Email Deliverability: Everything You Need to Know [Guide]
High email deliverability is the goal of every salesperson and marketer when it comes to their outreach efforts.
Here’s how to make it happen.
I’m calling this a “short guide” to email deliverability. On one hand, it should be (as I say) everything you need to know for 2018. On the other hand, it (in no way) will be a masterclass on the subject. Just a long-form post to aid in improving the number of emails getting to your leads. If you’re doing campaigns for your own small to medium-sized venture and have that gut-check feeling that you’re not getting everything out of your deliverability — I hope this’ll help. Because the worst thing you can do is just hit send without doing everything possible to make sure it gets where it’s going SAFELY.
This is the third post in a series, of sorts. I started out writing about the email blacklist. How to tell if you’re on it, how to get off, etc.. Last week, we published a post that went into detail about protecting your email account (and by proxy your domain and brand).
Now to end this mini-series, we’ll discuss deliverability including:
- A Brief Explanation (including important terms)
- Common Mistakes
- Ways to Improve Performance
- And Resources Sprinkled Throughout
Email Deliverability: A Brief Explanation (and Terms)
We aren’t talking about open rate, click-through-rate (CTR), conversion rate or any other rate that email marketers commonly use to measure progress. According to the folks at CampaignMonitor, deliverability is:
“Email deliverability is the ability to deliver emails to subscribers’ inboxes.” — Campaign Monitor
Pretty easy, right? There’s more.
From here, things can get much more intricate. In fact, we use the term in question to encompass the entire emailing process from the point you hit (or automate) send until it ends up at its final destination; which is not always the inbox you intended — making it such an important topic.
HubSpot has identified 19 key terms in the process of email deliverability. Many of which we’ve gone over in the past few weeks.
Some of the more interesting ones are:
- Ham: An affectionate term to describe emails that are desired (aka not spam).
- Sender Score: A number (1-100) given to IP Addresses relaying the reliability of said address.
- Soft Bounce: As opposed to a hard bounce, a soft one is usually a problem that could be resolved soon (i.e. a full inbox or down server).
Further Reading: Here’s a post with all 19 terms from HubSpot. I highly recommend it for those who take their email marketing seriously.
The Terms You Need to Know
If you don’t want to go back to the last two posts, I’ll give you a quick recap of the terms that are vital to understand. If only to keep your email from getting blacklisted, make sure you know these.
- CAN-SPAM Act: This is law. Pay attention and do what it says. Most notably, ensure that your emails have an opt-out and the address of your business.
- Email Authentication: There are 4 main systems to authenticate email; DKIM, SPF, DMARK, and rDNS. Working with them goes along way toward legitimizing your outfit.
- Blacklist: Trust us, it’s not fun to end up on one of the email police lists hovering over the internet. Knowing how not to be spam things is crucial to deliverability.
Email Deliverability: 3 Common Mistakes
Even if you do everything you can to improve your deliverability, you can easily make some mistakes that will keep you spinning your wheels. You’ll have to evaluate the entire cold email process and see where mistakes can be stopped and improvements made.
Mistake Number One: Using Trigger Words
Sometimes it feels like it’s just as dangerous to walk into a place laced with traps. Just like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, one minute you’re trying to accomplish a goal and the next you’re hanging between life and death.
Both we and Indy have the same problem. Words.
There are hundreds of words that can send your emails right to the spam folder. Generic salesy-type words like:
- Act Now
- Take Action
- Money Back
Then, there are specific keywords from saturated industries like:
- Increase Sales
- Increase Traffic
There are even issues with punctuation, but mostly common sense. For instance, you shouldn’t:
- USE ALL CAPS
- Use tons of !!!, or excessive punctuation of any type
- No symbols, especially $$$$$
FURTHER READING: Act Now !!$$ (Just kidding 🙂 ) Here’s a list of over 400 words to avoid from Prospect.io (screenshot of a portion below).
Mistake Number Two: Writing Bad Emails
Depending on how bad your cold emails are written, this one could affect deliverability quickly or over time.
A message chocked full of the trigger words will go about as far as the spam algorithm and possibly an immediate trip to a blacklist.
