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Getting to the Inbox: 3 Rules for Improving Email Deliverability

Lauren Jacenty

Laptop with email openMarketers spend so much time focusing on content (as we should!) that sometimes we forget about that last, crucial part of the campaign: making sure the email actually lands in the consumer’s inbox. You can have the most amazing design, the most relevant content, with the clearest call to action, but if the subscriber never sees it, all that hard work goes to waste.

Deliverability can be a huge issue and if not properly handled, could fall low enough to get you on the dreaded blacklist. But did you know that by following just three simple rules you can improve email deliverability issues and ensure your messages make it to inbox?

In fact, taking these basic steps helped Pierry take a client from a deliverability rate of 83.9% to 99% in just four months! Here’s what we did:

Rule 1: Eliminate Bad Email Addresses

As you know, marketers use a lot of tactics to build up their lists. Whether you’re collecting addresses through a form on your website or getting opt-ins at an event, you’re bound to end up with some invalid email addresses. If you have a small list, most of the bad email addresses will naturally be removed when they bounce on the first send, depending on your email platform.

But larger lists will need to be scrubbed. At Pierry Software, we offer email domain validation and hygiene, but there are a number of list-cleaning services available which validate email addresses, telling you which ones should be removed. Products like Salesforce Marketing Cloud have built-in tools that allow you to clean your own list. With “List Detective” email validation rules are run against email addresses imported into the system. If it’s a known bad address or a known spam trap, the address is automatically filtered out.

Having a clean list can greatly reduce the number of addresses that hard bounce, improving your deliverability and reducing the chance your sending domain will be marked for spam, sending all your messages into the great unknown.

By eliminating bad email addresses, deliverability went from 83.9% to an average of 92%. And so, we were on to rule #2.

Rule #2: Set a Sending Cadence

There was a time when internet service providers (ISPs) found their networks constantly overloaded by spammers. In an effort to reduce this, most larger ISPs set a limit for the amount of email that can come through their network from a single IP Address at one time. For email marketers, this can mean deliverability issues.

How do you show you’re a welcome party and not a spammer? By setting a message cadence, or throttling, you can limit the number of emails per hour sent based on domain and ensure it meets the criteria for each ISPs standards.

Sure, the send may take a few days longer to complete, but what’s more important, sending all emails at once or making sure your consumers receive your email?

Establishing the proper cadence during month two of our client’s campaign took deliverability from an average of 92% to 96%. While another step in the right direction, it still wasn’t good enough for this e-marketer! So on to rule #3.

Rule #3: Monitor Your Send Frequency and Send Quantity

Once you’ve cleaned your list and established a cadence, there can still be room for improvement. Sending too infrequently causes the ISPs to bump your IP address back down to the “untrusted” category. Smaller, regular sends from your IP will build a reputation with the ISP so they trust that your sends are legit. For our client, we utilized a few smaller sends in the weeks between newsletter sends and continued to follow the email providers’ rules of send frequency: every three weeks to stay fresh.

With that final piece of the puzzle, we throttled the next send and saw that jump we were looking for—99% and above.

While thinking outside the box and bending or breaking conventional rules can lead to truly innovative marketing campaigns, it should be avoided when it comes to actually deploying materials via email. The rules that email providers put in place are there for a reason—to protect their users from unwanted messaging. If you follow the rules, they let you through to the audience you’re trying to reach. And ultimately, isn’t that where you want to be?