Email deliverability is one of those things you either dismiss completely (because too hard), or you decide to tackle, google and leave more confused than when you started.

BUT can you really afford not to? If you are putting lots of effort into growing your list or endless energy into perfecting your subject line, you want to make sure that your hard-earned subscribers are actually receiving your email. When your deliverability is really bad, your email will end up straight in spam or, worse still, completely intercepted by mail clients and never get delivered.

Yes, just the mention of deliverability can send heads spinning and there are some technical bits that are complicated, however, often a lot of the really technical stuff is taken care of – especially if you use a service like Mailchimp or Active Campaign. There’s no need for you become an expert in the field – just familiarise yourself with the basics.

At the efficiency hub, we’d like to give you actionable advice, you know, the things that you can realistically implement yourself without the big overwhelm.

Deliverability + Mailchimp

Many of our clients use Mailchimp, as it offers great tools and is affordable for small to medium sized businesses. It’s one of our favourite platforms.

Mailchimp can do many things but what it can’t do is ensure all your emails get delivered to your subscribers.

But isn’t that its job? Well, yes, but no.

Mailchimp takes care of IP addresses being in the optimal state (there are many many rules, if you really want to learn about that, just give us a call). It checks for the quality of lists and campaigns to ensure no one you’re sharing the IP address with can do any damage (just because you’re sending quality emails doesn’t mean everyone else is).

But it is still up to you what goes into your campaigns and once you’ve hit that send button it’s over to Gmail/Mail/Outlook and the likes to decide whether they’ll place your email in a recipient’s inbox, spam filter or even let it through the big gate at all.

As per usual, Gmail (hello Google) doesn’t give us all the rules and things change every now and then to adapt to the ever-changing techniques of pro-spammers, however there are some things we know and we may as well get them right!

So, what can you do?

Here are our top tips to sending emails that will actually get delivered:

1

Keep your email list clean and remove inactive subscribers.

If you’re sending your marketing emails to super old users (or even purchased lists!), you’ll ramp up your bounce rate and destroy your sender credibility. Every 90 days or so, remove all inactive recipients from your list filtering out all users who have not opened or clicked your emails in a few months. Some email systems like Bronto will do this for you and it’s a case of activating a setting – so you can always jump on support to confirm the specific features of your email software before you go down the manual path.

Before you remove inactive users completely however, you might want to try to re-engage those sleepers by sending them a clever re-engagement campaign and asking them to “click here if you’d still like to receive our emails”.

Better yet try and catch them before they’re sent to sleep by prodding them with an exciting offer once they start to lose interest (Call us if you need some inspo!).

If they don’t click, then remove them. Yes, it’s scary to move these hard-earned subscribers off your list, but what good are they if they don’t even read your emails?

Send relevant content your audience engages with.

Ask yourself:   Would you like to read your own campaigns?

We know what it’s like, we all get hundreds of promotional emails every day. We often click the delete button (or even unsubscribe!) so quickly because we just don’t have time to look at a bunch of same-same emails.

Why should a subscriber keep your email to read later? How is yours different from others? What’s the context?

Think about it!

 

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2

Send relevant content your audience engages with.

Ask yourself:   Would you like to read your own campaigns?

We know what it’s like, we all get hundreds of promotional emails every day. We often click the delete button (or even unsubscribe!) so quickly because we just don’t have time to look at a bunch of same-same emails.

Why should a subscriber keep your email to read later? How is yours different from others? What’s the context?

Think about it!

 

3

Don’t use just images.

Instead, use a healthy amount of text in your emails, at least 40%.

We know writing your text in Canva is all pretty and sparkles but adding text as an image to your email is going to be more harmful than using a standard font.

After all, what good is a sparkly email if no one sees it?

 

A historic spam technique was to send emails that contained just one image, or many images and very little text in order to bypass spam filters, based primarily on spam keywords.

Spam filtering now centres around sender reputation rather than content, however image to text ratio does still carry some weight.

What’s more, some inboxes or devices are not configured to display images by default. If your campaign consists solely of images, then your content may not display at all!

If you don’t like the standard options Mailchimp offers, consider getting your email template custom coded, there are some very affordable options to turn your designs into html, e.g. Email Monks – go check it out!

