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How to Improve Your Email Deliverability and Hit the Inbox

Lindsay Tjepkema
Lindsay Tjepkema , Marketing Director, Americas , Emarsys

Email marketers could be faced with deliverability issues for a variety of reasons. When it comes to improving email deliverability, there are a few essential steps that you should take. Keep in mind that when applying these solutions and best practices, improvements will not be visible overnight.

Improving your email deliverability takes time and dedication, but will ultimately be worth it. Here are some of the ways you can start generating more satisfying email marketing results by eliminating deliverability issues.

Rebuild Your Reputation

If you see lower open rates than the average, large deviations between ISPs for the same campaign, or a high percentage for the inbox monitor spam column, it means that your emails are ending up in spam folders. To fix this, you need to re-build your reputation with the respective ISPs.

As a first step to prevent further problems, you need to exclude all contacts from the affected domains from your everyday marketing campaigns and set up a different approach specifically for those contacts.

In order to understand why the ISP treats you as a spammer, you can check the following:

• Are you sending high volumes to non-engaged contacts for that domain?
• Are you getting a high number of bounces from that domain?
• Do you have complaints coming from that domain?

If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, you can formulate an email marketing strategy to win back the trust of your contacts, and by extension that of their ISP.

Focus on Most Engaged Contacts

As a rule of thumb, your reputation can be improved if you focus on your most engaged contacts. Create a segment that contains all contacts from a particular domain that have responded to any of your marketing emails in the past 90 days. Anyone else from the same domain should be excluded until you regain your reputation.

Once you see your open rates improving, you can expand the target segment. For example, modify the segment criteria to contain all contacts that have engaged with your emails in the last 180 days. Once your reputation is back to normal, you can start sending emails again without strict exclusions.

Beware of Spam Traps

Another reason for being put into spam folders: sending to spam traps. There are two types of spam traps:

1. Recycled Email Addresses

These are email addresses that previously belonged to an actual person, but have been abandoned for a while. ISPs turn these mailboxes into spam traps, which means that the mailbox still exists (so you will not see any bounces), but belongs to the ISP rather than to the former private individual. They are used to catch senders that do not use industry best practices, such as keeping a healthy email database by regularly removing bounced or non-engaged contacts.

2. Artificial Email Addresses

ISPs and spam blacklist providers also create their own fake email accounts that have never belonged to any person (and have therefore never subscribed to any marketing mails). These are intended to catch senders that buy address lists.

There are multiple reasons for hitting spam traps. Consider the following:

• Your data capture points are not carefully set up, for example you do not use double opt-in (DOI).
• You try to send to a contact base that is old or has not been verified in the last year.
• You do not clean up your database of bounces and inactive contacts frequently enough.
• You revalidate bounced email addresses every now and then, without understanding the reasons for the bounce.
• You buy address lists.

Reduce Your Spam Complaints

Did you know that a spam complaint rate above 0.2% is considered high? If you are constantly sending unwanted emails to your contacts, at some point they will become so frustrated that they will report you as a spammer. Once someone hits the “Report as spam” button there is no way of getting that contact back, but the consequences could be further reaching, affecting your deliverability prospects with every inbox managed by that ISP. Even worse, if you are not manually removing complaint addresses from your sending lists, additional attempts to deliver content will exponentially worsen the problem.

With Emarsys’ email marketing software, we automatically exclude all contacts who have previously complained about any of your previous mailings, and optionally, even those who have complained about other Emarsys customers (‘serial complainers’). Additionally, our long-standing relationships with various ISPs ensure that one recipient complaint will not have negative repercussions with the ISP as a whole. However, you still need to monitor those numbers carefully.

For example, if you are repeatedly seeing high numbers in your results summaries for contacts that have previously complained, it probably means that something is incorrectly set within your opt-in management. These contacts should be removed from your database immediately after the complaint is registered.

If you want to regain your good reputation, your first task is to have a clean overview on how you capture and manage contact data, especially from the opt-in and DOI perspective. Once these workflows are clear and regular checks are set up, you can move forward to improve your content.

Create More Engaging Content

The other common issue for bad spam scoring is poor content. There are no clear boundaries or rules that have the same affect on all ISPs, but there are some general industry best practices which should be followed to help you create more engaging content that will lead to better engagement and deliverability results. If you have problems with engagement and spam folders, you should check the results for your content and make sure you don’t have any red errors.

Interested in learning more? Emarsys can help you create dynamic and vibrant email content for your recipients, and effortlessly harness the number one engagement channel at the heart of any successful marketing strategy.

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