Improving the Deliverability in E-Mail Marketing: 8 Important Steps

Whether you are just starting deploying e-mail marketing in your company or want to optimize the existing campaigns, use this short guide to improve the deliverability of your messages.

Double Opt-In

Make sure that all the addresses in your e-mail marketing base are collected using DOI. First, this is required by law in most countries. Second, this will prevent complaints (which negatively influence the delivery rate) as well as bounces due to invalid or misspelled e-mail addresses.

Organic Growth

Use legal methods of growing your e-mail list. Avoid borrowing or buying contact lists at any rate. Besides, a sudden surge in e-mail traffic from a domain may be a spam signal for many ESPs.

Verified Domain

When using an external E-mail provider, make sure to configure DKIM (Domain Key) and SPF (Sender ID) in the settings.  You can learn more about those here.

IP Reputation

The reputation of a sender’s IP has significant impact on deliverability. You can proceed with a shared or dedicated IP for your e-mail marketing campaigns. In case you do not send large e-mail volumes, a shared IP would be a better choice. In case of a dedicated IP, it is best to start increasing the volume of sent emails gradually (“warming up” the IP) and once the e-mail volume has increased to the full size of your list, you should maintain a consistent flow of e-mails from this IP.

Valid Code

Remember that deliverable E-Mails are always based on very simple HTML code.  Avoid embedding any interactive elements e.g. based on JavaScript. Also, do not attach any documents or embed videos. You can still realize some of this functionality through placing those elements on your website and linking to them.

For aligning the elements within the e-mail message, use HTML tables. Make sure that your images have standard PNG or JPG formats and keep their size to a minimum. Do not forget ALT-texts in case the images cannot be loaded.

By the way, to achieve even better results in displaying your email on a variety of devices and in different e-mail programs, include a link to the Web version of the email.

Opt-Out Links

Always include a valid  and visible opt-out  link into your e-mail. Opting-out of the list must be possible within a maximum of two clicks. Never make users sign in to their accounts in order to opt-out. Otherwise, you risk a surge in complaints that will negatively affect the e-mail deliverability for all of your future campaigns.

In addition, it is a good idea include the information why the user is receiving this marketing e-mail: “You are receiving these emails because you signed up for fresh updates on bakery goods and recipes from the heart of our kitchen at XYZ Pâtisserie. If you no longer wish to keep in touch, you can opt-out here.”

Sender’s Info

Provide means to contact you in directly the e-mail. The user should be able to identify clearly who the sender of the email is. In Germany, it is a law to include legal company information (Imprint) into all of your emails.

Another thing is to include a valid From address into your e-mail  (also avoid noreply addresses as well as personal addresses, such as name@company.com). Never mask the sender address as this is a spam signal for ESPs.

Working Links

Make sure that all links in your email are valid and work fine. Avoid using URL shorteners and redirects. If you work with UTM codes, avoid including such parameters as IP Addresses, as this violates data protection laws and impacts deliverability.

Additionally, be careful with links to third-party domains (that is, links that do not point to your domain). If you cannot exclude them, just limit their number to a minimum and always check their domain reputation.

List Maintenance

After each campaign, clean up the contact base by removing the addresses with hard bounces as well as all complaints and opt-outs (unless this is done automatically).  If an email has soft-bounced (e.g. due to an autoresponder) more than 5-6 times, remove it as well. Also, you should not include alias emails such as info@ into your mailing list.

You can deploy an e-mail address verification service if your contact base has not been used for a while or if you are skeptical about its quality. Ensure that the personal data remains protected during the verification process. The rule of thumb: when in doubt about the address validity – remove it from the contact base.

I hope that this concise guide will help you to increase the deliverability of the e-mails in future marketing campaigns. If you want to learn more about the optimal mailing frequency, please refer to this post.

email deliverability 8 steps infographic

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You’ve Got Mail (Again): Pro’s and Con’s of Increasing Mailing Frequency

In Email Marketing, achieving optimal mailing frequency is a hot topic. On the one hand, sending emails more often can increase up-selling and cross-selling of products and strengthen customer relationships. On the other hand, companies are likely to experience negative customer reactions and lose their customer base, especially if the increase in frequency was too rapid.

In this article, I will discuss what side effects increasing of mailing frequency may have. In the second part of the discussion, I will outline some examples where sending mailings more often will likely bring positive results.

Negative consequences of increasing mailing frequency

  • Increase of spam complaints. This negative effect is most likely caused by how the emails are designed, e.g. the unsubscribe link was not visible, subjects of the emails were similar or the same, etc. It is best to consider email design and regulation compliance first thing before setting up any email campaign.
  • Increase of unsubscribe rate. Customers who receive irrelevant or useless emails tend to unsubscribe. Thus, before increasing the mailing frequency, make sure that more emails mean more added value to the customer. In addition, segmenting your list and approaching each segment with customized offers will increase your chances of success.
  • Increase in bounce rate. The increase in bounces is probably due to poor revision of the mailing list in-between mailings. Ideally, mailing lists should be processed and hard bounces removed after each mailing. In case of repeated soft bounces, these must be removed as well.
  • Increase in costs. If the performance of additional email campaigns is poor, the cost factor plays a significant role. However, if you optimize the campaigns, it will keep constant or even improve the mailing performance when increasing mailing volume. Ideally, this should cause the cost-per-email to drop.

