Deep within the vast digital ocean, a formidable entity awaits - the legendary Email Kraken. With its spam-filter tentacles and treacherous whirlpools of low engagement, this mythical beast poses a significant threat to your email campaigns, capable of dragging them into the abyss of unnoticed inboxes.
Ok…maybe that was a bit dramatic, but it is true. Deliverability is any email marketer’s ultimate challenge. Poor deliverability measures can send the most amazing emails to the spam folder.
But fear not sailors, I have gathered weapons to battle the mighty Kraken. Let’s go take down the beast! (Ok, I’ll stop being dramatic now, I promise)
1. Use Double opt-in
Single opt-in process is good for getting more contacts but the quality might not be that great. There is a chance that people misclicked or did not realize they’ll be receiving promotional emails. So, there is a higher possibility of getting spam complaints. Some people also enter random or unused email IDs which could increase your bounce rate.
By using double opt-in in the form of confirmation emails, your contact list is filled only with authentic email IDs. Although it could lead to a smaller list, it ensures your subscribers actually want to hear from you. This leads to better engagement rates and reduces the chance of your email ending up in the spam.
Pro Tip: Add a preference collection form after the opt-in form. Use this to collect contact’s preferences on frequency of emails or content preferences or a mix of both.
2. Authenticate your domain
Spammers are notorious for impersonating brands to send emails and email service providers are not best buddies with them. Authenticating your sender domain tells ESPs that your emails are being sent from a legitimate domain and not an impersonator.
Here are few ways you can authenticate:
Sender Policy Framework(SPF)
SPF has a list of IP addresses that are authorized to send emails from a particular domain. It checks if the email that is being sent from an IP address is authorized for that domain.
DomainKeys Identified Mail(DKIM)
DKIM is where the emails you are sending are digitally signed so that the receiving server can confirm that no alterations are made.
Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance(DMARC)
DMARC is another layer of authentication that requires your SPF authorized domain to match with the domain used in the DKIM authenticated message. DMARC also allows the domain owner to mark spoof emails as spam in the receiving servers.
Brand Indicators for Message Identification(BIMI)
BIMI is the system that allows sender’s to have their logo in the inbox if they have the other authentications active and also have a good reputation. It is not an authentication method but only a visual indicator.
3. Building your IP credibility
If you are planning to send emails from a new IP address, it is good practice to warm it up by sending emails to a small batch of contacts, preferably a batch of highly engaging subscribers.
Once an Inbox Service Provider(ISP) notices the high engagement rate for your emails, your new IP address becomes more trustworthy in its eyes. You can now gradually increase the volume of your email sends as your reputation increases. Use tools like Sender Score to check the reputation of your IP address.
4. Maintain consistency in sender name and address
Avoid sending emails from different sender names and addresses. This helps your readers recognize where the email is coming from and what to expect from it. Your readers might become suspicious of the email if it’s coming from a different name/address than the one they are used to receiving. Worst case scenario, they mark it as spam.
We recommend you to use a personal name since that’d sound more human. Amy From ABC Brand sounds better than just ABC.
5. Segment your list
To increase deliverability, segment your list to send them personalized and relevant content. It helps you cater to different pain points that your readers might have. Your efforts in providing value to your readers will lead to better engagement rates.
Send to 30/60-day engaged segments (especially when you’re warming up your domain or sending from a new domain) so that MBPs get positive signals and you can improve your sender reputation.
For deeper understanding of segmentation , you can check out A-Z Guide to Customer Segmentation.
6. Clean your list
Just like how leaving unwanted files on your phone can reduce the storage space, unengaged and inactive contacts reduce your engagement rates and increase bounce rates. This lowers your credibility in the eyes of ISPs. Clean your list occasionally, at least once every six months, to remove contacts that are unengaged and have a high bounce rate.
Sunset flows are a great way to clean up your email list and improve deliverability. These automated series of emails are sent to inactive subscribers in an attempt to re-engage them. If they don't respond, you can safely remove them from your list.
7. Setting expectations
In your welcome emails, tell your readers the type of content they can expect from you, the frequency of emails and also allow them to change their preferences. Setting expectations provides a personalized experience to your readers and helps in creating a trust factor as well.
You can send feedback campaigns to get their feedback on the content you’re offering. This can help you make necessary changes and improve your reader’s experience.
Here’s how Nanamacs set expectations with their welcome email
8. The Spam Trap
Spam traps are essentially fake or abandoned email addresses that are strategically placed by ISPs and Email Service Providers(ESPs) to catch spammers. Anyone caught by the trap is flagged as a spammer and is most likely sent to a blocklist.
There are three types of spam traps:
Pristine Spam Traps
These are fake email addresses that are created by ISPs and ESPs. It is used to catch senders who obtain their list through illegal means.
Recycled Spam Traps
These are actual email addresses that people have used but are long abandoned. ISPs and ESPs convert them into spam traps to catch senders with poorly optimized contact lists.
Typo Spam Trap
These are email addresses with a misspelled domain name, like firstname.lastname@example.org. Typo spam traps are used by ESPs and blocklist providers to catch senders with poor list acquisition and list hygiene practices.
You can avoid falling into spam traps by:
- Getting permission from your contacts to send emails
- Cleaning your lists at least once every six months
- Monitoring your bounce rate, open rate, click-through rate, complaint rate and Inbox placement rate
9. Avoid spam words in your email
ISPs filter out any emails with words that sound too promotional or salesy. These emails either go to the promotions tab or to the spam folder.
As a best practice, avoid using words such as “FREE”, “Free Trial”, “Best Price”,”Special Promotion”, “Discount” and many more that are considered spam under the eyes of email providers. Avoid writing in all caps and using symbols like “!!!!”, “$$$”, “%%%” and so.
Although using these spam triggers once in a while might not actually trigger spam activity, it is best to stay away from using them.
10. Send valuable emails
I can’t emphasize this enough: PROVIDE VALUE IN ALL EMAILS.
At the end of the day, your readers want to receive emails that offer something valuable and relevant. The more value you provide, the more engaged your readers will be. Higher engagement rate tells ISPs that your emails are inbox worthy.
Before hitting the send button, put yourself in your reader’s shoes and ask yourself these questions:
- WIll I find the content interesting and valuable?
- Is it tailored to my needs and preferences?
- Will I connect with the brand?
Remember: If your email has nothing unique to offer, your readers might mark it as spam leading to deliverability issues.
11. Simplify the opt-out process
Sometimes holding on does more harm than letting go. If your subscribers wish to not hear from you anymore, provide an easy way for them to unsubscribe. Not doing so can lead to poor engagement rates, increase in spam complaints, in turn leading to poor deliverability.
CAN-SPAM Act requires emails to have a simple opt-out mechanism. Readers should be able to easily unsubscribe from receiving further emails from the sender.
Make sure the unsubscribe button does not require them to do any additional actions such as entering their email address and password. However, you can ask for a preference change while providing clear directions towards unsubscribing.
With these tips at your hands, the Kraken doesn’t sound as scary now does it? To aid your journey even more, I have listed some resources to help you with email deliverability and also provided a reference chart for measuring key metrics
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