Email Deliverability: The Best 10-Step Checklist to Get In Primary Inboxes

Email Deliverability: The Best 10-Step Checklist to Get In Primary Inboxes Your open rates are low? Your bounce rates are high? That’s a clear sign that you need to work on your email deliverability. Improving your email deliverability and domain reputation can be a quick yet long-term victory for your marketing efforts. If you are just embarking on this complex voyage, things can seem scary. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s why we compiled a 10-step checklist that will help you improve your email deliverability in almost no time, without the need for additional research. You have everything in one place. Let’s get started!

Email Deliverability: The Best 10-Step Checklist to Get In Primary Inboxes via @CoSchedule

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Claim Your Email Deliverability Optimization Templates

Before you go any further, these templates will help you apply this post to your work and get started improving your email deliverability right away.

Email Delivery vs Email Deliverability – What’s the Difference?

Email Delivery is the metric that tells you how many of your emails are “accepted” by your recipients’ server. In a nutshell, it’s a metric from 0-100% that tells you how many people received your email. Email Delivery Rate of, for example, 98% means that your email was received by 98% of the people inside your list. Deliverability rate measured email deliverability rate example But the problem is, you don’t know how many of those emails landed in the primary inbox, promotions tab, features tab, or the spam folder. That’s where the Deliverability Rate comes into the game. Deliverability rate (also known as inbox placement), tells you how many of your emails reached your recipients’ inbox and tabs (without the spam folder). What is deliverability rate? But (there’s another but), this metric is almost impossible to track. So we can never know for sure how many of our emails landed in the inbox or, for example, the promotions tab. Fortunately, there are some best tips and practices that you can use to ensure that your deliverability rate is as high as possible. And we cover that in our step-by-step checklist below. So, let’s start improving your email deliverability.

Audit Your Current Situation (Figure Out the Good and the Bad)

Auditing your current situation is the first step towards improving your overall email deliverability rate.

#1 – Check if You’ve Been Blacklisted

To check if your domain is already blacklisted by some of the major email providers and servers, you can go to MXtoolbox, type down your domain address, and check the current status: SuperTool Email deliverability metrics Another way to check this is by using Google Transparency Report. Google transparency report

What to do if your domain has been blacklisted?

Unfortunately, other than following this checklist to ensure improvement of your email deliverability, there’s not much you can do. The best option is to directly ask reputable authorities that blacklisted your domain. But if that doesn’t work, as mentioned, following these best practices will get you out of the blacklist zone over time.

#2 – Audit the Quality of Your IP Address

The quality of your IP address is another important factor when it comes to your email deliverability. There are many IP quality checkers on the web. To find one, just type IP quality test, and test your IP with websites. Straightforward, right? Email fraud score

#3 – Analyze Your Current Email Statistics for Better Insights

What do your current email marketing statistics look like? If your open rates are high, i.e. 60-70%, then it probably means that your email deliverability rate is great. So there’s pretty much nothing to fix. If your open rates are very low, i.e. 5-20%, then it’s a clear signal that you either:
  • Have bad email deliverability
  • Your subject line isn’t engaging enough
  • You have a low-quality list
How to calculate email deliverability metrics Understanding these metrics will, if your email deliverability is bad, help you do a better job later while improving it.

Set Up the Technical Configuration

Although this part might sound a little bit boring, it’s definitely an important one. Making sure your technical configurations are set up correctly will help you get better email deliverability with less headache later on. Important technical configurations for email marketing

#4 – Set Up Your SPF

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an email authentication method used to prevent spammers from sending messages on behalf of your domain. Setting up your SPF tells recipients and their servers how trustworthy your domain is. You can find more on how to set up your SPF here. It’s quite easy.

#5 – Set Up Your DMARC

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) is another email authentication protocol that helps you protect your domain from spoofing (changing your servers’ sender name so it looks like the email is sent from another sender or domain). You can find more on how to set up your DMARC here.

#6 – Set Up Your DKIM

Domain Keys Identified Mail allows the receiver to check if the email received corresponds with the domain address. This is a unique signature encrypted in the message, but it is not visible to the end-user. This DKIM signature will ensure email deliverability, especially if it is combined with SPF and DKIM (which we mentioned above). You can find more on how to set up your DKIM here.

#7 – Set Up Your Custom Tracking Domain

This is one of the easiest set-ups to perform to ensure email deliverability. By doing this, your domain will establish its own reputation with email recipients without the assistance of SalesHandy (a click tracking app). To learn how to set up custom domain tracking, click here.

#8 – Set Up Your Profile

To increase email deliverability, it is important to use a real email address, real name, and images. You can create an account with email sending services such as Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc. This will assure receivers that your emails aren’t spam.

