Here at Stay in touch, we frequently write about the fundamentals of good email marketing. We advocate for catchy subject lines that get subscribers to open your email. We encourage you to write content that engages your audience. And we urge you to come up with compelling CTAs (call-to-action) that get readers to click-through to your website, e-store or landing page.
But what if your emails aren’t making it to the inbox in the first place? That’s where improving your email delivery with best practices is incredibly important to both your marketing efforts and your bottom line. So, if you’re suffering from high bounce rates or spam complaints, fear not! Read on for five tips and tactics to make sure your emails get delivered, opened and read.
Tip 1: Clean up that dusty old email list
If you’re experiencing an increase in bounced emails, take a closer look at your list. If you haven’t sent to that list in a while, this could by why. Most email service providers allow you to segment your list based on email activity, so you should remove bounced addresses and inactive subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in the past few months. Do this every few months to maintain a squeaky clean and healthy list of active, engaged readers.
Tip 2: Use a double opt-in for new subscribers
Whether it’s signing up for your newsletter or checking a box in your online shopping cart, single opt-in is the fast, easy, and risky way to build your contact list. It’s risky because if you opt them into your list without them realizing it, they may flag your emails as spam or use a bogus address like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com that immediately bounce.
It only takes a few spam complaints for some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to begin blocking your email. Any decent Email Service Provider (ESP) should offer this as an option, or the option, in their services. Some spam laws require proof of sign up, and the double opt-in gives you exactly that. If your ESP doesn’t offer this, you can instead send a welcome email automatically that can act as a confirmation email. Then, add everyone who clicks to confirm into a new list of verified subscribers. While you may get fewer confirmed addresses compared to using single opt-in, they will be valid and more likely to stay engaged.
Tip 3: Pick a sending schedule and stick to it
One way to build up your email reputation, and thus improve your email delivery, is by sending your emails at a consistent frequency. If you send emails at erratic times of the day, week or month, you may cause your readers to stop reading or interacting with your email. And since ISPs monitor engagement, your email delivery could drop, so stick to a regular schedule. But when to send? Early? Late? Mondays? Fridays?
Figuring out the best cadence for sending your messages can be tricky, so you should test it thoroughly. Sending too frequently can lead to higher spam complaints and unsubscribes, whereas sending too infrequently can lead to unengaged readers and eventually higher bounce rates or bad email delivery. However, a good rule of thumb is to send no more than one email per week and no fewer than one email per month.
Tip 4: Brand your “From” name
As mentioned, you can build trust with your readers’ ISPs with a consistent schedule. You can increase that trust with readers by having a recognizable “From” name. For example, an email from “stayintouch” is better than the more generic-sounding firstname.lastname@example.org.
A recent trend that I’ve noticed in my inbox is companies adding a personal name to the “From” field, such as “Lauren from Cool Company.” The idea is that it provides a more personal touch with readers so it doesn’t seem like your email is coming from a faceless entity. Some of your readers may find this approach off-putting because it’s unlikely they have a personal relationship with “Lauren.” But like many things with marketing; when in doubt, test it out!
Tip 5: Boost your open rates with automated follow-up emails
What do you do if subscribers miss your first email entirely? Maybe their inbox was full that day, or you just sent it at a bad time. When this happens, you can always resend the email a few days later to re-engage the “non-responders.”
We recently added an automatic follow-up email feature that saves you time and effort by letting you schedule a follow-up email at the same time that you send your initial message. All you do is change your follow-up email’s subject line (to avoid looking spammy) and select a wait time for your follow-up to go out (try 3 or 4 days). We’ve had great success with nonresponder follow-up emails in the past, which can boost open rates up to 50% higher than the original email alone.
If you follow the guidelines and tactics we included in this blog post, you should see a significant improvement in your email delivery rate and fewer bounces. As for automated follow-up emails, if your current email service provider doesn’t offer them, maybe it’s time to shop around