Email is basically a given for marketers these days. For many, it’s simply another tool – they create a campaign, plug in their contacts, hit send, and off it goes.
They don’t consider what happens between when they send it and when their contacts receive it. The truth is, the success or failure of the campaign is determined during that time.
Email deliverability is the key, but many marketers don’t know what that is.
What is Email Deliverability and Why Should You Care?
Deliverability is the percentage of the emails that you send that actually get where they need to be – in inboxes, not spam folders.
Seems easy, right?
It’s a simple metric, but there’s a lot going on under the hood. The root of deliverability is whether your emails pass muster for the spam filters involved.
And spam filters are more complicated than you might expect.
How Do Spam Filters Work?
Every internet service provider (ISP) has its own spam filter. When you send an email campaign, it passes through two stages of spam filtering: your ISP and the recipient’s ISP.
Your “trustworthiness” as a sender is measured by your sender reputation or sender score. This is a value from 1 to 100 that is assigned to your IP address and domain by each ISP.
That means that you might have a slightly different score for each ISP. They all calculate sender score a little differently, but they’re broadly similar, so your score won’t be too different from one to another.
ISPs take a very wide range of factors into account when determining your sender score. For example, if you’ve only sent maybe a few hundred emails at once, and suddenly you fire off a campaign to 100,000 people, your sender score will take a hit.
Broadly speaking, following spammy practices will result in your sends being treated like spam.
So what counts as “spammy practices”?
Avoiding the “Spammer” Label
Some are fairly obvious. Things like using deceptive subject lines and suddenly sending huge volumes of email are clearly bad ideas, for example. However, there are plenty of other things that you might now realize are hindering your deliverability.
For instance, there are a wide range of words and phrases that will trigger spam filters. There are hundreds, so we won’t list out all of them – and spam filters are always evolving anyway – but here are a few of the more obvious ones:
- 100% free
- Don’t delete
- Free instant
- Call now
- Get out of debt
- Join millions
That spam filters don’t like these sorts of phrases is fairly logical. But there are many that you could very easily be using without realizing. For example:
- Increase your sales
- Opt in
Keeping track of all the possible content that might impact your deliverability is a daunting task to say the least.
Another thing to watch out for is how you use images. Because spam filters look at your email’s text content, spammers will often arrange their entire message within one large image.
Of course, spam filters know that, too. Having a large image and little text is just as suspicious as having spammy text. Plus, many clients won’t display images by default, so it’s not a very good strategy in the first place.
Honesty is the Best Policy
It’s best to be transparent and upfront in your marketing emails. Being deceptive is harmful in multiple ways: it damages your sender score, hurts your clickthrough and conversion rates, and annoys your recipients in the process.
A major factor in your sender score is how people engage with your emails. If you get a lot of opens and clicks, your sender score improves. If you get hard bounces, unsubscribes, and spam complaints, it declines.
People’s reaction to your campaigns is a strong indicator of how well you’ve written your campaign, how precisely you’ve targeted the right audience, and how your reputation will be impacted.
If your subject line is deceptive, you might get more opens, but people will quickly realize they’ve been tricked. That’s a fast-track to spam complaints, which will do more damage to your sender score than you gained from those opens.
The Most Important Factors
Out of all the things that determine your email deliverability, the most important ones are who your contacts are and how you’re sending campaigns.
Cold email marketing often gets lumped in with spam. Spamming is a form of cold email marketing, true – but it’s a highly ineffective one.
The main difference is in your contact list. If your list consists solely of real email addresses belonging to people who have a legitimate interest in your offer, you’re golden.
To make that happen, it’s critical to ensure you’re sourcing your contact list from reputable data providers, and that you’re purchasing a list of contacts that match your target audience.
Of course, all email lists naturally deteriorate over time – even the best list will have some outdated or bad addresses, or even addresses that have been since repurposed as spam traps.
That’s why it’s imperative that you clean your lists before you send. Email list hygiene is one of the keys to success.
Another one is how you’re sending your emails. It’s not uncommon for marketers who are just starting to leverage cold email to want to send their campaigns from the same platforms as they use for their newsletters and other opted-in sends.
Services such as Gmail, Outlook or HubSpot work well for opted-in contacts, but fall short when it comes to cold lists. That’s because they aren’t made to handle them, and generally don’t allow large lists.
Clickback MAIL not only allows purchased lists of any size, it cleans them for you automatically. Every contact is put through a rigorous series of checks to strip away bad data and spam traps.
It’s built with cold email in mind, and handles all the difficult technical aspects. It keeps your sender score pristine, and has a real-time content checker that lets you know if your email contains any of those trigger phrases that spam filters don’t like.
You don’t need to worry about email deliverability. You can focus on creating content that converts.
Learn more about how you can ensure your campaigns get to inboxes, not spam folders. Book a 1-to-1 live software demo today.