In this week’s masterclass Ve’s Graham McEnroe explores five ways to master email deliverability. 

There is a common misconception that, barring a system blackout or freak electrical storm, all emails sent will make it to their intended destination. This is not the case and there’s a big difference between emails being sent and emails getting delivered.

The key issue is “deliverability”, which refers to ensuring email messages are delivered to the inbox and aren’t bounced, blocked or rerouted by the spam filters – something which is an ongoing battle for marketers.

Successful deliverability is determined by use of best practices, authentication and email reputation – all of which are features of successful re-engagement.

So in essence, it’s like an approval score, the better your campaigns are, the higher your deliverability rates will rise. However, there are a number of technical processes to give your chances a further boost.

Here are our five top tips for making sure your email gets through:

1. Use descriptive subject lines

Descriptive subject lines earn trust which of course leads to greater open rates. This boosts your emails chances of swerving the spam filter in future. Using RE/FW to begin subject lines has grown as a recent trend, but this will likely have a negative effect on future deliverability.

When crafting your subject line you need to think of yourself as the reader and ask the question “What’s in it for me?” All too often, the classic mistake of promoting features over benefits is made – you have to be clear about what you’re offering from the off. Ideally, you should create a fear of missing out (FOMO) without being too salesy or pushy – if you put any pressure on the reader with ‘shouty’ capitals then your email is likely to be quickly deleted and pleas of “hurry” or “last chance” tend to come across as desperate.

2. Use a consistent “from” name in your emails

In business communications it is common to include the “From” address in an email and it’s important to use a consistent sent from name or title. This is becoming ever more significant today with mobile use becoming preeminent. This is because sender names are as prominent as the subject line on smaller mobile screens, meaning they have a greater impact on open and deliverability rates than ever before.  Reputation also comes into play here, if the person who receives your email has seen or opened your emails before, then they are more likely to trust you and open it, than if they believe it is a one-off spam or phishing email. If someone sees your name a few times without opening your email, they may eventually be overcome by curiosity to open one and discover your offer.

3. Create multi-part emails

Sending beautiful, captivating emails that grab their customers’ attention should be the objective for every company and many hours are expended on creating artwork and designs to gladden the eye. Unfortunately, all that creative effort can go to waste as many email service providers will automatically block images. Give your emails the best possible chance by including a balance of HTML and text. This way if all else fails, the text will remain to carry the message. Sometimes people won’t download pictures at all so you need to have the meat of your message in this text-only section. If you don’t know what you’re doing, there are specialist providers who can help you put these together.

4. Design emails for mobile viewing

More and more people in business catch up on email on the move. Deliverability is hinged on how readers engage with your emails, so with the growth in mobile use, this means that all emails need to be device-ready with responsive design a key requirement.  Over a quarter of UK online sales were completed via tablet last year, a figure set to increase as mobile-optimised email becomes more widely adapted.

Very often mobile-optimised designs are responsive, adaptive and scalable. To work well across a number of different mobile and tablet platforms will involve extra email design and coding but it is usually time well spent. Again, there are a number of specialist design agencies that can help with this.

5. Ensure your IP address is trusted

Email deliverability is intrinsically linked to reputation, and by using a dedicated IP address you alone are responsible for that reputation. Yet if sending smaller quantities of emails less frequently, a shared IP address is usually the best course of action. A reliable email provider will also ensure that best practice is adhered to, safeguarding your IP status and deliverability in the process.

If you’re sending a larger quantity of email, you may find that the receiving ESP’s filters, on seeing a host of mail arriving from a new IP may think that you are an infected computer sending spam. It will then block those emails until you build up a good sending history.

Sometimes it can take a while for ESPs to finally come to the conclusion that, since complaints haven’t been high, that this new IP is acceptable, so for larger volumes you need either a respected IP address or a decent degree of patience and acceptance that your first few emails will not connect to the intended recipients.