To maximize your email investment, you need high deliverability. But getting there can feel like a major challenge. The truth is, you can get there and our team of deliverability strategists are here to help. We’ve compiled this series of deliverability tips for email marketers and today we’ll break down the first three of our nine pointers!

1) Have a clear signup/opt-in process

The best way to ensure you have a good mailing list is to properly collect your subscriber information right from the beginning. Acquire smartly by requiring email active opt-in, with no pre-populated opt-in boxes or hiding of automatic opt-in language in the small print of “Accept Terms and Conditions.” Be sure your soon-to-be subscribers want to sign-up and know that they have done so. It is best to grow your list organically, definitely not purchasing or renting email lists. As the addresses are acquired, make sure they are verified to avoid missing out on potential customers. 

2) Send a welcome message/series

Once you have added new subscribers to your list, the best practice for recipient validation is to send confirmation/welcome emails soon after sign-up. When setting up your sign-up form to collect interested new subscribers to your email program, keep a few key components in mind to ensure you are sending content they want to see and avoid future opt-outs. Ask for relevant information like first name, birthday, what kind of content they want to see if there are various options, maybe even ask them how often they want to receive emails (daily, weekly, monthly?). The more data you’re able to collect from a subscriber, the better you’ll be able to segment and target what’s relevant to them.

Additionally, another best practice when collecting quality subscribers is implementing quality assurance checks to ensure they want to receive your content. Implement a reCaptcha on your sign-up form to avoid invalid and bot addresses from the very beginning. Also avoid purchasing or renting lists from 3rd parties as this could lead to high spam complaints, opt-outs, and more harmful deliverability issues such as blocklisting.

A new subscriber has just signed up for your email program, Hooray! Now what? Don’t wait to send that welcome message out, time and time again welcome messages come hours or even days later. That subscriber might be left confused as to whether they successfully signed up for your email program. They are telling you they want your content; you should send that first welcome to a new subscriber shortly after sign-up.

Now that they have gotten their first welcome email, think about setting up further automated communication that takes the subscriber on a journey educating them about your brand. Here are some examples of email content to include:

  • educate on who you are, what your brand does, as well as what kind of content they can expect from you
  • encourage engagement through other channels 
  • personalize your content if you have available data
  • share an offer that drives them back to your site

3) Know the difference between delivery and deliverability

Deliverability seems straightforward. If you send 1,000 emails, and the email server’s log files say 900 of those were accepted by receiving systems, then your deliverability is 90%. Simple, right? Actually, no. What that figure represents is really the message acceptance rate. That’s because all the server knows is that the receiving system accepted the message, but not what happened after that. Did it land in the inbox or the spam folder? The sender doesn’t know, because in both cases, the transaction is logged as successful. This ambiguity is why simple server-side measures of message acceptance are inadequate and misleading. In addition to messages getting delivered, you also need to pay attention to the inbox placement results, because that’s really the only place where a recipient is actually going to see the email.

We hope these first three tips make better email deliverability feel within your reach. Check out our next post where we’ll break down three more deliverability tips for email marketers. Make sure your messages land in the inbox!

~ SparkPost Deliverability experts, Scot Berggren, Hanna Cabanellas, Tracey Crawford and Doug Turetzky

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