The inbox providers want to know that the sender is who they claim to be. This is where identity verification comes in. And it is one of the main things that distinguishes legitimate senders from senders engaging in nefarious activities.

The SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) are the two major ways in which you can authenticate your emails. And while the technical names might make them sound scary, there is good news. If you’re an Emercury user you have probably already set these up as they’re part of the onboarding process.

And if you haven’t set up your SPF and DKIM, just ping us on chat. There will be someone to help you set them up really quickly. We have made the process super simple and straightforward, so there’s no excuse to not set these up.

And yes, even our forever-free accounts get the easy SPF and DKIM setup options, so be sure to grab a username while we are still giving those out.

5) Do not reuse SEO content inside of your emails

This is a common mistake that we see because a lot of people have learned that you can “recycle” your blog content and use that inside of your emails.

And don’t get me wrong, this isn’t bad advice, you can repurpose content and it’s generally a wise idea to do it where possible.

However, you can’t just outright take an article that was written for blog readers and optimized for the search engines. Even from a readability standpoint you will need to do some tweaks. However, in addition, if you have done any SEO optimization, you might be hurting your deliverability when you copy-paste such content into your emails.

If your text is heavy on keywords (for SEO reasons), that can trip up some spam checkers and look suspicious, which will in turn hurt your deliverability. So make sure that all of your email content is written as if you were writing a one-to-one email to that one person.

6) Avoid using too many images

If your entire email is just one big image as if it were an image of a brochure, you might just end up in the spam folder. The same can happen if your ratio of images to text is too large.

While the spam algorithms of inbox providers today are allowing for more images, you still want to keep the ratio lower. A good rule of thumb is that no more than 30% of your email content is composed of images.

On the same note, you want to ensure that your image file sizes are smaller so that the emails load faster. To that end you can use image compression tools. These days it is possible to keep up the image quality while producing much smaller image sizes.

7) Perform regular re-engagement and cleanup campaigns

Listen, life and business can get overwhelming at times. In fact, it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. Yet, we still find the time to do things like take out the trash and perform hygiene, no matter how busy our lives get.

There is an equivalent in email marketing, and in fact, we actually refer to it as “list hygiene”. It just means that you make sure to remove inactive subscribers and keep your list “clean”.

These are the people who do not open any of your emails or click any of your links. Such subscribers are dragging down the engagement rates overall, and as you know this is what the ISPs are looking at.

So should you just unceremoniously dump people the moment they stop engaging with your emails? Well no, not necessarily. Everyone deserves a second chance.

This is where re-engagement campaigns come in

On the one hand it is good to have a very cutthroat attitude about disinterested subscribers and purging them from your list. On the other hand, it is also good to develop an ability to win back unengaged subscribers. Fortunately, we have a very popular guide on this called: How to Make a Killer Re-engagement Email Series and Win Back Lost Subscribers.

Inside of that guide you will learn not only how to structure your re-engagement efforts, but also how to know when to move on and purge subscribers and how long to wait.

8) Use basic personalization as often as possible

This is one of those things that everyone needs to start doing from the very beginning. If you are sending emails, you should be using things like merge tags. This is where you can say something like “Hi, {name}” and it dynamically refers to the subscriber by their first name.

Unlike more complex forms of personalization, it is not possible to get it wrong or get overwhelmed by the possibilities. Of course I’m not saying use the person’s name 18 times in an email, but do try to start using basic personalization starting today.

Aside from the obvious use of their first name, you can insert their city, state, or whatever relevant data you have acquired from them until that point.

The benefits are plenty. You will instantly get higher engagement rates, more opens and clicks, and better conversion rates. And as you know, all of those things signal to your ISP that people are liking what you’re sending, so your deliverability will go up.

9) Aim to use more advanced personalization as your list grows

Adding more personalization is one of the biggest secrets to higher engagement, and that in turn has the biggest impact on your deliverability rates.

This is why we in the email industry have evolved personalization technology over the years to where today it’s possible to hyper-personalize each person’s journey as a subscriber.

However, this brings a danger as well. With advanced features like events, incoming webhooks, outgoing webhooks, conditional branching, and smart segments you get an unlimited number of things that you can do. If you can imagine it, you can do it.

This is why I recommend that people adopt personalization gradually and start-off by doing simpler things to start off, and add more complex personalization over time. If your list is still small then basic personalization will suffice. However, as it grows you can progressively take more of the next steps toward more advanced personalization.

What are the next steps though? What is the progression? Well, we wrote this Guide to Personalized Email for Higher Conversions, so feel free to check that out.

10) Ask your subscribers to add you to their contact list

A lot of people procrastinate or are shy about asking the subscriber to add them to their contact list. I think a part of the hesitation comes from the fact that you know most people aren’t going to do it. But it doesn’t matter really.

Even if a small percentage of subscribers add you to their contact list, that will do wonders for your deliverability as ISPs know that people don’t add random senders that they don’t want to hear from.

So with that, it’s a good idea to include it as a side note in your emails, especially somewhere in your welcome email, or in your welcome sequence.

11) Encourage sharing

This is another side-note you shouldn’t be afraid of throwing in here and there. Suggest to your readers that if they enjoyed an email that they should feel free to forward the email to a friend who might enjoy said email.

This is a huge positive signal that the inbox providers will count in your favor, and in turn it will boost your deliverability rates. So please don’t be shy about asking people to recommend, share and forward your emails.

12) Signup for our newsletter

Let’s be honest, you’re not going to memorize everything in this article or implement it straight away. For some of these things you will need additional nudges or reminders as you progress in your email marketing career.

