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Part 3 of 5: Get To The Consumer's Inbox- Email Deliverability.

March 16, 2017


Now that we have learned what Email Marketing Lifecycle is and how to create a High-Performing Email, let’s see what happened after you hit the Send button.


In order for email marketing to be effective, the emails have to get delivered. The email delivery platform Sendgrid indicates that 21 % of opt-in emails never make it to the inbox.

In this third part of our blog series on How To Become Successful With Email Marketing, I will walk you through the steps that you need to follow to make it to the consumer inbox. This is what we call email deliverability.


According to HubSpot, deliverability is the measurement and understanding of how successful a sender is at getting their marketing message into people’s inboxes. In other words how to make sure your email is well received by your recipient.


There are two sets of tactics, both equally important:




Pre-send strategy


Once your email template is up and running, you should follow the rules below before hitting the Send button.


1- Email source


Where does this email come from? How people actually got onto your lists? What is their source?


A clean, well-managed subscriber list can be your best asset, whereas “dirty” lists with out-of-date information are a leading cause of deliverability failures and are sure to damage your sending reputation.


There is no better way to ensure consistent deliverability success than by regularly cleaning your list of hard bounces, unknown users, and other inactive addresses.


One more tip: never ever buy lists. If people are not engaged with your brand, don’t send them emails.


2- Permission


Did someone at your company ask the person you are about to email for permission?


People don’t like surprises. If they didn’t allow you to send them an email, you should avoid sending any communication.


For those who allowed you (opt-in), make sure they can update their preferences easily by choosing what updates they’d like to receive and how often they would like to receive them. Sending too much email to your users can drive high unsubscribe and/or complaint rates.


3- Expectation


Do the people on your list expect you to email them?


Set clear expectations from the beginning with a Welcome Email. That’s an opportunity to engage with subscribers and to start the relationship off on the right foot.


One great example is Michaels:



This is a valuable example because it’s an easy blueprint to follow. This is an email triggered off of a new newsletter subscriber, so it’s expected and provides some helpful information.


4- Follow the law


Be sure to comply with federal CAN-SPAM (US) and CASL (Canada) Acts. They are geared towards marketing email (with transactional email technically being exempt), but I advise that senders follow its regulations regardless of what type of email they send.


Post-send strategy


Now that you are comfortable with your list source, got the permission from your recipients to email them and set clear expectations, it’s time to hit the Send button.


Once it’s done how would you measure your deliverability? How engaging are your emails? Why subscribers go?


Check your engagement and contact churn metrics.


Engagement metrics


You need to check three main metrics: 


1- Open rate


Open rate is a measure of how many people on an email list open a particular email campaign. The recipient took action and opened your email (the target audience, subject line and preview text were to the point). Average open rate in the Ecommerce industry is 16.75% (Source: MailChimp). It means that of every 10 emails delivered to the inbox, 1.675 were actually opened. 


2- Click Through Rate (CTR) 


CTR is the ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view an email. It is the proof that your email motivated your recipient enough to actually do something (click on a CTA, an image, a video link, etc). Average CTR in the Ecommerce industry is 2.32%. (Source: MailChimp).


3- Replies


You received direct feedback from the recipient.


Contact churn metrics


Now let’s dig into why subscribers go. Contact churn is the measure of the contacts that you lose as a result of a send. 


There are four main ways you lose contacts: 


1- Opt-out or unsubscribe: 


Your recipient unsubscribed from your mailing list. Someone is telling you that your content didn’t meet their needs, or that your message in some way missed the mark. That is the best way to go down because you know that something failed. Average unsubscribe rates are around 0.3%. (Source: Sendgrid).


2- Bounces


Bounces occur when an email can't be delivered to the recipient's mail server. There are different types of bounces that depend on the reason the email bounced. Most common type of bounces:


Recipient bounce (hard bounce)


A hard bounce indicates a permanent reason an email cannot be delivered. Below are some common reasons this could happen.

. Recipient email address was valid at one point, but no longer exists.
. Domain name does not exist.
. Recipient email server has completely blocked delivery.


Content bounce (hard bounce)


The mail server, anti-spam service, or software noticed something wrong in your email. Below are some examples: 

. They didn’t like something you linked to. 
. Your email copy was loaded with spelling errors. 
. You didn’t have enough actual text content in the email. 
. Your email copy looks like content that people have previously marked as spam.


Reputation bounce


Something happened between you and the recipient’s mailbox. Some system made a judgment call based on your reputation and refused to deliver the message. It can be your company’s domain, the IP address that you are sending from, the reputation of the Email Service Provider (ESP), or anything related to your message including URL.


Temporary failure (soft bounce)


Soft bounces typically indicate a temporary delivery issue to an address. While there are many reasons an email address may soft bounce, below are some common reasons this could happen: 

. Mailbox is full.
. Recipient email server is down or offline.
. Email message is too large.


3- Spam 


You made it to the inbox, but your recipients marked you as spam. They dislike you a lot. Your reputation will suffer as you will stop getting into the inbox. Getting marked as spam will impact your ability to send emails to people who love them.


4- Direct complaints


The recipients forward your email to the of your ESP. High complaint rates not only ruin your sending reputation but also impact your delivery.


Now that we have learned how to get to the recipient’s inbox, let’s see how to measure success.


Stay tuned next week for Part 4 of 5: Measuring Success.

Blog Series: How To Become Successful With Email Marketing - Introduction.

Part 1: Customer Lifecycle And Email Marketing.

Part 2: Components Of A High-Performing Email.

✓ Part 3: Get To The Consumer's Inbox - Email Deliverability.

Part 4: Measuring Success.

Part 5: Optimizing & Testing.


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