Sender Score and Email Reputation: What Are They and How to Improve Them

Sender Score and email reputation are two terms very important and relevant to email marketers and deliverability experts.

But to novices and the general public, there is still a lot of confusion surrounding the terms.

So in this article, we will demystify what email sending reputation and Sender Score actually mean and what they each measure.

What is email sending reputation?

Email sending reputation is a complex metric comprised of different reputations to determine email delivery practices. The most important reputations are:

  • IP Reputation
  • Content Reputation
  • Domain Reputation

In 1996, as emailing became mainstream, spam began to turn into a serious issue. To counter this, large internet service providers (ISPs) providing email services began to use IP Reputation to analyze email quality.

IP Reputation indicates how much users want to get email from this IP address by measuring bounces, spam or unwanted bulk mail (UBE). Back then, there weren’t very robust ways to authenticate a domain address, so ISPs had to create complex IP reputation models that differed from each other, but had the similar task of identifying problematic IP addresses.

After a while, IP reputation alone proved inefficient, because it didn’t consider how different IPs could deliver (junk) emails with identical content.

Advances in technology in the 2000s enabled ISPs to develop a new method of measuring the quality of a sender’s emails through content reputation.

Content reputation works on a set of criteria that determine the sender’s quality of their email campaign content. While certain types of content are clear triggers for ISPs’ content filters (e.g. attaching a virus, a string of words asking for bank details, and so on), a sender’s content reputation goes down when their emails keep getting low open rates, flagged, blocked, and unsubscribed.

So IP and content reputation work hand in hand to create an overall picture of a sender’s email practices. IP reputation determines the quality of a sender’s email sending through their emailing history. Content reputation analyzes the type of content a sender’s email has and determines if the sender is trustworthy or not.

But of course as spammers and hackers became even more sophisticated in cheating ISP filters and sending malicious emails, this led to the development of more robust email authentication systems – namely the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Email (DKIM) system.

The Sending Policy Framework (SPF) was implemented as a standard in 2014 to check if an email campaign has been sent from an authorized server.

SPF is like an RSVP list of authenticated, valid IP addresses that can send emails on behalf of that domain.

SPF prevents spammers from falsifying the ‘from email address to send spoofing emails’. But the SPF record, by itself, is not enough and can be susceptible to human error and snowshoe spamming (i.e spam propagated across different IPs and domains to weaken reputation and pass through ISP filters).

If a sender indicates the wrong IP domains, then the wrong ones will be able to send emails on behalf of your domain. ISPs have no way of realizing otherwise, and they penalize the sender’s domain for spam.

Therefore, SPF has to go with a DomainKeys Identified Mail system (DKIM), which allows recipients to confirm that the mail comes from the authenticated owner of that domain.

The email itself contains a signature in the header called a DKIM signature or a hash value that allows this authentication. A DKIM signature means that the email has not been tampered or hijacked upon delivery and comes from a valid sender.

As these authentication systems became more robust, ISPs have developed domain reputation, which measures the quality of a domain’s authenticated emails.

Domain and IPs can be different, after all. For example, Mailjet customers could be using shared IPs that we provide and send emails through their domains.

Email sending reputation is a complex metric of other different reputations to determine email delivery practices developed essentially through a constant game of chase and catch between hackers who send malicious spam and the ISPs that are constantly creating new ways to catch them in the act.

Great email sending practices do not end in the way you create the content and design of your emails, but also following strict security protocols that help ISPs identify you as a trustworthy sender.

What is Sender Score?

Using a range that starts at 0 and ends at 100, Return Path’s Sender Score is compiled from non-personal data of over 60 million inboxes from different ISPs, spam filtering, and security companies to create a picture of a sender’s email sending practices.

Sender Scores are normally calculated on a rolling 30-day average.

Sender Score may be also indicative of a sender’s email reputation, but they are not the same. If a sender has a high Sender Score, this could indicate that most of the sender’s transactional and marketing emails land in the inbox.

