People love it when things are easy. There’s a strong attraction towards an easy solution to an issue – even when it might not be the best choice.
Mass email is like that. Many marketers who are looking to launch mass campaigns will ask “is there a way I can make it work with the platforms I’ve already got?” And they turn to a WordPress or Gmail plugin, an Outlook add-in, or another quick-and-easy approach to get those emails out the door.
The problem is that unless your mass email marking campaigns are sent with software that’s designed for that purpose – especially if your contacts are cold – you might be doing more harm than good.
To start with, let’s step away from specific platforms and plugins for a moment, and look at how email deliverability works.
Every ISP (internet service provider) has its own spam filter. When you send an email, it goes through your ISP’s spam filter on its way out, and each recipient’s ISP’s spam filter on the way into their email.
These spam filters check for an immense range of red flags and factors that could indicate that your email is spam.
This is, broadly speaking, what determines whether your email ends up in a real inbox – whether the spam filters accept it or not.
It can be summed up in something called your sender score or sender reputation. It’s a number from 1-100, and the lower it is, the more likely spam filters will treat your emails as untrustworthy.
Protecting Your Sender Score
Of course, you clearly want your sender score as high as possible. The problem is that it’s easy to damage it, and hard to improve it.
A deep dive into the factors impacting sender score is beyond this article (but you can read one here). That said, it is relevant to our topic, so here’s a quick glance at some of the big ones.
Your send volume (how many emails you send) plays a big role, and goes hand-in-hand with how warm your IP address is.
Say you’ve been using your IP or domain to send your normal, day-to-day emails such as your subscriber newsletter, and you suddenly send a campaign to tens of thousands of recipients.
The spam filters are going to look at that sudden spike with a great deal of skepticism, and your sender score will likely take a hit. That’s because there’s a major discrepancy between that big send and the activity the ISPs are used to seeing from you.
In other words, you’re taking a fairly “cold” IP or domain in terms of activity, and suddenly making it white-hot with a lot of activity all at once, and no time to warm up.
To them, that sudden change in activity suggests that the IP or domain might be being used for spam now.
Another major factor is the quality of your contact list.
If you’re persistently sending to a whole lot of garbage contacts – ones with typos, spam traps, or that simply don’t exist – then the spam filters will see that, recognize that you’re being indiscriminate with your recipient list, and reduce your sender score.
Why? Because there’s one type of sender in particular that’s notoriously indiscriminate: spammers.
They also take into account how your recipients engage with your message. So if nobody ever opens your emails, that’s a signal that your messages aren’t relevant to the people you’re sending to.
How Plugins Tie In
Armed with that knowledge, let’s get back to plugins.
Plugins are an awesome way to extend the functionality of whatever platform you’re using. WordPress, for example, would be a whole lot less popular without its massive plugin library.
That makes it very tempting to grab another plugin as your solution for mass email sending. Why adopt an entirely new platform when you can just use the one you’ve got?
In a nutshell, it’s because sending mass email is complicated, with a whole lot of technical challenges that those plugins aren’t equipped to handle effectively. Sure, you can use them to send your campaigns, but your results will never be as good as they could be with dedicated software.
Using a WordPress or Gmail mass email plugin, your campaigns will very likely set off all kinds of red flags with spam filters, and you’ll see your sender score drop.
When your score drops, spam filters treat you with more suspicion, and your emails will start landing in more junk folders. At this point, your engagement is, of course, going to drop (because who checks their spam folders?).
Remember how we mentioned that spam filters take your engagement into account? You can see the sort of negative feedback loop that starts to grow as you lose sender score.
All this goes double if your contacts are cold. Cold email marketing is a very powerful method of lead generation, but if you don’t use a platform built to support it, you’re effectively shooting yourself in the foot.
What to Do Instead
If your goal is to send out a newsletter to a double-opted-in list of subscribers, that’s one thing. But if you’re looking to send mass email marketing to non-opted-in contacts, you need a tool that is up to the task.
In other words, you need email lead generation software – a platform designed specifically for sending marketing campaigns to cold contacts. It’s built to handle all the technical challenges of mass cold emailing, like protecting your sender score and cleaning up your contact list so there’s no bad data.
It’s the most reliable way to get the results you need, without hampering your future marketing efforts by damaging your sender reputation.