Is your email marketing sliding down the slippery slope called spam?

Email marketing continues to be one of the most popular and profitable means of digital marketing but not without its disadvantages. Despite careful planning and execution of email marketing campaigns the nightmare that the mails will end up in spam, haunts even the most seasoned and rule-abiding marketers.

Spam originally referred to the endless myriad of unsolicited text send to our inboxes  in bulk  since  the 1990’s. The proportion of spam email was around 90% of email messages sent, by the end of 2014. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Email_spam). Commercial advertisements for dubious products, a quick get rich and weight loss schemes and pharmacy continue to flood our inbox.

Over time spam filtering has become more rigorous and it has become harder to avoid well intended genuine emails from ending up in the black hole called spam

So, then how do you ensure that your legitimate email campaign makes it to the customer’s inbox and not in spam?

In this blog, we will attempt to break down the reasons behind why your emails end up in spam and try our best to suggest steps to avoid just that.

Why does your email end up in spam?

Low open rates, high bounces, spam complaints or mails being marked as spam, or marking the traffic source incorrectly are some of the few reasons why your emails end up in spam

According to a 2015 study by Return Path, only 79% of commercial emails actually land in the inbox. That means one out of every five emails sent either gets filtered as spam or blocked entirely. (https://optinmonster.com/11-reasons-why-your-emails-go-in-the-spam-box-and-how-to-make-sure-they-dont/)

A few factors that lead to legitimate emails landing up in spam may be

  1. Domain reputation: Email providers track a sending reputation for every domain that is used to send an email. Bearing in mind a fresh domain needs time to earn a good reputation, having a good or bad domain sending reputation can greatly affect your email deliverability. It works like a vicious circle which regressively affects the domain. It is therefore imperative that as marketers we build a strong sending reputation. The only way to avoid this is a domain warm-up.
  2. IP reputation: Apart from domain reputation, there is also the IP reputation which depends on the email service provider (ESP) that is used to send emails. Before sending any email campaigns it is important to check an IP address your server provides to verify its reputation.
  1. Content of the campaign: At the heart of it all one must realize that content is what your readers mostly care about. Content is King. Certain text and phrases in the email body and subject may trigger the spamming of legitimate emails. Catchy subject lines that pique the interest of a recipient  are proven to increase the email open rates, but sometimes backfire because they are commonly used by spammers. Engaging content crafted with adequate personalization sent in the right frequency opposed to batches of email blasts keep customers curious and will assure the email ending up in the inbox or promotions tab. The inclusion of an opt-in subscription and a simple, one-click unsubscribe link easy to find and click may more likely keep your email from ending up in spam.

 

When is an email warm-up required:

  1. When you change your email provider or use a new domain name  to send emails, you need a warm-up. Even though every provider recommends their own warm-up schedules, there are some best practices that one can follow.
  1. When your open rates are lower than the usual open rates. In-order to avoid bounces maintaining consistency with volume and frequency with non repeated users helps establish a positive or good sending reputation and stop the mail ending up in SPAM. You will begin to notice an improvement in open rates, a decrease in mails going to spam and the users will start responding to your mail.
  2. There are various third-party tools to check if the domain is blacklisted. If so then the domain needs to be removed from blacklist or get a new IP address.
  3. If you haven’t sent any campaign for last 30 days. 

What needs to be done before an email warm-up:

  • Websites like org, Senderbase.org, ReputationAuthority, BarracudaCentral, TrustedSource help calculate your email deliverability and check your IP and Domain reputation.
  • Spamcop can also help you check if your IP address has been blacklisted or not.
  • Build your own email list.
  • Regularly clean up your email list to remove outdated email ids. (Some tools do this automatically)
  • Monitor the email engagement metrics
  • Do not  wait too long before contacting your subscribers after they subscribe to your newsletter
  • Avoid deceptive subject lines or misleading claims.
  • Mention an address in the “FROM” field.
  • Keep a regular interval for your emails

What are warm-ups and how is it done?

Sending an email is a fairly easy process, however, maintaining a reputation and keeping your campaigns from ending up in spam requires a certain amount of dedication.

Email warm-up is a necessity when you get started or switch providers. Gradually increasing the number of campaigns and the number of recipients helps build the reputation so it is of utmost import not to rush through the process. Customized emails with personalized content sent in small doses help maintain the delivery rates.

Warming up a domain is a process of carefully building up the reputation of a sender domain. The procedure requires a slow progression of sending few emails a day, immediately followed by sending campaigns within a week.

An IP warm-up process similar to the domain warm-up involves sending emails slowly scaling in volume based on a predetermined schedule. The ISP in-turn identifies the sending IP address as a legitimate email sender.

It is best advised to start warm-ups with subscribers who are more engaged or recently opted in.

What has to be done after a warm-up:

The primary goal is to maintain the reputation. Despite the warm-ups chances are the domain reputation will deteriorate.  But we can do follow a few metrics to maintain the reputation.

  1. Try sending more personalized and valuable emails like product recommendations and get more clicks on the email.
  2. Avoid sending bulk emails to customers in one go. Try to split the users into two or three groups and send the campaign.
  3. Attach an Unsubscribe link in the campaign a helpful way to avoid users reporting the email to spam. If the customers don’t want to receive mail, they can just unsubscribe.
  4. Ask your customers who do not engage with your email to re-opt in or unsubscribe if they wish.
  5. Avoid sending emails to non-subscribed users.
  6. Always unsubscribe the hard bounce email ids. If you try to ping hard bounced mail it will lead to domain blacklisting
  7. Try changing the email template once in a while to maintain content reputation and freshness.
  8. Gmail has a way to find how many emails are going to spam in a particular campaign. Adding a feedback loop to your campaign and postmaster tool can give you the data that tweaks the content in the campaign to reduce the spam.
  9. Re-targeting or excluding users based on their engagement with previous emails is one of the practices to avoid ending up in spam.

Personalized email marketing is one of the channels offered by YFret .We see 25% – 50% open rates on personalized life cycle mails and 6% – 15% on other promotional mails that showcase products to enable discovery.

This blog was written with contributions from our tech expert Sivaraj. If you have taken a different approach to the warm-up process or have more ideas for better open rates, we would love to hear about it.

If you have questions please feel free to contact us or comment below.

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