How perilous a journey is it? According to Return Path, only one in five emails are delivered! To improve your odds, you must first understand that in email marketing as in business, reputation is everything. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in their effort to protect their customers from spam emails, rely on metrics to determine if you are a reputable sender or just a spam machine. So what can you do to maintain or improve your reputation as an email marketer?
Check out your Sender Score. The score is provided at no charge by Return Path. They rate the reputation of every outgoing mail server IP address based on examining records of mega-ISPs like Comcast. The Return Path formula considers the frequency that recipients unsubscribe or report spam and assigns a score between 0 and 100. Knowing your current score will give you a benchmark to measure against as you implement changes to your email sending process.
Stop using free email accounts. Say you’re using your free Gmail account to send out order confirmations, and you send out a lot. Email servers might begin to view this account as one belonging to a spammer, and your Sender Score could drop. Retire those freebie accounts and register a company domain and associated email address.
Authenticate your emails. Authentication gives ISPs a definitive way to determine if your email is legit and is passed through or if it looks like fraud or spam and is flagged. Implementing Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DKIM (Domain Key Identified Mail), and DMARC Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) settings are critical authentication tools. Talk to your IT department about adding these or you could look for an email solutions provider who can do this for you.
Improve your email list. The better the list, the fewer bounces—returned email from your recipient’s mail server—you’ll see, which contributes to a higher Sender Score. So does having engaged subscribers because they’re less likely to submit complaints about you. The double opt-in strategy creates engaged subscribers from the start. All you need to do is send a confirmation email after the initial sign up. You might get fewer people taking that final step, but those who do tend to be more receptive to your messages. Whether you use double opt-in or not, it’s always a good idea to periodically purge your list of inactive addresses.
Send on a regular schedule. Establishing a cadence and sticking with it enhances engagement with your subscribers and also puts a shine on your reputation. ISP gatekeepers see spikes in your sending schedule as a red flag. Hitting the sweet spot to find the right schedule may take some trial and error, but it is worth the effort. Not only will you see a lift in opens and clickthroughs, but also your consistent emailing schedule will improve your Sender Score.
Implementing the above tips will go a long way toward increasing the deliverability of your emails. As you know, getting your message to the recipient is a large part of the battle to win their business. While you can continue managing your email program yourself, you might want to consider HIG’s hosted email solution.