We’ve written (as you’d imagine) a post or two about proper cold email writing techniques.
Here’s a list of a few:
- How to Send Personalized Email Outreach at Scale
- Subject Line for Cold Email – The Art, Science, and Successful Examples
- How to Send a Cold Call Email – Cold Email Strategies that Generate Real Leads
For some general quick tips, here’s a couple-hundred-word guide to get you started.
- Short: Keep the entire email 4-5 sentences max. State what you promised in the subject line clearly and in as few words as possible.
- Killer First Sentence: The first sentence can be seen before the lead opens the email making it as important as your subject line.
- Focus on Them: Don’t just say I,I,I a whole bunch. Make it about them, their business, their world.
- Personalization: Mention their name a couple times, their business/company name, and maybe even a competitor (if it works with your copy).
- Test: Always be testing something. Never just send one version of an email. Here’s a post we wrote about testing.
Mistake Number Three: Sending Outright Sales Email
Does your email sound like this?
Hi, [First Name]
My name is Josh and I’m the Founder of Josh’s Awesome SEO. We provide SEO services for companies just like [Company Name].
If I were a director, I’d be screaming both “Cut!” and “Rewrite!”. You aren’t thinking about the reader, you’re trying to make a quick sale. But that’s no way to do it. You have to think, “what’s in it for the lead?”
Further Reading: We’ve covered this topic in a guide you can check out right here.
Email Deliverability: 5 Ways to Improve Performance
Most tips for deliverability are going to be for marketers and businesses with newsletter-type lists. The posts we’ve seen really aren’t tailored to an outbound sales campaign. So, here are our best tips to improve performance.
Do an Email Reputation Check: Know and Work on Your Email Reputation
The best known tool in the email reputation space is probably SenderScore.
An amazingly helpful resource, it can be found at SenderScore.com. You can register and get a report for your domain/IP Address for free. There are also many tips to improve your score — (thus likely) improving deliverability.
It’s worth a look around. Just click “CREATE ACCOUNT” and fill out the info (it may seem like a decent amount of data to input, but the report is extensive and worth it).
Nowadays, there are a number of decent reputation tools. You can use more than one and see different aspects of your email sending health.
Here are a few other reputable tools for your email reputation management:
TrustedSource: This tool is run by McAfee. In addition to a score, you’ll get history and other information about your domain.
ReputationAuthority: Like SenderScore, this tool gives you a 0-100 score. But you’ll also get a percentage of emails that are both good and bad.
TalosIntelligence: A Cisco product, this tool has 3 rankings (as opposed to a numbered score). They are “good”, “neutral” and “bad”.
Use a Separate Domain for Email Marketing
We went over this at length in the previous post, here’s another link. You’ll find there pretty much everything you’ll need to know including:
- How to set up a separate domain
- Getting a G-Suite account set up and authenticated
- As well as best practices to stay off the spam radar
Send Emails Regularly
So many small businesses (especially solopreneurs) have a roller coaster system for sending cold email. You have a ton of business, you stop emailing. Work dries up, Panic! You then send hundreds of emails a day.
Spastic activity isn’t good for spam filters.
A steady pace of Monday – Thursday sending, even over the course of those days will help solidify the “normalcy” of your email account.
Keep Your Lead List Fresh and Clean
Sometimes we hang onto leads for too long. If there is no signs of life after several emails, it may be time to give it a rest. Put leads that haven’t answered into their own list and hit them hard again six months down the road.
If you keep sending the same sequence over and over again to the same leads, it will eventually have an impact on deliverability.
To Be Clear: 4-6 emails is perfect for a campaign, but running the same lead through the campaign 3 or 4 times could equal trouble.
Have a Really Good Offer
Sure, you can send a blog post, or your ebook from 2006 and maybe get a response. But what about creating something that really gets people to click through?
Summary: Having Something Worthwhile Will Improve Email Deliverability
From the domain and email service you use to the content and offer within, your reputation is on the line.It's not just about getting more sales, it's about building a business that is worth buying from and partnering with. Click To Tweet
Every one of your practices say something about the quality of your brand, but it just so happens that email is one of the most public. Are you doing everything you can to protect that image?