E-mail marketing is a tremendously valuable tool for small and large companies that do business online. However, some companies find that there are a number of challenges that get in the way of their e-mail marketing campaigns.
In part, this is because many of your customers and prospects take advantage of Spam filters that have been built into their e-mail software. These Spam filters scan each message received for keywords that are often associated with scams or unsolicited marketing, and often direct any mail deemed questionable into a Spam, bulk or junk folder rather than the recipient’s inbox.
Just as many e-mail programs have Spam filters, many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) block some e-mail messages. An ISP-content filter may be set to block all mail that is addressed to more than a certain number of recipients. Similarly, ISP blocks can occur for messages that contain images, excessive links, as well as words and phrases that are frequently used by spammers.
If too many of your company’s e-mails are identified as Spam or deemed to be unsolicited, you may find your IP address – the address from which you send e-mail – on a blacklist. When your IP address is blacklisted, many of the e-mail marketing messages that you send will be returned to you undelivered.
Similarly, some ISPs have Greylists. Greylisting happens based on the way that the server sending the e-mail behaves rather than the content of the messages themselves. When your messages are greylisted, e-mails that you send will be bounced back; the e-mail will need to be re-sent. Though servers can be configured to re-send the e-mail automatically, if the server responds too quickly or too slowly, your e-mail marketing message may be identified as Spam.
In response to Blacklists and Greylists, many e-mail users are being asked by their ISPs to create e-mail Whitelists. A whitelist, in this sense, is an e-mail address book. If a sender is not included in the Whilelist, their e-mails will not be delivered to the user’s inbox.
Content filters, Spam filters, ISP blocks, Blacklists, Greylists, and Whitelists: with all of these obstacles standing between your e-mails and your customers and prospects, it is important to learn more about e-mail marketing and e-mail deliverability.
What can you do to improve your company’s e-mail marketing results? Here are 10 tips to boost e-mail deliverability.
1. Take the time to set up an opt-in mailing list for your e-mail marketing campaigns. Ask users to sign up to receive your e-mails, respond to a confirmation e-mail prior to receiving your e-mails and request that they add your company’s e-mail address to their address book to ensure that they receive the messages that you send.
2. Consider running your e-mail marketing messages through a Spam filter to determine whether ISP and user content filters will reject your message.
3. Avoid using words like “free,” the names of celebrities, words in all CAPS as well as many prescription drugs and inappropriate punctuation like multiple exclamation points. All of these are likely to trigger Spam filters and prevent users from even seeing the messages that you’ve worked to create.
4. Run your e-mail marketing campaigns through a hosted e-mail service. There are companies that are recognized as CAN-SPAM compliant; they automatically offer your recipients the chance to unsubscribe from your list, automate a variety of tasks related to e-mail marketing and even help to improve your e-mail marketing results by providing reports on the number of recipients who opened the e-mail and clicked on the links contained in it.
5. Work to build a database of quality addresses. When someone signs up for your list, ask them to submit their address twice – this will help to weed out accidental misspellings. Avoid buying bulk lists of e-mail addresses as the mail that you send to them will be unsolicited.
6. Speak to the recipients of your e-mail marketing campaigns as individuals. Write your e-mail marketing messages as though they were being sent to a single person rather than a list; by avoiding too much sales speak and pressure to make the sale, you’ll find that you get better results. Similarly, encourage the recipients to interact in some way – through surveys and forms – so that you can continue to send messages that appeal to your readers.
7. Keep the volume of your e-mail marketing campaign low. Though you may have a thousand addresses, sending 1000 e-mails at once is likely to make your messages look like Spam. Send your e-mails in smaller groups as opposed to all at once to avoid this problem.
8. If you receive a notice from an ISP that there are concerns about e-mail messages that you send, be sure to address them in a timely manner to avoid having your address land on a Blacklist or Greylist.
9. Ensure that the content within your e-mails is relevant to the products and services that your business provides; this will help you to keep subscribers and the marketing e-mails you send get more responses.
10. Send all of your e-mail marketing messages from the same address – something that is especially important if your subscribers have Whitelisted your e-mail address.
No strategy will guarantee that your e-mails will reach all of your intended recipients; however, by following the above deliverability tips, you will be able to feel confident that the majority of your e-mail marketing messages will reach readers. When you improve the deliverability of your e-mails, you will be able to overcome many of the obstacles that prevent readers from viewing your e-mails and will improve your e-mail marketing results.