Email Deliverability Essentials: 6 Must-Know Tips

Here are the most essential elements of an email marketing campaign that will get your message to the Inbox.

Will this get you “Guaranteed Inbox Delivery”? No – Nobody can guarantee that. Even the best campaigns can run into occasional glitches that cause your mail to be filtered and have you seeking the guidance of an email deliverability expert.

But what can be guaranteed is that high engagement and low complaints will enhance or restore your sender reputation with the ISPs, and give you the best shot at reaching your goal: your subscribers’ Inbox.

This list of deliverability best practices will help you avoid making the mistakes that other mailers make and put you on the right path to achieving high deliverability.

1. It all starts with your subscriber list
Get explicit and high-quality permission

Permission – Make sure you get explicit permission to send email to an address. Also, do not bury permission in your Privacy policy. Permission that is assumed just because their email address was given will often result in high complaint rates and low engagement levels. Also, when a subscriber gives you permission to send them emails about a specific product or service, they are only agreeing to receive information about that product or service specifically.

Set Expectations – It is always a good idea to properly set the expectations as to what your subscriber will be receiving. Let them know what they will be receiving and how often they will be receiving it. Provide an example on your website of the emails that they will receive from you. This lets the subscriber know what they can expect and the value they will receive.

Build Your Own Lists – DO NOT buy or rent third-party lists, or use a list that was derived from some other site with permission specific only to that site. Just because it’s “opt-in” doesn’t mean it’s your opt-in.

DON’T pre-check the opt-in box to add subscribers to your list – Instead let the user check the box indicating that they want your emails.

Confirmed Opt-in – Consider a confirm/double opt-in signup process. A confirmation email message requires the subscriber to click on a link to confirm they want to receive your emails. This verifies the subscriber’s email address and their interest in your emails. This helps ensure lower complaints – and the ISPs love to hear that you’re doing this when it comes time for a consultant to go to bat on your behalf.

DON’T incentivize email sign-ups – The quality of these addresses will likely suffer since a good percentage of people will use a fake address to sign-up just to get your incentive. This will increase invalid rates and complaint rates and could cause serious damage to your sending reputation.

Remove duplicate addresses from your lists – so that subscribers don’t get more than one copy of any email.

Do not reactivate old subscribers – Many of these old subscribers have probably turned into spam traps. Remove addresses email1and1 that have not opened a message in the last 9 months or longer or that have not been mailed to in the last 3 months. Put in place a policy to reengage subscribers that have not opened an email in 3-6 months, so they will not fall off your list after 9 months of inactivity.

2. Create a relationship with your subscriber
Let them know what they’ll receive from you and when they’ll receive it – and then deliver!

Provide an example – on your website of the emails that they will receive from you so the subscriber knows what to expect.

Send a Welcome Letter – to your new subscriber no later than 3 days after they’ve signed up. This is a special message that thanks the subscriber for trusting you with their contact information, and begins the personal relationship with your company.

Create a good impression by engaging right away – Send the first regular email within 10 days of subscribing. Subscribers who start receiving emails earlier are more likely to engage your emails. This interaction also aids in establishing a good email reputation with the ISPs.

Maintain a consistent “FROM” name and email address – preferably your recognizable company name. Brand name recognition is key to reducing complaints. And be sure that name always matches the brand they signed up for.

Match the look and feel of the branding and style of the website where they signed up – This provides a comfort level with your mailing that is familiar to your subscribers.

Ask them to add your name to their address book – Include a prominent line in your email asking subscribers to add you to their mailbox or safe senders list. This makes you basically “whitelisted” for that subscriber.

3. Be polite when asked to leave
You’ll improve your overall delivery rates!

Include a prominently displayed unsubscribe link – Case studies have shown that when there is an unsubscribe link near the top of the page, there are fewer complaints.

Honor all unsubscribe requests immediately – A good email software program will do this automatically for subscribers that click on the provided unsubscribe link.

Remove invalid emails and spam complaints from your lists immediately – Resending to addresses that have complained or were bounced back as an invalid address sends up a big red flag at ISPs!

4. Beware of inactive subscribers on your mailing list
They may not report you as spam, but they hurt your engagement rates and your delivery

Try to re-engage inactive subscribers with special offers or incentives – Do this regularly when an email address becomes inactive for 60 to 90 days.

Try re-permission campaigns – Ask them to reconfirm their subscription before it expires.

Be aware that addresses that have been inactive for a very long time – may have become invalid or converted to a spam trap.

Remove inactive subscribers from your list. Quality is more important than quantity – The importance of removing inactive subscribers from your list can’t be overstated. These subscribers don’t open or click, which drags down your engagement rates, your reputation with ISPs, and your delivery. Senders who by halving the size of their mailing list by removing non-engagers, have actually increased deliverability and their revenue.