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How often do you open your mailbox, grab the pile of unsolicited mail and throw it in the trash? Probably a million times. How often do you pause to think you might have unintentionally thrown out non-spam? Probably a lot fewer times. Get ready for the same type of experience online.
The last place you want to see your emails is in the spam folder. Yet with the further sophistication and higher demands of Internet Service Providers, the probability of this happening is high. That is why deliverability becomes a critical element of a successful email marketing campaign. To help you tackle this issue, we put together some best practices for increasing email deliverability:
1. Check Your Copy for Spam-Triggering Words
Make sure your subject line and body of email don’t include any keywords that can trigger spam alerts. Some Email Service Providers (ESPs) help you identify these phrases with features such as Content Detective , SpamAssassin and ContentChecker . But the most universal piece of advice you can adopt to avoid spam-triggering words is to keep your emails out of the box. Be bold and think outside the frame of what other companies are using.
2. Suppress Against Hard Bounces
Are you keeping track of the percentage of hard bounces you get? You need to be. If that number is rising, bring it up with your ESP. Since hard bounced can really hurt your reputation, you will have to clean your list regularly. Make sure you suppress against them if that is not already something your ESP is doing on the back end.
3. Increase Engagement Levels
Mail clients have started tying the engagement levels of your email subscribers to your reputation as a sender. In response to this, you will need to keep your recipients highly engaged in order to appear reputable in the eyes of Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, etc. Do your recipients click on emails or do they delete them? Do they mark them as spam? What action do they take? Make sure your subscribers don’t get what they don’t want.
4. Set Expectations in the Welcome Email
Greet the newcomers when they sign up for your newsletter or other types of email communication. In the welcome email, set some expectations explaining why that person is receiving your messages, how often they are going to be sent out and from whom exactly. These details will help you build a relationship that goes a long way. When you sign up for GroupOn, for instance, you expect to be receiving daily emails and look forward to them. Follow GroupOn’s example and make your subscribers look forward to your emails.
5. Don’t Forget Branding
Branding is vital to how emails are being read and how recipients understand them. It helps people make the connection and say, “This is the real thing, not just a third-party email.” Include your logo in your email communication and make it clear this really is your company. Also consider including your company name in the subject line of your emails.
6. Use a Preference Center
If a recipient wants to update her email address, does she have an easy way to do that? Provide her with a preference center, in which she can make that selection and tell you what the best email is to be contacted at. Give people the option to mark how frequently they want to receive emails from you and share their favorite topics. Such a feature will show you care for your subscribers and respect their preferences.
7. Track Your Complaint Feedback Loop
You are probably tracking hard bounces and soft bounces. But do you know how many people clicked on the “This Is Spam” button? First, look into that and understand how many of these complaints you are getting. If the number is significant, you will have to take action. Remove the subscribers who have complained and stop torturing these poor souls. Also consider putting the unsubscribe button at the top of the email instead of at the bottom. (Unsubscribing is better for your reputation than having your email reported as spam.)
These best practices will help you monitor your deliverability and improve it overtime. Don’t be the piece of mail that got stuck in the spam pile and unintentionally got thrown out. Stand out.
Originally published Jan 31, 2011 4:00:00 PM, updated June 09 2021