Many business owners and marketers use email marketing as part of their broader marketing strategy. To achieve this, it is best to use a marketing automation platform to distribute your messages to your list in an efficient way. It’s important to remember that with any email marketing service provider and any given list of contacts that it is unavoidable for some emails to land in the ‘spam’ folder of some of your contacts.
If the number of emails going to the spam folder is too high though, then that should be cause for concern. The deliverability of your emails is important to maintain so that you can get your message across to your audience.
What Is Email Deliverability?
Before we dive into the 21 tips to improve email deliverability, we should first make sure that we understand what email deliverability is. Email deliverability is the rate which emails make it to the recipient’s inbox rather than being filtered into the spam folder or blocked by the internet service provider (ISP).
Luckily, there are some fairly simple concepts that you can implement so that your emails are less likely to be filtered into your recipient’s spam folder. Let’s take a look at 21 tips to improve the deliverability of your emails.
#1: Produce High Value & Engaging Content
This is number one on the list for a reason. If you focus on high-value and engaging content then your emails are going to be opened and the content consumed by a higher percentage of your contacts. Another important point to remember here is not to be overly promotional. It is fine to send out a relevant offer from time-to-time, however, if every single email you send is a hard-sell promotional email then you will burn out your list very quickly and will find more of your emails in the spam folder.
We don’t want that, so keep a nice balance of high-value and engaging content mixed in with the occasional promotional email.
#2: Send Content That Your Subscribers Signed Up For
Have you ever signed up for something but ended up receiving something completely different? How did that make you feel? Well, your contact list is very similar. They have signed up to hear from you about some very specific topics. Keep your content relevant otherwise, you run the risk of having increased spam complaints.
#3: Send More Triggered & Personalised Emails
Rather than focusing on sending batch emails solely (i.e. regular newsletter), try to send more personalised and triggered emails. For example, if you are offering a lead magnet via social media advertising then deliver that lead magnet via a triggered email from your marketing automation platform. This will get high open rates since the recipient is expecting to receive something from you. Follow this email up with a welcome sequence that relates to the topic that your contact wanted to learn more about.
#4: Communicate Consistently
Once you start communicating with your list using an email marketing service provider, keep communicating with your list consistently. Imagine that you haven’t heard from an acquaintance for months, then all of a sudden they send you an email that has you thinking “who is this person again?”
You want to be a regular, high-value contributor to your contact’s inbox and they should almost recognise which days they receive emails from you.
#5: Find Your Frequency
The flipside of consistent communication is to not send too frequently. If you send too many emails then you’re going to burn out your list and increase the chances that your contacts will unsubscribe or flag your emails as spam.
#6: Remove Inactive Contacts From Your List
Email service providers categorise your emails into two categories – wanted or unwanted. If your emails are being opened and engaged with by your contacts then the email provider sees your emails as ‘wanted’ and they will keep delivering your emails – improving your email deliverability.
However, if people are not opening your emails, then the email service provider will flag your emails as unwanted – reducing the deliverability of your emails.
To counteract this, you can automatically segment your inactive contacts into lists that receive far fewer emails. This way, the bulk of your emails will be seen as wanted, whilst anyone who isn’t wanting your emails is hearing from you a lot less.
#7: Re-engage Inactive Contacts
If you find yourself with a growing number of inactive contacts, it is a great idea to send them a highly personalised email where the sole purpose is to re-engage. For example, a simple re-engagement email is:
“Hi [first name],
Are you still interested in [insert the thing your business does]?”
So, you may be wondering what you should do if they don’t re-engage with your emails. Simple… stop emailing them. Inactive contacts will hurt your email deliverability and, in the long run, will increase your costs.
#8: Audit Your Sign Up Process
Take a look at your sign-up process and try to think like a subscriber. Is the sign-up process consistent with the emails you send? Do you have sufficient automation set up (i.e. a welcome sequence) to teach your subscribers what you will be communicating with them about?
If the emails you send are not consistent with your sign-up process then you will receive higher spam complaints and decreased deliverability.
#9: Keep Your Brand Consistent
Keep the design of your email consistent with the person associated with sending them (usually the business owner) being the same over time. A recent personal experience was that I received an email from a name that I did not recognise. I opened the email to see what it was about and noticed that it was someone within a company that I had signed up for, however, I had never heard from this person before. The email was a newsletter so I simply unsubscribed.
Also, keep your logo and corporate colours similar. If you need to make changes, make sure you let your list know.
