Email Marketing Tips, Best Practices & Deliverability Pointers

Email Marketing Tips, Best Practices & Deliverability Pointers

Whether you write sales emails or send weekly e-blasts, you'll find something worthwhile in this post.

Invoq's owner & CEO, Jon, wants our team to be constantly looking for ways to grow our knowledge and improve our skills. Smart, right? The better we can do our jobs, the more our clients will benefit and the more our company will profit.

Because we're a company that cares about continual personal and professional growth (it's been grafted into our DNA), and we're a HubSpot Partner Agency, it makes sense that HubSpot certifications have a top spot in our improvement plan.

While everyone on our team is required to take the Inbound Marketing and HubSpot Software classes, as a content strategist and writer, I also chose to take the Content Marketing and Email Marketing classes.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

This post highlights some of the things I learned from the Email Marketing course and a few things I gleaned from experience. The HubSpot team covers a lot within the course—so, be warned—my notes only scratch the surface.

Whether or not you use HubSpot, these email marketing insights will likely be helpful to you. If you send business emails, create email campaigns, or send e-blasts, you'll find something worthwhile in this post.

High-Performing Emails

Emails are a part of business. There's no way around it. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you craft your next email and before you hit send.

Components

The components of an email that most impact whether or not people will open your email are the subject line, sender name, and preview text.

What makes them want to read and interact with it are:

  • Short paragraphs
  • Bullet points
  • At least one image
  • Appropriate and actionable call-to-action (CTA)
  • At least one clickable element above the fold (image, link, CTA)
  • Social sharing links

A high-performing email has all of these components.

Images & video

While plain-text emails have outperformed HTML emails in some the A/B tests done by HubSpot, images still play a crucial role in attracting a viewer’s attention and assisting your copy.

Many email platforms block images—including CTA buttons—by default. That means a good chunk of your audience may not see your beautiful, optimized CTA. So, be sure to add alt text and links to all of your ALL images. When you set an image's alt text, you let recipients who can't view images in their email know exactly where to click to complete the action.

Also by default, most email platforms don't allow the ability to view rich media like Flash or video embeds. So, instead of placing a video in your email, use an image of your video player with a play button that links to the rich media on a website page.

Bounce types

There are two kinds of bounces to track: hard and soft.

Soft bounces are the result of a temporary problem with a valid email address, such as a full inbox or a problem with the recipient’s server. The recipient’s server may hold these emails for delivery once the problem clears up. If you want, you can try resending your email message to soft bounces.

Hard bounces are the result of an invalid, closed, or non-existent email address. These emails will never be successfully delivered. You should immediately remove hard bounce addresses from your email list because internet service providers (ISPs) use bounce rates as one of the key factors to determine an email sender’s reputation. Having too many hard bounces can make your company look like a spam agent.

Graymail

Sending emails to people who aren't engaged (graymail) can hurt the deliverability of your email overall. Email platforms get tipped off by low engagement rates and will often deliver email from known graymail senders straight to recipient's "junk" folder—meaning your emails will technically get sent and delivered, but won't necessarily be seen.

Metrics

Focus on optimizing click-through instead of open rates. The fact of the matter is that open rate is actually a very misleading metric because an email is counted as "opened" if it's opened and embedded images are received. A large percentage of your email users likely have image-blocking enabled on their email which means that even if they do open the email, they won’t be included in your open rate, making it an inaccurate and unreliable metric for marketers.

The unsubscribe rate isn’t a reliable picture of the health of your email list either. Many subscribers who are tired of receiving your email messages don't bother to go through the formal unsubscribe process. They just stop opening, reading, and clicking on them.

While it's great to measure recipient engagement through click-through rates, it's equally important to measure conversion rates.

Email Deliverability

Deliverability refers to where your email will end up once it's accepted. In other words, will it go to the inbox, spam folder, or another folder?


Deliverability consists of three parts—identification, reputation, and content—according to HubSpot:

Identification: This is the set of protocols that prove you are who you say you are when you send an email, such as Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), and Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC). Each of these terms functions like your passport, license, or background check.

Reputation:
 Your sender reputation is essentially a score that signals how trustworthy you are. Each organization and ISP might have different scores for you. Generating positive subscriber behavior, like engaging with your email or marking you as a trusted sender, is the best way to boost your sender reputation—which you can do by sending relevant and personalized emails to your subscribers.

Content:
 Is your message appropriate for your audience? Is it relevant? Using excessive exclamation points, weird formatting, and URL shorteners can all impact your email's deliverability based on your previous sending patterns.

CAN-SPAM compliance

In order to be CAN-SPAM compliant, it's important your email messages follow these rules.

  1. Emails must include a valid physical postal address.

  2. Emails should present a clear and obvious way for recipients to opt out (i.e., unsubscribe link).

  3. Emails should have an identifiable "From," "To," and "Reply to" that accurately reflects who you are.

  4. Emails cannot be sent to bought or transferred lists. It's illegal.

Pretty easy, right?

Final Thoughts

Everyone should know by now that how an email adapts itself to the device on which it's viewed matters—it should look and function as good on a smartphone as it does on a large monitor.

Since 48% of emails are opened on mobile devices, and 69% of mobile users delete emails that aren't optimized for mobile, it's clear that responsive design is vital. So, if you're not on board yet, it's time!

Lastly, we're in the process of discovering the power of Seventh Sense. It's the secret sauce software that knows when to send emails to recipients. It reads their patterns and deploys emails based on the recipient's habits. In theory, Seventh Sense allows you to reach your audience at the right time, every time. Once we've mastered the Seventh Sense software, we'll post an update—so stayed tuned.

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Topics: Email Marketing Practical Tips Content Marketing