Email is still king when it comes to increasing conversions in your business. In fact for every $1 you invest in email marketing, you have the potential of earning back $42.
Apart from its huge ROI, email marketing also allows you to bypass things like tricky social media algorithms that regularly change, but it does come with its own gatekeeper that can stop your emails from landing in your subscribers' inbox: email deliverability.
In this article, we're diving into 8 tips on how to increase your email deliverability (that don't require any special technical skills) so you can make sure your well crafted sales and marketing emails aren't ending up in the dreaded "spam" folder or bouncing directly.
8 Tips To Increase Email Deliverability:
- 1. Get your Subscribers to 'Safelist' You
- 2. Segment your Audience & Send Highly Relevant Emails
- 3. Never Buy an Email List
- 4. Make it Easy for your Subscribers to Unsubscribe
- 5. Regularly Clean your Email List
- 6. Choose a Reputable ESP (Email Service Provider) with Good Deliverability Rates
- 7. Spam Check your Subject Lines
- 8. Encourage Replies to your Emails
What is Email Deliverability?
Email deliverability refers to how many emails make it to your contacts' actual inbox. This means your emails are properly delivered and your subscribers can see them. You have an email deliverability problem when a high percentage of the emails you send out end up either in the spam/junk folder or were directly blocked by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) like Gmail, Yahoo!, Outlook, Hotmail or AOL.
ISPs are constantly being updated and improving their spam-detection capabilities in order to keep their users safe from harmful, toxic and malicious messages. However, it sometimes affects well meaning email marketers who send emails en-masse to large (or small) lists of contacts, meaning we need to be vigilant about tracking our email deliverability.
But, why is having a great email deliverability rate important? Is it something you should bother worrying about or can it lie on the back-burner?
Read on to understand why email deliverability is a crucial factor to improving the ROI of your email marketing campaigns.
Why is Email Deliverability Important for your Email Marketing Success?
The whole point of painstakingly growing an email list is to have a direct line of communication with your customers where you can build trust and sell to them, and depending on the size of your list it can be costly to maintain.
So wouldn't it be pretty terrible if the majority of your emails were landing directly in your subscribers' spam folders? Or not even making it that far and being blocked directly?
If your emails are bouncing or being marked as spam it means that you have zero chance of making a conversion or building a relationship with those contacts. Ever.
So all that money you're investing in email marketing, both in software and manpower in terms of writing the emails and building your list, is going down the drain. The bottom line is: if your emails aren't being delivered properly, then ROI on your email marketing will plummet.
We're pretty sure the dreaded spam folder is a fate you want to avoid, so if you're having issues with email deliverability, or if you just want to be proactive and avoid future email deliverability problems, you can follow these 9 tips to help you land in that golden "primary" inbox.
8 Ways to Increase your Email Deliverability
There are many factors that go into how well your emails are being delivered, but these nine tips are all things that you have direct control over and can fix almost immediately. Let's get down to it.
1. Get your Subscribers to 'Safelist' You
Safelisting, also known as 'whitelisting', involves your subscribers manually telling their ISP that you are a trusted contact and your emails are safe. But if you're asking your subscribers to do something manually like this, you really need to drive home the value of your emails and remind them that without adding you to their 'safelist' they can miss out on valuable content or offers.
The process of safelisting will be different depending on what ISP your contacts are using and also their device (Apple or Android).
You can usually find out what ISP and device your contacts are using within your ESP (email service provider). Here's an example of where to find it using ActiveCampaign which is under Reports > Contact Reports > Email Client Trends.
Here you can click the links and see what contacts are viewing emails on an iPhone and which ones are viewing emails on Gmail.
Once you know what device/ISP your subscribers are using you can send segmented emails to them and show them step-by-step how to safelist you.
Not sure what the process of safelisting looks like for Apple, Android, Gmail and Outlook? Don't worry, we've done the hard work for you in our full guide on safelisting emails.
2. Segment your Audience & Send Highly Relevant Emails
Segmenting your email list is leveraging data that you have about your contacts in order to send them highly personalized email campaigns. You can use data like location, profession or specific actions (like clicking on a link or abandoning a cart) to segment your email list and boost your chances of getting higher open and click-through rates.
But what has segmenting & personalization got to do with email deliverability?
Simply put, the more relevant your emails are to your subscriber, the higher the chance that they'll actually open, read and click links in your emails. All of these actions send out good signals to email services like Gmail that your emails are actually valuable to their users, which helps keep you out of the spam folder.
Benefits of Segmenting & Personalizing your Emails
- Increase your open rate
- Increase your click-through-rate
- Reduce your chances of being reported as spam
- Increase conversions
- Drive more traffic to your site
3. Never Buy an Email List
Email marketing is a permission-based form of marketing. This means you need permission from someone before you can start emailing them your newsletters and promos. Additionally, if you've got subscribers in the European Union (EU) then your emails also need to be GDPR compliant.
But buying email lists means you are gaining access to a list of contacts who have never heard from you before and have never given you permission to contact them. So when you show up in their inbox the likelihood of them listening to you is slim and most will simply report you as spam.
Generating a high volume of spam complaints will seriously damage your sender reputation (a score that ISPs like Gmail use to assess how trustworthy your organization's emails are) and skyrocket the chances of you landing in the junk folder.