If a sender has a really low score, then there is a high chance that their email campaigns often have high bounce rates, high block rates and low open rates.

It is important to realize that the Sender Score is ultimately on data that Return Path receives. This score is relevant for ISPs that pay attention to it.

Ultimately, ISPs decide whether you send good emails or not through their own datasets, not on Return Path’s Sender Score.

So while this score might be a good indication of email sending practices, fixing it from low to high does not automatically guarantee that all email campaigns will land in the inbox.

The best way to fix email sending is to look at the source and focus on deliverability (the rate at which a sender’s email campaigns land into the inbox, as opposed to the spam folder), because this is what the Sender Score ultimately attempts to quantify.

 

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How to check your Sender Score

Checking Return Path’s Sender Score is quite easy. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to https://www.senderscore.org/
  2. Register and create an account using your professional email.
  3. You should receive this confirmation email. Click on the CTA Activate Your Account.
    Activate your Sender Score
    Activate your Sender Score
  4. As soon as you log in, you should be redirected to this page.
    Know your Sender Score
    Know your Sender Score
  5. Here, you can look at the Sender Score of either an IP address, or a domain (e.g. mailjet.com).
    Mailjet’s Sender Score
    Mailjet’s Sender Score
  6. Searching by domain name leads you to a page listing IPs sending mail from this domain, an indication of their email sending volume, and, finally, their Sender Score.

These scores could indicate whether this domain has been sending good emails or spammy ones in the rolling 30 days prior to your search.

What is a good Sender Score

According to Return Path’s 2018 benchmark on Sender Score, their Sender Score reveals important data on the following:

  1. Complaint rate – the rate at which users complain about your emails as junk.
  2. Unknown user rate – the number of invalid users in your subscription lists
  3. Spam traps triggered – spam traps are email addresses that don’t belong to anyone and have the primary task of catching spammers and senders with poor list hygiene practices.

Pristine spam traps are email accounts never owned by anyone and have been created to catch bad senders. Recycled spam traps are abandoned email accounts that have now been recycled into spam traps.

As such, domains with Sender Scores of 90 and above have below a 1% complaint rate, ~1% unknown user rate and an average of 0.36% spam trap hits.

Conversely, those with very poor Sender Scores of 10 or below had a 7.4% complaint rate, 7% unknown user rate and an average of 7.53% spam trap hits.

Having a good Sender Score and having emails sent to the inbox is good for the business, but it’s not the end-all to great email sending. More on this on the next section.

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When Sender Score won’t save you

A high Sender Score does not mean an end to your email worries.

Like any other aggregate, Sender Score misses out on other very important factors that influence overall email sending.

After all, this proprietary system comes from Return Path and not from ISPs. Hence, ISPs may have slightly different ways of measuring your email reputation and include other variables that determine whether this campaign should be sent or not.

Return Path suggests:

A high Sender Score on its own doesn’t translate to higher inbox placement rates. Subscriber engagement, a mailbox provider’s own reputation calculations, and the content in the incoming message—none of which are included in Sender Score calculations—all factor into each mailbox provider’s final filtering determinations.

Email deliverability experts agree on this, including Word to the Wise founder Laura Atkins:

Basically, just because you have a great SenderScore doesn’t mean you’re going to have good delivery. Likewise, having a poor SenderScore doesn’t mean your mail is destined to be undelivered.

Sender Score is not the end-all be-all to determining if your email campaigns are great in all areas.

Ultimately, the Sender Score does not measure content creativity, which is crucial to creating email campaigns with high open rates.

Therefore, it is best to focus on your deliverability, as this is the best indicator of whether your emails get delivered to the inbox and not spam folder, or altogether remain undelivered.

It is also a good idea to invest in other email reputation indicators that might be better suited to your email sending.

An email marketer in his Medium article, for example, lamented on areas ignored by the Sender Score. Some 90+ scores scored low on Google Postmasters, which analyzes and measures email sending practices loosely based on Gmail’s complex filtration system. Therefore, Google Postmaster Tools may be a great alternative for you if most emails in your lists are Gmail users, but less so if they are from other ISPs.

