11 Quick and Effective Ways to Increase Email Deliverability Rate

Written by Nikola Gemeš


Email marketing is a lifesaver for many businesses — but no matter how perfect your emails are, they can’t do you any good if they don’t reach your lead’s inbox. 

But my delivery rate is 99.5%, you might scoff. That’s nearly perfect. It is, but delivery rates are very different from deliverability rates. They factor in emails that get delivered to an email address, regardless of whether they get placed in an inbox or not. Deliverability, on the other hand, counts only those emails that land in a recipient’s primary inbox. 

The global inbox placement or deliverability rate in 2021 was less than 80%. That means roughly 1 in 5 emails get sent to the spam folder. The worst part is the attraction principle at play here. A higher spam complaint rate or email rejection rate wrecks your sender’s reputation. That leads to even more emails not getting delivered to inboxes. 

Take a good look at your deliverability stats, and if you think they could do with a leg-up (they almost always do), here are some quick and effective ways to achieve stellar deliverability:

Set up your SPF, DKIM, and DMARC before sending emails

Sending a cold email campaign without these three security protocols is like stepping out without your wallet, keys, and phone. Can you do it? Yes. Should you? Not quite. 

SPF, DKIM, and DMARC form a protective bubble around your email to save it from all the big, bad spam filters. 

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is what validates the sender origin of an email. It prevents spoofing of the ‘MAIL FROM’ field so Email Service Providers (ESPs) know they can let your email in. It enables you to specify IP addresses and domain names authorized to send emails on your behalf and flags all the rest as spam. 

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) verifies the authenticity of the domain in the FROM field. And that the message was not tampered with. It uses encryption — a private key that remains with the sender while recipients use a public key to verify that the email comes from who it says it does. 

SPF and DKIM verify the sender, but DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) specifies what happens to an email that fails that verification test. It decides whether it is quarantined, delivery is rejected or if it’s passed for further processing. Implementing DMARC and checking your DMARC report you will guarantee the safety of the emails sent from your domain.

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Warm up your email address 

Every ESP has daily/monthly sending limits, but you don’t have to test them on the first day. It’s a little too Icarus-flying-too-close-to-the-sun to end well. Take time to build your reputation first. 

Start off small — 10-20 emails on the first day. Send them to colleagues, family, and friends — people you know will not just read them but also respond to them. After a few days of this back and forth, expand your circle to include clients and prospects. 

If you have a sizeable list, working up to a daily sending limit of 1000-2000 emails a day can take up to 2 or 3 months. This, however, is not an absolute limit. Also, if your emails are hyper-personalized, your numbers will likely be lower than that. 

Since personalized emails are better received by consumers, we suggest you pick quality over quantity here. Just ensure you keep adequate time intervals between sending them and maintain the continuity of conversation in a thread. 

Clean your email lists

When your emails aren’t being read, it’s usually because of what’s in them. But often, it’s also about who you’re sending them to.

Growing organic email lists is expensive, but low-quality email lists are worse. Unless you’ve purchased a flat subscription plan, your ESP charges you for the number of emails you send (or how many people you send them to). Either way, if your emails end up in abandoned inboxes, it will raise your CPM drastically. 

People forget their email passwords, change companies and move on with life. If your recent campaign stats look dismal, you know it’s time for a cleanup. Staggering click-through rates and skyrocketing bounce rates are your top two red flags. And the only solution is to verify the email addresses on your list.

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A good email scrubbing every 6 months or so helps with list hygiene. It ensures the address you’re sending to is valid and functional and keeps deliverability high.

Track & manage email bounces

Your average email bounce rate tells you the percentage of emails that weren’t delivered. The acceptable bounce rate is under 2%, so if yours is higher than that, it needs fixing. 

Soft bounces are caused due to temporary delivery failure, but it’s hard bounces that you need to watch out for.

If an email address fails the verification, check for typos. Or try finding an alternate email address or point of contact. But if you can’t, remove it from your email list to avoid issues in the future.

Avoid sending emails from personal email addresses

The most obvious reason to not do this is that it’s unprofessional. Consider this — you get an email from a certain ‘neilbuch1972@gmail.com’ telling you about IKEA’s crazy discounts on ottomans. You’ll either disregard it completely or mark it as spam. But when the email’s from an alias like neilbuchanan@ikea.com. 

Spam filters work the same way. They’re more likely to flag emails as spam when sent from public domain names like Gmail, Yahoo, and AOL. And data protection laws worldwide lay down strict requirements for commercial emails that are impossible to comply with unless you’re using a business domain and professional email service. 

If your goal is approachability, use email signatures listing all your contact information to build recognition and trust.

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Use short yet personalized subject lines and openers

Almost 70% of users report emails as spam based on the subject line alone. So toss out those generic subject lines like ‘This Product Will Change Your Life Forever’, ‘#1 Best Tool For Your Business or ‘Limited Period Offer! Hurry!’ for personalized ones. 

Use prospect and company name personalizations and lowercase to seem more genuine. And stick to under 40 characters if you don’t want them getting truncated.

