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Everyone wants their emails to hit the inbox, but so many product emails go unread. While these emails get delivered, they don’t quite make it to the recipient’s prized inbox—leaving them in the sea of other promotional, update, and potentially spam emails.
If you want to appear in your audience’s inbox every time, you need to focus on email deliverability. While this might sound highly technical, there’s actually a lot you can do to improve your chances of getting seen, even if you’re not an expert in deliverability.
In this guide we’ll explore what email deliverability is and how to set your emails up for success, with practical tips that you can start working on right now.
What Is Email Deliverability?
Email deliverability is all about making sure your emails end up in the right place – your recipient’s email inbox. It’s like figuring out if your email can pass through special email checkpoints set up by email companies. These checkpoints look at things like the people you’re sending emails to, what you’re saying in your email, and how you’ve sent emails before. All of these things decide if your email gets to where it should go or not.
You might be wondering what the difference is between email delivery and email deliverability. Email delivery concerns whether your email makes it to the recipient’s email account at all, while deliverability is the likelihood that it reaches your intended destination—the inbox.
If you’re lucky enough to have good email deliverability, the majority (if not all) of your product updates and email newsletters reach your recipient’s inbox. They can read and take action, and as a result you can monitor metrics like opens, click rates, and goal completions. This means you can track the impact of your emails over time and make improvements based on real data.
Poor email deliverability can lead to emails hitting the promotions tab, or even the spam folder in a worst case scenario. If your audience can’t find your email, they can’t read out about your new product update, promotional offer, or exciting new feature. Not only that, hey wont be abl to interact with your email, click on your links, or give you any insights into how useful or engaging your content is.
How to Fix and Maintain Good Email Deliverability
We know that good email deliverability is the goal, but how do you get there? Here’s a step-by-step guide on the top areas to focus on, so you can take practical action to improve your email deliverability.
1. Keep your list healthy
To stand the best chance of reaching your target audience’s inbox, you need to work on your list hygiene. A clean list is a happy list, after all.
List hygiene involves regularly reviewing your list to make sure it contains only high-quality, relevant data. This involves removing unsubscribe requests, re-engaging recipients who don’t open emails, and deleting any email addresses that are no longer in use.
Want to keep your list healthy? Here’s what to do:
- Verify emails when they come in. Use your own heuristics or algorithms to determine whether emails are valid or genuine, or use a paid tool like BriteVerify.
- Use double opt-in. While you might lose some subscribers along the way, double opt-in allows you to verify that your recipients actually want to hear from you.
- Send a re-engagement campaign. Segment your list and send a re-engagement or winback campaign to those that don’t interact with your emails, to figure out whether they’re still interested.
- Remove disengaged recipients. After you’ve sent your re-engagement campaign, remove those that still don’t engage with your emails.
- Remove repeated hard bounces. Review your analytics on a regular basis and remove any recipients whose emails return a hard bounce back.
- Never buy email lists. Sending emails to paid lists can seriously affect your email deliverability. It may take more time, but building your own list is always the best option.
Maintaining good list hygiene not only helps email deliverability but also makes sense from an email marketing perspective. Your list might appear smaller, but also your recipients will be more engaged. You can invest your energy in building a relationship with the folks who want to hear from you, instead of wasting it on those who don’t.
2. Establish a good domain and IP reputation
Reputation matters everywhere—including when it comes to delivering emails. The IP address and domain that you send from both have a reputation that can affect deliverability. It’s a factor that’s built over time, so start early with good intentions.
Here’s how to get into a good routine with your domain and IP reputation:
- Choose between a dedicated or shared IP: With a dedicated IP, you have complete control over anything that’s sent. With a shared IP, what other organizations send and the IP’s reputation can impact your deliverability. For high-volume senders, dedicated is best. If you’re just starting out or don’t send often, a more affordable shared IP is fine.
- Set up your authentication fundamentals: Signal to ISPs that you’re the real deal and avoid bad actors imitating you. Set up your DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), Sender Policy Framework (SPF), and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) records as soon as possible.
- Use separate subdomains for different messages: Split your email campaigns into categories, and create a relevant subdomain from each—e.g. updates.yourdomain.com and marketing.yourdomain.com
- Use exact match sending and from domains: Protect your reputation by making sure your "from" and sending subdomains are the same. If you’re sending an email from marketing.yourdomain.com, use an @marketing.yourdomain.com "from" address too.
- Run seed tests: Get insights into how email clients treat your emails with Vero’s seed testing.
- Email your list regularly: Suddenly increasing your send volume can make ISPs think you’re sending spam. Avoid this by intentionally emailing your list on a regular basis.
- Send your emails in batches: For large campaigns, a sudden influx in high-volume sending can raise alarm bells with your recipients’ ISPs. With Vero, you can use our send-in batches feature to split your campaign into smaller groups and remove this risk.
