Get your Email in front of your clients.
Email is an effective form of marketing with a return on investment far greater than most other tactics. It’s easily set up, measurable, and you retain control over who gets to see your message. At least that’s the theory. Due to this success, there has also been an increase in spam and with it increasing efforts from the email platforms to fight it. So this means that even if you send your emails to people who want to hear from you, their email platform can thwart your efforts by sending your carefully crafted message to the spam folder, promotions tab, or even refusing it completely.
There are no guarantees of delivery but there are several things you can do to give your emails the best chance of being seen.
The Set up:
When getting started with any application that sends emails on your behalf the following records need to be set up.
- DKIM essentially digitally signs an email so that it proves you are the legitimate sender. There should be instructions on how to set it up for each platform that sends emails on your behalf.
- SPF or sender policy framework is a list of the platforms that have your permission to send on your behalf.
- DMARC specifies what the mailbox should do with an email that hasn’t passed the other forms of identification. This must be set up correctly since any mistakes will guarantee your emails are sent to the spam folder.
Your IT support should be able to help with this but a good place to start is with this free domain checker: Free DMARC Domain Check | Is Your Domain Protected? – dmarcian. It will let you know how things are set up currently and suggest any changes needed.
Do they want to hear from you?
Do you have the permission of everyone on your list to email them? At the very least, are they interested in your emails? This is where your domain reputation can be destroyed! A large list that is just not engaging risks your domain being seen by email platforms as potentially a spammer. It’s far better to have a small list that engages with your content than to have a huge list that barely opens anything. Therefore, the worst thing you can do is to scrape or buy lists, which may well breach the terms and conditions of your email platform.
To make things worse, lists constructed in this way are likely to contain spam traps; dormant addresses bought up by email platforms that no one should be messaging. Send a message to one of these and it can damage your domain’s reputation and many email marketing platforms may restrict you or even cancel your account if you hit these. Poor domain reputation can lead to your domain appearing on a blocklist/blacklist, you can check your domain’s reputation here: https://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx
Engagement is King
I often hear “but they may buy in the future”, usually when I’m telling a business owner that contacts that have shown no engagement over the last year, or sometimes even longer, could be harming their reputation. Many experts in deliverability would advise against regular emails to those who haven’t engaged in the last 30 days and remove those who have shown no engagement in the last 90 days from your marketing. At the very least monitor responses. If people aren’t responding, run a re-engagement campaign. Check, in particular those that haven’t engaged in the first 14 days from signing up, there could be an issue with them receiving your mails. or they could be a bot!
Open rates are often seen as a good sign of engagement but they are increasingly becoming unreliable so it’s a good idea to design your emails with an engagement or call to action? Is there something they should click on? Doesn’t have to be a sales form or a download, it could be a link to your blog or an article, an invite to connect on Linkedin, or a poll? The best sort of engagement is a reply, so give your recipient a reason to reply to your mail. Make sure you have a process in place to follow up when someone replies.
Take a long hard look at anyone who hasn’t engaged in the last 30 days, and even harder on those with no action in the last 90 days!
The frequency of sending makes a huge difference to engagement. Ideally, weekly or at least every other week otherwise your contacts don’t remember you and don’t recall ever signing up. If your contacts receive an email after a long period of silence they are less likely to open it and more likely to mark it as spam, or even register a spam complaint; another way to sully your domain reputation! If we have an engagement rate of 35% it is unlikely to be the same 35% for each mail. So the more frequently we send the more of the list will have engaged in the last 30 days and the better our domain reputation. Consider segmenting your list so that the engaged contacts get the frequent emails while those that are less engaged get less frequent emails, just enough to keep in touch.
Can you be too frequent, I’ll leave this quote from the renowned marketer Dan Kennedy “you can’t be too frequent but you could be too boring”
Don’t Sound like a spammer
The best way to avoid the spam folder is to avoid writing emails like a spammer!!.
There are certain red flags that many platforms would flag as spam-like. Words such as “cash”, easy money”, and “free” can trigger filters and recently coronavirus and pandemic were both flagged. Don’t worry about the words but consider whether you have written authentically and genuinely. There are also tools out there that can review your emails to see if there are any words of concern or other issues that could see you trigger the spam filter eg https://www.mail-tester.com/
Choosing a subject line carefully is also important because again without opening emails there is no chance that they will interact with the content. Both the subject line and preview text should be designed to get people to want to know more.
Other design issues to consider include images. Work on the 80/20 rule; 80% text to 20% images is a good starting point. Consider whether you need an image at all? Go easy on fonts and colours, and keep your email clean and simple.
Any more than 3 links in an email will massively increase the chance of ending up in the Promotions tab if not the spam folder. If you are sending from an email marketing app, your unsubscribe link will count as one. If you have a call to action, and you should on the majority of emails, that’s a second. So stop there! Adding links to websites and, in particular, multiple social media accounts will cause you problems. Another reason for limiting links is that you should be designing your mail to elicit a particular response. It may be to click on a buy link, a link to an article, a link to one social media account, or a book an appointment link. Any further links distract and confuse your contact. Confused people don’t take action.
While we are discussing links, link shorteners have been shown to reduce deliverability.
So that’s a very quick look at getting your emails not just delivered but received. It’s crucial that you monitor engagement if you take this channel seriously because it can indicate any problems and give an early opportunity to rectify issues before they impact your domain reputation and your revenue.