The article “Eliminate Email Deliverability Issues with These Easy Strategies” Was originally Published in 2019. It has been reworked and modernized for 2020.
If you’re pursuing email marketing – and you should be – then one of your biggest goals should be to maximize your email deliverability. Unfortunately, it’s not just fire-and-forget. There are quite a few issues that might impact your deliverability.
Luckily, there are also plenty of ways you can handle these issues.
In this post, we’ll break down these strategies – each of which are quick and simple to do – so you can keep your deliverability consistently high.
Eliminate Email Deliverability Issues with These Easy Strategies
Email deliverability is the rate at which your emails successfully reach inboxes instead of spam folders. It’s arguably the most important metric in email marketing. After all, opens and clicks only happen if your recipients actually see your message in the first place.
Ironing out deliverability issues can be broken into two categories: things you should do and things you should avoid.
Do: Use a Spell Checker (and a Proofreader)
You’re probably asking, “really? A spell checker can help my emails hit inboxes?”
It absolutely can. Spelling and grammar mistakes are detrimental for two big reasons.
The first is that no matter how awesome your email is, if you have grammatical or spelling errors, it comes across as unprofessional. While that doesn’t directly affect deliverability, it does hinder your chances of getting clicks.
The second is that spelling mistakes are a red flag for spam filters. They’re also very easy to miss when you’re writing…even when proofreading your own work, you can miss things fairly easily.
It’s a pretty easy fix: run your copy through a spell checker. Even better, get someone else to proofread it. A second set of eyes will pick up errors you wouldn’t miss.
Editors’ note: The proof is in the pudding here, folks. I’ve underlined an error in the line above that went unnoticed by the original author and editor of this post.
Don’t: Attach Files
There are plenty of cases where you legitimately need to send a contact a file. Maybe they’ve requested your eBook or PDF. Seems logical to attach it to an email and send it over, doesn’t it?
Attachments are another spam red flag (we’ll be repeating that phrase a lot throughout this article). Instead, host that eBook or PDF on your website, and create an awesome CTA in your email that links to the file.
It’s a much more spam-filter-friendly way of getting your files our to your contacts.
Do: Use Alt Text for Images
Hold up, that’s an SEO thing, right? Why would alt text in an email matter?
A lot of email clients block images by default – so chances are, some of the people opening your message won’t see the images unless they click a button or have changed their settings.
Images are an important tool in your arsenal as an email marketer. If you’re planning to use a nice CTA button, for example, that’s going to be an image.
See the problem?
Generally, email clients will render alt text. So, if you add your CTA text as alt text for that image, you can still get your message across even without the image loading.
Without it, the reader will have no clue what image is supposed to display there – and won’t know to click on it.
Don’t: Use Rich Media (or Scripts)
Video is an extremely effective tool, though, so you don’t want to just avoid using it. Instead, use an image of the video thumbnail with a play button overlaid on it, and link that to a page with the video embedded.
Do: Keep an Eye on Your Sender Reputation
Sender reputation is what internet service providers (ISPs) use to judge whether you’re spamming or not. It’s a score from 1 to 100 given to your domain and IP. It’s constantly changing based on your email practices.
When you’re doing it right, your sender score will be high. If you’re making mistakes, it will be low. According to senderscore.org (where you can check your sender score), you should aim to have it at above 80 at all times. Higher is better, of course.
If it’s too low, your email deliverability will likewise be low.
Pro tip: If you send your email campaigns using Clickback, the platform sends using its own proprietary IPs and domains, so your sender score never gets impacted.
Don’t: Keep Sending to Hard-Bouncing Addresses
Every email list decays, whether it’s a cold list or double-opted-in subscribers. People change jobs, for example, or stop using their current address. When you send to your list, pay attention to bounces.
Bounces happen when your emails fail to be delivered, and come in two flavors: soft bounces and hard bounces.
Soft bounces happen when there’s an issue temporarily preventing your email from reaching the recipient, such as if their inbox is full. Once the problem is solved, you’ll be able to reach them again.
