Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Why Email Deliverability Matters

Beth Perry

So, you’ve created a great email marketing campaign. Soup to nuts, welcome series to post-purchase, your campaign may be one of the best out there.

Unless it fails to reach your customers.

Email deliverability – or your success at getting email messages to your subscriber’s inbox– is the key to making your great email marketing campaign an effective one. The loyalty you can cultivate from a successfully implemented email campaign and its revenue potential are things no marketer can afford to miss out on.

But even though deliverability is a crucial piece of the process, many marketers don’t fully understand it. How can you affect deliverability? How is it calculated? And most importantly, how can you improve it?

Permission to Engage

Deliverability success – or failure – can be boiled down to two key elements: Permission and engagement. If you lack the former or drop the ball on the latter, be prepared for consequences.

Permission can be implicit or explicit. Implied permission relates to a person who has perhaps bought something from you or engaged with your business, but hasn’t specifically signed up for marketing emails. Explicit permission is obtained from someone who directly gave you permission to send them marketing emails.

Explicit permission is better for deliverability. If you don’t have explicit permission, people are less likely to open and more likely to delete or even report your message as spam, which can kill your marketing reputation. Don’t wait to ask for forgiveness – get permission first. An easy way to obtain explicit permission is with a pop-up sign-up or form on your site. When someone subscribes, send an email asking them to re-confirm their permission.

You need to engage. Once you’ve obtained explicit permission, there’s still more work to do. Deliver exactly what you said you would: no more, no less. Over- or under-delivering can lead to complaints and lower engagement. Engage with your customers by providing relevant, timely content that’s as targeted to them as possible.

If customers find your content irrelevant, regardless of permission, they won’t open your emails, and they may even mark them as spam. Their internet service provider (ISP) views such behavior as them voting down the relevance of your messages. Eighty percent of marketers have deliverability problems stemming from irrelevance, spam complaints and other issues. Don’t be in the four out of five emails that doesn’t make it to your customer’s inbox. Be the one that gets through by sending the relevant email they knowingly signed up for.

Manage a Quality List

How can you maintain a quality list of engaged, active subscribers and avoid unnecessary deliverability emergencies? Check out these tips below.

  • Content is king. Make your emails personal, timely and relevant.
  • Be consistent. Spikes in email send volumes can trigger filtering.
  • Don’t be afraid to say good-bye. For subscribers who haven’t opened or responded to your emails, send a make up or break up message. If they don’t respond, delete them.
  • Don’t automatically subscribe e-receipt recipients. An e-receipt program isn’t an opportunity to grow your list carte blanche. Ask customers who sign up for e-receipts whether they want your marketing emails. Don’t just assume they do.
  • Don’t hide your unsubscribe. Keep it front and center so your customers can have an out if they want one. The last thing you want them doing is marking your message as spam.
  • Offer a preference center. Give your subscribers a sense of control: Ask how often they’d like to be contacted and what messages they’d like to receive.
  • Authentication is key. ISPs pay attention to authentication. Keep an eye on important records, such as DKIM, SPF, Sender ID, MX and A records. Include DMARC if it is applicable to your brand.

Improve Your Deliverability

Measuring deliverability means measuring how successfully your emails are reaching your subscribers. At Bronto, we measure three key metrics to help you keep your email program on track:

  • Sender rating. Your sender rating shows the quality of your lists and emails based on various calculations, including spam complaints, level of engagement and internal measurements we use to help you optimize your deliverability.
  • Delivery rating. Similar to sender rating, but refers to a single email.
  • Deliverability rate. This is the number of emails that are accepted by the ISP. A lot of complaints coupled with low delivery rates will negatively affect your deliverability.

How can you ensure strong deliverability? Start with your customers. Create goals for your product, and think about your buyers by asking who they are and what they expect.

Message Received

Effective deliverability begins with permission and engagement. The secret to good deliverability is to minimize complaints from and maintain engagement with your customers. Customers who don’t engage with your content may not be a good fit for your brand anyway, so don’t fear the unsubscribe button. Cultivate relevant and personalized content and listen to your customers’ feedback, and your brand will be on the right track toward successful email deliverability.

For more on this topic, download “Email Deliverability: Why it Matters, What You Can Do to Improve it.”

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