Home » Own the Inbox: How to Boost Deliverability and Dodge Spam

Own the Inbox: How to Boost Deliverability and Dodge Spam

Lindsay Tjepkema
Lindsay Tjepkema , Global Head of Content , Emarsys

When it comes to ways of connecting with their customers, modern digital marketing teams have no shortage of new technological innovations.

Social media, marketing automation, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality have changed how most digital marketers plan. As sophisticated as these new technologies are, when it comes down to it, email deliverability is still at the top of the priority list. No matter what new trend or tool has popped up, email remains the largest social network on earth, and the #1 ROI digital channel.

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The number of email users worldwide is forecasted to rise to 2.9 billion users by 2019, with U.S. users alone projected to grow to 254.7 million by 2020. Those numbers ensure a continued role for email marketing services for the foreseeable future.

In addition to the growing use of the medium, email marketing is one of the most cost effective channels for most of your campaigns. With the right email technology, you can send any number of highly targeted messages directly to large audience groups with very little manual effort — and individualized content for each recipient. And yet, as with any technology, there are issues and behind-the-scenes-requirements.

In the world of email marketing, one of those is deliverability.

History of Email Deliverability

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Once upon a time, in the early days of email, deliverability meant ensuring email arrived in the targeted inbox. As email grew and the cost effective nature of email marketing became better known, some businesses used it to send unsolicited email, or spam, to massive audiences. These businesses had no interest in whether or not the customer was interested in the message or if it was relevant to that customer, just that they had a captive set of eyeballs — at least until the user deleted the email. As Internet Service Providers (ISPs) caught on to this, they developed deliverability measures and precautions to differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate mail in order to prevent spam.

Today, each ISP from Google to Yahoo has its own safeguards to filtering spam email, which contributes to the more than 20% of emails that never make it to their destination.

For example, if a brand issues 12,000 emails a month, 2,400 of them are bringing in no revenue – simply because they are never making it to the intended inbox. While navigating the waters of deliverability may seem overly complicated and almost impossible for many digital marketers, it is actually an opportunity to learn and understand how to create transparent, repeatable email campaigns, reaching targets more effectively.

Organizations must take proactive and precautionary measures to make sure their emails don’t get caught by spam filters. These measures also encourage you and your team to create engaging, targeted, and personal emails that build two-way relationships, while avoiding false identification as spam.

So what does that mean and how can you ensure you avoid the dreaded spam filter?

How Email Deliverability Works

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When it comes to how ISPs gauge what is spam and what isn’t, they use what is called “engagement metrics.” These metrics look at what happens once content is delivered to the inbox. Basically, whether or not the user engages with the email is a strong indicator as to whether the user actually wants the content. A few of those engagement metrics include:

  • How often is the email flagged as spam or moved to trash?
  • Does the user interact with the content by clicking on links, replying, or forwarding?
  • Has the sender been included in the users address book, subsequently endorsing current and future content?

Knowing how the email will be judged by the ISP can help you in the next step of deliverability: structuring your email.

Structuring Emails for Better Deliverability

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When working to craft an email marketing campaign that will best maximize deliverability, you should start with the setup and foundation in the backend of the email marketing infrastructure. This means:

  • Implementing authentication mechanisms to avoid triggering spam flags
  • Including footers with opt-out support, privacy information, and an address book add link
  • Keeping the email database up-to-date and maintained. For example, suppress inactive email addresses that can impact bounce and engagement rates

Once the infrastructure is in place, turn your attention to the design of the email. There are certain ways to craft emails to avoid getting caught in a spam trap and encourage engagement from recipients. Those methods include:

  • Avoiding email attachments, as they are an instant red flag for ISPs
  • Creating compelling subject lines that will encourage the user to open the email but also are relevant to the content within it
  • Being smart with formatting. Lots of bold or underlined words or fonts are a sign of spam. Keep the design clean and let the content speak for itself.
  • Using content checkers to scan email and code before it is sent can flag anything at-risk, helping solve potential deliverability issues before the campaign even launches

Final Thoughts

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Deliverability can be one of the more challenging obstacles email marketers face.

Failure to comply with these deliverability requirements can result in damage to the brand reputation and a direct impact on the revenue of the brand. But, by taking the time to get it right and improve email deliverability, your brand will see more emails reaching the intended targets.

Ultimately, increased deliverability leads to more effective campaigns, far greater ROI, and more revenue. 

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