Three Steps to Improve Email Deliverability—Because an Undelivered Email Is Worth Zilch

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Three Steps to Improve Email Deliverability—Because an Undelivered Email Is Worth Zilch


Now that you’re actively using email marketing, it’s time to step back and make sure all those emails are getting through to the intended inboxes. Why? Because any email not delivered is an email that might as well not exist. If I send you an email and you don’t get it, then what? Then nothing. It’s not enough to send. You must get delivered too.

The math behind email deliverability

Unless you’re email deliverability rate is 100 percent, you need to pay attention, as the math demonstrates. For example, if you send emails to 500 people on your list and only 76 percent get delivered, then only 380 people get the email—and 120 people don’t. So really, your list of 500 names is more like a list of 380 names. Multiply that by 10: A list of 5,000 names suddenly becomes a list of only 3,800. Do it again, and a list of 50,000 names becomes a list of only 38,000. That means 12,000 people aren’t getting your email due to poor deliverability!

It’s not just the emails, however. It’s the lost revenue too. When 12,000 people don’t get your email, that means 12,000 people never get asked to buy from you. They never see your offer, learn about the special deal, or discover your newest products or services. They might as well not be on your list at all.

Sure, you have a lot of other pieces to worry about when it comes to email. There’s your email service provider, your list, your campaigns, your templates, your triggered emails and so much more. Yet even with all of that on your plate, deliverability needs your attention too, so you can actually market to everyone who signs up to hear from you.

Email deliverability takes constant attention but it’s not overly complicated. Really, with good habits in place from the start, you should be able to continuously and incrementally improve your deliverability, slowly moving that number from say 81 percent to 83 percent and so on, so more people on your list get your emails—and a chance to buy.

For a basic approach to doing so, simply follow these three steps:

Step 1: Build a good list

You can’t email anyone if you don’t have a list of people to email, right? But you don’t want just anyone on that list. Start with a good list by following the best practices we have outlined here in our four email list-building tips every newbie should know. That post also covers keeping the list clean, which is also imperative for good email deliverability. If you have a good-sized list already, definitely pay attention to the hygiene aspect so you can get and keep that list clean, which will improve its quality and effectiveness.

How does your list help you? A good list helps your email deliverability because you only send to people who want to hear from you, which can potentially increase your engagement, which in turn tells the ISPs that you’re doing a good job and they should let your emails through to their customers.

Step 2: Use good manners

Just as you wouldn’t show up at someone’s house as an uninvited guest, or behave rudely at the dinner table if you were invited, you don’t want to use bad manners in email marketing either. For one thing, it’s annoying. But it’s also going to have a negative impact on your email deliverability. People won’t engage with your emails, which means ISPs won’t let your emails through (see my point above about engagement). People will unsubscribe or even report your emails as spam. And your sender reputation will be marred.

Good manners help improve email deliverability in two ways. First, your good manners show your subscribers that you’re mindful of their needs and wants, because you’re sending targeted, interesting content at a frequency they like. Secondly, good manners show the ISPs that you’re a responsible email marketer, one they can trust, so they will let your emails through to their customers’ inboxes.

Bad manners, on the other hand, include:

  • Ramping up a new dedicated IP address too quickly.
  • Failing to authenticate.
  • Sending emails to people who didn’t actually opt in (see above about your list).
  • Ignoring unsubscribe requests.
  • Ignoring hard bounces.
  • Sending too frequently.
  • Sending to people who never engage with your emails.
  • Sending the same old content over and over again.
  • Not segmenting and sending generic content to everyone instead.
  • Focusing on what you’re selling, not your customers’ needs.
  • Sending emails not optimized for mobile devices.

If you’re doing anything on the “bad manners” list, you’re hurting your email deliverability. Take time to fix it and find a better way.

Step 3: Monitor your reputation

Your sender reputation is key to your deliverability, so find out what it is and takes steps to improve it, while also continuing to pay attention to it. Also pay attention to your metrics following each send. Watch for deliverability trends. It might be you see a sudden drop in emails delivered to Gmail addresses, for example. Can you see the importance in knowing right away that you can no longer email a significant segment of your list? If you’re not paying attention, you could lose all kinds of potential revenue because you don’t know about a chunk of your emails that are sitting unsent. Say Gmail addresses make up 28 percent of your email subscribers, and suddenly you can’t send emails to 28 percent of your list. Imagine the financial impact! That’s why you must constantly monitor not just your sender reputation, but also the results of each email you send.

There you have it: three steps to improved email deliverability. Adhere to all three and watch your deliverability rate improve, making more of your list, and making sure you get into more inboxes—for potentially more sales.

Photo Credit: GroupEmailServices Flickr via Compfight cc

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