3 Email Deliverability Mistakes You’re Making Right Now

email deliverability

We guess that if you spend any significant effort on email marketing, then you’ve seen these recent trends in the last 12-18 months: plummeting open rates, dwindling click rates, and skyrocketing bounce rates.

One glance at your inbox – personal or work – probably confirms what you secretly don’t want to admit: Email marketing is dead. It’s an overcrowded space with increasingly complex technical components blocking success.

And yet… we disagree.

We can’t deny that the average 5% click through rates (CTR) aren’t what they used to be. But the truth is that 72% of Americans still prefer email as their primary channel of communication with businesses.

If that’s the case, then it stands to reason that email marketing is not dead. Instead, we believe the problem lies in failing to address the evolving trends of email technology and best practices. If your email campaigns are frequently falling short, you’re probably committing major email deliverability mistakes without even realizing it.

1. You Forgot About Domain Authentication

In the past, IP reputation was the gold standard for ISPs to determine if your email campaigns were legitimate or not. That meant if your reputation became tarnished, you could change your IP address. It goes without saying that spammers loved this strategy, hopping from one IP to the next to outwit spam filters.

But all that has changed. These days, the new standard is domain reputation. Unfortunately, businesses are hit harder by this standard than spammers. As a business, you can’t – and wouldn’t want to – change your domain every time your reputation suffered. That means you have to protect your domain reputation from start to finish, and that means establishing domain authentication.

With all the change in the market surround email marketing, it begs the question, “What the #$@%! Has Happened to Email Deliverability?” Read our ebook focused on that question for deep dive into the state of email deliverability.

Hopefully, you’re familiar with the acronym DMARC. Or maybe SPF or DKIM. If those sound foreign to you, you have no time to lose in jumping onboard.

DMARC: Domain Message Authentication Reporting & Conformance

SPF: Sender Policy Framework

DKIM: Domain Keys Identified Mail

Protocols established by these authentication policies are recognized by most major email providers, allowing the sender who follows them to reach their recipients’ inboxes much more efficiently. These authentication records simply need to be added to your DNS, which your IT department or marketing partner can easily implement.

2. Your Email List Is Old and Dirty

We’ve found that, especially in the business world, email addresses turnover at a rate of about 33% every six to twelve months. And unless you’re cleaning your email lists on a similar timeline, you’re likely sending a large number of emails to accounts that are no longer active, let alone responsive. Inadvertent errors and redundancy in your email lists exponentially add to the mess. These errors lead to high bounces, low engagement, and, ultimately, a severely negative impact on your domain reputation.

ISPs and email providers are the gatekeepers, and they’re employing increasingly sophisticated algorithms to ensure their users are only getting the email they want. In particular, they are assessing open and click behaviors to determine the value of your emails. Even if you aren’t actively marked as spam, it’s easy to get caught up in a negative feedback loop if you’re not cleaning up your lists for unresponsive and inactive recipients.

With email providers working harder to keep inboxes free of junk mail, it’s more important than ever to ensure you have verified and updated sales and marketing datasets.

3. Your Best Practices Are Behind the Times

Many of us don’t like to admit we’re somewhat attached to our smartphones, but the fact that over 68% of emails opened via mobile gives us undeniable proof that this is the case. However, many businesses are slow to catch on. Our mobile habits render it imperative that email campaigns are mobile responsive. Skipping that step in the process guarantees nonexistent click rates and, over time, diminished domain reputation thanks to that negative feedback loop.

Something else to keep in mind when avoiding email deliverability mistakes is the distinction between HTML versus plain text email campaigns. Sure, HTML looks cool and dynamic, but it’s become all too common to commercial emails, and email providers have been quick to recognize this. Thus, many HTML emails get sent to spam or folders like Gmail’s Promotions tab. If you want your campaigns to land in your recipients’ inboxes, plain text is often your best bet.

Finally, there’s the issue of mail merge. If your lists are large, there are many free mail merge options out there that claim to help streamline your email campaigns. The problem is, many of these so-called solutions lack authentication, tracking, bounce handling and feedback loops that would help you avoid email deliverability mistakes. The result? Once again, diminished domain reputation and abysmal open and click rates.

What Email Deliverability Mistakes Are You Making?

Successful email marketing starts with good data and insightful sales intelligence. But what you do with that data will determine whether or not you fall prey to these common email deliverability mistakes.

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Derek Smith

Derek became DiscoverOrg’s first researcher in 2007 while attending law school at the Ohio State University. ..read more