How Do I Improve Email Deliverability?
From building your reputation through emails to regularly tracking your sender information, here are 10 answers to the question, “What are your best tips for improving email deliverability?”
- Shift to Your Custom Domain
- Regularly Segment by Delivered Email Addresses and Clicks
- Do Thorough A/B Testing of Email Components
- Become a Legitimate Sender
- Adjust Your Email Campaign for Audience Engagement
- Create Content Your Subscribers Love
- Maintain a Consistent Sending Schedule
- Use List Validation and Minimize Bad Data
- Lengthen Your Email Copy
- Plan for Issues Ahead of Time
Shift to Your Custom Domain
I have worked with DTC brands to send thousands of emails in 2022 and 2023. The best tip to improve deliverability (that I’ve seen work firsthand) is to shift from the shared domain of your ESP to your custom domain, where the emails you send build up your reputation. Make the change.
Do a warm-up sequence, starting with your most engaged segments. Ensure that the content you drip is non-promotional, offers a lot of value, and creates a sense of positive anticipation in your audience. Also, encourage your email readers to proactively whitelist your ID (this is especially important for Gmail).
From there on out, you must stick to a clean email template without a profusion of images and links. The more you can mimic communication from a friend, the better the inbox SPAM filters will treat you.
Regularly Segment by Delivered Email Addresses and Clicks
Here’s a strategy to maintain deliverability in a mature email marketing program. Any address that has successfully received an email in the past 30, 60, 90, or 180 days. Further, segment this by clicks.
When sending campaigns, first send the segment of clickers, followed by the segment of openers, and then new contacts and prospects, mixing into this segment small percentages of contacts that are less active and less engaged within the 90 or 180 days out.
Throttling sends in this way warms up inbox providers to your content. Watch the metrics by segment and be ready to react to any drops in deliverability.
Do Thorough A/B Testing of Email Components
Continuously test various components of your emails to identify which factors yield higher open and click-through rates. By conducting A/B tests
you can optimize your email campaigns based on subscriber preferences and engagement, subsequently improving your sender reputation.
As mailbox providers track engagement metrics, having a higher engagement rate increases the likelihood of your emails reaching your subscribers’ inboxes and ultimately enhances your deliverability.
When conducting A/B tests, it’s essential to focus on one variable at a time so that its impact on performance can be accurately determined. Beyond the common variables like subject lines and send times, consider testing the following more unusual elements:
1. Graphic vs. plain text emails
2. Button shape, color, and text
3. Tone and voice, copy length
4. Visual elements (header image vs. no header image, GIFs, videos)
5. Emoji usage
6. Testimonials and social proof
Become a Legitimate Sender
Being viewed as a legitimate sender in the eyes of mailbox providers and your subscribers is the first step on the long path to great deliverability and requires authentication.
SPF specifies which IP addresses and/or hostnames may send from your domain. DKIM confirms that the email was sent from your domain.
DMARC protocols are designed for combating fraudulent email, where a sender can specify to allow, quarantine, or reject mail that fails DMARC. Getting these three in place will help set the foundation to launch your email success.
Senior Deliverability Strategist and Consultant
Adjust Your Email Campaign for Audience Engagement
The best thing you can do to keep (or boost) a high deliverability rate is to adjust your email campaign schedule and segmentation to audience engagement. The engagement rate has become the most important parameter for the sender rating among ISPs.
What does it mean? This is essential to add segmentation rules based on subscriber engagement. For example, if you are targeting German small business audiences with regular email campaigns, then you should have several segments based on how often subscribers click, open, or react to your emails.
Send as little as possible to low-engagement audiences. You shouldn’t send email campaigns to high or low-engagement audiences with the same frequency.
Of course, deliverability is much more complex knowledge, but I would rate engagement as the most important instance among others.
Email Marketing Manager, Ebet
Create Content Your Subscribers Love
With email deliverability, there are lots of factors to think about and certain things you should have in place right from the start, but creating content your subscribers love and will engage with has to be one of the key ways to keep your deliverability in prime condition.
But what does this mean? Well, in a nutshell, give them content that is informative, interesting, and interactive; the content you would want to read, not just sales, buy, or offer.
For example, if you run a beauty business, don’t just try to sell products; send your subscribers tips, success stories, how-to videos, ask them questions, surveys—the list is endless.
If you get this right, you will see a pleasant stream of opens, clicks, and, sometimes, replies, which will all help in keeping your deliverability on the right track.
Maintain a Consistent Sending Schedule
By consistently sending a similar number of emails each day, with no major decreases, and keeping a 1-5 minute gap between each email, you can build a positive trust score for your email account.
This steady pattern lets email servers know your messages are genuine and not spam. This increases the chances of your emails reaching your subscribers’ inboxes, which can lead to better engagement and communication with your audience.
Use List Validation and Minimize Bad Data
Pay great attention to your acquisition sources to minimize the amount of inactive and invalid addresses making it onto your lists. You should use an on-the-fly list validation mechanism on your sign-up form to prevent users from entering a typo address; on top of this, use a reCaptcha or honeypot field to prevent bot sign-ups.
If you can, use double-opt-in, which remains the best way to capture clean data. Remember that bad data—subscribers who are not engaging with your emails or marking them as spam, invalid addresses, and spam traps—will eventually hinder your ability to reach the inbox.
Lengthen Your Email Copy
The simplest trick I know to boost email deliverability is to lengthen your email copy in the email’s body. The spam filters look at words and length. It’s hard to figure out exactly what words the spam filters are looking for, so the easiest thing to do is to add more length to your copy.
Copywriter, Green Goat Copy
Plan for Issues Ahead of Time
Maintaining a strong sender reputation is crucial for achieving consistent email deliverability. It’s not enough to merely react to issues as they arise—you need to be proactive in monitoring your reputation and staying ahead of potential problems. By regularly tracking your sender reputation data and using it to inform your sending practices, you can improve your inbox placement, reduce your risk of being flagged as spam, and increase the engagement and effectiveness of your campaigns.
Pay attention to basic metrics shared by your ESPs and use postmaster tools from ISPs directly and perform seed listing tests regularly. Armed with this information, you can make data-driven decisions about list hygiene, content strategy, and sending frequency that will keep your email program healthy and your audience engaged. If you want to boost your email deliverability and stand out in today’s crowded inbox, start monitoring your deliverability proactively—and watch your sender reputation soar.
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