#10: Run A Spam Check
Most marketing automation platforms have an inbuilt spam check that you can run before hitting ‘send’ on an email. Make use of this spam check. Your marketing automation platform provider has probably sent millions of emails so they know what to look out for in emails that end up being flagged as spam.
#11: Never Use A ‘Free’ Email As The Sender
Emails that are set up using @gmail.com or @hotmail.com (or any other free provider) will most certainly get flagged as spam if you are sending bulk emails from an email marketing platform. If you’re going to invest in a marketing automation platform, then invest in a specific email for your business (G Suite by Google starts at $5/month per user).
#12: Never Send An Email With A Single Image or Graphic
Even if you’ve spent hours creating an amazing graphic in Canva, never just send a graphic. As a matter of fact, never just send an image either. To help your email deliverability, construct your emails using a natural mix between images/graphics and text.
#13: Don’t Send Spammy Links
Email service providers are not just looking at the content of your email, they are also looking at the content that you are linking out to. If you are sending emails with links to websites with low domain authority, then you are more likely to find your email hitting the spam folder. Be conscious of the links that you are sending in your emails.
#14: Send Full Links, Not Link Shorteners
Link shorteners are popular for a number of reasons. They obviously shorten the link, but they also allow you to track clicks. Email service providers don’t like link shorteners (e.g. Bitly) but the good news is that a good marketing automation platform will allow you to track clicks anyway. In fact, a full feature marketing automation platform will allow you to track much more than just clicks.
Ditch the link shorteners and only use full links in your email marketing efforts.
#15: Simple Unsubscribe Process
Recently I was speaking to someone who started telling me about how they were trying to hide their unsubscribe button. This is a very bad idea. If someone has disengaged with your email and wants to unsubscribe, then you want to make it as simple as possible. If you make it hard, your disengaged contact is going to get annoyed and is more likely to flag your email as spam on the way out.
They’ve decided to leave anyway, so why not make it as easy as possible.
#16: Consistent Sender Details
I mentioned this briefly before, but it deserves its own point. Make sure that you are consistently sending from the same person… both their name and email address. This will help you build authority with your list and the person’s name and email will become more recognisable. Keep your sender’s name and email consistent and you will improve your email deliverability.
#17: Be Automation Aware
If you are already using marketing automation then it is likely that you have a few different automations running. You may find that some contacts have expressed interest in a few segments and because of this, they may appear on a few lists. If you have different sequences running off each of these lists, then some of your contacts may be receiving more than one email from you each day.
It’s a good idea to take some time every few months and check a sample of your contacts to make sure that they aren’t being bombarded with emails from different automation sequences.
#18: Know Your Market
I should have put this point higher in the list as I truly believe that this is one of the most important points in marketing… not just email marketing but everything to do with marketing. If you take the time to understand your market then you stand a greater chance of being able to deliver relevant messages that they find interesting.
A process that you can do to know your market is to define your customer avatar. This involves documenting your target market and exploring their fears, frustrations, dreams and desires. I recommend having a 1-page document that outlines your customer avatar so that when it comes time to write an email, you can address one of the points on the avatar.
If you successfully hit on one of the pain points for your market, then they are going to read your emails and help to increase deliverability.
#19: Authenticate Your Domain
To make sure that your domain is as secure as possible, it worth authenticating with Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain Keys Identified Email (DKIM). Once authenticated, it shows that your emails are being sent by a trusted source and are more likely to make it past the spam filters of email providers.
Domain authentication can be a complicated task so you may need some assistance with this.
#20: Segment Your List
Imagine if you could send emails to the people in your list that a particular topic is relevant to? Well, you can. You can segment your list based on interests, demographics, stage of the marketing cycle, or pretty much anything else you can think of. By segmenting your list, you can email those who would find a particular email relevant. This will increase open rates and increase deliverability of your emails.
#21: Never Buy Email Lists
I put this point last as I think that this is becoming common sense, however, I still occasionally hear about people doing this. Do not buy email lists. Ever. They have not opted-in to hear from you and as soon as you email them they will start flagging you as spam, simply because they have no idea who you are and how you got their email address.
I personally hate when I get unsolicited emails that are obviously from either a purchased or scraped list, so I don’t indulge in this strategy myself.
Increase Deliverability & Stay Front Of Mind
If you implement these tips to improve email deliverability you will no longer wonder why your emails are going to the spam folder. More of your emails will be hitting your contact’s inbox and you will be staying front of mind.
Executing an email marketing strategy with good email deliverability principles can be one of the highest ROI marketing efforts you can undertake. If you haven’t executed an email strategy just yet, then why not get started now? You’ll have an advantage since you will have these tips handy to help you have maximum deliverability from the get-go.