To top it off, deliverability is an ever-evolving field. While there are no sudden overnight shifts, there are changes and new information as time goes on. So it is a good idea to stay informed on things over time.

One of the best ways to stay up to date is to receive our newsletter where we share relevant information as it comes up. And while you could just go and fill out that newsletter signup form, I have a better idea for you.

We are currently (as of writing this article) still offering a free-forever plan. By grabbing a username you get to keep it for life. Yes, you can grab a username with the most generous free plan out there, and you get to keep it for life. And as a bonus you will also receive our newsletters. So grab a username if you haven’t done so already.

13) Track your open and click-through rates

If you’re already looking at your open and click through rates, you might even be surprised that this one has to be pointed out to people. If you’re an Emercury user you know how easy this is and you probably do it all the time.

However, you would be surprised how many people do email marketing, and do not look at their open and click rates. This is probably one of the highest-priorities I can give to any email marketer for two simple reasons.

First, it is super easy and takes a grand total of a few seconds. And then secondly, these open rates are like the “pulse” of your email marketing. They tell you how you are progressing as an email marketer, but more importantly they serve as early warning signs for deliverability issues.

If your open rates and click rates are going down, you need to act, and fast. You don’t want to get to the point where it turns into an increase in soft bounces and hard bounces.

14) Track your bounces

This is at the heart of email deliverability. In fact, your email deliverability rate is defined as the number of emails sent, minus the number of emails that bounced.

However, bounces come in two types, and they have a different meaning in terms of the action that you need to take.

Hard bounces are simple. They just mean that you tried to send to an address that doesn’t even exist. An increase in hard bounces means that there is an issue in how you acquire email addresses, so it is a good idea to look into that. And remember, if you’re an Emercury customer you can always ask for help and ideas on this.

Soft bounces are when the address does exist, but the inbox provider has chosen not to deliver your email to the inbox. There are actually multiple reasons and factors why this happens, and the providers’ algorithms are not public.

However, most commonly it is because your reputation has sunk due to sudden suspicious activity. For example sudden changes in frequency, which is a common mistake amongst email marketers. We will cover this in a separate point.

15) Consider using a dedicated subdomain

This is kind of a bonus tip and it might not be necessary for everyone. It is however useful if you have a huge volume of email. In your case you might want to consider configuring your email identity so that the sender is something like email.yourbrand.com instead of yourbrand.com.

The key thing here is that this subdomain would only be used for email and nothing else. So obviously you wouldn’t also host a blog at email.yourbrand.com or anything that appears in the search-engines.

16) Aim for maximum profits

This tip might surprise you. In fact, you might even ask “but wait, isn’t trying to push for sales just going to make you come across as spammy?”. And you would be right, pushing hard for sales is spammy.

But notice, I didn’t say “pester people to buy your stuff”, I said aim for maximum profitability, and that is where the biggest secret to all of this lies.

As it turns out, the biggest secret to increasing profitability with email is increasing your engagement rates. And more specifically that includes delivering a lot of value, building relationships as well as demonstrating authority and gaining trust.

The best part with all of this is that these same things are what improves your deliverability. For example, building a strong relationship with your subscriber increases the likelihood that they will buy. But it also increases your reputation with the inbox providers because they see all of the signals which demonstrate that subscribers want to receive and read your emails.

To learn more about this, see our super popular guide called The One Secret To All Email Marketing Profits.

17) Use just the right frequency

This is one of those interesting patterns that you tend to see in email marketing. What I find is that most email marketers bounce between one of two extremes. Either they send too many emails, or they send too few emails.

And the worst part is that I don’t mean some marketers do the one extreme, and other marketers do the other extreme. It’s even worse actually! The same marketer will have periods where they drown the subscriber in emails, and then they will have months where they don’t send them a single email.

That is a super-effective recipe to destroy your deliverability. In fact if you ever wanted to implode your reputation for some weird reason, this is how you would do it. So I think you get the point: you need to get your frequency right. But how do you do this?

Well, a big part of the solution is understanding why the issue even happens in the first place. I think it has to do with a lack of planning and the complexities of running a business. When marketers have less going on in other areas, they will get all motivated and start writing a ton of emails and really push hard on the email marketing.

But then life (or other aspects of business) get in the way, and then they kind of ease-up on the email marketing and push it off to the side for a while. Only to come back to it later and push hard again.

Solve this by planning ahead

Gradually build up drip-sequences that ensure people are getting a steady consistent flow of emails as they move across the customer’s journey or your funnels. Identify the different stages of the customer journey, and then try to have separate automations for each. The secret is keeping it simple. Just focus on having a set of pre-written emails that are sent x days apart. Trying to get too advanced too soon can hurt you.

The same holds true for broadcasts. Even though we use broadcasts for one-off situations that are “current”, it doesn’t mean that you can’t plan ahead. For example, you might decide to do a product launch and a bunch of broadcasts leading up to it. You can plan for it months ahead. The same is true for things like holiday promotions and such.

In fact, you can plan your general yearly calendar ahead of time for most things, to ensure you have things happening across the year. Of course, things will and can change. But it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to plan and have a general long-term plan.

18) Ask for help and advice

We believe that the biggest factor to your success in email marketing is the level of support you get from your provider. This is why unlike most providers, our pricing tiers are not primarily based on the amount of features, but the amount of hands-on and personalized service. That includes one-on-one strategy sessions.

There is no need to struggle to figure out the deliverability thing on your own when you can have your very own deliverability manager. If you want to get a sense for what this kind of one-on-one personalization attention is like, consider booking a free demo while I still have time for those.

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