As a side note, your sender reputation is closely linked with your domain reputation and the IP reputation from which you send your emails. Your IP reputation is based on things like the quality of your emails, how engaged your contact list is and the quality of your contacts. The more spam complaints you generate, the more you'll harm your sender reputation.
The best way to build an engaged and healthy email list is by creating a great opt-in incentive and making sure that subscribers give you permission to contact them again in the future. Creating an email list based on value and consent is the best way to avoid people reporting you as spam.
How to Get Consent to Email your Subscribers
- Create a double opt-in. This is when subscribers get an initial confirmation email asking for their consent to be subscribed to your list.
- Have a check-box on your opt-in form that allows new subscribers to say that they give you permission to send sales, news and promotional emails. Make sure the default option isn't already checked - the subscriber needs to take positive action and actively opt-in.
- Don't make it a requirement to sign up for your newsletter in order to get a lead magnet or other gated content.
4. Make it Easy for your Subscribers to Unsubscribe
It might seem like the worst thing possible for your email marketing to let subscribers opt-out from receiving your emails, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Allowing subscribers to unsubscribe will help keep your list clean and healthy, not to mention legal.
GDPR law requires that all subscribers have an easy way to opt-out of your email newsletters and making it more difficult for your subscribers to opt-out will simply encourage them to report you as spam so their ISP filters your emails.
Most ESP (email service providers) will automatically include an unsubscribe link at the end of your emails to allow your contacts to easily unsubscribe. Never try to delete or alter this in any way and make sure it's visible and easy to find for your subscribers.
Remember, you can allow your contacts to unsubscribe from certain promotional campaigns, but still stay on your main list. This will reduce your unsubscribe rate and help your contacts self-segment.
Always remember: the harder you make it for people to unsubscribe, the higher your chances are of being reported as spam.
5. Regularly Clean your Email List
You're way more likely to see a boost in your email deliverability if your list is squeaky clean. By that, we just mean that you're taking the time to re-engage inactive contacts and removing contacts who haven't engaged with your emails in a long time.
Most reputable ESPs allow you to see and filter who hasn't opened your emails within a given timeframe. Do some investigating and check which subscribers haven't opened your emails in a 2-3 month period and try sending them what's known as a 're-engagement' campaign to win them back, but if they fail to re-engage then wipe them from your list.
However, bear in mind that due to a new Apple update your open rates may be inflated going forward. That's because Apple's latest OS includes an update that marks all emails as opened, which might skew your data.
To remedy this, start looking even more closely at your click-through-rates, in other words, how many contacts are clicking links in your emails. This is a more reliable and valuable metric to be following, especially after this recent Apple update.
Sending emails that only sit and lie in someone's inbox, unopened, will send negative signals to ISPs and hurt your email deliverability, so make sure your list is as engaged and healthy as possible.
6. Choose a Reputable ESP (Email Service Provider) with Good Deliverability Rates
Sometimes your email deliverability issues are somewhat beyond your control and the real fault lies with your Email Service Provider (ESP), in other words, the email marketing software that you're using.
Unless you're using your own dedicated IP address to send your emails, you're probably using a shared IP which means that other users' reputation can impact your own as you're sending emails from the same server. If you regularly send out a large amount of emails to a big list, it can be worth your time setting up your own dedicated IP address to more closely control your sender reputation.
Email deliverability rates can vary between different ESPs. Here is a comparison of the best ESP deliverability rates, in descending order, as of March 2021:
- MailerLite - 97%
- SendinBlue - 96%
- ConvertKit - 96%
- CleverReach - 94%
- Hubspot - 92%
When choosing an ESP, you should really take their deliverability into consideration, as this is the software you'll be trusting to communicate with your subscribers.
Want a full review and our top choices for the best email marketing software platforms of 2021?
7. Spam Check your Subject Lines
Did you know that hundreds of words can trigger your emails being sent directly to the spam folder? One of the ways that Gmail and other email services filter potential spam emails is by their subject lines. If your subject line contains any "spam trigger words" then you might just trip a spam filter.
5 Words that May Trigger a Spam Filter
- Visit our website
- Click here
But what about the hundreds of other spam words? You can't learn them off by heart, so it's best to use a tool like a subject line tester which can help you identify any potential spam triggers in your subject line.
8. Encourage Replies to your Emails
While great open rates and click-through-rates are one way that email services like Gmail recognize quality emails that their users enjoy, there is no stronger engagement metric than replies to your emails.
Nobody really takes the time to respond to spam emails and encouraging your contacts to hit reply and engage with your emails can be another great signal that your email content is valuable and worth making its way into your subscriber's inbox.
To encourage replies to your emails, ask your subscribers specific questions at the end of your emails or ask them to reply with their thoughts on your content. This works particularly well for individual creators who can leverage their personal brand to encourage this type of 1-1 engagement.
Final Thoughts on Improving your Email Deliverability
Improving your email deliverability doesn't always require high technical skill. There are lots of ways to boost your sender reputation and increase the chances of your emails landing in the right inbox without ever touching a line of code.
Taking the time to craft great emails, making them relevant by segmenting your audience and making sure your list is built on trust and engagement is one of the best, long-term strategies to increasing your email deliverability, not to mention the ROI on your email marketing.