(Debunked) 5 Email Deliverability Myths That Survived for Years
There are a lot of myths in the email marketing industry. Issues over email deliverability being one of the major ones. In this week's podcast, we tune in with Laura Atkins, one of the most well-known thought leaders in the email industry with over 2 decades of experience.
Dennis Dayman, our host for ForTheLoveOfEmails Podcast series along with Laura to debunk some of the misconceptions in terms of email deliverability.
Today we'll discuss how some of the following elements of email campaigns relate to the deliverability of emails.
- Higher Unsubscribes
- Including "Spammy" words
- Campaign Design
- Noreply@domain as the sender email
- Authentication records like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC
We'll also discuss the 250 code and finally, end the conversion with an interesting discussion.
About Laura Atkins
Laura Atkins has been working in the email and email deliverability industry since 2000.
In 2001 she co-founded Word to the Wise, a boutique consulting firm that focuses on creating specific and personalized email delivery strategies for clients.
Spam filters are continually evolving to address new threats. Laura helps legitimate companies work within that filtering framework to communicate with customers effectively and have better reach.
Email Deliverability Myths That Need Addressing
Being an email expert working with clients to address deliverability issues, Laura has seen all the myths that revolve around email deliverability and inboxing issues.
Deliverability is really about how you're interacting with those subscribers. You have to pay attention to what they want
So let's get down to busting some of the common myths that surround email deliverability even today. Dennis asks Laura to cite all the myths that she has seen surface commonly during her client interactions.
And this post here, is a brief summary of her years of knowledge summed up in the shortest possible manner.
1. High unsubscribes can lead to low email deliverability
Laura mentions that this is just one of those myths that's kind of been going on and on. Higher unsubscribe rates will not affect the deliverability of any emails that you send out to those who are subscribed to you.
Higher unsubscribes will only lower the size of your list and it doesn't affect the deliverability of your emails. It's about the conversation and the relationship that you as a sender have with your subscribers and how you are interacting with one another.
Certainly, as providers and as senders, we can use the unsubscribe metric as a way to better understand how our subscribers think we're doing, and do they want to continue receiving the mail? But if they say they don't, then you have to let him go.
2. Certain words in the subject line trigger spam filters
Having a few "trigger" words in the subject line no longer affect email deliverability. Back when spam filtering became a necessity, mailbox service providers worked with whatever tools they had to ensure the least amount of spam hit the user inboxes.
Spam filtering wasn't sophisticated and needed a fixed set of rules to drop only good emails in the inbox.
However, since then, the algorithms have gained a tremendous amount of complexity and sophistication. These algorithms no longer filter based on a word here and there in your subject line.
These algorithms learn based on the past spam email behavior to automatically block anything that looks like spam. And because these algorithms are ever-evolving, there's no fixed set of rules to say that doing one thing will lead you into the spam folder, while doing another will get you to inbox.
The fundamentals of avoiding the spam folder continue to remain the same.
3. Bad campaign design can negatively impact email deliverability
Bad content in campaigns can affect deliverability. But not in the way that it's described.
The thing to remember is that when we're talking about content, we're also talking about the relationship between you and your subscribers. The general understanding here is that with business ISPs, things can be very different.
But if we're talking to the consumer ISP, what they're looking for is an indication that the recipient wants that message and that that recipient is happy to receive it and is thrilled to get it in their inbox.
So your reputation is how your recipients react to a particular message.
If your recipients tend to want that mail, the mailbox service provider is going to deliver that well.
But for instance - if you're using a freely available tool to generate content along with other spammers send 50 million emails a day, then that content and that kind of underlying structure of the message is going to be seen more often in spam than not spam.
That could hurt email deliverability. But overall it's about the identity of who are you as a brand and is your email wanted.
4. Noreply@domain as sender domain drops email inboxing
For a lot of time now, email marketers have considered the fact that a noreply sender address will end up lowering their email deliverability.
This is yet another myth. All that a noreply email does is reject any communication coming in from your customers.
And that can affect your brand identity among customers who would love to engage and connect with the brand over email. For brands with millions of subscribers and emails going out on a regular basis, handling email replies is difficult and might even need a team in place for this purpose.
The idea is not to accept and entertain email replies, but to give have an illusion that there's someone listening on the other side.
Brands can avoid using the noreply email as a sender and someone's name instead.
You can use the name of a well-known industry veteran working in your company or simply use a person's name to send out emails.
5. Authentication records like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC can improve deliverability
You can get blocked by major mailbox services if you don't have the authentication records set up correctly. But having them all set up doesn't guarantee email deliverability.
These authentication records help build trust between the mailbox providers and the email senders but don't improve deliverability.
Email frequency and recipient engagement can affect the deliverability of your emails.
As for DMARC, it only adds an additional sign of trust for the mailbox service provider to say "the email is from the email address that it says it's from".
What does the 250 code mean in email deliverability?
An email is considered as "delivered" when the receiving server sends out a 250 code to the sending server.
It's no longer the sending server's responsibility to track the deliverability further.
The 250 code says that "the receiving server has taken control of the email" and the deliverability is now completely decided by the server.
But for you, that's not the end. You can track deliverability with many tools that offer detailed insights in the email performance.
Email deliverability should not be a USP. Once an email service provider goes beyond a certain level of confidence, their emails will be accepted and delivered to the customers.
Some major mailbox service providers like Google don't just use your open and clicks to identify engagement with emails.
Google has a patent on, following your mouse and knowing where your mouse is on the screen, you know, and it strikes me that they're using that data in their emails, and in their reputation system, they know that they. If Google can track it, they will. If they can use the data, they will.
So even though most of the engagement metrics with mailbox providers is a black-box for the outside world, these patents from Google offer insights into what they track and how they do it.
Gmail is potentially tracking user engagement based on the dwell time, and your behavior when the email is open and so it's important for us to create emails that really engage a user and compel them to continue reading through.
And while we're on the topic of Gmail and it's tracking measures, Dennis asked Laura if she knows a way to hit the "Primary" tab in gmail.
Can you influence Gmail to drop your emails in the Primary tab?
Laura says there isn't a way to get an email in the Primary tab consistently. The algorithms developed by Google for classifying emails are being actively worked on.
And with that, any methods that people find within the algorithm are quickly patched.
Fundamentally there doesn't seem to be any way to defeat that.
You know, I can tell you how to get the mail out of the junk folder at Google. I can tell you how to get mail to the junk folder at Microsoft.
I can't tell you how to get mail from the Promotions or whatever tab to the Primary tab.
The algorithms that they use there are a very black box. You can't even really poke it.
And I know people have poked it and I know people have figured out, "Hey, if we take this, you know, if we take for a while, it was, if we take the list, unsubscribe, header out, it won't go to promotions".
And that lasted all of about three days.
So the likelihood of someone figuring out the technique to reach the Primary tab in Gmail, and then also share it with the world is low.
Because if someone does figure out a method, it will be patched by the time a few people start using it.
We hope you enjoyed debunking some of the legends in the email deliverability space. Stay tuned with us for more podcasts and more interesting blogs from some experts in the email marketing space.
To listen to the complete podcast, click here.