A key reason why SME’s (should) prefer Pardot or Marketing Cloud over a much more basic and cheaper email marketing platform is email deliverability.
But even with that said, there are certain email delivery best practices that anyone can adopt to get a better email performance.
And with email marketing being still today the single most cost-effective way to reach and engage with your prospects and customers, it’s important for marketers to do everything possible to adopt best practices. This ensures that their emails are delivered so they can be read, convert and result into revenue for your business.
The main objective with adopting best practices is to be not mistaken for spam, and thus having your email end up in spam, junk mail boxes or worse, not being delivered at all.
It is with good reason that today’s ISP’s are being militant at keeping spam at bay. According to Statistica, about 43% of email sent today is spam. That’s why the email industry has created email deliverability scores. Based on your deliverability score, ISPs decide to let your email to into your subscriber’s inbox or .. the bin or trash can.
Email Deliverability Best Practices
1. Build an excellent email sending domain reputation.
Treat it like ‘gold’; it’s something you wish to protect once you’ve got it. Having a dedicated email server is ideal. Let’s assume you are migrating to a new marketing automation platform such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud. If your company sends large volumes of emails, then you must warm up your IP gradually.
We guide our clients through this process and ensure they allow enough lead time in their marketing automation platform migration plan to do this properly. As spammers move IP addresses/domains frequently, ISPs might think that you’re spam. Unless you do a proper IP and domain warmup, when you get a new one.
2. Use a dedicated IP
Furthering that topic, be sure your company gets a dedicated IP address. Again, we can handle this for you.
3. Do your sender domain verification.
You can also pro-actively let the authorities know you exist and that you are a real and good company sending email.
This is where SPF and DKIM compliance come in, which is extendable with DMARC authentication — aka technical stuff best handled by consultants who do this in no time for you so you don’t have to worry about it.
(SPF = a way to check that a sender’s domain is in fact coming from said domain; DKIM = “digital signature” to show your email is authorised and actually associated with your domain; DMARC = a policy and reporting layer on top of SPF and DKIM to help combat spoofing and phishing).
Pivoting back to my first comment, with inexpensive email marketing platforms, you can’t manage the above as well. Many years ago, it was Yahoo & AOL (yes AOL) mass emails that were hard to deliver with high deliverability. Today, it’s what I called HOLMM… Hotmail, Outlook, Live, Microsoft, and MSN. Once you get hit with a blocked bounced email, it’s extremely hard to get off the blacklist.
We had an over 20% Open Rate improvement when migrating from an ESP (mass email service provider) to Salesforce Marketing Cloud. That’s because we meticulously did a proper IP warm up using subscribers with high engagement rates, and gradually increased the numbers slowly over time.
4. Ensure subscriber engagement.
Here’s something you as a marketer can do! Gmail looks at actual interactions with your email, yes: clicks, responses, sharing, etc. Such positive engagement would build your score. What’s bad for your sender reputation if a large number of subscribers put your emails in the bin (without reading), and/or mark it as spam.
5. No spammy words.
Also: Avoid spammy words in subject lines and email body text that can cause your email to be blocked. You would be amazed what’s included by the ‘authorities’ on this. Even grammatical errors can count against you. As it is ‘not so obvious’ as to what would be considered spammy, it’s best to work with certified email marketing consultants/agencies and use tools like Litmus’ spam test which tells you all the things you should improve in a particular email draft. We’ve a spreadsheet with 800 words and phrases to avoid. While avoiding spam words was crucial a few decades ago, today’s ISPs are more sophisticated and look at number 1-3 mostly to identify spam.
6. Have an easy opt-out.
Abide by the law. Seems obvious, but not all marketing team members who send emails tend be as familiar with the email marketing laws – and thus its demands and limitations – are they should. If you’re US based, be sure to use the rules of CAN-SPAM. If you’re EU / UK-based, be sure to follow the GDPR / Data Protection Act regulation in your email. On a most basic level, they all require you to have an easy (1 click) opt-out link in your email; and to include a company name and address.
Now, did you know that 50% of consumers have marked email as spam because they couldn’t easily figure out how to unsubscribe (Litmus research). So, that gives you 2 very good reasons to make unsubscribing real easy for readers!
7. Have consent.
Again, just stick to the law. The law demands that you have a good business reason and/or consent to send email. So, only send marketing email to those who have opted-in. If you want to apply a gold standard, choose double-opt in. What that does is shorten your list, but you’ll end up with a higher quality list. What’s best depends on the use case and we would be happy to advise you.
8. Do your housekeeping.
Keep your email marketings lists clean and up to date so that you’ll only work with valid email addresses. This means removing bounces, ensuring complete data, fixing misspellings, and most importantly avoiding spam traps, as they can get you blacklisted.
Those are our most important email delivery best practices. When you work with us*, we will share all we know to make your email marketing successful. (* if we work on your Marketing Cloud implementation or ongoing email campaign development – we always share best practices).
Your email deliverability score
With overview of ways to adopt more email delivery best practices
Does this really apply to you? Find out where you stand today by checking your own deliverability score, and see what needs addressing. Provide us with your email draft. We’ll run a test for you, and share with you how you can improve.
Want to know your deliverability score?
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Interest to learn more about how we can help you with email delivery best practices and overall, to help your company’s email marketing performance improve?