Email Deliverability: It’s Your Reputation At Stake
With most things in life, your reputation is important. When it comes to sending emails for industrial sales and marketing purposes, it’s no different.
A bad sender reputation can be the difference between your email messages appearing at the top of your intended recipient’s inbox, in the spam folder – or worse, not being delivered at all. tweet
In order to prevent unsolicited spam emails from clogging our inboxes, email service providers, in accordance with email laws such as CAN-SPAM (United States) and CASL (Canada), pay close attention to the sending habits of businesses and organizations using email to promote their products and services.
Industrial companies need to be sure they are emailing responsibly, or risk damaging their reputation to the point where their emails are no longer delivered to their intended recipients. Or only received in the Spam folder.
So how can industrial businesses maintain a good sender reputation and avoid having their domain blacklisted (unable to send mass email)? We’ve put together some important advice to follow:
Ask Contacts To Whitelist Your Email Address
Internet service providers can confirm the validity of a sender based on how recipients engage with their emails.
If a high number of recipients add your sending address to their contact list, this is a sign that they want to receive emails from this address in the future. This is known as whitelisting. tweet
For industrial businesses looking to boost their email credibility, whitelisting is the best place to start. While asking a large list of relatively unknown recipients to whitelist your contact information might be a bit unrealistic, start by asking your existing customers to whitelist the email address you use for marketing purposes – done by adding to their contacts or address book.
As well, including a message at the bottom of your emails asking recipients to add you to their contact book in Outlook or Gmail can also be effective.
Consider Your Email Content
How your emails display and read greatly impacts their chances of them being delivered properly. In this day and age, we often read emails on our phones or mobile devices before we see them on our desktops. For this reason, ensure your emails can be read on both desktop and mobile devices with ease.
There are a few reasons for this:
Emails that can’t be easily read on a mobile device will appear unprofessional and may be flagged as spam before the recipient even understands what it is or who it is from.
Mass spam emails in the past have tended not to be mobile friendly (although this isn’t always the case anymore)
Avoid Using Link Shorteners
As well, avoid the use of link shorteners when sending emails. While link shorteners can be useful tools for posting links to social media, with email, they can be a flag for internet service providers to recognize spam. We recommend using the complete link rather than a link shortening tool such as bit.ly or goo.gl. If your link is really too long, consider linking some of the text in your message, rather than posting the entire link.
Monitor The Language You Use
In the past, certain language was an instant trigger for internet service providers to recognize spam. Using words such a free, sale, or writing in ALL CAPS was often a dead giveaway of spam email. Today, the filters for detecting spam have become more advanced. However, it doesn’t mean that language isn’t still a factor. The best advice we can give is to monitor your engagement closely. If a particular email receives poor open rates, consider the language in the email to see if there might be a potential reason.
Address Potential Spam Traps
Spam traps are email addresses that never sign up to receive email. As a result, when they do receive an email, it is easy to identify it as spam. Sending an email to a spam trap can result in your domain being instantly blacklisted (denied from sending messages).
Spam traps come in two forms. First, some spam traps can be identified by their naming system. Addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org are rarely used to subscribe to email lists and therefore the messages they do receive are likely spam. To address this issue, review your list for generic email addresses and consider removing from your list.
To address this issue, review your list for generic email addresses and consider removing from your list.
Second, old email addresses, which are no longer in use, can also be spam traps. In each case, spam traps are often monitored by organizations and internet service providers.
There are a few ways to approach dealing with outdated email addresses on your list
Review your list and remove subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in over 6 months
Run your email list through an email list validator – an online service which checks for invalid email addresses – and remove invalid addresses from your list
Monitor the email address your marketing emails send from for error messages. Remove any email addresses from your list that have bounced back/were not delivered.
Regularly Clean Your List
It is your responsibility to remove old and nonresponsive email addresses from your list. Not only is there the potential for some of these addresses to be spam traps, but the average engagement your emails receive impacts your sender reputation.
If you consistently send emails to old lists that don’t open or click, it will adversely impact your sender reputation, making it harder to get your emails to the inbox.
We recommend evaluating your list at least once every 6 months to 1 year. Remove any individuals who are no longer opening your messages. It is better to send to a small list of engaged recipients than a large list who doesn’t want to hear from you. If the thought of deleting contacts is scary, consider sending a confirmation email to nonresponsive contacts. If they want to continue receiving your messages, they will opt in. If not, sadly, it’s time to move on.
Consider a dedicated IP address
A dedicated IP address gives email providers a way to verify that the email is being sent from a credible company. All emails sent from your company can be verified as coming from you, thereby increasing your email sending reputation and leading to more email sent to the inbox.
For industrial businesses sending a high volume of emails (10,000+) on a monthly basis, a dedicated IP address for sending email is the best option.
If you aren’t sure if your email is being sent from a dedicated IP address, check in with your email provider.
Only Send Email to People Who Have Given Explicit Permission
This cannot be overstated.
We repeat – only send email to people who have explicitly given permission to receive emails from your organization. Not only is it illegal under both CAN-SPAM and CASL to send email without permission, it can also be damaging to your reputation.
Those who are unfamiliar with your business are more likely to unsubscribe or report your message as spam, which can be damaging over time. As well, without having permission to email someone, it can be difficult to verify the accuracy of their email address.
This may result in a high number of bounces or accidentally sending to spam traps.
With this in mind, never purchase email lists, use email scraping tools to find email addresses online, or share lists (even with trusted partner organizations). tweet
As mentioned above, senders that are consistently marked as spam, or receive high numbers of unsubscribes, will have their email deliverability reputation damaged. It doesn’t take much to damage your reputation. A spam complaint rate that is greater than 0.2% is considered high and can impact email deliverability going forward.
To prevent this, make sure recipients know that they are subscribing to your email list. This way they will be expecting to hear from you and less likely to unsubscribe or mark your messages as spam. It is helpful to send a welcome email after recipients have subscribed to remind them that have signed up and to confirm that they actually want to receive email going forward.
Once you have been granted permission, respect it.
Only send emails that recipients are likely to be interested in and never send messages more frequently than your list agreed to. tweet
For example, if your list registered for a monthly newsletter, don’t insult them with email on a weekly basis. Over-sending is an easy reason for recipients to unsubscribe or flag your messages as spam.
Ultimately, email deliverability is your responsibility – and your responsibility alone.
It is up to you maintain a good sender reputation by adhering to the best practices of email for business. It is important to monitor your email results closely. If you begin to notice a sudden drop in engagement, it might be a sign that your sending reputation has been damaged.
While it is not impossible to fix a damaged reputation, the best advice we can give is to prevent it in the first place. tweet
Consistent list maintenance and an upfront email opt-in process are the best ways to ensure your emails arrive in the inbox, not the blacklist.
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About Martha Boulianne
Martha manages marketing efforts at ActiveConversion. You'll find her behind much of the content, design, and social media efforts that continue to grow our online presence. She has spent her professional life developing skills in web development and online marketing and spends her time not at work charging around after her family and making things.