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8 ways to improve email deliverability

March 9, 2020

This is a guest article by Greg Jordan, Sales and Marketing Director at EmailChecker, one of the web’s longest-running email validation services.

Email deliverability, put simply, is the likelihood of your messages reaching recipients’ inboxes. When emails fail to arrive at their intended destination, it’s usually either because they’ve been blocked by the ISP or redirected into a spam folder.

Low delivery rates are a significant B2B lead generation challenge that email marketers face. If you’re finding that your emails are failing to deliver, it’s likely that there’s something not working in your processes. Fortunately, this is easy to fix; we’ve identified 8 ways you can improve your email deliverability and rack up those open rates!

1 - Get authenticated

Ensuring you’re recognised by your recipients’ inboxes is key to your sender reputation. The last thing you want is someone else being able to impersonate your sender address, also known as email spoofing.

How can you counteract this? It’s vital that you enable the following 2 things:

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF) - this is an authentication method that’s designed to identify forged email addresses during the delivery process.
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) - another authentication method that enables the recipient to verify that an email was sent by the owner of the domain from which it came.

Taking these steps convinces the receiving ISP that your cold email is worthy of delivery, prevents spoofing and, as a result, keeps your delivery rates high.

For more information on setting up or updating your SPF and DKIM, we recommend you contact your email provider.

2 - Own an IP address

As your email marketing campaigns scale, you’ll need tools and processes that can cope with the volume. 

Once your output reaches 25,000 emails per day, you should consider sending on a dedicated IP address. This ensures that only your company’s emails are routed through (as opposed to a shared IP that hosts several senders), so other campaigns’ poor marketing won’t affect your reputation. 

It’s essential that you take steps to “warm up” your IP address to build trust with the ISPs that will be overseeing your mail delivery. In practical terms, this involves gradually increasing the amount of mail you send per day, to determine the IP as a legitimate sender. 

As ISPs consider email volume as a determining factor in spam detection, it’s best practice to start small and work up to greater volumes to avoid being penalised.

3 - Dodge spam traps

Spam traps are one of the main reasons why your email hasn’t reached an inbox. They’re commonly used by inbox providers to catch harmful senders, though they can catch you if your data hygiene or sender practices aren’t up to scratch.

If a sender is captured by a spam trap, they are flagged and blacklisted, which is extremely difficult to reverse. The best ways to dodge them are by: 

  • Actively using a double opt-in process.
  • Validating new email addresses.
  • Managing your inactive subscribers.
  • Deactivating bounced email addresses.
  • Cleaning your lists and avoiding purchased email lists.

Cognism has published a playbook for avoiding the spam folder - click the image below to find out more!

I’m an SDR, get me out of spam LI

4 - Spice up your subject lines

The first thing your recipients see when your email arrives in their inbox is the subject line - and first impressions matter! It’s bad if your mail gets ignored, even worse if it’s marked as spam.

To ensure your readers are opening and engaging, keep your subject lines catchy but free from spam phrases. Instead of using generic hooks such as “Free!” or “Click now”, write something that’s going to stand out in a crowded inbox, offering real value to the reader. 

Here are our subject line top tips:

  • Pick out a key idea from the message you’re sending as your subject. Be honest - the subject line must accurately describe the content of your email.
  • Create a sense of urgency or curiosity. The language you use should draw people in and entice them to click.
  • Keep it short - studies have shown that subject lines fewer than 50 characters are likely to perform best.
  • Always personalise your subject line, including the recipient’s name and/or their company name. Emails with personalised subject lines see an 82% increase in open rates.

We looked into the data from our clients’ email marketing campaigns and discovered 5 winning subject lines. Click below to find out more!

5 email subject lines that convert V1-01-1

5 - Make your content shine

Once your emails are delivered to your subscribers’ inboxes, the next step is to get them opening and reading the messages you’ve painstakingly crafted. This is where your content needs to shine. 

Emails need to be readable and offer value, encouraging users to take action. We’ve got some advice if you’re struggling to write a compelling marketing email:

  • Open your email with a question - this helps to create rapport with the reader.
  • Use formatting effectively. Don’t just type up long blocks of text. Capture attention by using bullet points, for example, to emphasise key points or messaging.
  • Utilise the active voice throughout your email to sound authoritative and involved. Words like “imagine” or “remember” suggest that you’re telling a story, while “because” is important in providing reasons why your reader might take action.
  • Always finish with a call to action that demonstrates benefits, or the value you’re offering to those users who carry out what you ask.

Watch our video to find out how you can boost your email response rates, including real-life examples from our own email outreach!

6 - Optimise opt-ins

In all probability, those who have chosen to opt-in will be active readers of your emails. Recipients who aren’t expecting to or didn’t agree to receive your messages will either delete them without clicking through, or mark them as spam. If the latter happens it can be very risky, as it leads ISPs to label all your mail as spam.

Optimising your opt-in process is a surefire way to improve your deliverability. The best way to do this is to build in a double opt-in mechanism (such as a follow-up email to a sign-up form). Taking this simple step ensures that any user entering your database has explicitly given their consent to receive your communications. 

7 - Ask for preferences

Keeping up with what your audience wants is one of the most important elements of email marketing. A simple way to discover how often your subscribers want to hear from you and even what exactly they want to hear is a preference centre. 

This gives users options other than simply unsubscribing, such as altering the frequency of your email sequences or changing the topics they want to engage with. It’s also possible for subscribers to change their personal details through this form, avoiding the all-too-common problem of a list peppered with invalid email addresses.

8 - Keep your email lists clean

Keeping invalid email addresses, as well as inactive or disengaged users, on your list can harm your delivery rates and, ultimately, your sender reputation.

Ideally, you only want to be marketing to people who are actively interested in receiving your messages. List hygiene should be near the top of your list of marketing priorities; you should aim to clean your B2B lead lists a couple of times per year at least. 

You can spot when it’s time to take action when your data driven marketing campaign analytics reveal a large drop in your open and click-through rates. Unsubscription, bounce and spam complaint rates are an indicator too.

Turn this around with an email cleaning service like EmailChecker, which offers both bulk list cleaning and real-time verification with domain, mailbox, syntax and format checks. Join EmailChecker today and boost your deliverability up to 98%.

Get more insights from Cognism

So there you have it - 8 top tips on improving your deliverability that will ensure your email marketing campaigns reach their full potential. Thanks to EmailChecker for sharing their knowledge. We hope you found this article useful!

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