Did you know that 21% of opt-in emails never reach the inbox? Are you part of that statistic? Maybe it’s time for you to improve email deliverability. But how? We’re going to show you today.
Even though email is considered one of the most powerful marketing channels, it’s is only effective if it reaches the targeted audience.
One way to make sure you reach the inbox of your desired audience is by maintaining a solid reputation with major email providers. And how do you build a good reputation?
By keeping your email list clean.
Just as you have to prune a tree to make it grow even stronger, you need to trim your email list regularly in order to maintain list hygiene and improve email deliverability.
Let’s see how to do that.
5 Ways You Can Improve Email Deliverability Today
#1 Eliminate Unresponsive Subscribers
Remove duplicate email addresses: Imagine receiving the same email multiple times. It’s annoying and can make you hit the unsubscribe button fast.
Sometimes, depending on the kind of platform you are using to send your emails, issues can arise due to duplicate email addresses. Some of your subscribers can get the same email several times.
And as you can imagine, receiving duplicate emails can cause users to disconnect from you – costing your business valuable time and money.
Recognizing these duplicates and then deduping your email list is crucial. Thankfully, almost all the email service providers will automatically comb through your email list and eliminate the duplicates once you upload your list into their system.
If your system doesn’t offer to do this for you, or you have different email addresses for the same individuals in your list, you’ll need to do some manual deduping. Or hire an email marketing agency like ours that can do it for you.
Remove invalid email addresses: A sure shot way to negatively impact your reputation and increase your bounce rates is to have bad email addresses in your list.
Here are some steps you can take to combat bad email addresses in order to improve email deliverability:
Don’t buy email lists. More often than not, the email lists available to purchase are chock full of bad or invalid email addresses. Additionally, these people did not ask to be on your email list. Which means not only should you not email them, but even if you do, they are likely uninterested and will unsubscribe. It’s wasted money spent.
Use double opt-in techniques. Ask your subscribers to confirm their email addresses. This ensures that your list is free of useless email addresses and full of interested users who actually want the product or service you are offering.
Ask them for updated contact information. Every so often, send an email to your subscribers asking if they still want to hear from you. This not only makes you appear more considerate, but you can use this info for customer segmentation processes in the future.
#2 Segregate active and inactive email addresses
When you continually email your entire list, subscribers who never open or engage can negatively affect your reputation. In some cases, it’s been found that this can also impact delivery to your most active subscribers.
That’s why sorting out active users from inactive ones is an essential step toward creating a good reputation.
Here’s how to do it:
First, define “active” and “inactive” users. Usually, active subscribers are those who continuously engage with your emails – they open, click, and even convert into paying customers.
On the other hand, describing inactive subscribers can be a little tricky.
If a subscriber who joined your list a year ago still hasn’t opened or clicked on an email, he or she is obviously “inactive”. When you try to get more specific than that, it can get a bit tough to define.
For example, if you are a traditional retailer, you may deem users as “inactive” if they haven’t engaged with your emails in 90 days. But if you offer daily deals, you’ll consider subscribers as inactive if they haven’t clicked on an email in 30 days.
Also, if your goal is to determine inactivity among your subscribers, consider their engagement with your emails as well as your website.
Sometimes, even though a subscriber is not engaging with your email, they might still be buying your products. Would you stop sending them emails? You shouldn’t. The data below shows why.
For example, you get zero engagement with an email whose subject line says “Your bill is pending.” If the bills are getting paid nonetheless, does that mean that your email was unsuccessful? Of course not. Maybe it was that email that reminded the customer to pay the bill.
Before defining what an “inactive” subscriber is, consider your industry and your product. Don’t hesitate to test different classifications.
Create different email campaigns for actives and inactives. After you have sorted out active and inactive subscribers, create two lists – one for active users and another for those who seem inactive to you.
#3 Go Easy on Your Inactive Subscribers
In step #2, we suggested that you remove the inactive subscribers from your email list and put them into a different one. Now, don’t send your regular emails to this list. Let them “sleep” for a while.
Continuously mailing an inactive group of subscribers will only bring your reputation down.
Instead, put them into a special re-engagement program in an effort to make them active subscribers again before you choose to delete their email address from your contacts.
Create a Winback campaign: To re-engage your inactive users, you’ll need to get crafty. In our experience, a personalized email campaign to win back ‘inactives’ is often highly successful.
Here’s what you can do:
- Offer them special incentives that are specifically created to motivate them to take action. Make it something they wouldn’t receive in your regular campaign.
- Send them an email asking how you can serve them better
- Ask them to either engage or hit the unsubscribe button. Yes, this sounds harsh, but it works like a charm and will keep your data from being skewed.
Whatever you do, just make it interesting enough that they feel compelled to take an action – any action. It needs to be different than your regular content since they have already been ignoring that for months.
#4 Send Relevant Content Regularly to Prevent Inactivity
The best way to improve email deliverability is to send relevant content with attractive offers at the “right” time.
Let’s talk about relevant content. Always make sure that your messages match what you promised at the time of opt-in. Your content should also match the users’ preferences and other data.
Ask yourself, if your CTAs and email copy are in perfect sync with your subject line?
