5 Ways to Improve Your Email Deliverability
There are more digital marketing channels today than ever before, but none of them have surpassed email in terms of effectiveness. In fact, increased access to email via mobile devices may have actually widened the gap between email and other platforms. A recent CMO Council study found that open and clickthrough rates are significantly higher this year than they were two years ago.
This means that ensuring your emails are opened and read by your customers and prospects is more important now than ever before. With the holiday season approaching, how do you separate your valuable messages from all the spammers out there in order to make it past junk filters and reporting buttons?
Gmail is a good place to start on your email deliverability project. It's the most popular email client with more than 350 million users worldwide and it has some of the smartest spam filters in the world. Here are five tips for making sure your marketing emails make it to Gmail recipients:
1. Convince your audience to label your emails. To avoid tripping Gmail's mysterious junk filters, simply ask readers to click the "not spam" button, which lets Google know that you're an approved sender - not just for that reader, but for others as well. The Hilton Honors program, for instance, adds a header on every message saying "Priority Inbox Users, please click the '+ Arrow' above to ensure that you see your latest offers." Google puts a premium on user input and trusts the community to tell it what they want to receive (and what's not welcome).
2. Make it easy to unsubscribe. This may seem counterintuitive at first, but the easier you make it to unsubscribe, the less trouble you'll see from frustrated recipients. If subscribers who no longer want email from you can't figure out how to remove themselves from your list, they'll simply report you as spam, which affects your reputation and inbox placement for those who really do want your emails. This also goes for senders who don't have an automated unsubscribe function or who take too long to scrub unsubscribes from their lists. Your recipients aren't going to be happy when you pop up in their inbox after they've taken steps to remove you.
3. Ask recipients to add you to their contacts. This is the most straightforward method of ensuring messages are delivered. If recipients comply, everything you send them will have a stamp of approval. The only issue is that if at some point you change your sending address, you'll need to ask readers to add that one as well.
4. Monitor domain-level engagement reports and third-party data. Gmail doesn't offer a feedback loop for complaints, but you should create a domain-level email metrics report to monitor clicks, opens, bounces, unsubscribes, opt-outs and spam complaints for your top sending domains. This data serves multiple purposes, as it can also be used to make judgments about Gmail engagement and to determine if a specific campaign is causing higher complaints.
5. Keep an eye on recipient behavior. Customers and prospects who open your emails and click on your links are clearly engaged, whereas recipients who never open your messages could become an issue if they decide to report you as spam, even if they signed up in the first place. Reach out to inactive recipients to find out if they'd like to receive different types of messages or be removed entirely.
Start with these five steps and you can markedly improve the return on investment of your email campaigns. As with any channel, it's important to understand the wants and needs of your targets so that the right messages are being seen by the right people. Email isn't one of the newest marketing vehicles out there, but it's certainly one of the most valuable.
Colleen Kazemi is director of digital and email services at Aprimo.