Did you know that, for every five emails you send to your list, one never reaches the intended recipient? Worldwide, just 79% of commercial emails lands in the inbox. These are the findings of a new report by Return Path. There is a dire need to Increase Email Deliverability Rates in the years to come.
“As the volume of commercial email traffic skyrockets and spam tactics continue to evolve, mailbox providers are forced to constantly refine their filtering technology to keep unwanted mail out of the inbox,” says the report.
“The inbox is becoming harder to reach partly because mailbox providers are applying increasingly sophisticated algorithms to understand what content their users truly value,” says Return Path President, George Bilbrey.
So what steps can email marketers take to make sure their emails are reaching their subscriber’s inboxes?
Increase Email Deliverability Rates in 2015.
1. Use HTML-light emails
According to Hubspot, nothing boosts opens and clicks as well as an old school, plain-text email. Not only do HTML emails get lower open rates than their plain-text counterparts, the more HTML-rich an email is, the lower its open rate.
Hubspot figured that image tags and HTML-rich templates seem to be getting flagged by email providers as commercial email, which means they get filtered out of a recipient’s main inbox, resulting in lower open rates.
They also noted that having an HTML email does not hurt your deliverability as long as you have two things – a properly coded HTML email and a plain-text version. They recommend that you take five extra minutes to create and optimize the plain-text version of your email.
However, many smart marketers, like Neil Patel, have switched to a light-HTML format for their blog updates. Neil also has a list of tips for certain types of formatting to avoid in your email content, such as using the colour red, using too many symbols and too many links.
ROIMarketing also recommends that you avoid misleading HTML links as these are the kind of links used by phishing emails and can get flagged by some email providers. They recommend, instead, that you ensure your text links are transparent and avoid using link shorteners in your emails.
2. Use mobile-friendly templates
According to data from the US Consumer Device Preference Report: Q4 2013, 65% of emails get opened first on a mobile device. It is now imperative that you create a mobile friendly version of your blog’s email updates.
The problems with rendering images properly on a mobile device coupled with the fact that HTML-heavy emails decrease deliverability, are probably the reason why smart email marketers, are eliminating images in their emails altogether.
It’s also a good practice to avoid using embedded video in your emails. It’s better to link to the video instead of embedding it.
3. Increase your open rates
According to the Return Path report, the top webmail providers have indicated they look at how many emails are opened and how many are deleted without being opened as a factor in their spam filtering decisions.
The easiest way to increase your open rates is to use attention-grabbing headlines that make your subscribers want to open your emails. However, you should never use misleading email subject lines, just to boost open rates, as this can result in your emails being marked as spam.
Here are some articles that offer tips and best practices for email subject lines that increase open rates.
4. Reduce your spam complaints
The Return Path report notes that every time a subscriber reports an email as spam, a complaint is recorded by the mailbox provider spam filters. If complaints exceed a certain percentage, all future campaigns bypass the inbox and are sent directly to spam.
According to the article here,
“Email can be flagged as spam either automatically, as by an automated scanner installed on the recipients’ mail servers or at one of the routing points along the messages’ journey, or manually when recipients mark it as spam using their email software. Preventing these from happening is one of the most critical ways to ensure your messages get through.”
You can reduce your spam complaints by only sending emails to those who have requested it. Use a double-optin system to capture emails and don’t send too many or too few messages.
Ask your subscribers to add your email to their contact lists immediately after they subscribe. It can help their servers recognize your email as welcome, making it far more likely that it will be allowed through.
Make sure you send your emails from a recognizable FROM email address and never use an email like firstname.lastname@example.org in your reply email field.
5. Segment your lists
Segmenting your lists means you can send emails on a specific topic to only those who have requested that information from you.
Mary Kaufman recommends that you stop sending regular campaigns to your entire list and segment your list based on engagement. Treating unengaged contacts differently will not only will increase your deliverability rate, it will also ensure that more contacts will see your email in the long run.
6. Practice list hygiene
According to the Return Path report, “mailing to a large number of addresses that appear to be nearing abandonment is a negative signal to mailbox providers and factors into their spam filtering algorithms.”
It’s a good practice to clean out your list to remove bad email addresses and to remove hard and soft bounces. You should also remove unsubscribes from your list immediately.
If you want to clean out your unengaged subscribers, you can send out resubscribe links to see if your subscribers still want to be included on your list. Then delete or segment the subscribers that have not responded, to keep your list current and clean.
7. Choose a reputed list management provider
Using a reputed email list management provider can increase your deliverability rate. According to the post here,
“Popular tools are more likely to get flagged as spam simply because of the volume of emails they send out, but they’re also more likely to remedy that situation when it happens. Smaller vendors are less likely to be flagged as spam, but when they are, it can be time-consuming for them to do anything about it.”
Tools like Aweber and Infusionsoft are popular options if you want a list management provider that offers all the bells and whistles. Neil Patel has more tips for choosing an email marketing provider.
8. Avoid spam words in your email
Certain words in the content of your email can trigger spam filters. Make sure that you avoid words that are likely to be seen as spammy.
Hubspot has a comprehensive list of words that can increase the chances of your email getting caught in a spam trap. The next time you sit down to write an email subject line, consult their exhaustive list and make sure you aren’t using any words that will get you in trouble.
9. Always include an unsubscribe link
Nothing tells your email subscribers that you’re a spammer, than neglecting to include an unsubscribe link in your emails. If you don’t give them a way to unsubscribe when they want to, you’re inviting them to hit the spam button instead.
To ensure you are CAM-SPAM compliant, you also need to include a physical mailing address in your email footer.
10. Improve your Sender Score
According to Hubspot, the Sender Score is an algorithm that ranks every outgoing mail server’s IP address on a scale of 0 – 100 (with 0 being really bad and 100 being excellent).
“An email’s deliverability depends largely on the reputation of the IP address that sends it. If you are sending from an IP address with a spic-and-span reputation, your emails are more likely to make it in front of the eyes of your subscribers. If your Sender Scores are lower, you may risk being filtered out by some inboxes.”
Return Path manages the Sender Score and records how many people unsubscribe and report your email as spam. They then use this data to compile your unique Sender Score. Return Path reports that a large portion of the time that emails are marked as spam, it is due to a poor reader response in the past from emails sent from that IP address.
Neil Patel recommends you use Return Path to whitelist your IP address. This ensures that your IP is clean and gives your emails the best chance of getting through the filters of email providers. Sender Score matters even more for email marketers with dedicated IPs, that send a lot of email on a regular basis.
11. Listen to your ISP
This tip comes from SilverPop. They recommend that:
“Email marketers need to set up an email@example.com mailbox in order for ISPs to be able to communicate information, such as bounce codes, back to a mailing’s origin. If you don’t have an appropriate mechanism for accepting an ISP’s messages, you’ll not only look like a spammer, but you’ll have no way of knowing what ISPs are trying to tell you in order to address problems and ensure your mailings continue to get through.”
I hope you found this list of ways to Increase Email Deliverability Rates useful. If you have any tips of your own to add, please do so in the comments below.