And don’t forget to optimize your emails for all devices – mobiles, tablets, and computers. Make sure it looks good. Appearance counts a lot. No matter how relevant and useful your content is, if it looks bad, users will ignore it. Avoid huge chunks of text, misspellings, or poor color schemes.
Another factor to keep in mind is the frequency. How many emails should be sent in a month? Should you send two emails a week? How much is ‘too much’?
Well, it depends.
Some subscribers might enjoy getting multiple emails a week, while some might find it too much.
Remember the email segmentation we talked about in #2? Use the data from your segments to test what works best.
Generally, your most engaged (active) subscribers won’t mind receiving more emails. On the other hand, your inactive subscribers would prefer to get fewer emails from you.
As we said earlier, you’ll need to test and tweak to see what works for your subscribers. There is no ‘silver bullet’ when it comes to content or email frequency (we wish there was, though.) It all depends on your brand and mailing list.
#5 Make the Tough Decision: What To Do with Truly Inactive Users
Would you believe that “inactive subscribers” are one of the biggest topics of debate among email marketers in the industry?
Some say that once a user turns inactive and stops engaging, they should be removed from the email list. While according to others, every subscriber is precious and should never be deleted from the list until they specifically ask to be removed.
Since we are talking about how to improve email deliverability here, we suggest you do what keeps you away from potential harm.
Here are your options of what you can do:
- Don’t remove them; just observe how your inactive segment is performing
- Launch a re-engagement campaign and try to pull them back into your regular mailing list
- Remove them and cut your losses
If you think your email deliverability is strong, you can try the winback approach and see how it goes.
But if you think your deliverability is really going downhill and you cannot afford to spend any more resources to win back the ‘inactives’, remove them.
Turning to a new email service provider (ESP) doesn’t always improve email deliverability
Some folks think that if they are suffering from deliverability issues, switching to a new ESP can fix their problems. Not necessarily.
See, like everything else in life, there are good practices and bad practices when it comes to email marketing.
If you have a habit of performing some not-so-good maneuvers with your email marketing campaigns, no ESP in the world can help you. Bad email practices, like:
- It’s not an opt-in list
- It has a misleading (read: clickbait) subject line
- It is full of spelling and grammar mistakes
- It’s full of broken links or worse, spammy links
- It has content irrelevant to your subscribers
Also, practices such as using all CAPS, including attachments, having too many exclamation points in your content can trigger spam filters. Although one of the biggest factors that trigger this filter is the subject line. According to HubSpot, here are some of the trigger words that you might want to avoid using:
- Make money
- Compare rates
- Incredible deal
- Income from home
- While you sleep
But, if you are not guilty of any of these, and you have decided that a new ESP will improve email deliverability anyway, then consider the following before choosing a new ESP.
When going with a new ESP, you need to plan your move with precision. You will need to de-clutter and update your email lists. It will take time to re-build your IP address reputation, but your domain reputation will follow.
#1 Important note: In the beginning, when you start with a new ESP and a new IP address, send your emails to your most active subscribers only. Their engagement will help you build a solid reputation relatively quickly.
#2 Important note: All the good email service providers will delete bad email addresses from your list after your first mailing. Some will do it automatically, while some will allow you to set the parameters to determine, say, how to handle “soft” bounces and “hard bounces”.
But if your email list is full of bad addresses (or other issues) to begin with, ESPs will probably flag your account and put you in their “penalty box”.
A good email list not only improves email deliverability, it also boosts your reputation.
Is your current email service provider good for you?
Let’s take a look at the most popular ESPs and what they offer:
AWeber has an impressive way to handle “hard bounces” – it will keep sending emails to subscribers that return a “Message not delivered” 3 times. After the third message, AWeber automatically deletes those email addresses from your list.
They also delete abusive accounts to ensure a quality service to their users.
AWeber suggests that you should go through your email lists regularly to identify subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in recent months. Then, run a re-engagement campaign to introduce them back into your regular mailing schedule.
And if some users don’t respond, simply delete their email addresses from your AWeber account. Because these email addresses only take up space and cost you money which could be better spent somewhere else.
MailChimp has designed Omnivore – an abuse-prevention program to improve email deliverability. This program has 61 trillion data parameters that it uses to predict abusive behavior before you can even send out emails.
They also offer free authentication to their users during signing-up. This authentication helps to make sure your emails are approved and received by all the large email providers.
This ESP also provides automatic authentication for all accounts at the time of signing up. They are quick in responding if an IP address is placed on a blacklist. They take immediate action to either reassign it to “good” addresses or completely take it off the list.
Here are some hard facts:
- 80% of retail professionals say they prefer email marketing as their #1 tool for customer retention
- Users who buy through email spend 138% more than those that don’t get emails.
If you want to improve email deliverability, now is the best time. Email marketing is considered as one of the most effective marketing channels. But in order to reap its rewards, you need to sort out your email deliverability first.
A clean email list is a prerequisite to improve email deliverability, so spend some time to de-dupe and de-clutter your list. Don’t have the time? That’s where we come in.
If it seems like a huge task, then let us help improve email deliverability for you? Remember, if the major email providers mark your email as spam, it will negatively affect your reputation. It means you will probably get de-listed and even your most-active subscribers won’t hear from you.
Why take that risk? Contact us today so we can help you build an email list that will be a goldmine to your marketing campaigns.