Cast your mind back to when you were a child and picture waking up on Christmas morning full of excitement.
You tiptoe down the stairs, you peek around the corner of the door, your heart beats a little faster with anticipation...but then you see the Christmas tree and your happiness plummets.
There’s no presents under the tree. They were sent out fine. But they weren’t delivered - or worse - they were delivered to the wrong place. Instead of being under the tree, all your amazing presents have ended up outside in the bin because Santa couldn’t get past your homes’ in-built security.
Now imagine how crushing it would be if these weren’t presents not being delivered properly but were the email marketing campaigns you’ve spent countless hours crafting and perfecting.
It’s so easy to concentrate on all the glamorous aspects of email marketing - the design, the content, the smart segmentation - that deliverability (or the art of ensuring your messages reach your subscribers) is often overlooked.
And overlooking deliverability is something we all do at our peril.
The good news is - while it’s impossible to absolutely guarantee your emails will avoid spam folders or promotion tabs - there are some simple and hugely effective ways you can ensure your email marketing campaigns get the inbox placement they deserve.
1. Email Authentication
Email and domain authentication is, essentially, a way for email providers to know you are who you say you are. Although it might seem complicated, it’s actually a relatively straightforward process. The mail server receiving your email will look for your Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) token. These records are added to your Domain Name Server (DNS) and, once they’re in place, the mail server receiving your email campaigns can verify who you are.
Think of it this way (and continuing the Christmas theme) if your company is called ‘Santa’s Socks’ and you send an email campaign to your database from the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, the receiving mail server will want to verify that the email is actually from Santa’s Socks. It does this by checking for the verification records mentioned above. If these records don’t exist, then there’s an increased chance your email campaign will go straight into the junk folder or won’t be delivered at all.
Depending on what email marketing platform you use and your own technical knowledge, it’s possible to set them up yourself. However, we would recommend getting an expert in to help and this is a service we’re more than happy to provide - if you’d like to find out more please do get in touch with us.
2. Sender Reputation
It’s worth remembering that, providing your email send set up is all correct from a technical perspective (as above), delivery into the inbox is primarily based on reputation.
Each email inbox provider uses several different sources of information, including the past behaviour of readers to your sends to define a reputation score. From this the likelihood of being placed in the inbox is determined. Measurements mailbox providers account for, but are not visible to us as marketers, include:
- Deleted without reading
- Filing (i.e. saving to another folder)
- Adding to the address book
- Retrieving emails from the junk folder
- Moving emails to the junk folder
After all, the mailbox provider’s priority is to their email account holders. So, creating relevant, engaging emails that the majority of your customers want to open and read, is vital in maintaining the overall reputation of your email and so the chance of reaching the inbox.
3. Whitelisting & Safe Sender Status
There’s only one list you want to be on this Christmas and it’s not the naughty or nice one. The list you really want to be on is the ‘whitelist’ or ‘safe sender’ list. If you make it onto your subscribers’ whitelists you’ll greatly improve the chances of your emails avoiding the spam folder.
In fact, getting your send address added to your subscriber’s contact list is one of the most effective methods to ensure future sends land in the inbox. This can be done as a subtle prompt in all emails, or as a more overt request as part of a welcome email or new customer journey.
Below are some examples from other brands showing different approaches to this task ranging from subtle to overt and primary messaging:
1) Footer Notification
2) Relaxed & Conversational
3) Highly visual overt request
Furthermore, linking to a short whitelisting walkthrough featuring a variety of email clients is especially beneficial for less email-savvy subscribers. Here’s a great example from Campaign Monitor on how to explain the process to readers.
Think of deliverability like this; you wouldn’t build an amazing new house on foundations that could easily crumble. By spending time building your foundations, ensuring your email sends are technically sound and encouraging your subscribers to add you to their contact lists, you’ll greatly improve the chances of your email marketing campaigns being read and, therefore, being successful.
If you’d like help or advice with anything we’ve covered in this article then get in touch with us and we’ll talk it through with you.