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Covid had a big impact on sending emails in 2020 and as businesses adjust to consumer changes post-vaccine rollout in 2021, it’s important to take a moment and assess your email marketing strategy. 

While we understand the need and urgency for marketers to communicate with their audience, it’s also important to be mindful of the impact these emails have not only on your sender reputation, but also the experience of the person receiving them. 

As your trusted email service provider, the deliverability of your emails and protecting your (and our) sender reputation is top priority for us! We’ve listed some key factors to consider before sending your next email.

Permission to send emails is not evergreen

Permission to send emails can expire quickly as people forget where and how they signed up to your email list. This is especially true if you haven’t been in regular email contact with your subscribers in the last 12 months. People who shopped, dined, interacted with you 1-5 years ago are unlikely to remember who you are, how you collected their email address, and will wonder why they’re suddenly receiving your emails. 

Sending emails to an unengaged list with many inactive addresses will cause engagement and delivery issues like low open rates, high bounce and unsubscribe rates, and potentially high spam complaint rates. These metrics are used by mailbox providers (Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft, B2B domains) to determine your sender reputation and how to treat your emails. 

A good sender reputation means your emails will be delivered to the inbox and a poor sender reputation will result in your emails being blocked or filtered as spam. 

Audit and segment your database by subscriber activity

Before you send your next campaign we highly recommend auditing your database and segmenting your list based on user activity and engagement. This helps you to determine:

  • Your most engaged subscribers who have opened an email or clicked a link in the last 12 months
  • Your most recent subscribers who have opted in for your emails in the last 12 months
  • Contacts with online activity in the last 12 months, such as online purchases, website visits, account activity, active paid subscriptions
  • Your most inactive and unengaged subscribers who do not meet the above criteria for the last 12 months

If you’ve been in regular contact with your list over the last 12 months you can continue sending emails as usual to your engaged subscribers, and you may consider sending a re-engagement email to your inactive or unengaged users. However, if you haven’t regularly emailed your list—sending at least 1 or 2 emails every 6 months—then you will need to carefully ramp-up sending emails to your full list. 

Any subscriber who has shown no activity or engagement in over 12 months should be removed from your list, as sending to these “ghost” contacts will only harm your sender reputation. You also risk emailing spam traps and landing on an anti-spam blocklist.

Ramping-up emails to your full list

Your sender reputation is tied to your sending domain — which is everything after the “@” in your From email address. Depending on when you last emailed your full list and the size of your list, you may need to slowly train mailbox providers that your emails are legitimate and your subscribers want to receive them.

To re-build your domain reputation, send an email to a smaller segment of your list and monitor how your subscribers respond in the next 24 hours. If you see good delivery and engagement metrics, like open rates above 10%, bounce rates under 4% and spam complaints around 0.02%, you can then double the volume for your next campaign and again review the results after 24 hours. 

It is crucial to review your results after every campaign to assess the impact the increase in email volume has on your overall results, and take steps to address any underlying engagement issues before ramping-up to your full list. 

Review your results after every campaign

Your subscribers are the best source of information on how well your emails are performing. Review your campaign reports after each campaign to see how active and engaged your audience is, and also to track any negative signals like a drop in open rate or a spike in bounces of spam complaints.

These metrics highlight any engagement and delivery issues which in turn directly impact your sender reputation and the success of your future campaigns. Campaign Monitor users can also use the Insights section in your account to easily track user engagement over time.

Campaign Monitor Insights

Email delivery and engagement issues are often a symptom of how emails are collected and managed, and reviewing both can highlight the underlying cause of these issues. Are your lists permission based where people have directly opted in for your emails? Is your online form secure from spambot attacks with a reCAPTCHA? Have you set up DKIM authentication for your sending domain? Are you re-engaging your less engaged contacts and removing dormant “ghost” contacts? 

Following these recommended deliverability practices is the best way to maximise user engagement and minimize deliverability issues. 

Wrap up

Your subscribers’ inboxes, similar to your own mailbox, may be inundated with emails right now from brands they were once connected with. Now is the time to think like a subscriber, and send relevant, wanted content to engage your audience and make your emails stand out from the crowd. 

By focusing on your most active and engaged audience, you’re building and maintaining your domain’s sender reputation, and helping your emails successfully land in the inbox. 

Remember to keep your emails personal, helpful, concise, and relevant to show respect for your subscriber’s inbox, build brand loyalty and a lasting engaging relationship. 

About the Author John Peters
This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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