Practical Steps to Improve Email Deliverability

Close-in photo of an email icon on a phone homescreen

Over 300 billion emails are sent every single day across the globe, so what chance do you have of landing your carefully crafted piece of content into the inbox of your recipients?

The good news is, there are ways in which you can grow your customer engagement, win more new business opportunities, and deliver great content that drives value and bottom-line impact, which we’ll explain here…

First things first, the email landscape has changed over the past decade

Years ago brands were responsible for processing their own inbound mail then tapping into an exchange server, a spam protection application and an array manually-intensive processes just to monitor a single email campaign.

That’s not exactly fit-for-purpose is it?

The good news is, fast-forward to the present day and you can hit ‘Send’ on an email to thousands of people at once thanks to savvy technology such as marketing automation.

However, before we go any further, we’re not advocating that you’re now in a better position simply because you can deliver content to a wider range of people – what we’re interested in, and what you should be too, is a far more tailored approach complete with hyper-personalised comms sent to the right people, at the right time and via their preferred channels.

But let’s come onto that later. Right now, it’s worth going back to basics in terms of the steps you need to take to improve your email distribution.

How you can tell you have an email deliverability problem

We’ve got four major reasons why you might be seeing your latest campaign not landing exactly how you’d planned. Firstly…

You have a low open rate

This is perhaps the easiest indication that you have a deliverability issue. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that many email marketing platforms haven’t helped in relation to this because not all open rates are entirely legitimate. In fact, up to 30% of the opens you receive are actually modelled by the email marketing platform as a result of a bot click.

This is because these platforms assume it’s not possible to click on an email without opening it, so they forge the ‘presence’ of an open instead, which could be masking the true impact of your deliverability.

You’re getting little to no engagement

Another obvious one but thankfully a much more accurate gauge in terms of how your digital comms are being received. In this regard we’re referring to people’s actions and whether or not they’re enquiring further, purchasing a product, or downloading your price guide.
To get a more complete picture, we’d recommend tapping into lead scoring as a metric for true engagement because it’s based on how a user has interacted with your emails and website.

If you’re able to grow the lead scores of individuals, this can offer an early indication of how your content is being received whereas if you’re simply relying on the lack of enquiries you’re receiving, you might be a little too late to the party to tweak your comms accordingly.

You’re experiencing bot traffic

Here’s the bad news, unfortunately many email marketing tools struggle to contend with identifying this type of traffic and marketers therefore end up with skewed statistics that’s beneficial to nobody. You need a platform that provides web activity tracking to analyse when a human has interacted and when a bot has pounced Force24 can help with this.

You need an online checker

An online mail testing application allows you to send an email to them and they’ll observe how the email is handled through the servers. Although this isn’t a guaranteed route when establishing deliverability, it does help to provide some further information to help you understand the performance of your emails.

Having explained some of the major issues many marketing departments come across, here’s how brands can optimise the deliverability of your next campaign.

Understand the quality of your data

Sending a cold email to users who you’ve never engaged with before is often a risky strategy in email marketing and many pieces of content end up heading straight in ‘spam’ filters no matter how beautifully crafted the copy was.

Regularly emailing your data and harvesting the ‘bounce’ information from your email sends will help you to delete records that are no longer active. Don’t fall into the trap of sending out a blanket email to a large volume of old data because the damage to your server reputation can be considerable.

Respond to bounce information – in real-time

This is when a contact’s mailbox is not able to receive an email and can either be a hard, permanent or a soft bounce. We’d recommend you get rid of hard bounces in real-time and ensure your CRM system isn’t actively reactivating these too. Look more specifically at soft bounces too and make sure that you’re receiving no more than 1% hard bounces in your email sends.

Avoid spam traps

This is where an email address has been placed somewhere on the internet to determine if your list has been sourced by ‘scraping’ email addresses. When you hit these, they can cause significant brand reputational damage.

A good way to keep on top of this is to also understand when your data was last used and make sure you’re not overwriting hard bounces.

Live and breathe segmentation and relevance

Many marketers might not still know there are different types of segmentation. Firstly, understanding your engagement segmentation means you’re able to respond to how frequently you can talk to these contacts, and how to optimise your email interaction.

When you’re equipped with this information, opt for varying the speeds at which you deliver your emails to allow you to isolate a much smaller segment of data – meaning you’re delivering hyper-personalised comms on a far more granular level. Marketing automation can help you to move contacts from various segments, based on their real-time interactions, imagine how powerful that can be for your deliverability success?

Meanwhile, vertical segmentation is about understand your audience and what part of your proposition will most attract them. Avoid a one-size-fits-all strategy here, it’s about relevance and delivering impactful comms.

Don’t forget about artwork

When you’re operating at lightning speed, it’s often hard for marketers to factor in creative content but it’s incredibly important.

Too often we’ll see brands overcomplicate their content or offer up a confusing design that the recipient simply clicks ‘delete’ to. If you’re guilty of this and want to simplify your emails, we’d recommend no more than 10 words for one button and two supporting, relevant paragraphs.

And finally, it’s all about cadence

Many marketers confuse this term as ‘spamming’ but that’s not the case at all. Fancy an example?

Imagine you’re an avid swimmer and you practice all the time, watch everything involved in the sport, and you buy your kit from a select few online retailers – one of which is very proactive in sending you supportive messages about technique and how its products can help you produce record-breaking times.

Even though they might be communicating with you every day, you’re happy to receive these emails – this is cadence.

The problem occurs when you try the same approach for someone less engaged or a non-swimmer. Yes, they might’ve bought a pair of goggles from you once upon a time but that doesn’t mean they’re keen to receive an email from you all the time. This is spamming.

Lead scoring helps to determine engagement levels here – and this data should be provided to you via a savvy marketing automation tool.

Overall, email deliverability does rely on many factors at play so it’s worth committing to a process of fixing, tweaking and understanding how you can send digital comms a recipient wants to consume. This only scratches the surface, but if you want more info including frameworks you can include to ensure an increase in deliverability check out our guide called The Ultimate Guide to Email Deliverability here on Bizibl!

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