Email deliverability is the foundation of all successful email marketing campaigns – without reaching the recipients inbox our chance for a successful campaign is near zero. Ignoring deliverability best practices means you are, best case, wasting a valuable marketing opportunity, worst case, heading towards getting your email domain blacklisted, ruling out email marketing as a viable marketing strategy for years to come.
So don’t just spend time tweaking your subject lines, segmenting your list and designing beautiful emails, be sure to spend some time making sure stay out of the SPAM filter. Below is a list of 5 things you can do to increase your deliverability rate.
Clean Your List
The list of emails that you are sitting on, be it from prior guests or bought from a data provider, will be made up of data of varying ages and sources. You’d be surprised how frequently guests use dummy emails, use work emails and how frequently OTAs pass on incomplete data so its vital that we validate all of the emails on our list to ensure we aren’t including email addresses that are no longer active in our campaigns. The major email providers like Gmail and Outlook monitor the number of times you target invalid email addresses and use it to identify mailboxes that are sending spam.
The good news there are dozens of tools out there to help you clean your email list – NeverBounce or ZeroBounce can check 20,000 email addresses for about $100. The tricky news is they require some technical knowledge to use which is why our free tier offers to check up to 10,000 email addresses for free.
Avoid ‘Spammy’ Words
Spam filters also look at the subject line and content of emails to assess whether they are spam – one of the ways they do this is by scanning for words frequently used in spam emails. To avoid getting flagged as spam be sure not to use many words from HubSpot’s Ultimate List of 394 Spam Trigger Words and be careful not to use too much punctuation, bold and italic text. Be especially careful to not make these mistakes in the subject line of your emails.
Easy On The Links, Attachments, Etc
Its commonplace to include brochures, images or links to web pages in an effort to consolidate the message we are looking to convey but this can be risky. Once again, spam filters are trained to look for emails with lots of links, images and attachments and to send them straight to the junk folder. In addition, the average person is now well aware of the risks of computer viruses and malware and have become more sceptical of content from unknown sources as a result. The takeaway here is to focus on establishing a connection with the receiver before including images and attachments and to use links sparingly, better yet ditch attachments and images and stick to using links to direct people to your content.
Give People A Way Out
In the US, companies have been required to include a clear method to stop current and future communications in any marketing communications since the introduction of the CAN-SPAM Act was introduced in 2003. Since then, many other jurisdictions have introduced similar consumer protection laws such as the EU’s GDPR. As a result, its now vital to make sure you include a clear unsubscribe to ensure the small minority who actively don’t want to receive marketing comms don’t have to resort to flagging it as spam. Not only does this protect the quality of our email domain, it helps to refine your list, leaving only those who actively engage and those who are apathetic – or as we like to call them, the yet to be persuaded!
No More Generic Mailshots!
Email marketing best practices have progressed far beyond generic, image-based mailshots with a simple ‘Dear [Name]’ statement at the top. To maximize open rates its vital that emails contain genuine personalization and segmentation whilst maintaining a human voice. This isn’t to say there isn’t plenty of value in beautifully branded mailshots to maintain the position of a hotel’s brand, more to suggest that this alone will not encourage guests to rebook at optimal rates. The good news is that separating our brand and sales campaigns means we can focus on letting each execute on their purpose – brand emails can be more generic, image heavy and oriented towards the brand, whilst our sales emails can focus entirely on personalisation, segmentation and retaining a human voice.
At Weedle, we have seen highest rebooking rates when sending highly personalized emails, at the times that are relevant to each recipients prior booking behaviour, that highly selling points tailored to each buyer profile. For example, highlighting an upgraded playground and the kids club to people who have previously travelled with children. Clearly, doing this with manually would be extremely time consuming! The good news twofold – firstly, even some efforts to personalize and tailor the timing show an improvement in engagement.
Secondly, we built Weedle to use AI to send automated, highly personalized emails with relevant content at just the right time, meaning hotels can now nurture each person on their list in a 1-2-1 fashion whether they have 1,000 or 1,000,000 contacts on their list or whether they have a marketing team of 1 or 1,000. Take a look here at an example of the way that Weedle communicates with your contacts.
Scale Up Over Time
One of the clearest signals that a domain is sending spam is the rate of change in the number of emails it is sending each day. If a domain hasn’t sent a mailshot for the last 4 months and then runs 2 mailshots at the same time, its fairly easy for a spam filter to identify that these are generic, marketing emails. In addition, email marketing tools like MailChimp recommend always staying below certain limits ranging from 500 to 5,000 per day but the truth is it will depend on the size of your list and the traffic your website gets. As a general rule, aim to stay below 5X the number of contacts on your list for each year – so a list of 10,000 contacts should send no more than 50,000 emails each year, not counting your replies.
Regularly Check Your Domain Health
Its simpler than ever to monitor the health of your domain and as we’ve shown above, having a healthy domain is a vital part of email marketing. Tools like MX Toolbox, Google Postmaster Tools or Mail Tester can help you quickly and easily stay on top of any issues and have basic tools that are free to use. If you see your score beginning to decrease, it is well worth seeking out an agency that can help get your domain back to its prior health. These services are cheaper than ever and can have an almost immediate impact.
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