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Despite the ever growing popularity of email marketing as a channel bringing high ROI (return on investment), recipients increasingly more often find unsolicited emails in their mailboxes. According to Cisco’s research, globally more than 3,500 spam messages are sent per second. This is two-thirds of all news worldwide, with 10% of these emails containing malicious or dangerous content.
That is why email marketing service providers are focusing on filtering and blocking spam in every form, while increasing the delivery rate of good messages. As this process is often automated, anti-spam systems can erroneously classify these good messages as spam.
Research conducted by Return Path shows that on a European scale, only 83% of good emails reach their recipients. That means one in six messages completely fails to reach the mailbox.
Understand how mailboxes work
A good starting point is understanding how the main mailbox providers rate you as the sender. Your reputation as the sender shows the mailbox providers whether you have a positive or negative standing.
Your sender reputation is analysed using the Sender Score, which provides scores between 0 and 100. Senders with the highest rating usually achieve a score of 90–100 and enjoy email deliverability exceeding 95%.
The impact of deliverability on mailing effectiveness
Satisfied subscribers do not press the “report spam” button. Therefore, maintaining a certain level of satisfaction is the absolute minimum which has to be done to increase the deliverability of your emails. This means:
- delivering the right emails to the right people (segmentation can come to your rescue in this instance),
- sending interesting content (which is an answer to the real needs of subscribers),
- adapting the appearance of the message to the target device (it must be mobile-friendly),
- sending messages at the appropriate time (this is where the sending time optimizer comes in handy),
- using an appropriate context (someone who has subscribed to a newsletter on technology will not want to receive adverts of cosmetics).
Factors affecting deliverability
If you want your email marketing to be effective and reach as many subscribers as possible, you must take care of several key elements both in regard to the message template and your email sending strategy.
1) Newsletter unsubscribe link
The DMA’s research reveals that a great number of spam submissions are caused by senders making it impossible or difficult to unsubscribe from the email recipient list. In light of the GDPR provisions, such practices are prohibited. Moreover, our Anti-Spam Policy requires that the unsubscribe link is featured in the email’s body.
Remember to make the unsubscribe link visible. Choosing the same font colour for the link and the email footer will prove detrimental to the sender, as the email recipient, on not seeing the link, is more likely to click the “report spam” button. Therefore, it is advisable to use a different, contrasting colour for the unsubscribe link.
By giving your audience the opportunity to express their opinions or to indicate why they are unsubscribing from the newsletter, your campaigns can be better optimised. This will help you find out what needs to be improved first.
2) Database quality
A high-quality email database, legally obtained and well-managed, is characterised by a low rate of spam submissions. That is why looking after your database is of such crucial importance! How does this work?
One of the primary indicators of the quality of your database is the number of bounces, both soft and hard.
How can you deal with bounces? The best solution is not to send messages to these email addresses. The matter is simple in the case of hard bounces – the email address simply does not exist. When it comes to soft bounces, it is possible that after several attempts, the system will ultimately succeed in delivering the message. Consequently, it is worthwhile to enter FreshMail settings and in the Contact List set the limit for messages sent:
- for soft bounces: 2 to 3
- for hard bounces: 1
Secure newsletter subscription
In order to reduce the number of future bounces, remember to implement adequate security measures already at the stage of collecting email addresses. First of all, use a two-step email verification process, i.e. double opt-in.
This simple solution, which you can set up in our system in as little as five minutes, provides protection from unwanted problems, bots, spam traps, and misspelled email addresses. Double opt-in will also allow you to confirm that a person actually wants to join your list (and has not been added by a friend, for instance). This will definitely limit the number of spam submissions.
Emailing loyal recipients
It often happens that a list contains recipients that haven’t opened your emails for quite some time. Decide if sending emails to that group is justified, especially if they haven't opened ANY of your campaigns for over a year, for example. Of course, this does not mean that they must be immediately condemned to eternal oblivion. However, you can, for example, restrict the emails sent to this group of recipients or prepare an activation campaign for them. This will not only save you money, but also improve your statistics.
Unsubscribing from many lists
One email address can also appear on several of your lists. If a recipient unsubscribes from one list and is still subscribed to another, there is a sizeable risk that this recipient will receive an email from you. From the recipient’s point of view, this shows a lack of respect for his or her decision on unsubscribing from your newsletter, which will likely result in you being reported for spamming.
In order to avoid this risky situation, we recommend choosing the option of “Auto-removing subscribers from all your contact lists”, which can be found in your FreshMail account’s Settings, in the Contact Lists tab.
3) Involvement of recipients
Every marketer dreams of a high level of involvement on the part of subscribers, who open emails, click on links and make conversions on a regular basis. You may not be aware of this, but the recipient’s behaviour towards your email is the first signal given to your mailbox about what should be done with the messages from that particular sender.
Forwarding of messages
The fact that the recipient forwards your messages is an indication that the email content is sufficiently interesting and valuable to be shown to their family and friends. Take time to consider how to design your messages to encourage sharing, for instance, offer a discount for group purchases or use a catchy title, such as “Just in case your boyfriend forgets about Valentine’s Day...”.
Replying to a message
Dialogue is the future of email marketing, and it is seen as an indication of the recipient’s involvement. Therefore, stop using the “no-reply” email address and introduce yourself to your recipients as a real person. It pays to ensure that the email address you set is actually supported and you can reply to any emails you receive.
Marking as not spam
It sometimes happens that mailboxes erroneously assess a good message as spam, directing it to the spam folder. The removal of such a message from the spam folder and moving it to the Inbox is a signal that messages from a particular sender are expected, which “teaches” the mailbox to place all sender’s messages in the Inbox.
Deleting messages without reading them
The elements discussed above are related to positive aspects affecting deliverability. It is time to turn our attention to a factor which may have a negative impact.
This factor is the act of deleting messages without reading them. This action is seen as negative because the mailbox is taught that the only action of the recipient in relation to your emails is their disposal.
This can be remedied in one of two ways. Firstly, make sure that the sender is recognisable and considered trustworthy. It should immediately show your identity and your intentions. Impersonating someone else is unacceptable. In order to increase the credibility of your company, it is recommended to place both the sender’s first name (or full name) and the company name in the sender’s field, for instance, Lisa from FreshMail. On the one hand, this shows that there is a real person and not a computer at the other end, and on the other hand, the recipient knows what to expect from the email by seeing the company’s name.
Another method is opting for an email subject that invites the recipient to open the message. The subject should be short and concise – our research shows that emails which are opened most frequently have only two words in the subject line. This makes them stand out against all other messages in the mailbox.
Also, remember to place the most important information in the subject at the beginning. This is especially useful when recipients open messages on their smartphones.
Make regular contact
Another thing to keep in mind is that your recipients may not remember that they have subscribed to your list, especially if you only send campaigns once in a while. If they don’t recognise you, they will treat your email as another sales advert or even unwanted spam (despite giving prior consent and their voluntary subscription to the newsletter). Therefore, it is worthwhile to ensure regular contact – not only on special occasions.
As a sender, your actions have a real impact on the effectiveness of your email marketing strategy. Whether or not your message will get sent to the spam folder is a matter of individual settings of each mailbox (which are based, for example, on earlier reactions of the recipient to the sender’s messages). Nevertheless, you must make every effort to present yourself in the best possible way. Adhering to good email marketing principles and paying attention to the issues raised above will certainly have a positive impact on the delivery of your emails to mailboxes – and thus guarantee effective email marketing.