Over the years, many have predicted the “death” of email marketing, in part because of the proliferation of spam and promotional mailings that damaged email deliverability and reputation in the marketing industry.

But email marketing is still very much alive and one of the channels with the best ROI. In recent years, ISPs have adapted increasingly intelligent spam filters, making the deliverability of emails, i.e. their delivery to contacts’ inboxes, one of the most important issues in email marketing departments.

Let’s take a look at 18 ways to improve deliverability and make sure our emails reach our contacts’ inboxes.

1. Build a good IP reputation

ISPs rank your IP based on their own metrics, which are often not completely transparent. If you are starting with email marketing or working with a new IP, we advise you to start small. You have to show ISPs that you meet the requirements, so you will have to “warm up your IP” by sending email campaigns to small databases of users that you know will engage with you. The more they interact with you, the more trust you will build with the ISP and get a better score. As time goes by, you will be able to expand the database and the frequency of sending.

2. Dedicated or shared IP

When you share an IP with other senders, their activity and status naturally have an effect on your deliverability. So if they send to an unclean database or are outright spammers, this will hurt your deliverability. Conversely, if you have a low volume of sending or simply send sporadically, sharing an IP with someone who does things right and maintains a good IP reputation will help your emails reach your recipients’ inboxes.

We recommend that you take advice from your ESP to decide whether it is better for your particular case to have a dedicated or shared IP.

3. Keep track of your reputation

To help you maintain your reputation, you should strive to keep your complaint rate, bounce rate and spam folder placement rate low. There are tools such as Send Forensics, Sender Score or Talos, which can help you identify whether your email will make it to the inbox or stay in spam.

4. Maintain a constant sending volume and frequency

As mentioned above, ISPs have their rules and one thing they don’t like is surprises. If you normally send once a week to 10K users, don’t start sending every day to 100K, as this will cause your reputation to drop and you have all the points to get on a black list.

Maintain a constant sending volume and frequency so that you can build a solid reputation. Also, users like to know when they receive good content. If you want to change it drastically, you will have to warm up the IP with new volumes so that ISPs understand the change without damaging your deliverability.

5. Keep your mail server secure

Your mail server must be secure if you want to keep spammers out, so make sure you don’t have a relay or an open proxy if you want to improve your deliverability.

6. Authenticate your emails

When an ISP receives an email, the first thing it does is to verify if the email is from who it claims to be. It does this by checking the relevant SPF records and the DKIM key associated with your email and the sending domain.

The SPF is responsible for certifying which IPs can send mail using the domain in question. DKIM is an authentication method based on adding an encrypted signature to your emails.

Here at Spotler, we recommend the three main methods of authentication. Make sure your SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records are set up correctly to ensure mailboxes can confirm that the email sent is from you and not a spammer. By putting these 3 records in place and authenticating your emails, you can protect your brand and improve the deliverability of your emails.

7. Use preference centres

Let users tell you what they want to receive. By enabling a preference centre, where users can choose sending frequency, subjects or other variables, you will increase the engagement of your emails by sending more relevant content. And, as we know, the higher the engagement, the better the deliverability.

8. Clean your database

We have already briefly mentioned bounces, but data cleansing should be a regular part of your email marketing (as well as checking your sending reputation). Some ESPs like Spotler offer automatic bounce management within their platform, but we still suggest that you do an annual data cleansing, although the more data you have, the more often you should clean it.

9. Create a double opt-in database

A great way to maintain clean your data and ensure high engagement rates is to use a double opt-in when creating your database. A double opt-in:

  • Makes it impossible to register fake or third-party emails.
  • Guarantees that the email is correct and does not contain typing errors, which favours the reduction of bounces and increases deliverability.
  • Generates better open and click-through rates: the fact of confirming interest in receiving your communications is usually synonymous with a real interest in your brand or product, which is a key factor in the success of your campaign.

10. Make it easy to unsubscribe

There should always be an opt-out in every email you send with a link to unsubscribe with a clear and easy process.

As well as being required by GDPR, if you make it difficult for someone to unsubscribe, all you will do is get flagged as spam and further damage your deliverability.

11. Don’t use attachments in your email marketing campaigns

Adding attachments to your personal emails can be very useful and does not harm their deliverability. But malware tends to hide in attachments, so when used in mass email marketing campaigns, it is likely to be unacceptable to IPS and damage your reputation.

12. Make moderate use of graphics

This may come as a bit of a shock, but email layouts with lots of images and little text can trigger spam filters. Therefore, where possible, reduce the number of images you are using.

13. Manage your bounces

You can have two types of bounces, hard bounce or soft bounce. A soft bounce occurs when we receive a message from the recipient’s inbox that says the email has not been accepted but does not guarantee a firm response. A hard bounce occurs when the recipient’s mailbox completely refuses delivery of the email. Manage your bounces so that hard bounces are removed from your mailing list. In Spotler, as we have already mentioned, bounces are managed automatically from the same platform.

14. Use clear subject lines

Don’t try to mislead your subscribers with unclear subject lines, because not only will you irritate them when they realise that what you are advertising is not what you are offering, but ISPs will realise it too. The clearer and more relevant the subject line, the more likely you are to get into the inbox.

15. Get personal with your emails

By now, as a good email marketer, you know that recipients don’t want to feel like you’re trying to sell them something. For this reason, the best strategy is to create digital experiences that make prospects feel that you are talking to them about their needs and offering them a solution that adds value to their lives.

The best way to succeed is to personalise emails to each of your subscribers. According to an Experian Marketing Services study, personalised emails were shown to increase transaction rates and email revenue six times more than non-personalised emails.

Just as a friend spells your name correctly, knows your likes and dislikes, remembers your birthday and talks to you in a conversational way, a good email marketing campaign should also have these characteristics.

Companies that are using customer personas and segmenting their audiences are more likely to personalise their emails, and, as a result, are achieving more open and click rates. In other words, increasing their deliverability.

16. Do constant tests

If you want to improve your email deliverability, you will need to constantly test to improve your engagement. You will need to look at what type of subject lines generate the most opens, what content and design generate the most clicks, and what time of day or day of the week performs best among different audiences.

It is important to take into account the audience we are targeting. If we are looking for the best time of day for B2B or B2C mailings, we will consider their different habits. For B2B, the ideal is to find subscribers who are at their desks and slightly distracted or finishing a task. On the other hand, for a B2C campaign, it will be better if the user is not at their desk, but having a coffee, at lunch or on their way home.

But let’s face it, we’re not mind-readers, so it’s better to test constantly!

17. Marketing automation: right time, right contact, right content

Marketing automation can greatly help to increase engagement, especially if you have a solid and proven flow in place. With marketing automation, you can introduce multiple emails with conditional content and have the system send them at specific touch points in a customer journey. What this means is that, once you’ve tested which are the right customer touch points and the relevant content they need, you can automate this and spend your time and energy on other tasks such as attracting new leads.

18. Work with an ESP with a email deliverability department

The day to day life doesn’t allow you to get everything done and, as we all know, delegating is wise. As you have seen, there are many factors that influence the deliverability of your email marketing campaigns.

At Spotler, we have a department of experts dedicated solely and exclusively to getting your emails delivered to your contacts’ inboxes. Working with a reliable and trustworthy ESP that is looking out for your results is a great help when it comes to the success of your email marketing campaigns.

Do you want to improve the deliverability of your email campaigns?

At Spotler we have a team of experts who work side by side with our clients to achieve the best deliverability ratio in the industry.

Contact us and we will explain how we work and what our results are.