Tips for improving deliverability and engagement in email marketing

There are two key metrics in email marketing: deliverability and engagement.

Deliverability in email marketing means what percentage of the emails you send will actually reach your subscribers mailbox (including both the inbox and spam/junk folders).
Of course, the ultimate objective in email marketing is to reach the inbox. Depending on several factors in some cases this may take time and effort.

Engagement refers to how much your subscribers interact with your newsletter and it is measured by various clicks & views metrics.

The following parameters affect newsletter engagement

  • Relevancy to your subscribers' interests: send the right content to the right lists with a clear email subject.
  • Aesthetics -visual design: choice of fonts and colors, overall attractiveness, readability, responsiveness to various email clients.
  • Newsletter structure and layout: enticing first few words, content blocks that stand-out, clear call to action.

To improve deliverability and engagement there are a few technicalities to implement once and for good and some best practices to follow consistently.

Simple best practices in email marketing

  • Be honest about who you are and what you send.
  • Use a consistent, honest and accurate From-email and From-name.
  • Send only to those who are interested in hearing from you.
  • Use double opt-in when collecting subscriber emails and building your mailing lists.
  • Use personalization in the subject, preheader and body.
  • Use a subject line that along with the preheader attract interest.
  • Focus on your newsletter design. Use responsive and readable designs. Avoid complicated designs that include JavaScript, forms, iframe, flash etc. Such designs will be blocked by most email clients.
  • Avoid catchy words such as "Free", "Hot" and similar in your subject line and content because they may trigger ant-spam filters.
  • Send multipart newsletters since these are treated better by spam filters. Here is an interesting tip.
  • Send complete newsletters. E.g. Not a newsletter that it only has a picture in it (which can be a nice e-card but this is a practice that spammers do as well). Having sufficient text content in the newsletter will improve deliverability.
  • Don't send huge messages with big attachments. If you need to do so upload them at your server and link to them.
  • Use content spinning. See how our email marketing software can help you.
  • Keep your mailing lists clean and healthy
    • Remove email accounts that bounce.
    • Remove dormant subscribers; those who never click nor open (yet they never bounce). nuevoMailer has a special utility for that. There is no point to keep sending to uninterested subscribers.
    • Segment your mailing lists so you can send more targeted email campaigns. More about mailing list segmentation.
    • Examine the bounces you receive when they say that your newsletter was rejected as spam. Many times you can find valuable information which also points to a corrective course of action. For example you may discover that your domain or IP is blacklisted and find instructions about how to white-list it.
  • Provide clear opt-out instructions (and links).
  • Honor and respect opt-outs. Don't send again to those who opted out. nuevoMailer will not allow you to accidentally re-import subscribers who have opted-out.
  • Spread your campaigns in time (when possible). Send in batches - don't just blast. Use a "daily campaign limit". Use send-rate limiting and throttling. nuevoMailer gives you these options. Taking it a step further try send-time optimization.
  • Send regularly otherwise your subscribers will forget you.
  • Test and test again: open some free email accounts in major ESPs. Always send a test campaign to your own test mailing list before sending to your subscribers.
  • Perform A/B split tests to see what works best. See A/B split testing in the user's guide.
  • Do all the above consistently.

Technical tips for improving deliverability

These are some technical things that you should perform once when setting up your mailer. All hosting companies have control panels where these features are easy to find and configure.

If you are using a 3rd party smtp or email delivery service (Amazon SES, MailGun, SendGrid etc) then such services will provide you the following records along with instructions for setting them up.

  • Have an SPF record for your domain. An SPF record is a type of DNS TXT record that indicates all the servers authorized to send emails from a particular domain.
  • Sign emails with DKIM. This is a method of email authentication that ensures that the emails come from an authorized server. It helps prevent spammers and other malicious parties from impersonating a legitimate domain. See how you can also do this with nuevoMailer.
  • Add a DMARC record. A DMARC record is a DNS record that specifies a domain’s policy for handling emails that fail authentication checks. It helps prevent email fraud by instructing recipient servers to either quarantine, reject, or allow the message based on authentication results.
  • Having a "reverse DNS lookup" for your domain is favorable.
  • Use an unique (and clean IP) for your mail server whenever possible.
  • Update for Fall 2023: Gmail now requires to have DKIM and/or SPF in order to deliver your emails. Learn more.
  • See Email authentication requirements & recommendations by Google.

Interesting links from major email services providers

See also,

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