The world of internet marketing is highly dynamic. What worked yesterday may become obsolete tomorrow. New trends are introduced every day as old ones are abolished, and there are even some that remain constant through it all. It’s important to keep brushing up on your skills, so you don’t miss out the latest tactics.
In the last few years both Email Service Providers and entrepreneurs have realized that even the best email marketing campaign is useless if it does not reach the consumers’ inboxes, so they have turned their attention to minimizing email deliverability failures.
Different companies have adopted different approaches to make sure that their emails will arrive in their intended inboxes. Some have done it better than the others. In this article, we’ll be looking at the best tactics for minimizing email deliverability failures.
Internet marketing has never been as competitive as it is now in 2015, so it’s more important than ever to have a solid infrastructure for email system. Don’t bother worrying about eliminating deliverability failures if you have faults with your infrastructure.
Whether you’re building your own mail server, or you’re using an email delivery service, you need to ensure that:
You don’t have to worry much about security if you’re working with an Email Service Provider (ESP), but if you have your own mail server, then security is of prime importance. You need to make sure that your server is free of open relays or open proxies. Don’t leave any room for a hacker to attack your system.
Even a single attack from a malicious hacker can seriously dent your reputation. Recovery doesn’t come easy either.
When you’re working with an ESP they may assign you a shared IP address instead of an independent one. If you have the option, choose not to accept it.
Having a shared IP is very risky. If another person using your shared IP indulges in shady mailing activities (ie spam) then he won’t be the only one paying for it, your reputation will suffer too.
Make sure that you get a unique IP address, so you have only your actions to worry about. These typically cost extra, but it’s worth the investment.
It’s important to have a procedure in place for monitoring subscriber complaints. A complaint occurs when somebody flags your email as junk or spam. Even a small increase in the customer complaint rate can seriously annoy ISPs and they can block your IP address.
To avoid this, make sure your domain is signed up with all major ISPs Feedback Loops. We even provide a Feedback Loop Setup service at Winning Email too. Check it out.
If you keep ignoring customer complaints, then your sender score, and email deliverability will suffer.
This one is pretty much self-explanatory. Make sure that your emails are in accordance with the laws and regulations of email marketing, like the CAN-SPAM act. All major Email Service Providers already have their systems optimized according to the law, but if you have your own server then you’ll have to do so manually. I recommend having a lawyer help you with that you don’t have to worry about any problems later.
It’s best to keep on top of the legalise, because it’s constantly changing, and countries are regularly writing new laws. One such example is the Canadian Anti-Spam Law.
As I said, new trends come and go, but there are some things that remain constant... Sender Reputation (also known as Sender Score) is one of them. Sender Reputation has been a crucial factor of determining email deliverability and it will continue to do so in 2015.
As long as you’re marketing ethically, building a good sender reputation is easy. It’s not much different than building a good reputation at work. You do your job right, and people start to respect you. For a good sender reputation all you really need to do is send good content to the right people. Here’s what you should NOT do:
This is an obvious one. If you want a good sender reputation then send emails to people who opt-in to your list. Build a clear subscription process so that the people who opt into your list actually care about your niche. Don’t ever buy lists (this can be both illegal and useless). People who did not subscribe to your list willingly won’t be willing to read your emails either.
If you buy lists, you may end up sending an email to a spam-trap. Even if you hit a single spamtrap, it may seriously dent your sender reputation.
Your sending reputation is partly determined by how people respond to your emails, so make sure you’re nice to your subscribers. Don’t send them more than 3 emails a week, but if you really must email them daily, then make sure your emails are worth it.
Neither the people nor the ISPs like inconsistent high volume senders. Send emails in a consistent frequency… both your subscribers and ISPs will appreciate that.
Email marketing isn’t a walk in the park. Your list may be acquired legally, but that doesn’t mean your list is going to be perfect. Your emails may bounce either due to accounts being disabled, full inboxes, or a variety of other reasons. Maybe one of your subscribers flags your email as “spam”, which negatively impacts your IP. Even a small increase in bounce rates or customer complaints can have a big impact on your sender reputation… so it is important to keep cleaning your list regularly.
If an email address has been abandoned, then the ISPs may turn it into a Spam-Trap. You don’t want to send an email to that spam trap, so make sure you remove any subscribers in your list who have not opened your emails in six months (this is a general rule-of-thumb, not a hard and fast rule).
If you want a good sender reputation then you need to develop good list hygiene practice. Make sure you clean your list frequently. I recommend quarterly, but if you can’t then at least do it annually.
Email engagement has always been important, but it’s going to get a lot more competitive this year as more and more methods are introduced to wow subscribers.
Previously engagement was only important for building customer relationships, but now ISPs have started depending heavily upon engagement levels too in determining good sender reputations. They have started introducing new techniques for measuring the quality and quantity of engagement levels.
This provides both a challenge and an opportunity for email marketers to maximize their deliverability and conversion levels.
For maximizing engagement levels you’ll need to work on the formatting of your emails, the content of your emails, and customer segmentation.
Engagement starts from your subject line. Make sure that your subject line is something that is captivating enough to make your subscribers open your message. Please understand that captivating does not mean irrelevant. Your subject line should convey exactly what your email is about... but in an interesting manner. If you use misleading subject lines (such as “Kim Kardashian's Booty!” with an email about auto insurance), you’ll get people to open your emails, but you’ll lose credibility. Although they may open your email the first time, chances are they’ll flag it as spam if you continue to deceive them.
