The importance of maintaining a high level of email deliverability

Marketers (and their associated designers, of course) spend masses of time, effort and money creating their strongest possible message. Once a master plan is ready for delivery—the campaign they’re most proud of and are sure will produce the conversions that they’re looking for—it’s still useless if they can’t guarantee their audience will see it.
This is one of the biggest issues of email marketing, and why email delivery is so important to digital marketers the world over. And such won’t be possible if email deliverability is neglected.
Email marketing offers up a different set of issues to print, press or television advertising, yet getting that all-important message out, in front of the correct audience, is common to all. 

An introduction to email deliverability

Email deliverability is the key to obtaining your best results; it’s dependent on how you handle your campaigns, your mailing lists and your content.
In the same way, you wouldn’t trust a dodgy looking door-to-door salesman or woman, your email client and your server will reject the approaches of equally dodgy email addresses.
Our email marketing deliverability best practices look into what makes a dodgy-looking and untrustworthy email account, and how to create the best and most healthy ways to garner a strong and positive reputation.

The importance of healthy email and domain reputation

You want to achieve the highest rate of email delivery as possible, landing as many as possible safely in your customers’ inboxes. The biggest factors involved in creating your best chances are your email, IP and domain reputation, the quality of your content and its value to your client.

What is a sender email reputation?

Everything about your business practice depends on your reputation—your email deliverability is no exception.
Different email providers formulate your sender reputation by gathering data about your sending behaviour and email operations. These judgements are made against your IP address or your email domain.
Either way, your IP identifier or domain is monitored to decide whether you’re a valid and useful provider of information or not. From this, you earn your sender score. The better your score, the more chance you have of reaching inboxes; the worse it is, the more chance you’ll end up junked or filtered out.

Building a strong email reputation

A strong email or sender reputation requires planning, monitoring and regular maintenance. Bad bounce rates, spam filtering and a lack of engagement can quickly lead to a poor reputation. A poor reputation will lead to further poor performance and into a significant spiral that is much harder to recover from than it is to prevent.
There are good practices that you should carry out in the technical preparation of your delivery, some of the most important we’ve covered in previous articles. However, in today’s email deliverability guide we’re discussing best email sending practices.

Why is email deliverability so important?

Typically, global inbox placement is around 85%. That’s 15% of all emails sent never arriving at their senders’ desired destination.
Could you imagine if 15% of your product deliveries went missing? Or if 15% of your payments didn’t arrive? Given that every email sent out is a possible conversion and sale, we should be just as disappointed in the way this limits potential income and profit.
So, how do you ensure you’re getting the best possible results from your email campaigns? By following our best possible practices, of course.

Best email sending practices

We’ve put together the following suggestions of how marketers should go about creating a healthy email reputation and keeping it that way. Following our best sending practices will, without doubt, help email marketers thrive—creating the responses, reactions and return that they’re looking for.

Never buy, scrape or rent a mailing list

One of the golden rules here at Bouncer is to NEVER buy, borrow, rent, scrape or harvest email lists. Our big issue is that you don’t know what you’re buying.
Bought lists are most likely full of expired and spam trap email addresses. You’re also gambling whether anyone on the list has a genuine interest in your product or service.
Both of these factors lead to trouble. Regular mailing to expired addresses or spam traps will create excessive hard bounce rates—damaging your sender reputation. Recipients regularly ignoring or marking your emails as spam will also add to the damage.
And, when you buy an email list, you haven’t acquired the recipient’s consent, which goes against every grain of current GDPR legislation.

Consent creates engagement

The best way to ensure that the people receiving your information won’t ignore or junk your messages is to send it to an already engaged audience.
Opt-in subscribers are your very best bet, as they’ve already shown an interest in what you’re promoting. Blanket marketing to a non-vetted audience often leads to more long-term damage than it promotes sales.
As far as GDPR legislation goes, you should have permission for every type of email engagement, so you shouldn’t be sending anything to anyone without permission anyway.

