“Ugh. I need to get an email out. It’s been a while.”
Does this sound familiar?
If you’re a small business owner (or someone working on a small team) trying to balance ALL the things, I bet it does.
The typical approach to email is to sit down, create one as fast as possible, send it out, and move to the next thing on the mile-long to-do list.
I get that!
While getting an email out is a big feat, several important considerations often get overlooked – like email deliverability.
I know this because when I talk with small business owners about their email performance, they typically respond with their open and click rates. And when I ask about their deliverability, I get blank stares.
When this happens, I get excited… yes, excited because it’s a teachable moment where I can help.
Email deliverability is maintaining a healthy sender reputation.
Even a small amount of knowledge about deliverability (because it can get pretty complex!) and steps you can take to increase it can make a difference in any email program.
My favorite way to teach others is to highlight one or two things at a time because we are all bombarded with too much content. That said, here are three things you should know about deliverability as a small business owner with a single action item to positively impact your email deliverability. (We’ll dive deeper in other blog posts)
Delivery is if your email was received by your contact’s inbox provider (i.e., Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Hotmail). An email counts as delivered if it did not bounce. This is a specific number reported by your email service provider (ESP) within your campaign results.
Anything higher than 95% is considered a good delivery rate. I like to see my clients above 98%.
Deliverability is what happens once the message is received. Did the email land in the inbox? Or the spam or junk folder? Landing in the promotions, social or primary tab counts as the inbox. Some people use deliverability and inbox placement rate (IPR) interchangeably.
Most ESPs don’t report a deliverability score. Still, some will highlight key metrics to indicate a higher or lower deliverability rate.
There are third-party tools you can use to help monitor your deliverability. As a small business owner, it’d be another expense you don’t need. The best thing you can do is focus on what you can control, like sending quality emails and list hygiene.
We want a good click rate because it drives our contacts to our website, hoping to capture a conversion (or build upon our relationship). But it’s more than that.
Inbox service providers (ISPs) like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Hotmail are watching. Okay, that sounds creepy, but… they are.
Each ISP has a score that impacts your reputation, but they all care about the same things.
Inbox service providers care about the following:
Your sender reputation impacts your email deliverability. If you consistently send emails to contacts who never open or click, ISPs will pick up on it. Quality over quantity is everything.
If you once thought there was no harm in sending to contacts who have repeatedly ignored your emails, there is.
When I do email program audits for clients, I can immediately tell if they regularly clean their lists (most don’t).
Everyone has their own definition of a large list, but no matter their definition, it is a source of pride. So when I recommend my clients clean their list, the look I get is always the same.
“Lauren, you’re crazy. Why in the world would I do that? These are my loyal customers who want to hear from me.”
I hate to break it to you, but not all of them are. And you shouldn’t take it personally.
Some were on your list just to get a coupon, while others have moved on to different hobbies or stages of life. And sometimes they give you a disposable email address!
For example, I signed up for several email lists for baby products when I became a new mom. But now that I am a few years into motherhood, those emails are no longer relevant.
It’s okay to let those people go. Embrace the unsubscribes.
Suppose you hold on to them, and they remain highly unengaged. You’re hurting your deliverability, and ultimately, you may be sacrificing your ability to land in the inbox of someone who needs your product.
If you have an established email program, you can make a positive impact on your deliverability with a list cleanse campaign to remove highly unengaged contacts.
The conditions for building the segment rely heavily on the nature of your business and the last time you cleaned the list. But the general idea is to group people who haven’t opened, clicked, visited your website, or purchased in a specific time period.
I recommend my clients do a list cleanse at least once or twice a year because of its benefits.
After your cleanse, you should see:
Each one of the above will help improve your sender reputation, which increases the chances of your emails landing in the inbox of the customers who actually want to hear from you!
If you want to learn more about email strategies and how-tos, sign up for my email list and tell me about yourself!
Helpful Resource: I love this deliverability terms cheat sheet from Litmus. It’s great to bookmark to have it available when you complete your list cleanse and are ready to dive deeper into deliverability.