Do you know about 14.5 Bn spam emails sent every day, only 15% of the global email volumes are legitimate?
If your customers mark your emails as spam, that’s really not a good sign for your reputation and deliverability. When that happens, any future emails you send to other subscribers might end up in the spam folder too.
But, if you are following the right framework and industry acceptable recommended practices, email deliverability will give you amazing results in your overall email strategy & business revenue.
To put it in simple words, if you want to avoid sending spam, set clear expectations for your customers about the email content you send. Then, deliver on that promise and drive value & engagement.
Deliverability is half art & science but more of a habit and requires common sense. That’s why most of the brand marketers get stuck in implementing a solid email marketing strategy for their business because of: 1) email deliverability not been taken care of 2) they’re afraid. Afraid of losing the most important thing. No! It is not the money. It’s the attention. Because attention is the most precious thing right now.
Businesses, entrepreneurs and marketers are fighting to get the attention of their audience. And they are afraid of losing people’s attention. That’s why they sell right at the beginning. When attention is still super-duper high.
In their welcome email and even subsequent emails that they send out to new email subscribers, each email links to the sales page. That’s what most marketers and brands do. And that’s why email marketing doesn’t work for them. It’s what I call hope marketing. You hope for the sales to happen.
Brand marketers forget that we (consumers) buy from people. From people, we have a relationship with. And email marketing well done is your best option to build that relationship with your audience. That’s the purpose of email marketing. If you fail to deliver the wanted content, they will unsubscribe or mark you as spam, eventually creates deliverability issues.
Having said that, let us try to look at email deliverability with these 2 possible approaches:
- Working with the ISPs and sending emails as per recommended practices by each ISP
- Working against the ISPs by trying to fool spam filters and try to bypass with cheap tricks
Working with ISPs demands 2 kinds of emails — wanted by the subscriber & expected by the subscriber. Wanted type content demands value whereas expected type content demands both value and content subscribed by them.
ISPs have not defined any hard & fast rule to segregate between wanted and expected type content but they have their smart brains to gauge how well your content is serving the end recipient. The most important criteria which ISPs follow in simpler terms — engagement and complaints and of course there are other thousands of factors involved — like technical setup, authentication, domain/IP reputation, history of the domain, DNS setup, sending practices, content, 3rd party impact, and alike.
On the other hand, working against ISPs involves certain gimmicks, cheap tricks to bypass spam filters which spammers tend to follow. Practices like burning domains, IPs, harvesting the purchased data and batch & blast approach to generate leads, and alike.
And, when ISPs start penalizing you by filtering your email, there are two ways you can react:
• Examine your email campaigns and programs, and find out the root cause of what is causing complaints or spam-trap hits, and then deploy the remedy plan which is defined by ISPs
• Or, easiest way that you can go for is to avoid addressing the root causes of high complaints or low engagement, and instead focus on employing cheap tricks. For example, using lots of IP addresses to avoid scrutiny, changing domain names, or putting the entire email content in an image to avoid content filters.
There is a lot of bad email deliverability advice out there, so there are a lot of people that end up going down this path with the best of intentions. The problem is that these approaches rely on gimmicks rather than best practices. ISPs have dedicated teams of very smart people that are working to figure out the technical tricks that people use to avoid their filters and then block those tricks so that they no longer work.
For example, the three specific techniques listed above are well-known, and the ISPs have specific countermeasures that detect these techniques and penalize them accordingly.
It’s common to see things like 0.1% open ratios when using this a track two approach. And it’s common to see the “solution” to a low open ratio to be “just send more email.” The goal is often to reach the Bulk folder instead of the Inbox.
That’s why it’s very important to understand the science behind deliverability, what are the key influencers of email deliverability (and there are other factors depending upon which ISP you are talking about):
- Volume & Consistency
- Spam Traps
Bounces: There are two types of bounces
– Hard Bounces — Invalid Recipients/Unknown User Attempts and are indicative of list hygiene issues and may lead to bulking or blocking
– Soft Bounces — are email addresses that are refusing mail temporarily
Spikes in hard bounces or complaint rates signal deliverability problems
– Hard bounces are a predictor of spam trap hits; this means distribution contains many old addresses
– 2% recommended overall bounce rate (soft bounces and hard bounce combined)
– 1% recommended hard bounce rate, abnormal soft bounce rate spikes (over typical averages) may indicate reputation-related bulking or blocking
– Indicate end users are not expecting to receive your messages, are fatigued, or were not properly opted-in
– 0.01% recommended an overall complaint rate or lower
*Complaints are based on abuse reports received from the ISPs currently offering feedback loops
Feedback Loops (FBLs)
– A feedback loop is a system in which the ISP provides us feedback from their users who no longer wish to receive future mailings; users click the “Spam or “Junk” button, which generates feedback.
Volume & Consistency:
– ISP filters are configured to automatically monitor for any unusual activity to protect their users from spam
– Sending inconsistent volumes and/or irregular volume patterns over time can trigger spam filters and damage overall deliverability
– Senders must deliver at least 150k messages per month in order to establish and maintain a sender reputation on a dedicated IP
– Spam trap hits can be one of the most damaging issues for email deliverability and maintaining proper list hygiene is very important to avoiding spam traps.
– This requires monitoring engagement levels and removing inactive subscribers. At the very least remove all subscribers who have not opened or clicked within the past 12 months.
– Beyond 12 months, many ISPs will invalidate inactive addresses, or convert them to spam traps directly. Some ISPs will convert inactive addresses to spam traps after as little as 6–9 months of inactivity.
Recipient actions that contribute to the positive engagement quotient are:
– Clicking through links
– Adding an address to their contacts or address book
– Enabling images
– Opening and/or scrolling through the message
Recipient actions that contribute to the negative engagement quotient are:
– Reporting as spam
– Deleting the message
– Moving the message to trash
– Marking messages as read
– Ignoring messages
Now, you understand the science, you must also know how to avoid hitting spam filters or troubleshoot deliverability by following these 8 pro tips to achieve your deliverability & reputation health back to high:
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Inboxing Maestro™ is an email marketing & deliverability consulting company, that helps permission-focused ecommerce brands send better emails, get emails to the inbox & turn emails into a major revenue source.
Disclaimer: We'll show you the strategies & tactics that can help you to improve your deliverability, email performance, and ROI. Results may vary from individual to individual and company to company. Your results will be impacted by numerous factors not limited to your experience, background, discipline & time you commit to applying the strategies. We strongly recommend you follow email marketing & deliverability best practices end to end, and you should be able to achieve better results. However, we do not guarantee 100% results considering ISP's spam filters getting updated almost every day and your business decisions, you might experience some inconsistencies in your deliverability or reputation impact. We advise you to keep following the best practices and tweak the strategies; their filters will understand and adapt.
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