This week’s blog comes from Yanna-Torry Aspraki, Business Development & Deliverability Specialist at EmailConsul. Sitting on the executive team at the intersection of Sales, Product, Marketing, and Growth, Yanna-Torry helps drive the company forward in a market in desperate need of accessible and reliable deliverability tools, while representing EmailConsul in places email & deliverability have never been before. In this blog, she gives expert insight into the world of email deliverability and explains how you can improve yours.
Just because you send an email, it doesn’t mean that everyone will receive it
Email is a really cool tool to use to communicate with and inform your subscribers. It is actually one of the most performant ones, especially when it's done correctly. So let me start with this simple statement: just because you send an email, it doesn’t mean that everyone will receive it on the other side. This is an erroneous assumption that many make, and it can really impact your business. So now what?
Let’s start with the most important basics
Just like when you apply for a loan or job, your identity and the reputation attached to it are important. Extremely important. The same goes for email. If you want to ensure your emails will be delivered, the ISPs need to confirm your (the sender’s) identity, look at your sending history and then they will decide (based on thousands of factors) if your email will land in the inbox, spam, or nowhere at all. So let’s make changes in the areas we control.
There are 3 important methods of authentication (DKIM, SPF, DMARC), and one cool one that feels like an Xbox achievement: BIMI.
The first thing you'll need is a domain name and an email associated with it. Purchasing a domain name, even if it is only for your email marketing campaigns, is vital. This will allow you to send authenticated campaigns that land in the inbox, instead of spam or junk. DomainKeys Identified Mail, or DKIM, is a technical standard that helps protect email senders and recipients from spam, spoofing, and phishing. It is a form of email authentication that allows an organization to claim responsibility for a message.
In other words, it verifies that an email message was not forged or altered and that you actually sent it, like a digital signature. By implementing it, you improve your email deliverability with the added bonus that you are helping keep your subscribers safe in a world filled with phishing and spoofing.
SPF, Sender Policy Framework, is a form of email authentication that validates an email message has been sent from an authorized mail server. It works to detect forgery and prevent spam.
Every tool you use to send emails with your domain-based email address, which is not coming from your personal inbox, needs to be authenticated with SPF & DKIM. This does not only include your email marketing software like Flowmailer or Cakemail but any other tool that sends emails using your email address. All of them.
DMARC, which stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance, is an email authentication policy, and, most importantly, a reporting protocol. It allows you to control how recipient inboxes handle emails that are not authenticated with SPF or DKIM. You have three settings you can choose from: none, quarantine, or reject. The first one will report back to you that an unauthenticated email was sent, but won't affect the email's placement. A ‘quarantine’ policy will put an unauthenticated email in spam or junk.
If you implement a ‘reject’ policy (recommended), any unauthenticated emails will be denied by receiving inboxes. This means you get to control what happens to unauthenticated emails to protect your brand and subscribers from fraudulent emails. All the tools you use to send emails with your domain-based email address must be authenticated before implementing stricter DMARC policies. Start with a "none" policy and take the time to review your reports and authenticate all your emails. Once you feel comfortable that you have caught everything, move towards stricter policies. This can be a complicated process to do alone, so use a tool like OnDMARC to make this easier and quicker.
The key to engaging with your audience is to get them interested as quickly as possible in what you have to say, offer, or sell. Then you need to ensure you don’t disappoint your subscribers. The less engagement you have, the less your emails will land in front of your readers. When it comes to email, it starts with how you acquire your subscribers.
Adding a form to your website or social media is a great way to get started when building or growing your list. Using a form to capture new subscribers is simple, but sadly it’s no longer enough. Almost every website has a form to allow people to sign up for a newsletter. So what are you offering that is more interesting than the next website?
The best performing online forms:
- Are placed in the perfect location on your website. They can be in the footer, in a popup, after a client buys a product, or maybe you decide you capture emails in-store only. Knowing when and how your customers interact with your brand is crucial. This will allow you to offer your newsletters at the right moment.
- Set clear expectations. This can include letting subscribers know how many times you will send them campaigns, what type of content you will share with them, and including a clear unsubscribe statement that lets them know they are in control of their subscription to your email marketing campaigns.
- Provide value at the right time and place. When it comes to email marketing or social media in general, the purpose is to provide value to a customer at the right time and place. Not to share things you want to share because it serves your business and your business only. With expectations managed, your email marketing strategy will thrive.
Understanding subscriber wants and needs
To ensure subscribers don't sign up and then forget about you, your welcome email sequences are here to save the day and remind them about what you do and who you are. Looking at your subscriber's life cycle will help you create an excellent rough draft of all the welcome emails your business may need.
Like any other type of relationship, you need to give subscribers time. Time for what you ask? Well, time to build a trusting and engaging relationship.