In fact, it’s best to understand that ISPs might not only measure email reputation differently, but they might also have different acceptable standards for various metrics altogether.

This is the main reason why, for example, an email campaign might get great deliverability results for Gmail, with most emails landing into their inboxes, but less stellar results in Outlook.

In any case, ISPs have different filtration systems and they modify them often in order to get a step above malicious spammers. If every ISP filter worked the same, then each one would be easy to hack.

So, really, the best way to improve your email sending is to simply improve your email sending practices. Sometimes, the best changes are the most obvious ones.

How to improve your Sender Score and email reputation

As discussed, sender reputation comprises of other reputations based on your email sending:

  1. IP reputation that is tallied by how much people want to see emails from this IP address.
  2. Content reputation that measures how good or spammy your email content consistently is.
  3. Domain reputation that checks the email sending from your domain as a whole, validated through authentication methods.

It becomes a matter of ensuring that your sending practices are great across the board. So here we will compile a guide to ensure that you are sending emails in the best possible way.

Authenticate your SPF and DKIM

Authenticating your account ensures that only a specific list of IPs can send emails using your domain.

This keeps spammers from falsely delivering emails through your domain.

Think of DKIM as the signature you include in every email campaign. The DKIM is a powerful proof that the recipient’s ISP can use to check if these emails they have received are domain-authenticated and valid.

If the signature matches, then the email goes into the inbox – other things equal.

If it does not match, then it’ll go into the spam folder (or gets a hard bounce).

DKIM Process
DKIM Process

SPF meanwhile is a list of the authenticated IP addresses within that domain.

DKIM and SPF work together to ensure that you do not become the victim of a spoofing attack (i.e. where a sender masquerades as another domain to send spam).

Read more:

Authenticating domains with SPF and DKIM

How to set-up DKIM in 3 simple steps

Create sub accounts for your different email needs

Separating your marketing and your transactional emails by creating sub-accounts is good for organizing different types of email sending.

By separating these two types of emails, marketers can better keep track of various metrics, such as:

  1. Scheduled sending of marketing emails.
  2. How often users trigger transactional emails
  3. Different types of transactional emails getting triggered
  4. Different types of marketing emails being sent

Separating both also ensures that deliverability rate issues on marketing emails do not get passed on towards transactional emails and vice-versa.

Imagine if ticket people got their transactional ticket confirmation emails into the spam folder, because an ISPs filtering system identified the sender as a spammer through their marketing emails. This could get email marketers and their companies in a whole lot of trouble.

Deliverability Matters
Deliverability Matters

Read More:

Email Deliverability: A How-to Guide To Get Into The Inbox

Email Marketing Deliverability 101 Guide

What are sub-accounts and how does it help me?

Take charge of your engagement data.

Email engagement is comprised of data on how engaged your users are with your email campaigns. These include:

  1. Open rates – the rate of users opening email campaigns.
  2. Click rates – the rate of users clicking on links and CTAs within these campaigns.
  3. Complaint rates – the rate of users complaining about receiving specific email campaigns.
  4. Engagement time – the amount of time they spend on reading specific email campaigns.
  5. Unsubscribe rate – the rate at which users unsubscribe after receiving your email campaigns.
Mailjet Dashboard
Mailjet Dashboard

The image above shows some of these metrics in action on Mailjet’s dashboard.

Of course, these stats can take a long time and creative effort to improve.

Sending emails with great engagement rates can’t be done overnight. After all, brand loyalty can only be fully nurtured above and beyond email marketing.

But senders can already tweak some things, such as making emails more responsive, and getting some email content and design inspirations online.

Users prefer to engage with beautifully-designed emails as opposed to suspicious plain text ones.

Other than design, of course, the frequency and time of email campaigns also matter.

ISPs consider engagement rate very highly in their content filtering algorithms.

Read more:

Email Campaign Statistics: What Do They Tell You?

Can Email Marketing Still Drive High Engagement?