#9 – Warm-Up Your Email Address

This manual process is important to get authenticated by email providers such as Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, iCloud, Godaddy, Zoho, Aol, Exchange, and Yandex. The easiest way to warm up an email list is to ask your existing contacts (friends and family) to open the email you are sending. This proves that your emails are sent on consent instead of spamming someone's inbox. Additionally, subject lines should be more personalized; for example, “Mike, check out these hand-picked looks” Just like an email your colleague would send to you, emails you send to customers should be contextual, relevant and personalized. This way, the chances of your emails getting marked as spam are lower (the average open rate for emails with personalized subject lines is 21.2%) than non-personalized subject lines (14.1%) according to Invespcro. Average open rates by subject line type Mailing services have sophisticated engines to recognize spam email, overuse of links, images, and triggering words (will cover in detail later) will direct your email to the promotions tab, or worse, spam. Email marketing platforms are creating templates that limit the number of links, videos and images for these exact reasons.

#10 – Email Personalization

Creating a high-quality email list is easier than it seems. You will need to make small improvements that will pay off big time. A/B test subject lines - Each subject line has to have its purpose — a customer or prospect should immediately know what your email is about. The more data you collect on your prospect, the better your chances to specify subject lines and content and logically increase open rates. Depending on your industry, audience, products, etc., subject lines could even include emojis to sound more approachable. When you think you have a great subject line for your use case, it is time to test it. A/B testing will help you determine which subject line will resonate better with your audience. To perform this test, write a couple of subject lines, select recipients, and send messages. The goal is to compare which subject line performs better and proceed with it in your next campaign. A/B test subject lines As far as the email body goes, any unique contextual insights included will go a long way. To set triggers and track behavior (mouse movement, links clicked, purchases made, etc.) it is best to join an email marketing platform that comes with built-in behavior trackers. Most email marketing platforms feature either free trials or free plans, which is a good way to test these features. Just like subject lines invite the audience to open the email, the content itself should contain valuable information that your contacts relate to and are interested in. If you are welcoming a new subscriber, invite them to browse your website, offer a special discount for the first purchase or simply point them in the direction of your preference. Here is an example of an email that offers value in the body. Alitalia quality email In this example, the email body is used to invite a customer to complete a survey, join a specified program to earn flying miles, and to check out the best offers for various destinations. Links included should be shortcuts to specific content; in this case, best offers, surveys, and a way to earn free miles are relevant to the customer who decided to fly with a specific airline. Perfect timing to send emails is equally important as the content. For example, thank you emails are commonly sent within a couple of minutes after someone clicked a subscribe button, filled a form, purchased your products, attended a webinar, etc. Geo-location will help you perfectly time emails and ensure that your recipients don't get notified in the middle of the night. Email templates are designed emails featured in email marketing tools. These are simple ways to optimize and personalize emails by simply drag-and-dropping images, content, logos, etc. Email marketing templates Here are some other best practices to include in your emails:

Include Videos

Videos in email marketing If possible, create and include videos in the email body, especially if you’re trying to show how something is done.

Create a Popup With a Special Surprise

Popup in emails If possible, offer free gifts, products, discounts, or anything of value.

Schedule Your Emails

Schedule emails Invite your audience to check their emails at the scheduled times, days, or months to uncover new products or services. It all comes down to knowing your recipients. The more data you collect, the better automation and content you can feature.

Quick Bonus Tips and Conclusion

  • Don't use complicated HTML. This will take a lot of your time. It can get messy and not compatible with different devices. Most email marketing tools provide pre-built templates, but there's always an option to create your own, so it's better to stick with pre-made options.
  • Don't use fancy signatures. Unless a fancy signature is your brand's recognizable mark, using fancy signatures can be off-putting and too much.
  • Email content that passes spam filters. To avoid spam filters, email people that gave you permission and always use a real reply-to address. If possible, set your business domain and use segmentation to avoid unnecessary messaging to contacts that are not relatable to your specific email.
  • Pay extra attention to email content. Subscribers will notice changes in your email content, and potential subscribers might be overwhelmed by a mixture of styles. Consistency in writing style, topics and quality of the content plays a key role in the recognizability of your brand.
  • Maintain consistency in email sending. Your subscribers will expect your daily, weekly, or monthly emails depending on your email strategy. To set sending automations and stick with schedule, email marketing platforms can be a smart investment to help you avoid manual micromanagement.
  • Keep up with the volume of emails sent. A subscriber or contact should only receive emails they approved or consented to via signup or subscribe forms. List segmentation plays a key role in the process of tagging and scheduling emails to specific contacts at specified time frames.
Email marketing is a must for all businesses, but it is getting harder to deliver emails into primary inbox due to leading mailing platforms’ engine checks. Email marketing platforms provide automations, list segmentation, and pre-built pathways to help your business automate all processes. Some platforms feature free plans and free trials, so it might be a better solution to join some of them. Otherwise, manual adjustments and plugins for leading email sending services will take a lot of time to set up and require micromanagement. Regardless of your definitive choice, this checklist applies to all emails you will send and will help you improve your deliverability rate. Now go be the email marketing boss you were born to be!
About the Author

Michal Leszczynski is immersed in developing, implementing, and coordinating all manner of content marketing projects as the Head of Content Marketing and Partnerships at GetResponse. He has 9-plus years of expertise in online marketing with a Master of Science Degree in Strategic Marketing and Consulting from the University of Birmingham (UK).