The secrets of marketing emails
Reputation is everything, and only reputable domains are heard. Landing in actual inboxes is the key to higher conversions through email campaigns
There's a general consensus that email marketing is more effective than social posting, display advertisement or other forms of digital marketing. Evidence shows that it is all true on two conditions:
- Take care of the technical setup months before starting campaigns
- Properly populate and maintain email lists based on intent, engagement and specific recipient qualifiers
We will focus on part one of the equation and we will post a clear picture of our approach in a few weeks. Stay tuned for part two and please share this post / newsletter with those who might be interested, subscribe to our low-volume emails at the bottom of this page.
Emails are only as good as the domain name that originates them. One common mistake is to register a new domain name specific to a brand or event, and once the basic landing page is there start emailing prospects with a generic email address on that new domain name.
Reputation is everything, and only reputable domains are heard. Mailing servers in fact look in real-time at a number of factors before accepting an email, which includes reputation and meaningful conversation having proved the domain to be a real, company or product domain name.
A reputable domain such as an existing organization domain with an active website and email users using it on a daily basis have little to worry; all it takes is to maintain reputation by not spamming, keeping user access secure, avoid being flagged for sending viruses and malware, and keeping the website updated and free from malware.
New domains have options too.
Reputation can be built in time by starting to regularly use the domain name for sending emails to internal and external email accounts, building a trusted website and taking care of security carefully. It's likely to take months to be commonly accepted, especially in enterprise environments where firewalls and spam filters are set tight to bounce emails from low-reputation domains.
The quickest option is to run a domain warm-up campaign. Services like Mailreach automate the process of being seen by spam filters as an active, real domain in use by connecting to an Outlook or Google company account and automating a ramp-up process that sends and receives properly created email messages for weeks. Once the warm-up period is over, keeping the service going can help fight colding-down and being seen as a marketing domain that's likely to send unsolicited emails.
Most organizations will manage and deploy email marketing campaigns using marketing platforms that provide email delivery through their services. Most of the platforms will rely on an email delivery service that scales infinitely and use a set of sending servers that have specific IP addresses that are warmed up for sending.
All marketing platforms carefully protect their servers reputation as warming up an email server is a long and expensive process, other than wanting to protect the reputation of other customers using their services.
Email sending accounts are therefore monitored for reputation, taking into consideration sending volumes, sending frequency, bounce rates and complaint rates. Some platforms sandbox new sending accounts before it's proven that the intent is legitimate and the email sending activity is correctly performed. Mailgun for instance has been known to sandbox new accounts and allow only a few emails a day to be sent, and limits are removed only after contacting support and explaining the use case.
Sending account reputation is as a result an important factor to monitor and keep in good standing. AWS SES shows clear statistics on the bounce and complaint rates in real-time and what the limits for observation and account termination are.
An account in good standing means no sending throttling, high email deliverability and no risk of having the account suspended for review by the marketing platform.
Technical configuration to achieve high-deliverability rates
Many email marketing platforms allow to send emails immediately after opening the account and rate-limit or review if anything bad happens.
While this approach helps small organizations to get started quickly – without too much understanding of the technical requirements – results in poor email deliverability rates and marketing content to be classified as spam by the most popular email platforms like Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo.
ReachOut app allows email sending only after configuring DKIM and advises on the SPF and DMARC setup to maximize delivery rates and land email in actual inboxes.
For a new domain name to actually deliver emails in most inboxes as reputable content, a proper DNS configuration should be made for DKIM, SPF and DMARC:
DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is an email security standard designed to make sure that an email that claims to have come from a specific domain was indeed authorized by the owner of that domain. It uses public-key cryptography to sign an email with a private key. Recipient servers can then use a public key published to a domain's DNS to verify that parts of the email have not been modified during the transit.
It's normally provided as a set of DNS records to be added to the domain before sending.
Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an email validation standard that's designed to prevent email spoofing. Domain owners use SPF to tell email providers which servers are allowed to send email from their domains.
An SPF record is a TXT record in the DNS indicating what email sending domains are sending on behalf of the sending domain.
Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) is an email authentication protocol that uses Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) to detect email spoofing. In order to comply with DMARC, messages must be authenticated through either SPF or DKIM, or both.
The DNS settings for your domain should include a TXT record that specifies the domain's DMARC settings.
One last item to carefully consider is the email overall quality and its content. Spam prevention scanning bots are trained with AI models to recognize content types and classify them to show emails in the personal inbox, in the updates inbox or even the spam folder.
Once the technical setup is complete and correct, email content and quality should be carefully considered before sending.
Mail Tester is an excellent free service that allows to send a test email to a temporary email address that will result in a score from 0 to 10. The higher the score, the higher the chances to land in the personal inbox for higher visibility. Poor scores risk the email to land in spam folders and not being seen, other than decreasing the domain reputation over time.
Good emails contain a multi-part body with an HTML and a TXT version of the same text message, no errors in the markup, do not contain trigger words like "make money from home" and similar, and are overall well designed and use natural language.
We hope you enjoyed this series on email marketing.
Email marketing can achieve greater conversion rates thanks to carefully targeted content to engaged users. Landing into actual inboxes is the first step to seeing better marketing results.
We will focus on recipient qualification and intent analysis in a future post coming in the next weeks, so make sure to subscribe to our email newsletter to receive further digital marketing advice from us.