Use the image alt tag.

You might have noticed a little box in Mailchimp that says ‘Alt text’ when you add images – we say: “Use that box!”.

Alt stands for alternative and simply means that if your image can’t be displayed, this text will show instead.

Make your alt tags fun and engaging!

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4

Use the image alt tag.

You might have noticed a little box in Mailchimp that says ‘Alt text’ when you add images – we say: “Use that box!”.

Alt stands for alternative and simply means that if your image can’t be displayed, this text will show instead.

Make your alt tags fun and engaging!

5

Write interesting subject lines.

You might even want to use an emoji if appropriate.

Research has shown that subject lines with emojis get a higher open rate because they catch a recipient’s attention (makes sense, right).

So far, there don’t seem to be any rules around emojis but things may change over time.

The success of different subject lines really depends on a specific business. Sometimes one word is all that’s needed to skyrocket those open rates, in other cases a long probing question gets more clicks.

The key is to test, and test again. Mailchimp makes it super easy to add-in a simple A/B test.

Don’t use all caps or too many symbols

in your subject line and email body for that matter.

Apart from this being a solid rule on deliverability, it’s also common sense. You know, like, WHO LIKES BEING SHOUTED AT?

Also, ensure that your subject lines match the content of your email – no one wants to be promised a trip to Disney Land and end up at the dentist.

Steer away as much as possible from spammy words like cheap and win. Even $$ signs should be avoided where possible…

6

6

Don’t use all caps or too many symbols

in your subject line and email body for that matter.

Apart from this being a solid rule on deliverability, it’s also common sense. You know, like, WHO LIKES BEING SHOUTED AT?

Also, ensure that your subject lines match the content of your email – no one wants to be promised a trip to Disney Land and end up at the dentist.

Steer away as much as possible from spammy words like cheap and win. Even $$ signs should be avoided where possible…

7

Use a company email address,

e.g. emails@mycompany.com, instead of name@gmail.com.

Bonus tip: You typically get domain emails included with your website hosting. Make sure you enquire to find out. Otherwise, use G Suite – it’s one of our favourites and only AUD5.50 per month.

Confirm your domain authenticity

(note: this is different from your initial domain verification!).

This is the only technical thing we get you to do, it’s important.

You want to show Gmail and other mail clients that your domain is legit and that you’re not a spammer. In other words, by putting custom authentication settings in place, your emails are far more likely to be delivered (doesn’t that sound great?).

To do this follow the steps in this blog post.

It’s not as hard as it seems, promise. But if you do struggle, get in touch and we can do it for you.

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8

Confirm your domain authenticity

(note: this is different from your initial domain verification!).

This is the only technical thing we get you to do, it’s important.

You want to show Gmail and other mail clients that your domain is legit and that you’re not a spammer. In other words, by putting custom authentication settings in place, your emails are far more likely to be delivered (doesn’t that sound great?).

To do this follow the steps in this blog post.

It’s not as hard as it seems, promise. But if you do struggle, get in touch and we can do it for you.

9

Welcome new subscribers to your list,

so they get a feel for what’s to come.

The last thing you want is for your subscribers to delete your campaign (that took you hours to put together) because they don’t recognise your brand.

A solid welcome email is your first impression, make it count.

Send emails regularly.

If people don’t hear from you for 6 months, they might have forgotten who you are and that they subscribed to your emails in the first place.

That calls for the delete or even worse, the spam button. Shudder

You want to make sure people know and love you.

On the flip side, don’t pummel your poor list with daily emails if you have nothing new to say.

You know, common sense.

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10

Send emails regularly.

If people don’t hear from you for 6 months, they might have forgotten who you are and that they subscribed to your emails in the first place.

That calls for the delete or even worse, the spam button. Shudder

You want to make sure people know and love you.

On the flip side, don’t pummel your poor list with daily emails if you have nothing new to say.

You know, common sense.

11

Have fun with your emails!

Try to send the right message at the right time and make everything shine and burst with your brand’s personality.

As always, if you have any questions or need help with anything, don’t be shy to reach out.

We’re here for you!

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author   The efficiency hub   //   co-author   Karina May  of  Karina May Consulting