Email deliverability and how to improve your delivery rates

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Email deliverability is about ensuring your emails get through to inboxes.

This blog shares information from the go-to deliverability man; Ken Driscoll. It covers the four principles of email marketing campaign delivery. You can read about the three ways to measure your email deliverability and finally see our list of ten simple, effective tips to make sure your deliverability is effective.

Email Deliverability Explained - as easy as A,B,C.

In his book ‘Email Deliverability Explained’, professional email deliverability consultant Ken O’Driscoll has identified 4 key principles that organizations need to adhere to to ensure a successful e-marketing campaign.

A. Deliverability and the four key principles of a successful email marketing campaign 

1) Gain explicit permission – make sure that you have confirmation from your contact that they want to receive your emails before emailing then for the first time, and always provide  the option to switch off or unsubscribe from notifications

2) Maximize engagement –  many mailbox providers base filtering decisions on how recipients react to your emails. If the majority either don’t open, mark as spam or delete without reading then it’s likely that ALL of your emails will be filtered as spam. Therefore always ensure that content and subject headings are going to provide the interest needed for the recipient to open.

3) Maintain your reputation – spam filters place heavy reliance on the reputation of a sender. By analyzing databases for any history of  poor quality emails and interrogating a senders technical set up, mailbox providers will quickly pick up on a poor track record.

4) Comply to technical standards – good senders take account of mailbox operators’ specific guidelines and best practices. If you fall below these then you risk being filtered out.

B. How do we stack up? Measuring your email deliverability

There are three main metrics for providing a high level measure of your email deliverability;

1. Delivery rate; the percentage of emails which were accepted by mailbox providers. Simply calculated by total emails sent minus total bouncebacks and rejections as a percentage of the total emails sent.

2. Complaint rate;  the percentage of complaints (either direct from contacts or via automatic complaints from mailbox providers) in response to your total emails sent

3. Conversion rate; the percentage of recipients who received, read and took desired action as a result of your email – not to be confused with click through rate which simply measures recipients clicking on links within the email

Beyond these metrics, you can also apply more detailed analysis such as open rate, click through rate, inbox placement rate (measuring the percentage of recipients who received the email directly into their inbox - not presorted into bulk or spam folders), and unsubscribe rate (measuring the proportion of contacts opting out of your emails.

C. Ten tips for improving your email deliverability

Work your way through these tips and see where your email deliverability is letting you down. You can read more detail in Ken's book, which is available on Amazon for just a few dollars.

1) Ensure your domain expiry date is more than one year away

2) Check that your website is not listed as being infected with a virus or malware

3) Make sure you have a confirmed opt-in process for newsletter or promotional mailings

4) Use a reputable email validation service for any new email addresses acquired

5) Understand and comply with mailbox providers bulk-sender guidelines

6) Make sure your content is relevant and engaging to recipients

7) Include plain text version of message in HTML emails

8) Ensure all external content links back to your sending domain’s website

9) Handle unsubscribe requests promptly

10) Don’t re-add or add to other lists anyone who has previously unsubscribed.

There is no quick fix to achieving a high level of email deliverability, and this article only scratches at the surface of some of the things you can do. Take measured steps and apply best current practices and you will see a rise in the proportion of emails getting through.

Ken Driscoll, Email Deliverability Explained Amazon $3USD.

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