Hard bounces occur when there’s a permanent failure to deliver the email – when the email address you’re trying to reach doesn’t actually exist, for example.
Emails that return a hard bounce are bad. If you’re sending to a huge list and getting a large percentage of hard bounces, that’s a strong red flag for spam filters. It’s a sign that you’re being indiscriminate in who you send to. If you continually send to hard-bounced addresses, your sender score is going to plummet.
Do yourself a favor and remove hard bounced addresses immediately and permanently.
Do: Reengage or Remove Inactive Contacts
If someone on your list is receiving but ignoring every single email you send, you have a couple of options.
First, try to reengage them. Segment them out into a separate list and send them a “Hey, are you still out there?” email. Target them specifically with content aimed at getting them to start engaging with your messages.
If they don’t engage with that, either, toss them out of your list.
Another part of your sender score is how much recipients actually engage with your emails. Removing people who never even open them will mean your open rate will increase. In turn, your sender score will increase – which increases deliverability.
Don’t: Style Your Email Like Spam
Seems pretty simple, right? There are a few things to keep in mind.
Spam filters don’t take kindly to emails with all kinds of styles in them. Multiple fonts and colored fonts are yet another spam filter red flag – especially red text.
Don’t over-punctuate. A sentence with five exclamation points is going to look unprofessional and spammy no matter the content. In fact, you’re better off avoiding exclamation points altogether. The same goes for all-caps text.
Maintain a good text-to-image ratio. If you use one big image as the entire content of your email, spam filters are going to pounce on it – that’s a fairly common spam tactic.
Using an image as a CTA, for example, is just fine, but if your email is mostly images and little text, your deliverability will suffer.
Do: Include Both HTML and Plaintext
Not every email client allows HTML content. A plaintext version of the email is useful in making your email more accessible to all readers, and makes your send more spam-filter-friendly at the same time. It’s worth taking a few minutes to check over the plaintext version and make sure it looks good, too.
It’s also important to check your HTML code. If there are broken tags and other problems in the code, it might get flagged as spam.
Don’t: Embed Forms in Your Email
Most email clients don’t allow forms embedded in emails. Instead, use your email content and CTA to drive readers to a landing page with the form.
You can use that page to communicate more about your offer and perform A/B testing to increase your conversion rate, as well.
Do: Use an Email List Verifier
One of the worst things you can do, in terms of deliverability, is fire off an email to a large list of cold contacts without verifying it first.
Part of the reason for that is the email list decay we talked about before. You can remove hard-bouncing addresses manually after you’ve hit them, but an email verifier will scrub them out beforehand – even better.
The more important reason to use a verifier is to avoid spam traps. These are email addresses that exist solely to detect spammers. Emails that reach these addresses are at risk of being blacklisted.
Pro Tip: Clickback has an email verifier built in, so your lists are always kept pristine.
Don’t: Use Spam Trigger Words
If your email reads like spam, it’ll get treated like spam. Not just by the recipients, but by spam filters.
Spammers have a wide range of common phrases, words, and formatting that they often use. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to unknowingly include these when writing marketing emails.
Your “limited time offer to get our eBook for free” might be completely, legitimately relevant to everyone on your list, but that won’t stop spam filters from picking up on that phrasing and looking skeptically at your email.
There are various tools out there that you can use to check your body copy for common spam trigger words. It pays to be careful.
Pro Tip: Clickback’s email editor has a very robust real-time content checker built in. It notifies you of any phrasing, styling, or formatting that might negatively impact your deliverability.
Do: Use the Best Tools You Can
That’s a lot to remember. It’s not quite as simple as just writing up an email and sending it off!
You can make it a lot easier on yourself, though. Clickback is an email platform designed to maximize cold email deliverability – and handles many of these issues for you.
It has a built-in email verifier, checks your content in real-time for spam triggers, protects your sender reputation, and more.
Get a free 1-on-1 demo with one of our experts and see exactly how you can eliminate your deliverability issues.