6 Tips for Enhancing Email Deliverability and Open Rates
by Mike Khorev
Imagine crafting the most persuasive email campaign of your career only for it to not make it into your recipients’ inboxes or not be opened at all. How disappointing would that be?
Far from being the stuff of a marketer’s nightmares, emails ending up in the wrong place or not being opened at all is a common occurrence.
If you want to avoid the above-described scenario, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn six tips that can help you improve email deliverability and open rates. But first:
What Is Email Deliverability?
Email deliverability refers to whether an email has successfully landed in the recipient’s inbox. It’s distinct from, and shouldn’t be confused with, email delivery.
While email delivery also refers to whether an email has reached the recipient, the similarity ends there. That’s because email delivery isn’t concerned with the “where” of the delivery process. In other words, you can consider an email as delivered regardless of whether it lands in the recipient’s mailbox or spam folder.
Thus, your email deliverability rate is the percentage or volume of emails that get delivered to your recipients’ primary inbox.
Why should one prioritize email deliverability?
Email marketers must prioritize email deliverability for several reasons. Core among them is the fact that it determines whether your email subscribers see your email content. In essence, email deliverability dictates your ability to obtain a return on investment from your campaigns.
Additionally, deliverability makes it possible to measure a campaign’s success. Before you can measure engagement metrics like click-through rates and conversions, your email must reach the right destination.
Finally, email deliverability helps you maintain relationships with your prospects. When your emails reach your subscribers, it’s much easier to use email marketing tools to automate the nurturing process.
What Is Email Open Rate?
The email open rate is the percentage of subscribers out of your total number of subscribers who open a specific email you sent. The average email open rate across industries is 41.31%. But for a better assessment of how your email campaigns are doing, it’s best to look at the average email open rate specific to that industry and compare.
Just to give you an idea, above you see some of the average email open rates by industry.
So, if you’re an eCommerce business, a good email open rate would be around 38%. Anything lower than that would mean you need to improve your email marketing strategy.
Why should one prioritize email open rates?
Email marketers should prioritize email open rates for an obvious reason: the email open rate determines whether their messages get seen. If you think about it, that’s probably one of the main goals of any email campaign. Landing in your email recipient’s primary folder will mean nothing if the subscribers don’t open the email in the first place.
Overall, to ensure a successful email campaign, don’t just focus on email deliverability. Focus on email open rates as well. There are other factors to consider, too, of course, like the email click-through rate and the resulting website traffic from Google Analytics email tracking. But for now, let’s focus on email deliverability and open rates.
6 Strategies to Boost Email Deliverability and Increase Open Rates
Follow these tips to enhance your email deliverability and ensure more people open your emails:
1. Validate your email domain
Email domain authentication involves telling a recipient’s server that your email originates from a legitimate source. Without it, your emails won’t make it to your recipient’s inbox. Instead, they’ll end up triggering spam filters.
There are several email authentication protocols you can use when validating your email domain. The most common ones are:
- Sender Policy Framework (SPF): This authentication method verifies that an email is originating from a legitimate sender and not a relay server. You can use it to specify the mail server you’re sending your emails from.
- DomainKeys Identified Mails (DKIM): DKIM authentication uses cryptographic authentication to verify an email’s sender. Senders can claim responsibility for emails while they’re in transit.
- Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC): DMARC is excellent for protecting email senders and recipients from spoofing attacks. It uses a combination of SPF and DKIM techniques during the email validation process.
If you aren’t tech-savvy, you can enlist the services of a web developer to help you set one of the above protocols up. Just remember that this step is crucial and skipping it isn’t an option.
2. Opt for double opt-in or confirmed opt-in
You can also use double opt-in confirmations to improve email deliverability and collect legitimate emails.
A double opt-in is a follow-up message that doubles as a confirmation email. It’s automatically sent to fresh email list subscribers immediately after they opt into your list. Double opt-ins typically contain a thank-you message, a confirmation link, and a call to action (CTA). Your CTA will ask the new subscriber to click the link to confirm their email and desire to be added to your contact list.
The reason these emails are so effective for improving deliverability is simple: they put power in the recipient’s hands.
Your potential subscriber decides whether or not to receive future emails from your business. Thus, clicking the link confirms their desire to hear from you again. Not only do these emails pave the way for your upcoming email campaigns, but they could also prevent high unsubscribe rates down the line. By making a conscious decision to confirm their email, the subscriber is likely to recognize your emails.
But that’s not all: double opt-ins are excellent for weeding out invalid emails. When the recipient validates their email, it’ll ensure the ones you send later don’t bounce or land in spam traps.
Ultimately, double opt-ins work side-by-side with tools to help you verify email addresses.
3. Stay consistent with your sender name
Our next tip, which is specific to boosting email open rates, is to use a consistent sender name in your emails.
When it comes to getting an email opened, an email’s sender name is arguably as important as its subject line, if not more so. For proof, look no further than this survey by marketing platform Litmus. It revealed that more respondents based their decision to open an email on the sender name than the subject line.
