How To Land Straight In Customers’ Inbox, Not In Spam: A Detailed Email Deliverability Guide

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Okay people, listen up! What’s the game with how to improve email deliverability these days?

We’ve been working with some of our clients on this and let’s just say that it’s been an eye-opening experience! Of course, as the saying goes, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

One important point: As e-commerce store owners and marketers, one of our prime responsibilities is to get those emails in the primary inbox. And we are pretty sure that it’s something we have all tried our best to unravel the tricks and secrets, which will ensure deliverability.

But is that working? Did we find out what improves deliverability?

Here are some of our thoughts on this uh…rather pressing matter.

Have content that begs to be read!

There’s one thing we can tell for sure is that if readers don’t like or want to read your content, then there’s nothing you can do about it.

On second thoughts you can, and that will be to create brand new content which will be appreciated by your subscriber base. But that’s another issue altogether.

Limit your spam rate

The second thing we realised is that there aren’t any tricks or secrets. What this means is that you can’t trick the various email systems, especially the big ones like Gmail and Outlook.

Finally, if you are a spammer, then guess where your email will go? Spam, obviously. And while for the most part you can’t avoid that, there are ways to design your email marketing in such a way as to not land in the spam folder.

What we’ve learnt is that deliverability is a fine art. You have to keep at it. Even then you may end up in the Promotions or Spam tabs.

What does all this mean?

Two things, really – permission and relevancy.

Why? Cause they spell engagement.

And Gmail and its ilk keep a very close watch on the engagement rate of your emails.

What can you do about it?

For starters, you can prepare. But, what?

Well, it’s a combination of some non-techie and geeky stuff. Let’s go through them:

Geeky Stuff First

The first one is open rates – this is based on your domain and IP reputation, authentication, your content and existing engagement pool.

Careful monitoring of these factors will certainly boost your deliverability.

Next, as Gmail is used by almost everyone, it is a good idea to set up Google Postmaster.

We found that we could exercise control on spam rates and delivery errors with this tool.

GlockApps is another tool that provides us a placement breakdown and spam scores, among others. But, mind you, this is a paid tool.

(Here’s ten more must-have tools for email marketing.)

Then there is something called IP Blacklisting, which is something that you absolutely don’t want. You may find blacklisted IPs, you could ignore them if that’s not affecting your placement.

But if it affects deliverability, then you must contact your ESP (unless you do it yourself) to remove it.

This is important because your domain reputation takes a serious hit, otherwise.

Then, there are a couple of setups for email authentication, preventing spam, set policy and reporting protocol. Let’s quickly summarise:

  • DKIM expands to DomainKeys Identified Email. This authenticates that the email was sent by a legit user.0
  • SPF is Sender Policy Framework. Same as DKIM but blocks spammers from using your domain.
  • DMARC means Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance. This goes beyond authentication and sets policy and reporting control.
  • BIMI stands for Brand Indicator for Message Identification. It authenticates email and also incorporates your brand avatar or profile picture.
  • HTML: If your emails are HTML heavy, then you are almost certainly destined to go to Promotions or Spam.

What we can take away from this is that protecting your domain reputation is priority number one.

Some non-techie tactics

Now that you’ve got the tech up and running, which means that you have improved your deliverability, the next thing on the agenda is to get your audience to engage.

This will complete the circle of email marketing life.

Here are some ideas for you to consider.

Encourage your audience to add you as a contact or a VIP. This is known as whitelisting.

With Gmail, request your audience to drag your email to the Primary Inbox.

We found that clicks initiated from emails are an important positive indicator of engagement.

Also, if anyone from your audience sends a reply, it certainly tilts the scales heavily in your favour.

Get that first email right. Engagement with your first email will dictate all future engagement.

And yes images! No one likes to wait and stare at the screen waiting for your image to load. So, images in emails with a good balance between image size and quality are a definite plus point. In this article, we elaborate on what’s a good text to image ratio in emails.

Finally, and perhaps the most important, is the answer to the question: How clean is your list?

Simply phrased, if you have a lot of inactives in your list, your engagement will drop. And you know where and what that leads to. So, keeping a close tab on actives and inactives can seriously increase your engagement rates. Regularly cleaning up your list will help you improve your deliverability.

But you have to decide a time span or an un-open rate to declare someone as inactive. We think that the general rule of thumb should be 6-7 emails.

To sum it up, we found that both content and tech work hand-in-glove to increase deliverability. Remember the following two golden rules of email deliverability.

Great content increases engagement increases deliverability.

Apt tech helps to monitor and control domain reputation and prevent spam.

Start with the content. The techie stuff is easy.

And if after reading all this, you feel like you’re tearing your hair out, then, reach out to us at Hustler Marketing.

You know that it will be well taken care of!

PS: We have included some great points from Stacked Marketer when they released their email deliverability guide a month ago. Credit where due 🙂

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