Segment, A/B and Personalize

Segmentation involves dividing your email contact lists based on a set of criteria. Each segment can be, for example, based on region, gender, or interests, among others.

A/B Testing is when marketers send multiple versions of the same campaign and analyze which one(s) perform the best.

These techniques can allow marketers to create more specific and personalized email campaigns that users will want to open.

Of course, A/B testing, segmentation and personalization are all related to improving on email engagement rate.

A/B Testing Dashboard” width=
A/B Testing Dashboard

Above are some A/B testing stats on our dashboard. Version A has

  1. The best Open Rate and Click Rate
  2. The highest Click Rate
  3. The lowest unsubscribed rate
  4. The least amount of Soft and Hard Bounces

These indicate that Version A is the winning version and is an email that people want to open and engage with. You can use this information for future campaigns, or if you had only tested with a small sample size, you can automatically send this email to the remainder of your list.

Read more:

How Email Segmentation Can Increase Your Conversion Rate

How can I segment my contact lists?

How To Align Website Personalization With Your Emailing Strategy

Email Personalization With A Human Touch

Create a checklist for your email campaigns.

A best practices checklist for all your email campaigns is like an accountability log to the senders themselves right before they send their email campaigns. A checklist allows them to make sure that they have not forgotten about anything before sending their email campaigns.

With tactics in improving engagement rate and having enabled authentication systems to securely send email campaigns, the last thing marketers can do before they send their email campaigns is to run them through a checklist that should include

  1. Whether they have written a good subject line.
  2. Included a pre-header.
  3. Checked all links are accurate and include UTM tags if necessary.
  4. Proofread.
  5. Good CTAs
  6. Proofread.
  7. Proofread once more (remember, there’s no undo button)

Now, this checklist can be automated, with a tool that runs through emails campaigns to ensure that they are ready for delivery. But this checklist does not have to be automated. Senders can also check through manually. Things that you can check include:

Read more:

Mailjet’s Ultimate Email Checklist

Clean email lists and have double opt-in

Regularly cleaning your contact lists prevents marketers from sending emails to inactive users, some of which might have been converted into spam traps. Clean lists also have more engaged users, especially when they are well-segmented.

One of our customers, Product Hunt has a great way of cleaning their subscription lists. For inactive users (i.e have not opened Product Hunt newsletters in a while) they send an email stating that they have been automatically removed from the list.

 

Product Hunt’s Unsubscribe email :(
Product Hunt’s Goodbye email :(

Read more:

Email List Cleaning: End Up On Santa’s Nice List, Not His Naughty List

Easily & Securely Stow Your Contact Lists

How to delete a contact?

Create email campaigns that matter

Of course, the most important thing that you can do in your email marketing is to create a strategy that includes processes, workflows, tactics, database of email campaigns, and so on. Devising an email marketing strategy means that you have a solid idea of what to do through the course of your marketing projects.

However, an email strategy is not something that’s rigid and bureaucratic. A great email marketing strategy – like any other marketing strategy – allows marketers to experiment throughout the project, in order to adapt to new trends and key moments that suddenly open unexpectedly.

Read more:

The Ultimate Guide to Email for eCommerce

How To Define A Successful Email Marketing Strategy

Introduction to Email Marketing: The Basics Marketers Should Know

Guide: Email Marketing For The Travel And Tourism Industry

The final frontier

Return Path’s Sender Score and Email Reputation are ways to measure a sender’s email sending practices.

But Sender Score does not directly measure a sender’s email reputation. ISPs have their own proprietary algorithms for the way they measure email reputation.

Ultimately, the path to getting into the inbox is on improving deliverability, and we have highlighted ways to do this.

We hope that you enjoyed reading this comprehensive article. If you have any comments, let us know on Twitter at @mailjet.

 

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How Email Segmentation Can Increase Your Conversion Rate

“Email marketing segmentation is the art of thinking in groups.”

Jordie Van Rijn, Email Monday

Each person is unique. What could be the first line of a self-help book works just as well as the first-line of a guide to email segmentation. Get ahead of the curve and don’t just segment your email lists, but segment them well.

