DTC 360: Email Deliverability

💌 Check your rep’

Email strategies are a staple for every DTC business. 📧

Electronic mail offers a direct line of communication to your audience, provides a fully-customizable showcase of your products, and, when executed well, significantly improves the credibility of your brand. 

And with many DTC brands not having a physical presence to speak with consumers IRL, email becomes an even more important tool to get your voice heard. 📣

Unfortunately, many consumers miss out on email content because their favorite brands overlook the importance of sender reputation

We’ve got the scoop on why a positive sender reputation is essential for any DTC brand, what email service providers (ESPs) are looking for to identify credible email addresses, and how to get people to actually open the email once they’ve received it. 

It’s time to take notes, folks! 👇

🤔 Wait, what’s that?

Sender reputation is your email address’s level of credibility among the major email service providers (ESPs), including Gmail, Outlook, and iCloud. 

Your reputation dictates whether your messages are flagged as spam by ESPs or go straight to your audience’s inbox. 

A positive sender reputation ensures your emails reach your customers without a hitch. 

A negative sender reputation has the potential to significantly hinder the process of communicating with your customers in a reliable, direct, and meaningful way.

💪 Quality over quantity

Assemble a permission-based email list to build up your sender reputation.

Ensure there’s some value in every post on socials and blogs so that the consumer wants to subscribe for more content rather than having to push your content on them. 💡

When people choose to opt-in to your email list, it means they are interested in what you have to say, increasing the likelihood that they will engage with your content. 

Engagement will only build that sweet sender rep’. 😎

💰 Healthy solutions only

Don’t force customers into supplying an email, like requiring an account to complete their purchase. You’ll never know if they’re genuinely inclined to open future emails. This will lead to reduced engagement and hurt your sender reputation.

Forgo purchasing a pre-built email list, which often contains outdated or invalid addresses. 

If someone on a pre-built list receives your emails, they’re likely to disregard any communication you send them because they don’t know who you are. 

And when people don’t interact with your emails, that doesn’t look good to the almighty ESPs. 👎

✅ Authenticate with acronyms

Take measures to secure and verify your sender address. You’ll improve your sender reputation if ESPs can find and verify each of these credentials. 

While these measures are more complex, ecommerce hosts often provide guides to help you out. Look for ways to implement the:

  • SPF Record (Sender Policy Framework) 

Tell recipients that your message came from a verified IP address.

  • DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) 

Prevent bad actors from impersonating your address.

  • DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) 

Tell recipient inboxes what to do with a message after verification through SPF and DKIM.

Each record serves as another digital seal of approval on your brand’s email address. 🦭

Major ESPs are watching out for consumers by confirming the existence of these records in sender addresses to ensure they’re legitimate. 

Addresses that send spam messages shouldn’t have these unique records associated with them because they’re often unmonitored. 

🏀 Bad bounces

Email bounces occur when a message isn’t delivered to its intended recipient.

Email bounces come in two forms:

Hard bounces occur when a recipient’s email address is invalid or doesn't exist, so your message isn’t delivered to anyone. 

Soft bounces happen when your recipient has a temporary issue, like a full inbox.

Larger brands often maintain and update a list of email addresses that bounce messages, known as a “bounce list.”

↘️ Minimizing bounce

ESPs will be taking note of how many bounces your address produces. Producing too many bounces implies that your address isn’t regularly monitored and harms your sender reputation. 

Remove recipients that produce a hard bounce and investigate issues that result in a soft bounce. 🕵️ Compile each of the bounced addresses on a list to start building your own bounce list. 

There’s no way to fully prevent bounces; however, you can prevent repeated bounces by implementing a few of these strategies:

  • Double opt-in: Confirm the recipient is providing a valid address and consents to receiving your content.
  • Segment your list: Provide more engaging content to smaller audiences that accurately reflect their specific interest in your brand.
  • A/B tests: Provide insight into what copy and creatives connect with your audience.
  • Avoid trigger words: Check out this list of known spam triggers. Using these words or excessive capitalization with misleading subject lines will only harm your sender rep’.
  • Remove hard bounces: Addresses that produce hard bounces aren’t valid.
  • Investigate soft bounces: Send messages to these addresses that encourage a reply and confirm that your recipient provided a valid email address. Remove the address if you don’t receive a response to avoid another bounce. 

🖥️ Keep it clickable

Keep your subscribers engaged and clicking on your emails to prove your messages are wanted. This does wonders for your sender reputation! 🌈

Craft a compelling subject line and preview text by: 

  • Asking questions
  • Using emojis
  • Keeping the tone personable 

All of these strategies should lead to more clicks, higher engagement levels, and a better sender rep’.

Clickable subject lines are so important because it’s the one chance you have to get consumers to open your email. 

The subject line is the gateway to all of the content you’ve poured into your email. 

Without getting people to open your email and click on your CTAs, your engagement is going to plummet, and your sender rep is going to tank. 😞 

🚶 One step at a time

Email segmentation is a process that separates your subscriber list into smaller groups with unique identifiers. These identifiers can range from mobile-users to more specific traits like people who’ve subscribed within the last month.

Segmenting your audience can help you craft more clickable and engaging content because you can tailor email copy to address that specific segment. 

This means your email contains more value for that one group which further entices a click on your email and CTA.

Segmenting your email list to provide more tailored content for smaller audiences should result in higher engagement levels and an improved sender reputation. 

If you’re ready to try segmenting your email list, check out this extensive list of segmentation methods from Hubspot.

📝 Test, test, test

Use email testing software to check for issues like broken links, image rendering, and formatting across various screen sizes (including light and dark modes!) 🌝🌚

This is especially true before sending large campaigns with a much higher potential to damage your sender reputation. These are often sent to a wide range of devices, screen sizes, email providers, operating systems, and customer segments. It becomes very difficult to optimize the experience for everyone. 

A less optimized viewing experience may not have an immediate effect on your open rate, but if your email isn’t visible in dark mode and looks like a child’s failed jigsaw puzzle on mobile, you can anticipate that consumers will unsubscribe, or worse, ignore your future emails!   

Software is available to test your email format against different devices, email clients, and spam filters to ensure the best viewing experience for your subscribers to drive that engagement skyward. 🤩

💔 Clean break

Breakups are never easy, but you’ve gotta bite the bullet and curate a simple “unsubscribe” flow for recipients—for various legal reasons and to clean up your list organically.

If someone no longer wishes to receive your emails, send them a thank you message for subscribing in the first place and offer them an incentive to engage with your brand down the road. 

This could be a discount on their current subscription before they leave or a discount code to use with a future order. 💸

Place an unsubscribe button at the bottom of your emails or if users need to request this action, honor their request ASAP.

🤗 Be nice to the messenger

Sender reputation is crucial to your brand's growth and your email content's distribution. So follow the above tips to get your ESPs happy, your audience engaged, and your sender reputation unstoppable. 📧

Have you considered your sender reputation before? How did you address the obstacles your brand faced to a more positive reputation? Let us know with a reply!

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