Examples of a good subject line:
A great tip for boosting your email engagement is to include the first name of your subscriber in the subject line. People are more likely to open emails referring to them by their name.
The rule of thumb here is making it as long as it has to be… no more, no less. Keep it relevant and keep it interesting. People don’t want to be bogged down with long bodies of useless information, and we all hate redundant automated messages.
If you want to stand out in your consumers’ inboxes, then add a personal touch in your emails. If you are writing about pets then include personal stories about your own pets. Include images, and give them useful tips.
If you want to market something, then give them something that people would really like to use. Don’t hard sell anything. Put their needs before yours. A useful exercise is to ask yourself how you’d feel if you received the email. Would you be impressed? Annoyed? Angry?
Format your emails properly. Don’t use UPPER CASE excessively, and keep your font style uniform throughout your email. People don’t like seeing new fonts in all different paragraphs. Keep it simple and classic, and you’ll get a better response.
Don’t forget to check your HTML code too. Make sure it doesn’t have any errors in it. Emails having poor HTML code often get blocked by ISPs... and they never make it to the inboxes.
Check how your emails will look like in different ISPs by A/B (split) testing. Keep on changing things and experimenting in order to see what works for you and what doesn’t.
Our Email Booster tool can help you identify and fix issues with your email content, HTML code, and much more.
You’ll have many different people opting in to your mailing lists and not all of those people are going to want to receive all your emails. It’s good practice to create email segments for people with different demographics and demands, and send them offers according to their respective areas and interests.
You should also introduce a preference center for your customers which allows them to choose what kind of updates they would like to receive. By sending personalized updates you’ll reduce the risk of customer complaints, and by sending customized offers for different customer segments you’ll greatly be boosting your customer engagement (and conversions...and that’s really what we’re all here for, right? :).
Make it easy for people to share your emails on social media, by putting social share buttons in your emails.
This is THE most important thing that you need to focus on for minimizing your email deliverability failures in 2015.
The era of smart phones is nowhere near over and now smart watches are being introduced too. This means that people won’t be checking emails just on their PCs or laptops, now they’ll be checking emails on their more-portable and even wearable devices. They may be doing it while going to get groceries, in a coffee shop, or even on a date. This means their attention-span is going to be now shorter than ever.
Stats show that 48% of emails are now opened on mobile devices, and 68% of these emails get deleted because they aren’t optimized for mobile. You definitely don’t want that to happen to your emails.
If people are going to open and read your emails, then you need to give them a good reason to do so. If your font is too small and your images are too large for their phones, then they won’t bother reading your emails. You need to make sure that the emails you are sending out can be viewed on mobile devices. This means using the right font, captivating and relevant images, and clean templates.
Optimizing emails for mobile isn’t difficult. You just need to make everything mobile-friendly. Here’s how you do it:
Big, chunky images will load a lot slower on mobile phones as compared to computers, and speed is of prime importance. Even a one second delay in loading can cause you to lose 7% of conversions, but this doesn’t mean that you stop including pictures in your emails. We already know that visuals generate more engagement than plain text.
There’s a lot of free software available that allows you to reduce the size of your images without altering their quality, such as FileOptimizer, FastStone Photo Resizer, and TinyPNG. By using these tools, you can reduce the size of your photos by upwards of 80%, and utilize images in your emails without worrying about the load times.
Even if you compress your images, they can still look pretty terrible if they’re not optimized for mobile screens. You need to make sure that they are setup to automatically adjust with screen size instead of just pixels. For that, you need to alter the style portion of your HTML code to set the images to adjust by screen proportion. Here’s what I’m talking about:
<img style="max-width: 75%; max-height: auto;" src="YOUR IMAGE SOURCE.JPG" />
Find the above in your HTML code, and set the width according to your requirements. I have set it to 75% and set the height to adjust automatically. By doing so, your images will now appear perfectly on all devices :)
Remember, when on mobile phones people will be using their fingers and thumbs instead of the cursor for clicking your links and Call-To-Action (CTA) buttons. Therefore you should make your CTA buttons bigger than usual for mobile users to make it easier for people to click on them.
It is advised to make your buttons bigger than 57x57 pixels for mobile devices because this is the size of an average finger.
When placing links in your emails be sure to leave enough space between them to avoid any accidental clicks, as people get pissed off if that keeps happening.
89% of email marketers are losing conversions because their emails are not optimized for mobile devices. Stand out in the crowd by going one step further than others, and invest in buying a responsive email template. If you’re good at coding, then you can build your own, but otherwise you can find plenty of good email templates online. ThemeForest has some great paid options. And here’s a substantial list of free ones.
Competition is just getting tougher and tougher, so minimize your deliverability failures by strengthening your email infrastructure, boosting your reputation, maximizing your email engagement, and optimizing your email for mobiles. You’ll definitely be ahead of your competition if you follow all these steps. Good luck!
Memuna Umber from Winning.Email
Memuna is an MBA student who loves learning about marketing, specifically email marketing. She brings a lot of great experience to the Winning Email team and her passion for technology and communicating with people makes her a perfect fit.