10 Steps to Deliverability Success
Managing deliverability can challenge even the most experienced email marketer and certainly cannot be ignored by even the most well-established brand. Government regulations, inconsistent policies among Internet Service Providers (ISPs), emerging technologies and changes in user behaviors all add an extra layer of complexity to the mix.
Even so, achieving a positive sender reputation – the foundation that optimal email deliverability is built on – is not a difficult task. There are easy steps every marketer can adopt to maximize delivery potential. Here are the top 10:
1. Build and maintain good ISP relations. To help tackle problems that arise through the authentication process, invest in building and maintaining good ISP relations, or work with an email service provider (ESP) that has already established positive relationships with ISPs. You should know the technical standards for each ISP and make sure you comply.
2. Utilize feedback loops. Feedback loops are free tools provided by ISPs to help email marketers get feedback from those who receive their email messages. When you sign up for feedback loops, you automatically receive complaints whenever an ISP’s user clicks on the “spam” button in email messages sent by your company. Getting this feedback helps your company proactively manage complaints. By understanding and acting upon the feedback of your email recipients, you can enhance delivery, streamline content and maintain a positive reputation with the ISP.
3. Adhere to CAN-SPAM. The CAN-SPAM law regulates sending email and controlling unsolicited email, and applies to all commercial, non-transactional based messages sent in the U.S. The law requires three specific areas of compliance related to unsubscribe processes, the email content you produce and your sending behavior – all of which affect your sender reputation and, ultimately, deliverability. You must understand and adhere to the law as well as any laws at the state level and any international legislation that exists. Remember: you must adhere to the laws of the state or country you are mailing to, regardless of where you are mailing from.
4. Create relevant content. More and more, ISPs are reviewing user engagement – open rates, click rates, response rates and spam flags – as additional ways to gauge the legitimacy of an email sender and for IP reputation. To help drive these metrics, you need to create highly-relevant content every time you communicate with your subscribers. The email content should match the needs and desires of your intended recipients. Review email content in the eyes of your subscribers. Is it tailored to their demographics, behavioral patterns and personal preferences?
5. Routinely and methodically clean your email lists. Keeping your email lists up-to-date is a surefire way to increase your delivery results. Start by removing or excluding all hard bounces after every campaign mailing. Next, remove any inactive addresses that have not opened a message after six months. At the same time, nurture your newest opt-ins with an automated welcome email program to start your relationship on a strong foot. We also recommend that you do not purchase lists and third-party email data.
6. Test. Testing is important for ensuring that your email is timely and desired by your recipients. Not testing carries the risk of adversely affecting your unsubscribe performance. Remember to test all the key elements, including your send frequency, subject lines and any personalization based upon preferences.
7. Set clear sender expectations at opt-in with preference centers. Preference centers are not only a great way to get to know your subscribers’ interests, but also allows them to control and customize the content they receive from you. Most importantly, they provide you with a wealth of information you can use to create relevant email sends. This gives your subscribers exactly what they want from you, when they want it. It makes them feel more in control of their inbox, and that means they will be more likely to engage.
8. Send with consistency. Subscribers do not tend to open emails from unknown or unfamiliar names. If they don’t recognize you, many will flag your email as spam. That’s why using consistent “from” and “friendly from” addresses is so important for deliverability. The “from” address is the actual email address that appears on your email sends. The “friendly from” address refers to the proper name that is shown as the owner of the “from” email address.
9. Stay connected with safe sender. Always include a clear link in your email template asking your subscribers to add your company’s “from” address to their safe senders list or address book. This is a sure way to signal to an ISP that your email is desired and should be delivered to your subscribers’ inboxes without fail. It also helps to limit the burden on ISP spam filters and increases the likelihood that your email will be delivered properly and read.
10. Focus on engagement. The email marketplace today is not only complex, it’s dynamic. The use of mobile devices to view and send email continues to skyrocket, and popular email providers are rolling out inboxes that adopt more features seen on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. What this means is that subscriber engagement with your email messages has never been a more critical factor. Email content that your subscribers find useful and desirable enough to interact with will help build your engagement and signal an importance for your subscribers to open further emails.