7 Best Practices To Ensure Store Brands’ Emails Avoid Customers’ Spam Folder
When you have peace of mind that your emails are being delivered, you can be confident that your customers are in tune with all the latest happenings at your store, writes SendGrid VP Len Shneyder.
Going straight to spam is an email marketer’s worst nightmare. To drive customers into your store, marketers need to ensure their emails advertising their latest merchandise, newest promotions and in-store events actually wind up in people’s inboxes. Since the spam folder is public enemy number one for most marketers, it’s important to do everything you can to ensure successful email deliverability, otherwise the customers simply won’t come.
Luckily, there are some simple ways email marketers can bolster their email deliverability in the fight against spam. Following these seven best practices will help produce high levels of deliverability, keep your emails out of spam folders, position your email marketing programs for success and, ultimately, drive foot traffic to your store.
- Create your own targeted email lists
You can have the most creatively brilliant emails in the world, but if the content means nothing to the audience you’re targeting, your efforts to drive in-store traffic will be for naught. Some email marketers fall into the easy trap of repurposing or purchasing email lists from a third party, or sharing one list among many partners. Worse is email harvesting, where marketers employ a robot to collect emails. That’s a surefire way to go straight to spam.
The best approach for email marketers is to create your own targeted email lists. Yes, it’s the more time-consuming and labor-intensive process, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. This is by far the most effective way of ensuring your emails are being seen by the right audience—one who will actually take the time to engage with your content and be more susceptible to visiting your store in-person.
- Clean and update email lists regularly
Just as important as creating your emails lists is making sure you clean and update them regularly. All email lists experience some amount of churn. However, many recipients will start ignoring emails rather than unsubscribe. This lowers your email engagement rate, meaning ISPs will start viewing you less favorably. When your favorability starts to go down, the potential for your emails to end up in spam folders rises.
Being proactive with email list management can help stave off low engagement and favorability. This typically involves removing unengaged recipients, bounce emails and role-based email addresses. Staying on top of these things will help keep your email deliverability rates high.
- Authenticate emails with SPF, DKIM and DMARC
Now that you’ve built out your lists and are keeping them up-to-date, it’s time to start sending emails. A great way to ensure your emails avoid the spam folder is to make sure you authenticate them. Authentication is the best way to establish trust and verification with inbox providers. There are three standards for achieving authentication and convincing ISPs your emails are inbox-worthy:
- Sender Policy Framework (SPF) – this checks a sender’s IP against a list of IPs authorized to send emails from a given domain.
- Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) – a standard to ensure emails are not tampered with during transmission.
- Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) – requires emails to pass both SPF and DKIM standards before they’re delivered.
- Offer recipients a double opt-in option
When sending emails, it’s important to consider how your recipients want your content delivered to them. A good way of establishing a recipient-first strategy is implementing a double opt-in method that provides potential subscribers with an initial welcome email before they’re added to your list. This email will then offer those recipients with the option to opt in or out of officially subscribing.
Double opt-in is a preferred method in email marketing. Not only does it go a long way in establishing trust amongst your subscribers, but it’s a good indicator of which recipients are actually interested in your emails and are more likely to visit your store. The result will be higher customer engagement and lower risk of emails being flagged as spam.
- Provide a preference center for subscribers
Another great offering for subscribers is a preference center. These allow subscribers to choose the frequency they’d like to receive emails from you. A preference center grants each individual the power to control how often they receive your content, ensuring they stay satisfied and engaged with your content.
A simple and prominent preference center will reduce subscriber irritation. A happy subscriber is much less likely to mark your email as spam, and much more likely to pay your store a visit. There are several different types of preference centers, so marketers can choose the one that will serve their email programs the best.
- Be aware of your domain’s reputation
As your email marketing programs kick off, it’s important to track your domain’s reputation. A bad reputation can end up putting you on an email blacklist. The best way to track your domain reputation is to carefully monitor your delivery rates, which can signal if you’re on the path toward being blacklisted.
To reduce the risk of being blacklisted, email marketers can implement sunset policies to remove unengaged subscribers, use real-time address validation to ensure email addresses are accurate and adopt the double opt-in method discussed above. These simple precautions will keep your domain reputation sterling.
- Monitor your engagement metrics
Last but not least, tracking your email performance and engagement metrics is the best way to know if your programs are actually delivering, or if you’re falling into a spam trap. Establishing some baseline metrics, such as email open rates, click-through rates and spam complaints, will help you form a clear email performance picture.
If you notice some trouble spots, refer back to the other six best practices to start working on a way of improving your email performance. The more you can improve your engagement metrics, the likelier your emails will be delivered properly and avoid the spam folder altogether. When you have peace of mind that your emails are being delivered, you can be confident that your customers are in tune with all the latest happenings at your store.
*Len Shneyder is a 15-year email and digital messaging veteran and the VP of Industry Relations at SendGrid. Len serves as an evangelist and proponent of best practices and he drives thought leadership and data-driven insights on industry trends based on the massive volume of email SendGrid delivers on behalf of their customers. Len represents SendGrid on the board of M3AAWG (the Messaging, Malware, Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group) as Vice Chair in addition to Co-Chairing the Program Committee. He’s also part of the MAC (Member Advisory Committee) of the EEC (Email Experience Council) where he serves as the organization’s Vice Chair. The EEC is a professional trade organization focused on promoting email marketing best practices. The EEC is owned by the DMA (The Direct Marketing Association of America), a nearly 100-year-old organization where he also sits on the Ethics Committee. In addition, Len has worked closely with the ESPC (Email Sender & Provider Coalition) on issues surrounding data privacy and email deliverability.