12 Tips to get in the INBOX

Sending email for marketing is much more complicated than it used to be. The world’s largest ISPs (Internet Service Providers) are more particular about which emails they let reach someone’s inbox these days. They use sophisticated algorithms to monitor lead engagement, sending patterns, list sizes, and SPAM reporting. ISPs use this data to establish a reputation for senders, which determines inbox placement (whether your email is placed in the inbox, SPAM, or junk folders, etc.), can lead to delayed sending, and could possibly lead to blacklisting (i.e., your emails will no longer be received at all). Here are some tips to help you get into your target customers’ inboxes and make your marketing emails more effective:

  1. Clean your lists – There are many great services that can clean lists for you at a reasonable price. There are also other services that can verify addresses and supply you with additional information on leads – which can be helpful for marketing efforts. B2B databases degrade by an average of 25% each year, while B2C is a little better. This means a list that is only a few years old can be well over half full of bad addresses.
  2. Remove old contacts – If someone hasn’t engaged with your company in the last 6 months or more, you should remove them from your contact list. Depending on buying cycles and your industry, the timeframe can vary. However, best practice is – if they haven’t responded in the last year, stop sending to them.
  3. Provide a clear, prominent way to Unsubscribe – You may think that unsubscribing is bad, but it is actually better than having someone on your list who never engages or moves your email to their SPAM folder. Unsubscribing is the best way to handle those who aren’t interested in receiving your communications. Zero engagement is a mark against you for each email address you send to, and movement to the junk folder is even worse. If they aren’t going to buy, let them go.
  4. Use clear Subject Lines that match content – It’s important to make sure that those who open your emails are getting the information that they expect, so make sure that the content of the email matches the promise of the subject line. Clicking on your content shows increased engagement and will help build your reputation.
  5. Segment your audiences – Chances are your database has a few distinct audiences that have different needs and goals. If you can speak to each in a personalized way, you will boost engagement, which will lead to overall better email health.
  6. Send to your highly engaged audience first – If you have your database segmented based on engagement and know who is most likely to open or click, send to them first. This will show to the ISPs that your message is valuable and will help you get good placement in subsequent sends.
  7. Implement Bounce Management – Some ESPs (Email Service Providers) and most Marketing Automation Platforms have a bounce management system, but it is a good idea to check and upgrade these systems. Hard bounces (caused from invalid email addresses) should be immediately removed and soft bounces (caused by server issues or possible bad addresses) should only be tried a few times before they’re removed. Check with your provider and adjust your settings as needed.
  8. Use organic leads wherever possible – Best practice is to only email those who have come onto your site, social media pages, or contact list organically. Use extreme caution when contacting leads from other sources and make sure to follow the other best practices if doing so, including list cleaning, unsubscribe options, and bounce management.
  9. Ask leads to Whitelist your domain – Adding this request to one of your first emails will configure the recipient’s ISP to put your emails in their inbox. This will improve your overall reputation and will make sure that those who want your emails will always receive them, regardless of other deliverability issues.
  10. Verify your technical setup – Have your IT department or web developer make sure your SPF / DKIM and DMARC records and settings are set up properly and that everything is flowing from the correct domains and with the right settings. Having the wrong settings will immediately set off a red flag that is hard to get rid of.
  11. Include a Text option and ALT tags for all HTML emails – Some users have their email set up to receive only plain text messages or not download images. Including a plain text version of your email and ALT tags for your images will not only help those people receive the message, it will also improve overall deliverability.
  12. Test your messages and your deliverability – There are several tools that help marketers test email rendering, deliverability, inbox placement, engagement rates, bounces, and lists. Use as many of these tools as you can, if time and budget allows.

Keeping on top of your deliverability and user experience prevents wasting effort and marketing dollars, and will boost your overall reputation and engagement. Better engagement means more active leads and, therefore, more sales. Sending mass email isn’t as simple as it used to be, and it has become very difficult to get into the inbox unless you are doing it right. These tips will help to improve your deliverability.

Check back next time to learn how Marketing Automation can take your marketing efforts to the next level.