So ask yourself, what do your subscribers need? What have your past clients done? Do they visit your website multiple times before purchasing something? Or are they waiting for promotions only?
If you take the time to think about what goes through a customer's head before they decide to become a customer, you will be able to win over a lot more people than if you don’t. What questions do they have? Do they need more social proof? What are they worried about? When do they need what you are offering? Do your subscribers want to receive all the content you create or are they interested in some parts only? Most businesses' campaigns succeed only when they are segmenting their lists. Offer some options on your form. This will automatically segment your subscribers in the tool you use and will help you send valuable and targeted messages to your list.
So what does this have to do with inboxing?
Engagement in email works the same way it does with your social media algorithms. If you are an engaging brand, Instagram and Twitter will show others your posts a lot more in the feeds, helping people engage with you. If your content isn't interesting, even your most engaged followers may not see your new posts.
It works more or less the same way with your email campaigns and your domain reputation level. The different ISPs out there know how many of their customers received your campaign and how they interacted with it. Have you been sending for years with a tiny engagement rate? Well, this is impacting the deliverability of your campaigns. Many people might actually not be seeing your emails in their inboxes. They may end up in spam or junk or nowhere at all! And just like social media, there is no one easy way to know if people actually saw your campaign and didn't interact with it, or if they even saw it at all.
Deliverability is not only about authenticating your email address; it's ensuring you have a good engagement rate on the content you're sharing too.
Do you really believe Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo's email filtering system is so simple that it just checks a list of words to decide if your email will land in the inbox or spam? Because this is only partly true. The systems look at millions of factors before it makes the decision.
Email filtering systems are incredibly complex, and on average, above 80% of all the 300 billion emails sent in a day are spam. They look for patterns, comparing your email content, structure, and design to the ones bad senders send. They are also forming an opinion on your brand by looking at your online reputation associated with your domain name. Is the email sent authenticated, or was it forged to look like a PayPal email for example?
If you create clickbait-style emails, you may look like a spammer. If your campaign is only one big image, you may look like a spammer. If your frequency is too high for the engagement you have, you may look like a spammer.
Now I’m not trying to scare you. Email is about building relationships. It takes time and effort. Because let's be honest, when was the last time you bonded with a brand after seeing a clickbait subject line like this one ‘RE: Can we continue this conversation on the phone?’
We all know that feeling you get when you go to a store, and they ask you for your email address. Why do you turn them down or give an old email address you barely use? Because you know most brands use your inbox as a free advertisement space and use their email lists to try to sell, sell, and sell some more. What makes your business so much more ‘special’ than the others that it would be okay for you to send pointless and valueless campaigns multiple times a week to someone over and over again?
If you don't like what many brands do, well, don't do it to your audience. Just because the big brands out there have the capacity to spam their clients, it doesn’t mean that you should as well. When creating any type of email, welcome email or not, take a step back, and ask yourself: does this email serve any valuable purpose to my customer? Or is it serving my business only?
If buying fake Instagram followers doesn't help you make a sale, do you think buying a list of emails of people who have no idea who you are will help you make a sale either? Have you ever purchased a product from a brand that you never heard of, just because they send you multiple campaigns? Or do you tend to click on the "unsubscribe" or "this is spam" button instead? Trust me when I say that your subscribers will be doing the exact same thing.
This may seem very basic, but email is all about building real relationships. And good relationships are a two-way street. You provide value correctly, and you will see your subscribers reciprocate by engaging with you or purchasing what you have to offer.
Finally, there are some perks for being a good sender
When you are a good sender you get all kinds of special perks, the most important one to me would be, subscribers receiving the email I sent in their inbox. That is quite an achievement for most brands, even those who follow the rules and have an army of email and deliverability specialists. The other very cool perk is being able to implement BIMI and for it to show up in people’s inboxes. It is the email version of a ‘verified’ social media account. The holy grail for a good sender.
Brand Indicators for Message identification, known as BIMI, is an industry-wide standard effort that will use your brand's registered logo to help people avoid fraudulent emails. It also gives you a new opportunity to put your brand in front of consumers for free right in their inboxes.
Red Sift is here to help you get BIMI certified hassle-free, and they are the first and only provider of an end-to-end BIMI certification solution. You can find out more here, or get in touch with the Red Sift team to book your free BIMI consultation below. If you're a good sender, why not enjoy the perks you've worked so hard for?
EmailConsul is an accessible email analytics and deliverability platform focused on giving all necessary data and power into the hands of the sender. EmailConsul is the one tool you need to get your email marketing on track. From seed tests, which allow you to see if your email lands in the inbox, the spam folder, or nowhere at all, to domain reputation monitoring, we have all the tools you need to ensure you make the right decisions.
A tool created by deliverability specialists with over 15 years of experience, who know exactly what senders need to ensure emails land in the inbox and want to offer an affordable solution to all. Find out more at emailconsul.com.