7 rules of deliverability to set you up for the holiday season

There are fundamentals that will help you achieve credibility and consistent deliverability but it requires a long-term strategy. There are no quick fixes.

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The mortality rate of the online retail world is amazing. Most online brands will lose around 22.5% of their list each year. Are you wondering why? Because email marketers treat their subscribers as mere email addresses and are pummeling them mercilessly with sugar-coated, sales-oriented, promotional emails. No wonders they are seeing an engagement crisis and as a result, a drop in revenue. 

It’s time that email marketers understand that deliverability is not their ESP’s job alone. On the contrary, deliverability is as much about how your technical infrastructure is set up as it is about your sending practices. Here are seven best practices to keep your deliverability score high.

1. Authentication matters

Mailbox providers are constantly working to improve their algorithms to catch the players who game the system (aka spammers). One of the basic things every mailbox provider looks at is if an email is originating from where it claims to be.

So, make sure your emails are passing SPF, DKIM and DMARC. These authentication methods are a one-time setup but will ensure you establish yourself as a genuine sender.

2. Follow the IP/domain warm-up ritual

IP warming done right is one of the best things you can do to build a great sending reputation from the start. 

Running a marathon is a one-day job said no runner ever.

Why warm-up? That’s because mailbox providers (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc.) view email from new IP addresses as suspicious until they establish a positive sending reputation.

Whenever you move to a new IP/domain setup, the key is to establish your reputation as a welcomed sender, through a reasonable amount of emails and work-up your pace with the mailbox providers. Many email marketers still believe that ESPs have a magic wand and they can push any volumes they wish with a set of dedicated IPs.

But IP warm-up is a long-term strategy. Besides maintaining a regular volume, your ESP also works on maintaining a rhythm and distribution between various ISPs on your list.

 It’s an arduous process but your inboxing rates will thank you later. Ask any email deliverability expert and they will tell you the same.  

So, don’t rush your ESP into finishing your warm-up before the designated period and provide them with your most recent and active subscriber list during the warm-up period.

3. Don’t make last-minute high volume sends your guilty pleasure

If you flout your marketing calendar often to accommodate a few last-minute high volumes sends to boost your revenue, a sudden change in the regular volumes will trip the ISP alarms and that can result in a lot of deferred emails and spam placement issues.

A spikey graph only looks good to a cardiologist.

Your ESP will tell you the same. It’s one thing if your email graph has a few outliers but if it’s bumpy frequently, you might already be seeing a dip in inbox placement on Gmail and poor open rates across the board or, you will eventually.

So, talk to your ESP or deliverability team to help you prep for a higher volume send.

Note: If you were originally ramped-up for a far lower peak-volume sends and you need to reach to a significantly higher number soon then ask your deliverability team to help you with a mini ramp-up to avoid inboxing issues later. 

4. Engagement is all that matters

Mailbox providers are getting smarter by the day with their filtering algorithms. Disguising your marketing messages with a personalized label is not going to land you into your subscriber’s inbox. 

Only your users, and hence ISPs, will get to decide if an email is solicited or unsolicited and whether to inbox it or put it into spam.

5. Personalization is directly proportional to engagement

Personalize your communication by segmenting your list according to age, location, gender and other behavioral attributes like last visited, last open, etc. But also personalize your content for every individual.

ESPs are getting smarter by the day so choose one that will help you personalize your marketing emails with dynamic recommendations.

6. Pull the plug on your inactive subscribers

Unplugged is a different thing than unhinged.

The farther you go in engagement data, the riskier it gets. So reengage them while they are planning to break-up rather than when they have broken all ties with you. Re-engagement delayed could be re-engagement denied. 

Prune your email lists of inactive subscribers after you are done attempting to revive them with personalized re-engagement campaigns.

7. Keep a frequency check to avoid over-mailing

Don’t be a mosquito in their ear. Keep a frequency check on for your purchasers to avoid burn out. Sending multiple emails triggered will only lead to email exhaustion. Work on setting a priority on your marketing emails or implement a frequency check of a few hours to a day for people who purchased in that window from you.

Optimize your send frequency rather than blaming it on your personalization.

Final thoughts

The holiday season will soon be upon us so it’s time to review your email marketing practices and keep a check of your deliverability. Building a great sender’s reputation takes time. If you start making these changes now, it will take you 4-6 weeks to see the desired results as mailbox providers build their signals over some time.

In case you are already struggling with deliverability issues like poor inbox placement and getting blacklisted due to spammy sending behavior, then you need to make amends now.

Remember, changing your email provider alone can only help you with a fresh start but moving to a new IP/Domain will not get your reputation back.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About the author

Nandini Rathi
Contributor
Nandini Rathi is a marketer, strategist and serial entrepreneur. She is head of deliverability at Bluecore India.

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