When raising mailing frequency is recommendable

  • You send the emails too seldom (e.g. less than monthly)
  • You sell a product that needs to be replenished or often replaced (e.g. food items)
  • You send mailings to heavy users and brand advocates
  • You send mailings to new users to take advantage of the recency factor (e.g. send mailings frequently within the first month of acquiring a new user)
  • You send promotional mailings for a certain period to latent users in order to activate them
  • You want to inform your customers more often (e.g. you often get new products in stock)
  • The character of your mailings is not strictly commercial, e.g. you offer interesting content
  • You have a special mailing campaign requiring high frequency (e.g. an Advent Calendar campaign)
  • Users actually chose to receive frequent emails (i.e. you offered them a choice of different email frequencies when they were subscribing)

How often you should contact your customers depends on a number of factors, such as the industry, the product, the customers, the sales funnel, etc.  The solution is probably to experiment with optimal mailing frequency by increasing it slightly over a longer period of time. Also, in this case, monitoring and adjusting campaigns accordingly is essential.

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A Comprehensive List of Email Analytics Metrics

In this article, I will describe 13 important email analytics metrics, what they mean, and how email campaign performance can be improved.

In this article, I will describe different metrics related to evaluating performance of email campaigns and how they can be improved.

Here is a typical funnel of an email campaign – from mailing list to conversion:

Subscription ⇒ Email Send ⇒ Email Delivery ⇒ Email Open ⇒ Email Click Through ⇒ Landing Page Visit ⇒ Conversion Funnel from Email ⇒ Conversion from Email

Let us review a set of email metrics connected with each step of this funnel.

  1. Subscription conversion = subscriptions / visits of the sign-up page. In order to get more people to subscribe, your sign-up form should have a clear call-to-action and ask only for necessary information. Short info on data protection will establish trust and offers of incentives (e.g. a free sample, a whitepaper download, etc.) will motivate more users to share their email address.
  2. Subscriber list growth rate = (new subscribers-old subscribers) / old subscribers. In order to constantly increase your subscriber base, you should both receive sufficient amounts of traffic to your subscription page and have a high subscription conversion rate.
  3. Number of emails sent. This is the starting quantifying point of email campaign funnel analysis. The only way to improve this metric is to increase the size of the mailing list. However, to ensure that the email addresses are valid and to comply with double opt-in procedure, avoid buying email lists.
  4. Delivery rate = number of emails delivered / number of emails sent. Delivery of the emails you send depends on several factors: white- or blacklisting of your IP by email service providers, existing or non-existing (hard bounce) email addresses, how full the recipient’s mailbox is (soft bounce), if a user has moved previous emails to spam, etc. In order to increase the delivery rate, make sure to revise your mailing list often and to remove obsolete or false addresses. In addition, you should always include a clearly visible Unsubscribe link and avoid using HTML-only emails with images.
  5. Open rate = number of emails opened / number of emails sent. This metric is greatly influenced by the subject and the timing/frequency of the emails sent. In order for the email to appear relevant for the user, you can apply segmentation and some degree of personalization to your email campaigns. When comprising the subject of the email, be precise and avoid words and expressions which can cause your email be filtered as spam.
  6. Unsubscribe rate = number of unsubscribe requests / emails sent. Clearly, it is best to keep unsubscribe rate as low as possible. In order to do this, make sure to deliver the message relevant to the recipient. In addition, high mailing frequency (e.g. once per day) will likely cause most users to unsubscribe (see my next post). Ideally, you should let the subscriber choose the mailing frequency optimal for them.
  7. Click-through rate = clicks on the links with the email / emails sent. In order to measure how many times a link in the email was clicked you can apply a campaign ID to the  URL, e.g. https://marketing-to-convert?cid=email&campaign=spring-break&link-id=001. In order to increase the click-through rate, the email CTA should be clearly visible and correspond to the email subject. You may also want to place links in the body of the email and  behind corresponding images. As has been stated above, the offer should be delivered at the right time and to the right user. Thus, factors such as user past activity and interests will play a role.
  8. Unique open and click-through rate. These metrics are basically the same as above however, only one open and click-through is counted per visitor (even if they interacted with the email multiple times).
  9. Landing page visits. Normally, this number will be equal to click-throughs. In case it is not, do review link tagging and check if there are any broken links.
  10. Cost per visit = total cost of a mailing campaign / number of visits to the landing page. Using this metric, you can compare the effectiveness of different campaigns. (The cost of a campaign is the cost you incur for sending an email multiplied by the number of emails sent.) Improving cost per visit can be achieved by generating more visits from your mailing i.e. by offering relevant content and compelling CTA’s.
  11. Landing page bounce rate = bounces / visits to the landing page. In order to decrease bounces on the landing page, make sure that landing page reflects the information in the link user clicks on. E.g. if you are making an email campaign about a particular product, do not send users to Products Overview page.
  12. Pages per visit from email. This metric demonstrates if users found your site engaging enough to move on from the landing page. However, a large number of pages viewed may signify that your site is difficult to navigate. Make it clear to the user where to go next from the landing page by integrating links or offering a small navigation menu.
  13. Conversion from email = number of conversions / emails sent. Bear in mind that conversion is not always a sale. Contact form submission, leaving a review or recommending your product to a friend can be counted as conversion actions. In any case, conversion rate will be the most important measure of your email campaign success. Optimizing conversion rate involves all stages of the funnel: from segmenting the mailing list to streamlining the user journey from the landing page.

This list is by no means an exhausting one but contains some important metrics that can be used to track the performance of email marketing campaigns.

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