How to Maximize Your Delivery Rate
Thanks to its incredible ROI and relative ease to set up, email has become a key activity for most marketers today.
The Radicati Group estimated that in 2017, the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day will reach 269 billion, and this figure is expected to keep increasing.
However, before you can see the results from your email marketing campaign, your email has to actually be delivered. While spammers get sneakier and people become more protective of their inbox, it’s easy for even the most ethical marketers to find their emails bouncing.
So how can you ensure your carefully crafted message doesn’t fall victim to the spam filters and end up in the wastelands? How do you get your email campaign off the ground and into your prospect’s inbox?
Read on to learn how to maximize your email delivery rate and avoid common mistakes.
Avoid setting off alarms
Like trying to get in a fancy club with no shirt or shoes, some people blast out their emails without any concern for what the rules are. You may think you’re a free spirit with no time for any restrictions but, just like that fancy club, mailboxes have their rules.
If you don’t respect them, you’re not going in. While it can be tricky and time-consuming to work out all the various rules, you can make sure your email is off to a good start with some basic rules of thumb.
To start, you’ll want to make sure your email isn’t actually spam. The CAN-SPAM act spells out the requirements for companies sending commercial emails:
- Don’t use false or misleading header information.
- Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
- Identify the message as an ad.
- Tell recipients where you’re located.
- Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future emails from you.
- Honor opt-out requests promptly
- Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.
If you’re not following these rules, you have more to be worried about than delivery rate; each separate email breaking the rules is subject to penalties of up to $40,654. Ouch!
Watch your content
Assuming your email is a legitimate commercial email, it’s still good practice to make sure the content of your email isn’t setting off any alarm bells.
As an obvious example, mentioning ‘cheap viagra’ in your subject line or email is going to raise alarm bells and dump your email into the junk pile. The same goes for talk of free, offer, buy now and subjects in ALL CAPS or with lots of punctuation!!!?11.
Some other less obvious examples of words that are on the naughty list include Oprah, Dear and Extra Inches. While filters are getting smarter and better at differentiating genuine emails from spam, there’s no reason to use keywords that make your email look like spam.
All good emails should be written for humans first and foremost, but also take a moment and think how a spam filter might interpret your subject line and email. You might be talking about how we can expect a few extra inches of snow this year, but the filters might just see a massive red flag.
Don’t get carried away with images
A picture may paint a thousand words, but if you’re relying on images you could be in trouble. When spammers realized filters were flagging their keywords, they started using more images in their emails.
In response, although the filters couldn’t tell what was in an image, they started flagging messages with a high ratio of images to text as potential spam.
So while you may think all those pictures are great and showcase your product perfectly, they could be hurting your delivery rate, even if your message is completely legit.
In addition, as many mailboxes have images turned off by default, image-heavy messages are a bad choice for today’s marketers.
Keep your reputation clean
Joan Jett may not have given a damn about her bad reputation, but if you want your email to be delivered you can’t afford to have the same attitude. With filters placing much more importance on sending reputation today, you need to keep yours as clean as possible.
For starters, consider your address. You’ll want to make sure the ‘from’ address on your emails matches your sending domain. You’ll also want to avoid using free emails (such as Hotmail, Outlook or Gmail for example) for sending bulk commercial emails if you want to avoid being flagged.
You should also avoid changing your domain if you can help it. To use a real-world example, which business would you see as more trustworthy? A guy selling Rolexes out the back of his van? Or a brick and mortar business that’s been in the same location for the last 50 years?
In the same way, filters place great importance on how long the sending domain has been active. As spammers will often try and get past filters by regularly changing the IP address or the domains their emails come from, spam filters now view this as a potentially suspicious activity.
On the other hand, authenticated senders with long-term IP addresses and domains are seen as more trustworthy and are much less likely to be flagged.
Keep your list up to date
If you bought your list from some suspicious bloke in an alley, it could be costing you more than you think. By sending out your emails to a stale, unverified list, there’s a good chance those addresses are out of date if they were ever genuine in the first place.
Some ISPs and blacklist providers set up spam traps as a honeypot for attracting spammers. But even if you’re not emailing spam traps, an out of date address can also be harmful:
Out of date addresses lead to bounced emails.
Bounced emails lead to a damaged sender reputation.
And lots of bounced emails? That leads to a lot of damage to your reputation (and possibly the dark side of the force).
If you’re emailing a double opt-in list, full of people that signed up specifically to receive emails from you, you may think you don’t have to worry about this. However, it’s still important you keep these fresh too.
For example, if you’re not emailing people regularly they may forget who you are and incorrectly report the message as spam. If you start seeing hard bounces come back from your campaign, get those addresses off your list straight away.
Get yourself off the blacklist
If you’re finding your email delivery rate is through the floor then you may have inadvertently ended up on one or more blacklists. Some are specific to major ISPs, while others are publicly available.
If you have found yourself on a blacklist, don’t panic just yet. Some will automatically remove IPs once they are no longer associated with spam activity. Others will have a procedure you can follow to get yourself removed.
Send an email that matters
This may seem a bit backward. Surely there’s no point worrying about the quality of your message if it’s never getting delivered in the first place, right? Well, beyond the obvious point of avoiding spammy tactics, quality emails can have other advantages.
For a start, valuable emails are much less likely to have complaints raised against them or be reported as spam. Going deeper, some spam filters will flag messages based on engagement levels.
If your message has been read, replied to or forwarded, that sends positive signals that the message is welcome and not spam. On the other hand, unread messages send a negative signal.
By sending emails that provide clear value, you’ll get better engagement from your recipients, reduce the chance of being incorrectly flagged as spam, and improve your delivery rate.
Using the right tool for the job makes maximizing your delivery rate much easier. For example, Reply includes built-in email validation, reducing the chances of bounced emails.
Try it out with a free 14 day trial and see for yourself why over 1,000 companies trust Reply for their email campaigns.