Are Your Emails Making It to the Inbox?

As an email marketer, you’re probably tracking all sorts of engagement metrics for your campaigns—from new subscriptions, to open and click-through rates, to the dreaded unsubscribe numbers. All of this gives you valuable data you can use to fine-tune your marketing strategies. Are Your Emails Making It to the Inbox

But how much do you know about your deliverability?

Deliverability is a key factor in successful email marketing. If your emails aren’t hitting inboxes, the chances of them being read are zero. So what should you pay attention to, and how can deliverability metrics make a positive impact on your campaigns?

Here are a few factors to consider about deliverability.

The two types of bounces

When an email bounces—gets send out, and then returned with a message saying it’s undeliverable—there could be a number of reasons for this. The most important thing to know is that there are two types of bounces: hard bounces, and soft bounces.

In general, hard bounces are permanent errors and those emails shouldn’t be retried, while soft bounces are temporary and may be resent. To complicate things further, this isn’t always the case—because different ISPs handle bounced messages in different ways.

However, you can usually differentiate by looking at the undeliverable message. Here’s what to look for:

  1. 4xx: If an undeliverable message begins with a 4xx explanation, it’s usually considered a soft or “transient” bounce. This means you can keep the address on your list, and try to deliver again at a later date.
  2. 5xx: Undelivered messages with this code that contain references to a “permanent failure” are hard bounces. This often means the email address was misspelled, or the account has been deleted. These messages should not be redelivered—it’s not only unlikely to succeed, but resending hard-bounce emails can damage your reputation as a sender.

Spam complaints

For marketers, spam is a four-letter word in every sense. Even a few spam complaints sent to your ISP can hurt your sender reputation, consign your messages to the bulk folder, or even delay or block delivery of your emails.

There are a lot of reasons people might click the spam button on your message. They may have forgotten that they subscribed, or not recognized your brand, or simply decided they didn’t want to receive any more emails. Most of the time, spam complaints aren’t malicious—but that doesn’t make them any less damaging to you.

How can you combat this?

  • First, make sure you review the spam complaint rates provided by your ISP on a daily basis. Most major ISPs provide this information, including Windows Hotmail/Outlook, Yahoo, and AOL. Gmail has recently introduced a feedback loop for marketers that offers several metrics, including spam complaints.
  • Second, make sure your unsubscribe link is clear and easy to find in all of your emails. Users will often click the spam button out of frustration, because they can’t find the unsubscribe button. You might also want to include a note asking readers not to mark your message as spam, and directing them to your unsubscribe link if they’d like to stop receiving messages.

If you’re not already tracking your deliverability success, starting now can help you refine your email marketing strategy further, and realize improved results.


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