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How to Improve Email Deliverability [11-step Deliverability Guide]

Marino Marks

Campaign Manager, Email & CRM


Aug. 18, 2022

Email deliverability is the ability to deliver emails to subscribers’ inboxes.

In fact, this is a super important email marketing area of focus because ultimately, regardless of your efforts in creating the most incredible email, it will be a waste of time if your audience is not receiving them.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a common formula across all email providers when determining email deliverability. Gmail, Microsoft, Apple … each of them has its own algorithm that might impact how many users will receive your emails.

However, there are recognized best practices to support you on that.

The list below is a great starting point to get started. Make sure to consider them when running your email strategy:

1) Ensure That All Subscribers on Your Lists Have Given You Permission or it will Hurt Your Sender Reputation

Probably this is the most important best practice on this list.

If your email domain is getting a high complaint rate, chances are your subscribers haven’t given you explicit permission to email them.

If any names have not given you permission, it’s possible that they are seeing unwanted messages from you and this is causing them to complain about those messages.

Make sure that all subscribers on your list have given you explicit permission to send them emails. If they have not done so yet, ask them if they would like to receive emails from you to prevent major problems.

2) Make Sure Your Email Service Provider Complies with CASL

Canadian anti-spam legislation (CASL) is a law that requires any individuals or organizations that send commercial electronic messages (CEM) to obtain express consent from all Canadian recipients. CASL was created to prevent spam and minimize the frequency of phishing, viruses, identity theft and other cybercrimes.

Because of the growing awareness of CASL legislation and the diminishing tolerance of consumers for unsolicited mail in their inboxes, sending unsolicited emails puts your brand and company at risk. Even though a recipient can open an email and not complain the first time, that recipient still has not given permission until they have opted in to your correspondence.

Repeated unsolicited emails can lead to complaints, and this is the leading cause of email blocking at ISPs (Internet Service Providers).

If you’ve been sending out emails without getting permission from recipients before asking them to opt in, stop immediately. It is against the law and puts your company at risk of fines. Follow these steps instead:

  • Make sure you’re only sending emails to people who have given you permission by signing up on your website or downloading something from it. This can be done through opt-in confirmation emails or using a third-party service such as Mailchimp, Klaviyo, etc which will provide verification that each recipient has agreed to receive correspondence from you.
  • Always include an unsubscribe link in every email so that if someone decides they no longer want to receive these messages, they can easily unsubscribe.

3) Acknowledge How Spam Filters and a Spam Folder Work:

If you are trying to send email messages and having trouble getting them delivered, it may be because your email is being blocked by spam filters. There are more than 300 spam-filtering companies out there running different algorithms to prevent spammers. Most common spam filters attempt to filter those sending unwanted emails based on the sender’s reputation and deliverability statistics, meaning that it is important that your mail is easily identifiable as being wanted and not being unsolicited.

Elevated bounce rates, elevated complaint rates, or low open rates are all indicators that recipients may find your mail to be unwanted, and ISP spam folders are more likely to consider your mail as spam as a result.

If you see these trends in your business, it’s time to take action! These indicators can have a negative impact on your reputation as an email sender and make it harder for you to reach your customers in the future.

4) Implement an Address Book Strategy:

Following this approach can help you optimize your email deliverability. When developing your next email campaign, add the “ Add us to your address book” hyperlink to your email to maximize the number of subscribers who add you to their address book. As a result, you’ll minimize the number of sends that end up in a bulk or spam folder.

5) Avoid Sending Image-Only Emails:

Creating image-only emails sends a warning signal to email providers about possible spammy content. When possible, add live text using the drag-and-drop tool of your email platform of preference. In some circumstances when this is not possible, HTML encoding is the only alternative to making the email look like the image version, but with the added benefit of adding live text.

6) Avoid Resending the Same Campaign to the Same Recipients:

A terrible user experience is provided when several campaigns are resent without any difference among them.

Strange enough, some Email software providers (ESP’s) send a recommendation to resend the campaigns for those who didn’t open the campaign. Never follow this recommendation.

People have busier lives, and some of them simply need a few extra days to process their mailboxes. Others, for various reasons, will not engage with a specific email you send. A better approach here would be to repurpose the topic or promotion you want to talk about, presenting it to your audience from a different perspective. You don’t have to use the same message over and over to communicate what you want to say.

7 ) Make your Subject Line Recognizable:

If you want your subscribers to recognize your emails as coming from you, make sure that the subject line includes your organization’s name. This is one of the most important parts of your email—the subscriber can just click “report spam” without even opening it, so they must be able to identify it as an email from you. If they don’t recognize it, they’re likely to report it as a spam, which will hurt your reputation in the long run.

8) Pay Attention to the “From Name and Address”:

When you send an email, make sure that the ‘from name’ and ‘from email address’ are recognizable by your subscribers. Some email providers, for example, show only the ‘from address’, not the ‘from name’, in the inbox. So make sure it’s a name and not something unrecognizable to the recipient. Also, the ‘from name’ is one of the first things that most users look at when determining what mail to open and which to ignore or complain about.

9) Avoid a Bounce Rate Greater Than 20%:

Proactively remove all your bounced addresses before your send your next campaign. Several factors may cause bounces, such as inactive subscribers who haven’t opened their emails for a long time for instance.
Bounces should be monitored every time you send a campaign, and pay attention to the numbers: A bounce rate over 20% can dramatically harm your deliverability and domain reputation.

10) Purge Old or Inactive Addresses from your Audience:

Have you ever wondered how many emails have been sitting in your database for months regardless of your re-engagement efforts? Or how many subscribers haven’t opened an email in the same time period? These are indications that it’s time to purge those inactive addresses from your list. Not only do they cost money to mail, but they also reduce your ROI and are more likely to complain.

11) Authenticate Your Email Domain:

Email authentication is a process of verifying the true identity of a sender, protecting your brand. It does this by verifying that the sender is who they say they are, via an SSL certificate. Sender authentication does not exist in today’s standard SMTP logic for email; therefore, spammers attempt to disguise their identity and local. Spammers using these tactics are targeted by ISPs. Authenticating your email helps differentiate your email from spam and protects your brand and the overall performance of your email program.

The level of importance of this? It’s high!

Email authentication alone isn’t going to guarantee that your mail will never be perceived as spam, but it’s a necessary step to help ensure that an ISP is best able to tell good senders apart from bad senders.

Now make an audit in your email program to see the adherence to the best practices listed above. Following them will help you improve email deliverability, making more people receive your emails.

If you have any questions regarding email deliverability, contact us today!

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