How to Improve Your Marketing Newsletter’s Delivery Rate
A good delivery rate is a pillar of successful email marketing. The only kinds of newsletters that can be opened and read, after all, are ones that reach your customers’ inboxes.
Even the best, most amazing newsletter in the history of mankind can’t be opened if it’s not delivered.
All of your hard work, for nothing.
First, a definition to get us all on the same page: the delivery rate is the percentage of the emails that you sent that reach your contacts’ inboxes.
What can you do to improve a disappointing delivery rate? Quite a lot, actually.
In this post, we’ll explain several different steps you can take to achieve a near-perfect delivery rate for your next online marketing newsletter.
The delivery rate is heavily influenced by reputation. No, not your reputation for making a fantastic summer salad. We’re talking about the reputation you, your company, and/or the domains that you control, have built as reliable senders of email that isn’t junk.
Just like your culinary reputation, your reputation as a sender is built over time and requires that you keep doing a good job. This means sending non-spammy emails that don’t get flagged by spam filters. These kinds of emails are going to have pretty good delivery rates already.
But the great thing is that sending these kinds of emails, with already-good delivery rates, will further build your reputation. A good reputation leads, in turn, to even better delivery rates.
It’s a virtuous cycle: the higher your delivery rates, the better your reputation. The better your reputation, the higher your delivery rates.
Email Sending Architecture
The sending architecture that you use to send your newsletter also plays a key role in your delivery rates. Most email marketing providers will dispatch your newsletters via professional server infrastructure.
This gives you a big advantage compared to your private email client (e.g. Gmail or Hotmail). Bulk email blasts sent from private email accounts are regularly flagged by spam filters, and often end up in junk folders.
If you’re sending your newsletters from your private account, you are probably only achieving a delivery rate between 30 and 50%. That’s…bad.
Professional email marketing software, on the other hand, can achieve delivery rates of over 99%.
Sending newsletters via whitelisted servers is one of the best things you can do to improve your delivery rates. Servers that are whitelisted often bypass spam filters.
Mass email blasts that are sent from your private account, on the other hand, risk ending up on blacklists. Blacklisted email addresses and domains are permanently blocked from email delivery.
Spam filters are a key element in determining your delivery rate. Spam filters pick up on certain characteristics that many spam emails have in common. These characteristics are listed by services like SpamCop.
If you send emails that are flagged as spam by multiple spam filters, you’ll quickly find yourself on a blacklist and will be unable to send any more emails.
When an email is marked by a recipient as spam, it can have very negative consequences for the sender. The higher a sender’s complaint rate, the lower the delivery rates.
The more emails that cannot be delivered due to technical reasons, the more suspicious the sender appears. If a large percentage of newsletters bounce on a regular basis, that can lead to penalties for the sender.
Newsletter software providers are generally required to ban senders who have very high bounce rates. A low bounce rate, on the other hand, is a positive signal for email clients.
1) The first, and most important, step that you should take is to start using a professional newsletter software. This will make your life a whole lot easier, and will make several of the following steps redundant, because all email marketing software providers worth their salt will take care of them for you.
2) If for some reason you don’t want to use a newsletter software, you need to start using specialized server infrastructure for your newsletters. Make sure the servers are whitelisted by organizations like the CSA, ISIPP, SuretyMail, and Return Path. Almost all email marketing software providers offer this service as a matter of course. If you’re unsure, just ask their sales team!
3) Manage your bouncerate. Hard bounces (a permanent delivery failure, often indicating an incorrect email address) should be removed from your mailing list. Sending emails to the wrong address over and over again will harm your reputation, leading to even lower delivery rates.
Soft bounces (a temporary delivery failure, often indicating overfilled inboxes) are less of a danger, but you need to make sure that you don’t have too many of them.
In both instances, a professional email marketing or newsletter software will take care of everything for you. Hard bounces are automatically removed from your list, and you’ll receive notifications about soft bounces that let you take the necessary action.
4) Don’t send spammy emails. Don’t use all-caps in the subject line, or too many exclamation points. Don’t send image-only emails, or an email filled entirely with URLs.
In a nutshell: send emails that look like they came from a rational, thoughtful human being. If you’re sending a newsletter on behalf of your business or organization, this will take care of itself.
If you’ve already tried these tips out for size, and are still unsatisfied with your delivery rates, don’t worry! There’s still hope.
Use these pro-tips to increase your delivery rates even higher:
- Dedicated IPs. Newsletter software services generally send their clients’ emails via shared IPs. This means that your newsletters are being sent via the same IP dispatch infrastructure as other people, meaning that the bad behavior of others could have a negative influence on the reputation of that IP.A dedicated IP, on the other hand, is only used by you and your business. This means that your reputation will never be negatively affected by others’ bad behavior. For businesses with a very high send volume, this can make a lot of sense.Ideally, your newsletter software provider will keep these IPs “pre-warmed”, meaning that the reputation of the IP is already good and you can start sending your emails immediately.
- Sender Signatures. By sending signatures, we mean an authentication process that confirms that you are who you say you are. Emails can be assigned a unique sender identification, which prevents the unauthorized use of your IP or domain by others.The most popular authentication methods are DKIM and Sender ID. These are recognized by most email clients and can immediately lead higher delivery rates.
- DMARC. Another authentication process that’s growing in importance is DMARC. The special feature with DMARC is that the reaction of the recipient, in case the authentication fails, is transmitted back. DMARC is used by, among others, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. It can lead to better delivery rates to inboxes managed by these providers.
- Sender Score. This is a free tool provided by Return Path, and basically rates the reputation of a sender on a scale of 0-100. A score above 91 basically ensures good delivery rates.The sender score can be improved by lowering complaint rates, minimizing bounces, and sending quality emails. Keep in mind that the Sender Score is a rating, and a score of 95 does not automatically guarantee a delivery rate of 95%.
- Set up a Blacklist. If a contact repeatedly reports your emails as spam, you should think about putting him or her on a blacklist. In this way you can avoid spam reports and improve your reputation.
If you’re unsure why your delivery rates are low, or need help improving, you can always contact Newsletter2Go support. Let us help you achieve fantastic delivery rates for your next marketing newsletter!