Once you’ve chosen the type of IP and set up your authentication records, maintaining your reputation is all about sending useful content on a regular basis. Keep this up, and you’ll continue to build a positive status with ISPs.
3. Send useful emails
Email engagement can be a factor when it comes to email deliverability. If your recipients excitedly open your emails every time, they’re more likely to land straight in their inbox. Increase your chances of this by crafting useful, engaging emails.
Knowing what your audience wants to read doesn’t happen overnight. Here’s how to start sending more useful emails:
- Send what your audience expects to receive: Review your lists and sign-up process to understand what your audience expects, then create a content plan that delivers this.
- Level up your writing skills: Learn about persuasive writing, storytelling, and other strategies to make your content more engaging.
- Review your analytics: Identify which subject lines, headlines, content blocks, and stories your recipients engaged with the most. Learn from what they like and don’t like.
- Experiment with your content: Introduce new elements or content pieces in experiments. You might uncover a highly successful strategy.
- Run a feedback survey: Ask your recipients what they enjoy about your email newsletter. Use the results to shape your future strategy.
Repeat this process over time and continually evaluate whether your emails are useful. If you notice a drop in engagement, revisit your strategy and run experiments to return your engagement rates to a higher level.
4. Optimize your email design
They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but the design of your emails still matters. Encourage your readers to engage with your email newsletters and campaigns by creating a positive user experience.
When you’re creating email campaigns, keep these design fundamentals in mind:
- Consider your email design: Your email newsletter should have the same look and feel that your customers are used to. Use your brand color palette, fonts, imagery, and elements to create a cohesive look.
- Use a template: Don’t surprise your recipients with a different email design every time. Build your own template and use it regularly so your audience knows what to expect, or use one of Vero’s free responsive templates.
- Keep your email size small: There’s no perfect size, but most marketers agree that a maximum width of 600px (or 320px on mobile) and height of 1500px is ideal.
- Consider your text-to-image ratio: Your content should largely be word-based or dynamic content, but use imagery to highlight key points or share promotional messages. Understand your email image to develop the best practice for optimizing your content.
- Use font styling appropriately: Avoid writing in all caps, all bold, or using a mix of styling options. Make only the most important areas stand out—like your call to action button.
- Consider accessibility:Your emails shouldn’t just look great, they should also be accessible. Think about font size, image descriptions, link colors, and other elements that make your content easier to read. Learn about email accessibility and put the key points into practice.
Great email design is subjective, but these basics will help you create templates and form habits that lead to more accessible and interactive email newsletters.
5. Always respect your recipients’ rights
US-based laws like the CAN-SPAM Act and international laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe give users the right to protect their inboxes from unwanted emails. While we know you’re not about to disrespect your customers’ data, it’s still important to be mindful of your users’ rights.
Be a thoughtful sender and respect your recipients’ rights with these steps:
- Offer easy one-click unsubscribe: Make it as easy as possible for people to unsubscribe. Don’t make them complete a detailed form—make it one-click.
- Honor unsubscribe requests as soon as possible: Avoid sending emails to people who have already made an unsubscribe request by actioning them as soon as you can. With Vero, this happens automatically so you don’t need to worry about upsetting your previous subscribers.
- Only send relevant emails: Don’t trick your recipients into receiving promotional emails if they’re expecting your amazing how-to content. Send relevant content only and you’ll build better relationships and reduce the amount of unsubscribe requests.
Learn about relevant rights, respect your recipients’ wishes and requests, and you’re well on your way to being a responsible sender.
Maintain Email Deliverability by Monitoring Your Progress
Email deliverability isn’t a check box exercise. To maintain good deliverability, you’ll want to regularly check in with your reputation, engagement levels, and list hygiene.
Develop a routine of monitoring your email deliverability that includes these steps:
- Check your sender reputation: Keep an eye on signals that ISPs use to determine deliverability with tools like Everest’s reputation monitoring service.
- Monitor open and click rates: Look for trends and identify highly engaging content by checking your open and click rates after each campaign. Vero makes this easy with useful insights and email analytics.
- Review your reports on a per-domain basis: Identify potential issues with specific subdomains or sending domains by reviewing each separately, if you can—especially if you’re sending high volumes across multiple domains.
Create a habit of checking the quality of your emails and your lists on a regular basis, and learn to track your email reputation. You’ll be able to spot problems before they become a big issue, as well as opportunities to send more of the type of content your audience is engaging with.
Improve Your Email Deliverability and Create a Better Email Experience
Whether your emails make it to your recipients’ inbox or not depends on your reputation, the relationship with your audience, and the quality of your emails. Get these fundamentals right and you’re on the path to building good email deliverability over time.
Not all email marketing platforms are alike. Make the move to Vero and build your email campaigns in a platform centered around the core values of respect, clarity, and excellence. Sign up for a free Vero account today and explore a better way to engage with your audience.
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