Email marketing is consistently positioned among the highest ranking channels producing revenue and a strong return on investment. In fact, a Cvent study of marketing professionals worldwide found that the top three most effective marketing channels are email marketing, company website and social media. Data from a recent survey by The Relevancy Group also found that of the 300 US marketing executives surveyed, 91% recorded email marketing as the most effective channel for delivering revenue results.
With those stats, you can see why brands of all sizes have adopted email marketing as part of their distributed marketing mix, just as you have.
But the question of the day is: Are your email marketing campaigns performing as well as you would like? By the time you design your template, finish the copywriting, create beautiful images, test subject lines and send your email, the last thing you expect is that it wasn’t delivered. The fact is, email deliverability rates are dropping, and what you send and who you send to could be to blame.
Instead of purchasing lists one after the other, start using the correct email practices to avoid being blacklisted. Now you will be able to reach more customers through proper list hygiene and your robust marketing automation platform.
Have no fear; we are here to help your email performance rates with three easy steps.
- Study the warning signs
- Review email marketing best practices
- Create an improvement strategy and take action
Step One: Learn What to Look For
One out of every five commercial emails never reaches the inbox. Why? According to Return Path, deliverability issues can come down to inadequate list hygiene, causing your emails to go straight to the junk and spam folders, or merely just go missing.
It is easier to build your emails and contact lists according to best practices than dig yourself out of the abyss that is negative sender reputation, high complaint rates and the dreaded blacklist. But if you’re already feeling the SPAM burn, start by evaluating your current strategies to gauge if your deliverability can improve.
Campaign Monitor and Regalix recently reported that 95% of companies using a marketing automation platform are taking advantage of email marketing. With such a staggering number of businesses using this channel, it’s more important than ever for marketers to understand how to maximize their investment in email. A cursory understanding of how email analytics work can dramatically impact the success of future campaigns; if you’re not learning from your mistakes and successes through a thorough analysis of campaign reporting, you’re missing out on an opportunity to improve your marketing initiatives.
Your Distributed Marketing Platform will quickly evaluate if your email is being delivered, opened and engaged with. As you navigate your email reporting, look for one of these three warning signs your deliverability is in jeopardy.
Monitor hard and soft bounce spikes
Hard bounces are messages that are permanently rejected by your email client, usually caused by sending to closed or non-existing email accounts. Soft bounces are less threatening, as these emails are temporarily rejected due to issues with the recipient’s mailbox or server, but you still need to keep an eye on them.
Commit to checking your unsubscribe list for sudden increases
The quickest way to build an unsubscribe list is by sending email content to disinterested readers. The unsubscribe rate is one of the most common metrics to evaluate and is calculated by the number of readers who hit unsubscribe divided by the total number of emails delivered.
Check for dips in engagement
When readers engage with your email, you know the message fits your audience. Review click-through-rates and open rates to track engagement. Positive engagement (clicks and conversions, not unsubscribes) will lead to fewer contacts reporting the email as spam, junk or blocking your email address.
Step Two: Build Your Email with Your Audience in Mind
No matter your email marketing expertise, brush up on email marketing best practices and current trends early and often. To truly understand why your email is not being delivered and to prevent future issues, you have to know where to start by ensuring your email marketing knowhow is up-to-date.
To set your campaign up for success, follow the email marketing checklist. Optimize for content and deliverability with device, timing and user experience in mind. Readers respond positively to well-built emails, which will make your campaign a success.
- Captures the attention of the reader
- Drives reader to open through urgency or curiosity
- Pre-header is engaging and relevant to subject line
- Accurately depicts what is offered in the email
- Is not deceptive or generic
Text & Context
- Text is short, clear and to the point
- Content is relevant to the email subject line
- Reader has the ability to opt-out of future campaigns
- Call to Action (CTA) is toward the top of the email
- CTA stands out, is clickable and is linked to appropriate landing page
- The reader can clearly understand the message
- Links and buttons are clearly identifiable
- The body message is consistent with email topic
- Footer includes phone number linked to call for mobile devices
- Footer includes company address linked to online map directions
Images & Design
- Image-to-text ratio is no greater than 2:3
- Images are clickable and linked
- HTML is responsive to any device
- Built within the ideal width of 500-650 pixels
- All images have alt-text descriptions
Emails that follow best practices are engaging, crafted to ensure inbox deliverability, and most importantly, they convert!
