It’s been over 50 years since the beginning of what would become the digital mail, or email, and it’s probably not going anywhere anytime soon.
One of the oldest pieces of digital infrastructure on the Internet, the email remains the tried-and-true way of sending and receiving both personal and commercial information. With that undying relevance comes the similarly immortal relevance of email marketing.
That’s right, email marketing still matters in 2021. And it probably matters more than ever, as digital marketing techniques took center stage for many industries surviving the pandemic and using emails as one of multiple ways to advertise products and services online amid an e- commerce boom.
But just because email is near ancient (in Internet terms) doesn’t mean you can rely on the same old techniques that might have worked with commercial emails in the 90s and 00s.
Major email providers, including Google, Yahoo, and AOL, have gotten much better at recognizing and flagging spam over the years, protecting consumers from trillions of unwanted messages year after year. Here’s how you set yourself apart from the bots and make the most out of your campaign.
Focus On Quality, Not Quantity
This goes for emails and subscribers alike, but it’s arguably even MORE important for subscribers.
There’s going to be a threshold for how often you can send your subscribers something before they start to get fed up with the rate at which you’re pushing content, sales, or other marketing media, and following your metrics closely to observe jumps and drops in click-through and opening rates can help you figure that out for your audience. But cultivating a quality audience is even more important.
One way of making sure that you’re getting subscribers who are actually likely to care about the content you put out (or the product you sell, or the services you provide) is to make it even more of a privilege to follow your newsletter and receive promos and updates. You can do this via a double opt-in function.
Instead of just typing their email into an annoying pop-up window, and getting a piece of unread mail every day of the week until it eventually lands in spam automatically, giving readers of a post or potential buyers the option to provide their email during checkout for new updates or products, or new blog posts, gives you the ability to send them a confirmation email that requires them to click a link or tick another checkbox on your website to make sure that they’re interested in your marketing campaign.
Remember, you’re not trying to trick people here. Email marketing has legitimate value as one of the easiest ways to update and notify subscribers about new products and content they genuinely care about. But if you try to just get your emails out to as many people as possible, regardless of what they really want, you will eventually end up in the spam folder.
A double opt-in function makes sure that most of the people who sign up for your emails end up opening them, and even clicking through to your website again.
Sanitize Your Database
It’s not enough to cultivate an email list or database of emails that want to read your content or receive your news and marketing. You need to make sure you’re keeping that list updated. Various email marketing tools help you ensure that your emails aren’t being sent out to dead emails anymore, but beyond that, give subscribers the option to opt out of your content (or stop sending it after a certain point) to avoid ending up on a deny list.
Furthermore, it’s really important that this is YOUR email list. What this means is that probably the easiest way to get flagged as spam is to buy email lists or use shared lists. Even worse would be scraping for emails using automated tools. These types of bots and third-party email list sellers are often going to be a sure-fire ticket to the spam folder.
Why bother throwing money out the window? You might not have as big of an email list if you grow it organically, but let’s remember that it’s more important to prioritize quality over quantity, even when working through your list of recipients.
Authenticate Your Sender
Most email marketing tools help you do this and will walk you through the setup (and remind you if you haven’t done it yet). This is important. It’s a clear red flag and a sign of phishing if an email is sending mail from your domain but hasn’t been authenticated through your DNS.
Aside from authenticating your sender, remember to check for real-time address validation (to avoid sending mail to dead emails, which can be a red flag for a lot of email providers).
Obey the Law
Did you know that there are more than a few pieces of user privacy legislation that govern commercial emails targeted towards some of the biggest markets on the planet, including the United States, Canada, and the EU? CAN-SPAM, the GDPR, the CCPA, and the CASL all have clauses dictating what does and doesn’t count as spam, and privacy laws around the globe are booming in general.
While following their guidelines isn’t guaranteed to keep your emails from landing in the spam folder, they can be an additional hurdle to worry about. These are hefty pieces of legislature, but thankfully, there are plenty of articles online giving the quick gist of them, as well as more lengthy breakdowns that avoid pouring over every last detail.
A few tips you can gleam from each of these laws are as follows:
- Make it easy to unsubscribe from your promotional mail.
- Authorize your senders.
- Be transparent about your sending practices.
- Give users control over how their personal data is stored and used by you (and, in turn, by your email marketing). More importantly, give them the clear option to opt out of any user data being stored.
Provide Options and Control
If your website already provides login functionality and allows users to create and adjust their profile, even if it’s just to keep track of their orders, browse personalized suggestions, and cash in promo codes, you can take things a step further by providing mailing preferences in the user settings page.
These could be anything from letting users control how often they receive mail from you, to controlling what kind of mail they want to receive (just product info, general sales, specific discounts, other newsletters and content), and so on.
If you want to make the most out of this feature, be sure to tell your users about it when they’re signing up for your newsletter. Remember, one of the most important factors behind whether or not your content ends up in a spam folder is whether people are bothering to open it. Giving them the option to opt out of mail that doesn’t interest them reduces the likelihood of your sender ending up in a deny list.
Email marketing is a world in and of itself, and these are just a few simple tips. But it’s often the fundamentals that count the most.
There’s a lot more to running a successful email campaign: from writing beautiful copy, to keeping your emails light and relevant, personalizing your marketing material automatically, reviewing your email performance metrics, making the relevant adjustments, and more. Get in touch with us if you want to step up your email marketing game.