If your email messages don’t reach their intended audience, then your email campaigns are doomed right from the start. And with the coming holiday season – and year-end revenue in the balance – now is a good time to re-examine the important subject of email deliverability.
Here are five steps to make sure your emails arrive at your desired destination:
- Clean your list: Take a look at your existing email list for addresses that are obviously invalid. While there may be honest typos from those who submitted their email address to your company via a landing page, more often, they are fake email addresses (e.g. “firstname.lastname@example.org”) belonging to individuals who simply didn’t want to provide you their contact details. Get rid of all these – because messages sent to these addresses will result in hard bounces, which are red flags to company and internet service provider (ISP) email systems. If hard bounces go above a certain threshold (typically 2%), these systems will block or automatically junk your messages moving forward. If you have trouble spotting these, or you don’t have time -- or your email list is too large to manage, you can employ an email validation service that can clean up your list for you.
- Avoid the traps: Spam traps are used by inbox providers to catch unscrupulous email senders, but they also ensnare legitimate emailers with poor data quality. They look like real email addresses, but don’t belong to a real person – their sole purpose is to identify spammers – and they are often obtained by scraping data off websites or other sources. (If you’ve ever been asked to enter a strange password from a picture, this is an attempt to prevent such scraping). ISPs such as Microsoft will also cancel email addresses that have been dormant for over a year and re-use them as spam traps. The solution here lies in keeping your lists clean and managing your subscribers (more below). After all, chronically inactive subscribers aren’t of any value to you, so there is no need to keep them for too long.
- Delete (and don’t use) generic email addresses: Generic or departmental addresses (e.g. sales@xyzcompany”) should be removed from your email list – and not used by your outgoing campaigns either. While these addresses are typically used to accept and respond to customer questions, they are often posted on company websites and as a result, are prone to scraping and appearing on spammer lists. Besides, nobody uses them to subscribe to your blog or newsletter – and if they did, other unknowing recipients may report you as a spammer.
- Engage (or remove) inactive subscribers: In addition to tracking spam complaints and hard bounces, inbox providers monitor positive metrics, such as open rates. When inactive subscribers don’t open your email, your engagement numbers are reduced, and you run the risk of getting your emails junked or blocked. If an inactive subscriber has never opened or clicked on your email, send her a permission renewal asking that she confirms her interest in hearing from you. If you don’t hear back from her, remove her from your list. In general, you don’t want to keep inactive subscribers longer than two years since their last engagement, but one year might be more appropriate if you email frequently, such as once a week.
- Select a reputable partner: The right email data provider can help you acquire highly targeted, high-quality business contact information. A provider should, at minimum, be able to guarantee 90 – 95 percent email data validity in writing to help you ensure effective email deliverability. They should also employ a licensed model (as opposed to a rented list), giving you unlimited use of the data for a full year, while also offering monthly updates that ensure the data remains cleansed, purged and current. (Note: the licensed model also offers cost benefits over one-time rented lists because ongoing use of the data across all of your campaigns allows you to extend your marketing dollars.)
To be successful in the final quarter of 2016, B2B marketers need to be able to count on their messages reaching their intended target audiences. This means cleaning lists, avoiding traps and managing inactive subscribers. Of course, obtaining quality email data from a reputable provider goes far in ensuring that messages reach their desired destinations. How are you planning to ensure email deliverability this quarter?
Outward Media’s accurate, targeted email data can help you achieve better email marketing ROI, and ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Ask us how. Also, take a look at our complimentary new e-book on building a successful B2B email marketing database.
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