Step Three: Successful List Management
In a recent study done by Jupiter Research, segmenting your audience and guiding them toward a relevant message can strengthen the effectiveness of your email campaigns. Automated drip campaigns, like those found in your marketing platform, use adaptive messaging for a segmented audience and have proven to be a powerful component of a brand’s marketing strategy. In fact, according to the same source, relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue and a 5% greater click-through rate than standard broadcast emails.
List hygiene is vital to the success of your email campaigns, as segmenting your audience for targeted messages is impossible without clean data. To use your marketing automation platform effectively, you will need to take steps to begin a thorough clean-up.
Remove hard bounces
Remember those pesky hard bounces? There is no reason to keep them lying around collecting dust. Your marketing platform will automatically remove hard bounces and will give you more precise reporting numbers and increase deliverability.
Disinterest leads to decay
Keep your lists clean by moving or removing disinterested contacts and allow disengaged readers to opt-out of every email campaign you send (it’s illegal not to!). If a contact has never opened or engaged with your emails, chances are they’re not interested.
Re-engage with a contact by personalizing the messaging, asking if she is still interested in receiving your emails. If a contact does not engage with an email enough times, their email client could automatically place any further correspondence from you into their junk folder. Or worse, the contact could start clicking the spam button, telling the big consumer email servers to quarantine your future emails sent to other users.
Most importantly, major email providers (ESP’s such as Gmail and Yahoo) will reclaim some email addresses that are inactive or seldom used and set them up as “SPAM traps.” If your emails start landing in the inbox of SPAM traps, then you could find yourself in a deliverability downward spiral. The ESP’s will make the assumption that if you are emailing unused contacts within a SPAM trap, your overall list hygiene practices are not up to par, and will start scrutinizing your emails more closely. This is one of the biggest silent killers of email inbox rates!
Adjust your strategy to include email validation
No matter if you build lists by creating a unique landing page or newsletter pop-up, email validation is vital to ensuring a clean and accurate list, and you will rest easy knowing your subscribers want to read your emails.
- All website forms should have integrated to logic that only allows properly formatted email addresses for a submission to be completed. You diminish the possibility of hard bounces by ensuring emails are correct when they enter your contact lists.
- Make your website as unambiguous as possible, clearly stating that anyone who fills out a form and providing an email address is thereby opting into communication from your brand.
- Send a thank you or welcome email to everyone who fills out a form on your website, giving them the option to opt-out of the email subscription and providing them with added value as a new subscriber.
Promote safe sender application
Encourage your readers to add your email address to their “safe senders” contact list. Adding a simple note in the email can increase the success of your campaign. Emails sent from an email address in a contact’s safe senders list will inbox 100% of the time.
Understand the dangers of list rentals
We know that renting lists of prospect contacts is tempting, but you’re taking a huge risk that could leave you in hot deliverability water. Email list rentals can be expensive and often have questionable vendor quality, so what you pay is not always worth the outcome, especially when the dangers include spam traps, complaints and reduced engagement leading to a hurt reputation.
Most importantly, it’s pretty much a guarantee that any list you rent has not taken any of the steps noted above to ensure you are setup for success.
Back to the Beginning
Great email marketing is a never ending process. At the beginning of this article, you learned how to navigate your reporting to see how your campaigns are improving and to gauge the engagement of your lists. Keep going back! After each email campaign you send, revisit your reporting and keep tabs on hard bounces, spam complaints, open and click-through-rates, and ultimately, conversions. Did the reader do what you wanted them to? A purchase, visit, register or download… conversion metrics are the true testament to the success of any email campaign.
These three steps are a great place to start, but to master email marketing you have to get acquainted with all the latest rules. Download, Reply All: Flat-Out Fundamental Insights into Crafting Compelling Emails that Deliver, to learn all the email marketing best practices every digital marketer should know.
About the Author
Michael Noblitt, Chief Operating Officer, Distribion
For nearly 20 years, Michael Noblitt has helped organizations rise through digital transformation. As Chief Operating Officer of Distribion, he oversees all of Distribion’s operations and product offerings. Michael holds a degree in computer science and an MBA in marketing, and utilizes his passion for both to drive innovative approaches to marketing solutions.
About the Author
Alex Navarro, Senior Content Marketing Strategist, Distribion
Alex Navarro comes to Distribion with a background in developing and executing national brand awareness campaigns. His passion is creating personalized marketing strategies and watching them come to life. Alex studied advertising and marketing at Pepperdine University and has enjoyed working in the field ever since. He also loves meeting new people – connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.