In hindsight, the above-mentioned survey result makes sense. After all, the sender’s name is the first point of contact a recipient has with an email. Recipients rely on it to determine whether an email originates from a recognized or trustworthy source. It’s also excellent for building brand recognition.
Maintaining consistency is as straightforward as using the same sender name for all your email communications.
You can use your brand name (Walmart Digest) or the name of a brand representative (Chloe from Walmart). In the latter case, using the same sender name can help build a personal connection and boost engagement.
4. Avoid purchasing or renting email lists
Even though there are legal ways to purchase or rent email lists, it’s best to avoid them like the plague. Doing otherwise is a surefire way to harm your email deliverability and incur a high spam complaint rate.
Sending unsolicited emails is one of the top email marketing mistakes you can make. People typically aren’t inclined to give cold emails a warm welcome and yours are unlikely to buck that trend.
Thus, if you send purchased subscribers communications without their approval, your emails will likely be destined for their spam folders.
If the above isn’t convincing enough, consider the following points:
- the subscribers in the purchased lists may not want or need your products or services, which means your marketing may fall on deaf ears
- some of the emails on these lists may not be valid, meaning your emails will bounce
- you may be violating your email service provider’s Terms of Service
- you could be breaking privacy laws
In other words, you could waste a ton of money purchasing or renting lists and put yourself at risk of legal action.
But there’s more.
Paid-for email lists are a potential waste of time because of a concept called domain reputation (or email sender reputation).
Mail service providers (MSPs) like Gmail rely on domain reputation when deciding whether or not to deliver an email to a recipient’s inbox. These companies use a metric called the sender reputation score to determine your domain reputation. You can think of the sender score as their way of determining whether a sender is using email best practices.
Guess how the score gets calculated?
That’s right: the MSPs use engagement metrics like bounce rates and open rates and other factors like spam complaints when calculating your sender score.
The consequences of blasting purchased subscribers with unsolicited emails will be sure to tank your sender score. Since a low score means your domain has a poor reputation, you can expect an equally low email deliverability rate.
In summary, avoid purchased/rented lists. They’re a money sink.
5. Write non-spammy subject lines
A whopping 69% of email recipients will likely report an email as spam because of its subject line.
Based on the above statistic, it’s safe to assume that you can improve email deliverability by writing non-spammy email subject lines.
If you’re wondering about the factors that make an email subject line trigger spam filters, the list is fairly long. That said, you’ll want to avoid the following:
- grammatical and typographical errors
- use of all capital letters
- copious use of exclamation marks
- inclusion of emojis
Additionally, you’ll want to avoid the following phrases or their variants:
- earn $$$ / earn cash
- 100% free
- don’t delete
- fast cash
- click here
- free offer
- claim your discount NOW!
- no obligation; and so on
While it’s true that email service providers have gotten better at detecting true spam emails, we recommend avoiding the above-listed subject line faux pas regardless. Even if your email doesn’t get marked as spam, the likelihood your intended recipients will open your email is still next to none. A staggering 47% of email recipients decide to open an email based on the quality of the subject line. Guess what? No one wants subject lines that look spammy.
As a rule of thumb, keep your subject lines short and free of anything that can arouse the recipient’s suspicion. If you have trouble crafting them, consider using a generative AI platform. It’ll increase the chances of your email getting an inbox placement and getting opened.
6. Effectively segment your email list
It’s no secret that customers prefer to receive emails that are specific to their needs. Thus, marketers can’t afford to ignore the link between subscriber engagement and email relevance.
That’s where our final tip comes in: segment your email list to enhance email deliverability and open rates.
Effective email list segmentation involves organizing your subscribers into specific categories. It can help you kill two birds with one stone by boosting your email engagement rates and heading off email deliverability issues.
Sending targeted and relevant correspondence to specific subscriber groups increases the likelihood of them engaging with such emails. The more value they derive from your campaigns, the higher the likelihood of them opening future emails.
Meanwhile, you can also use segmentation to identify the inactive subscribers on your list. Again, tailoring your messages to this group can help engage them. By preventing them from unsubscribing, you’ll keep potential email deliverability issues at bay.
So how do you segment your email list?
Email marketing platforms, like Mailchimp and Mailchimp alternatives, have features that let you segment your subscribers by:
- Demographics: age, gender, occupation, etc.
- Location: city, country
- Buyer’s Journey Stages: awareness, comparison; and more
In summary, choose targeted correspondence over general email blasts. Your deliverability and open rates will be better for it.
Ensuring that your emails land in your recipients’ inboxes and get opened is no easy feat. That said, there are measures you can take to improve email deliverability and open rates.
Start by validating your email domain. Doing so ensures that your recipients’ servers know that your emails originate from a trustworthy source. Next, set up double opt-ins that let your subscribers confirm their emails and weed out the duds. While you’re at it, use a consistent sender name to build trust and brand recognition. Also, don’t buy or rent email lists. Craft spam-free subject lines. And segment your email list.
Follow the tips outlined in the article and you’ll set your campaigns up for success.
Owen Baker is a content marketer for Voila Norbert, an online email verification tool. He has spent most of the last decade working online for a range of marketing companies. When he’s not busy writing, you can find him in the kitchen mastering new dishes.
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