Continued engagement creates conversions

Humans thrive on routine and schedule, so to feed into that psychology. Analyse the data regarding the best send out times or create test campaigns to find out what metrics are your ideal and use them.
Consistency creates confidence
It’s essential to find the right balance of the schedule. Too many emails will feel like spam to most recipients; too few won’t provide the returns your business requires.
The ISPs monitoring your actions for sender reputation won’t want to see huge spikes or periodic campaigns involving huge numbers. Consistency is key, so find out those best-performing actions and stick to them.

The unsubscribe button isn’t your enemy

It may sound counterproductive, but the unsubscribe button is one of your greatest assets. If a recipient can’t unsubscribe, often they’ll mark the message as junk. This goes back to the mail service provider or ISP, who applies this information to your sender score.
For those who aren’t interested in what you’re selling, the unsubscribe button gives you a real opportunity to cleanse your email list of uninterested parties.

Fixing the spam statistics

If at all possible, you should aim to keep your spam complaints rate below 0.1%. Figures suggest that rates above 0.08% impact deliverability in Gmail, so you can guarantee that other providers will be working to very similar parameters.
To turn this negative into a positive, see if you can find out what your complaints relate to and create a workaround to stop the same issues from reoccurring.

Sidestepping the spam traps

ISPs utilise inactive email addresses to spot email campaigns with unethically acquired and poorly managed lists. You can lower your sender score and prevent damaging your deliverability by measuring how many inactive addresses do you send out to.
Spam traps are one of the quickest ways to end up on a blacklist.

Blacklist prevention and repair

ISPs also utilise information gathered by outside sources to validate the quality of email senders. There are hundreds of blacklists quarantining the worst spammers and offenders, but unfortunately among those, you will also find legitimate senders, that did not pay attention to their sender reputation.
To stay ahead of the game, there are plenty of blacklist checker tools available. If you’ve found yourself on any of the lists, find out why, put things straight, and get yourself removed.
Some lists only keep email addresses in quarantine for a few days, but there are many more who will keep you on them indefinitely.

Constant care and email list cleaning

If you want to keep your email list healthy, then regular cleaning is a must. This means understanding why bounce rates are high, where spam complaints are happening, and which out-dated addresses are still sent emails.
How to ensure email delivery?
Find the problem addresses and remove them. You should also set systems in place to prevent them from being re-added if they entered your list via improper means.
You should be able to automate some of your list hygiene operations. However, a careful eye and monitoring addresses that don’t engage, suffer frequent soft bounces or are obvious generic addresses unassociated to a single relevant recipient, is just as important.

Filtering out those bad bounce rates

A hard bounce, such as a non-existent email address, expired domain or unreceptive mail server delivers a permanent error and an obvious case for removing the address straight away.
Soft bounces need a little more consideration. Most of the times a soft bounce is a temporary problem, which can resolve itself over the short-term. You may find that the email will deliver successfully after a day or two, once the owner will clean their inbox or server fixes their issues.
However, too many soft bounces from one address can be just as dangerous as a hard bounce. Set a limit to soft bounces and delete every address that breaks the rules.

Email verification is the best head start to list hygiene

One of the easiest ways to remove hard bounces, misspelt, catchall and disposable addresses is to utilise an email verification tool such as Bouncer.
Secure email deliverability
Most inactive email addresses occur organically with people switching providers for personal reasons, forgetting passwords, moving jobs, and so on. Using a validation checker will filter out all of these problem instances before they have a chance to impact your sender score and email deliverability.

Play by the rules, keep your lists clean, and you’ll reap the benefits

As we’ve outlined in our email marketing deliverability best practices, there are plenty of areas where your sender score is negatively impacted and the ways to make sure you keep ahead of the problem.
To be sure that your email list is optimised, clean and efficient, Bouncer is here to help. Our system is simple, easy to implement and over 99.5% accurate when it comes to your mailing list management.
We’re certain you’ll see the vast array of benefits in no time—maintaining the best possible connection and conversions with as many of your customers as possible.
Start verifying all of your email lists today. Prevention is far better than cure, after all.

Izabela is a leading contributor to the Bouncer's blog. She is inspired to help companies all around the world to get emails into their recipients’ inboxes