Improving Deliverability

This is a guest post by Rochelle Royal, a content and online marketing executive for Search Laboratory, a multilingual, award winning digital marketing agency specialising in SEO, PPC, conversion optimisation and website analytics. She has specialised in this industry since 2006.


Improving Deliverability

The word deliverability is a fancy word for describing the issues involved with getting your email delivered to the intended recipient. Anything that has an effect on whether your email reaches the recipient can be put under the heading DELIVERABILITY.

It is amazing to see that despite the vast amount of information available on the subject of email campaigns and marketing professionals and experts still have many questions about deliverability and how to gain maximum return through successful email delivery.

When starting an email campaign you can invest on targeting dozens, hundreds, thousands or millions of recipients; the truth is that it’s not unusual for a good 10% not to receive your email and miss out completely on the message. It is impossible for someone to click on a link in an email that they never receive which is why deliverability is so important; the worse your deliverability measures, the less successful your email campaign.

So what extra measures can be used to make sure your emails land at the desired destination? There are two main reasons your email campaign will fail:

Junked by Recipients

There are lots of reasons people hit the “spam” button on email marketing campaigns. However, the majority will for the following reasons:

  1. Errors in Personalization – If you plan to use personalization in your emails, test, test and then test them again. If there are any doubts or concerns DON’T DO IT. However, if you have a decent report with your recipient list you shouldn’t need a lot of personalization. For example, you don’t need amazon to address you personally in an email for you to spend money with them; you know who they are and they know you.
  2. A Cold Email is Not a Cold Email – Think of this as ‘converting strangers to prospects before customer’ this way you are building up a rapport and increasing the chance of engagement before pushing them into spending their money.
  3. Be Honest – Don’t tell lies in the subject line just to get the recipient to open it. For example, writing “Win an iPad” in the subject and then not offering an opportunity to participate in the email is false advertisement. In other words, go out of your way to ensure consistency and relevance throughout while still focussing on the recipients’ experience.
  4. Unreadable Email – It may sound obvious but if you just copy a webpage in to an email it is unlikely it will appear that way to the recipient. Any reputable email marketing company will have many testing measures in place to check and check again the appearance of the delivered email.

Junked by Filters

So much of an email marketer’s time is taken up making sure emails don’t end up in the junk folder. Most content filters are set around what spammers do, from the structure to the words used in the email. However, avoid the following and this shouldn’t happen:

  1. Spam and Bounce – Every time someone hits that spam button your reputation decreases a little more and you may find your address/domain on the blacklist. These are regularly checked by inbox filters and if any part of your email is featured in the list straight to the junk folder it goes.
  2. No Plain Text Version – After spending all of your time testing, checking and getting the sign-off from management etc. you need to get that email out on time, however, it still doesn’t have a successful open rate and you find you forgot a plain text version. Most email marketing companies will include a spam checker that will warn you if you do not have a plain text version available.
  3. Image and No Text – There is no rule to say you cannot use image in your email, although, there is a general rule to keep image:text ratio to 60:40 in favor of text to avoid it being junked.
  4. Spammy Wording – The oldest form of filtering spam is picking at spammy keywords in the subject line and the content. Normally this is a combination of two words rather than specific individual words. For example, using the word “enlargement” or “breast” is plausible but put the words together “breast enlargement” and you will hit the junk folder quicker than it took to send the email.

In order to protect deliverability and your reputation you need to avoid being marked as spam by using personalization (where necessary) and making sure to get their name correct; try to build a rapport and don’t act like there is one when it’s the first time you are emailing them; be honest in the subject and the content; and make sure the email is readable.

A successful email campaign will not raise any alarms to ISP’s for the possibility of being spam, the incorrect email address or just the wrong keywords and spammy content for the purpose it is being sent.

You want:

  • Clicks – most notable action of engagement by a recipient
  • Safe list – don’t be afraid in your email to ask the recipient to add you to their safe list
  • Replies – signifying a willingness to conversation, prioritised by ISP’s
  • Not Junk – biggest hit on company reputation being dragged to the junk folder.

There are lots of clever practices to follow to ensure your email is received, read and followed through but the basic message the always keep; you can go a long way to maintain a level of good deliverability by sticking to this:

“Send useful, relevant emails to people who have explicitly requested them.”


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