You can use the subject line to lay the base for your opener. For example, a subject line like ‘do the guys at {company name} know this yet?’ could seamlessly transition to a personalized opener that says, ‘Your CEO just wrote a LinkedIn post about hitting 100K users. And you know what companies like yours are using to {product function}?

The smooth-flowing link between these two elements makes emails feel much less templatized.

Avoid spam words in your email copy 

It’s tempting to go all out on the superlatives and pushy language when you want to make your product sound like the hottest invention after fake eyelashes, but please don’t. Using the words ‘FREE’ or ‘100%’ or ‘GUARANTEED’ or using all caps and screaming at people as we did just now, are all communication mistakes you should avoid unless you want to come across as spammy or manipulative.

Instead, replace these spam trigger words with words and phrases that add value to email copy. Try to address questions such as:

  • What do you offer your target audience?
  • How does your product solve the lead’s problem?
  • Are you a credible business with past client success?

This does two things:

  1. You don’t sound gimmicky. Which is great because customers value authenticity above all else.
  2. Spam filters don’t banish your emails to spam folders and plunder your deliverability stats.

Implement double opt-in 

There’s no doubt that single opt-in gives you every marketer’s dream — quick list growth. But when your deliverability is low, you have to guard against the three issues that single opt-ins increase:

  • Spambots
  • Fake/wrongly-spelled email addresses
  • Low-intent leads

On the other hand, double opt-in (which requires additional verification) lowers bounce rates and increases the probability of high-intent leads. 

If you want to offset the disadvantage of email confirmation, incentivize the sign-up by offering freebies in the form of content, trials, or consultations. Wordstream offers a free Google Ads performance assessment here to encourage people to sign up with them.

wordstream

The more interested your leads are in your offer, the less likely it is for your emails to be marked as spam. Stricter email list standards also provide crucial campaign data for a more reliable analysis.

Write a personalized email copy 

Wouldn’t it be great if the inner workings of your prospect’s mind were as easily seen as the gears in a skeleton watch? You’d know how to make the perfect proposal and writing copy wouldn’t be so bewildering. But until the wish-granting AI from the future gets here, try this.

Think like a prospect, not a marketer. You’ve received your fair share of coma-inducing emails, pompous ones, and just plain bad ones. So take all that knowledge and turn it into a list of don’ts. 

Talk to your subscribers. Don’t write at them. Treat them like a friend — keep your tone warm, throw in the occasional joke, and give good advice. 

Give them personalized product recommendations or tips for using a purchased product better. Send them congratulatory emails for company achievements or birthdays. Or half-birthdays, like this one here.

Use email triggers and keep track of the emails they’ve opened and responded to, to send them more relevant content.

Avoid URL shorteners, attachments & excessive images

URL shorteners are handy little tools. They swoop in and save the day when a gazillion character-long link threatens to ruin your email’s visual appeal. 

But you know who else uses them? Scammers. And scammer is as the scammer does, so using shortened links might get emails flagged. Why risk that when you can wrap links in trustworthy branded URLs or compact CTA buttons?

Lucidchart’s non-generic CTA is a case in point.

lucidspark

Another thing to steer clear of is attachments. It’s sketchy behavior — scammers send them. Also, it attracts the wrong kind of attention from ESPs. Instead of expecting someone to download a file from a source they don’t implicitly trust, host it on your website. Or at least ask them for permission in an earlier email before sending it.

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Don’t go overboard with images if you want to stay off the radar of spam filters. They’re visually attractive but risk alienating subscribers with disabled images in their email client.

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Plus, they increase file size and lead to clipped emails. Stick to a clutter-free HTML layout under 102kB and a couple of images with enough text to provide context.

Add a clear unsubscribe option 

A lot of work goes into building email lists. And as much as unsubscribes make you want to delete that tiny unsubscribe link at the bottom of your emails, you shouldn’t. 

Besides being illegal, it rubs people off the wrong way when you make them do something against their will. So if they don’t see an easy way to opt out, they will mark your emails as spam. As we’ve already established, that’s terrible news for your sender’s reputation and deliverability.

You can use double opt-out – asking users to confirm they’d like to unsubscribe. You can also redirect them to a preference center that lets them reduce the messaging frequency or choose a topic they’re interested in reading about, like Wistia here.

wistia

Conclusion

Balancing the different factors that affect deliverability is a delicate task. It requires practice and finesse. And it’ll be a while before you’ve figured out where you’re going wrong. But whether it’s a cold email, a transactional email, or a newsletter email you’re sending, you can’t afford to let it be blocked by an overzealous Internet Service Provider, or get stuck in spam. 

So keep your email list updated, focus on providing value in your emails, and don’t inundate prospects with unnecessary emails if you want to see your deliverability stats and your business grow.

About Author: Antonio Gabrić
Antonio is an outreach manager at Hunter. He is passionate about testing different outreach tactics and sharing results with the community. When he is not connecting with industry leaders you can find him on his motorbike exploring off-the-beaten paths around the world.

Categories: Sales Tips