The massive amount of legitimate emails never reaches the inbox. According to Deliverability Benchmark report 2018 by Return Path, only 85% of emails get delivered into the inbox in more than 140 global and regional mailbox providers such as Gmail, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, Comcast, and others. And in previous years only 79% or even less, of emails get delivered into the inbox.

Working with senders to deliver more of their legitimate emails into the inbox, I helped senders to avoid bounces, to improve senders engagement, reputation, email delivery rate, and senders email infrastructure.

In this article I summarized top tactics that each email sender should take as practice to get higher performance, delivering emails into the inbox.

I want to start with the main causes, why a lot of emails get delivered outside the inbox. Those are:

  • Content what you send out. Is it enough engaged or not?
  • Platform or infrastructure what you use to send out emails. Is it reputable, well configured, without blacklists?
  • Sender details and reputation. Does your emails historically engaged well and you’re using at least medium IP and domain reputation for emails what you send out?
  • Email sending frequency. Do you send emails when the email recipients are waiting for it? So not too often and not too infrequently.
  • List quality. Do you still send emails to old ones and not using re-activation and re-engagement email campaigns?

Email senders to whom I’m working for, in the past also had other causes why their emails get delivered outside the inbox, like low engagement words in content. Helping email senders, helped me to gain success and get to know a lot of tactics to which email senders should pay attention to deliver emails into the inbox. In this article, I want to highlight 9 top important:

1. Take a look at your content!

In the past, it was harder to deliver emails into the inbox if you used words such as free, buy right now, GET PAID, make money and similar. That’s what I agree as anti-spam technologies in the past were not so developed as of now where email receivers play the rules if these words in future will be spamminess or not. If these words have good interactions with email receivers, e.g., email users open emails where are these words and do not mark the email as spam, then they train AI patterns that these words in content or subject line are good.

It is important that you send content what your email recipients are expecting and willing to see. Also, avoid copying row by row content from 3rd parties as it has written in the text. That text may have low engagement what may lead your emails into the junk. In case if you copy, do a test and make sure test emails gets delivered into the inbox. Do it before sending out an email campaign, transaction or another important message. If too many of your email recipients will get your message in junk, that will affect your reputation and further open rate. And yes, HTML code, images, links in content also may be the reason why your message gets delivered outside of inbox.

When my customers require help on these issues, I usually do it with email deliverability audits and strategy.

2. Take a look into your infrastructure!

Is it well configured, does SPF, TXT, DKIM, DMARC records are right in place. If you’re not sure, you can use mail-tester.com tool. It can show your sending score from 0 to 10. Ten mans all is fine, but less than ten means something should be improved. Connect with me if you need assistance.

3. Take a look into your email list acquisition sources!

Do you have signup forms? If yes, do you mention in signup form page to what kind of news your email users are subscribing and how frequently you will send them emails? It is good that emails users subscribe and get what they expect.

Also avoid from purchased, rented and harvested email addresses. Such a list may affect not only your email delivery quality but brand reputation too.

4. Increase your email open rate, look into the email engagement!

Email service providers systems check the sender’s reputation, before delivering emails into the inbox. And email service providers systems check how email receivers interact with senders emails. If email receivers are going to mark messages as spam, delete without the reading, block, report as spam or unsubscribe, these activities will affect a sender’s reputation. But, if email receivers are going to mark messages as important, move to inbox folder, e.g., from junk or promotions tab, forward emails, open them, categorize them, reply and add to address book, these activities definitely will improve sender’s reputation. So, it is essential that you look at how to improve your as sender reputation, increasing engagement and overall opens rate.

5. Take into action your complaint rate!

As I mentioned above at point 4, when email users mark your message as spam, that affects your reputation. Also, if mail service providers get too high spam complaint rate about sendouts, they may start blocking your emails. Spam complaint threshold for each mail service provider is different, for one it is 0.1%, another 0.2% and so on 0.3%, 0.4%, 0.5% and for some even 1%. To keep a good reputation, you should keep good abuse rate what does not exceed 0.1% threshold. How to do it? How to avoid from high abuse rate? Start using emails what requested news from you, include unsubscribe link into your emails, send appropriate content with a relevant subject line and use sender name and domain what your email users easily recognize. Also, when email user signups to your emails and gets a confirmation message, it is good to ask them to reply to such email, so they improve your reputation with such activities.

6. Authenticate your domain emails!

Authenticated emails is an opportunity to show your subscribers that sender is real you. Authentication also helps to deliver more emails into the inbox, especially if your open rate and reputation is better then server side from which your emails are sent out. By authenticating your domain, it is good to have all authentication settings in place, such as SPF, DKIM and if possible DMARC. Let me know if you need help on technical support.

As the sample, here are 2 senders details:

1st with domain authentication and 2nd where domain authentication not added. Also, 1st is giving the option to unsubscribe through details, but 2nd does not, instead of in 2nd you can see the message sender. For email marketers and email transaction senders, 1st is a better one.

7. Keep track of your domain reputation!

Your emails may get delivered into the junk folder due to a poor domain and/or IPs reputation. For example, if your domain reputation in Gmail is bad, then sending emails from your domain to Gmail services, messages will land into the spam folder. If your domain reputation is Low, then most all of your emails will land into the spam folder, if Medium, then in inbox folder and the same with high. So it is essential to follow up your domain reputation, especially in Gmail, since it is the top 1 mail service provider worldwide with more than 1.5 billion mailboxes. Gmail is not only one mail services provider where you can follow up on your reputation. There are services such as Microsoft and others. Let me know if you’re interested in your domain reputation monitoring with strategies.

8. Choose a good email sender operator!

Your reputation may be good, content and engagement too, but if part of your emails gets delivered in junk, the problem may be with your email sending provider. Postmaster.google.com is a useful tool that helps to check it.

In the image above example of Google Postmaster tool.
Contact me if you need help with this.

9. Do not send too much and too less emails!

If you’re sending out too many emails, your email receivers may unsubscribe from them, mark messages as spam or delete without reading. These factors affect your reputation, and your emails may start dropping into the junk. You should get to know how frequently your emails users are willing to receive your emails. E.g., part twice a week and part twice a month. So email users are going to open, react, read and click on your links what overall will improve and keep stable your reputation. Do not send too less, e.g., less than one email campaign per 3 months, since part of emails may get cold or your reputation will go up with spikes. Send at least one email campaign per month. Also double check to whom you send out emails and how frequently. Send more to those who open your emails and less to those who do not.

Very likely part of your emails, such as newsletters, transactions, email automation and private ones from your mailbox get delivered into the inbox, and all is fine. If you are not sure, do tests, check your open rate, fallow tactics, and practices. If something does not work as you expect, contact me, and I’ll look on have can I help you. As I usually like to say, nothing is impossible.

Just write to me how I may help you! :)

Best wishes,
Aleksandrs Vilums
by Forsenders.com

Since 2010 helping clients to succeed with email marketing and email deliverability.