So below we put together a guide on email list segmentation and some important actionable ideas marketers can use to jumpstart their email segmentation efforts.

What is email segmentation

Email segmentation is the tactic of dividing your email subscription lists into smaller groups called segments based on a set of traits or variables. Some email segmentation ideas could include geography, purchase history, interests, and so forth. Through email segmentation, marketers can tailor emails specifically for each segment.

What are the benefits of email segmentation

According to the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns. This makes perfect sense; the more relevant the message, the more likely your subscriber is to act on it.

Adding to this, an Emarketer study found that “39% of email marketers who segment their email lists see better open rates and 28% saw better email deliverability and earned more revenue.”

Finally, Optimove compared average segment sizes (i.e. average number of customer contacts per segment) to average uplift – an increase in value per customer – and found that the smaller the size, the higher the uplift.

Segmentation uplift
Average uplift in terms of campaign size

Source: Optimove

So, of course, email segmentation works. But to reap its full benefits, marketers need to segment more intelligently and realize that not all segments offer the same opportunity and potential revenue.

ROI of segmented vs unsegmented lists
Segmentation ROI

Source: Optimove

Here, Optimove analyzes customer value through the RFM method, which stands for:

  • Recency: when did the customer purchase this item?
  • Frequency: how often do they make a purchase?
  • Monetary value: how much did they spend?

Segmentation allows for a larger average revenue per customer. In the top right of the above image, the VIPs segment has the highest ROI (an average of $150 per user) and the segment of customers about to churn is a measly $8.

Note briefly: an $8 ROI still ranks well above many other digital channels. Email’s just that good ;).

Here, identifying different segments and how much value they provide will allow brands to really see who their key targets should be and how they should create their email marketing strategy.

Customer value and email engagement
Customer value and email engagement

Source: Sage CRM

As this graph shows, data capture is only one part of the puzzle. Ultimately, data should inform segmentation and customer analysis to discover key spending trends and identify potential segments that could give more profit.

Great engagement based on correctly-identified segments and content and design influenced by marketing intuition and data lead to better retention. Retention is very important. Businesses survive on loyal customers, after all. When email engagement and customer value intersect at very high values, this leads to customer retention; customers stay with the company because they value the company’s products.

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How to segment your email list

There are so many ways to segment your lists, so we’ve put together three tips for you below.

Identify relevant KPIs and business interests for proper email segmentation

Email segmentation relies heavily on marketing intuition in order to work well. Before segmenting email lists, make sure that the segment criteria are themselves already relevant. For example, creating a segment based on past purchases might be relevant for eCommerce businesses, but not for blog newsletters. For newsletters,  you can segment based on their location, language, or topic of interest. While this can be quite obvious, articulating this reveals insights on whether some segments are really relevant based on the business, or not.

Jordie Van Rijn, email marketing consultant at EmailMonday.com, has a simple, yet effective, formula for email segmentation:

Segmentation Model * Execution = Combined impact

(Where Execution = Relevance + Content + Design + Time)

Email segmentation is not an end in itself. Marketers need to realize that some segments might not be relevant to their businesses. Moreover, marketers might also be distributing the wrong type of content to their segments. This is why execution is important. It allows marketers to build upon their segmentation model for optimized conversion results.

Here, the segmentation model comprises the ways marketers choose various criteria used to define various segments. These criteria can be base on geography (e.g. country, city, zip code, etc.), demography (age, race, gender, etc.), industry (e.g. education, eCommerce, etc.) and so forth.

In each segment involved, the execution needs to be strong in order to fully maximize what email segmentation can do. Execution can include:

  • the relevance of the segmentation criteria to the email marketing strategy and business involved;
  • the content and design, which should be relevant to the segments, of the emails sent; and
  • the timeline and scheduling of these segmented marketing campaigns.

Effective execution optimizes the segmentation model for a combined impact in the form of increased email key performance indicators (KPIs). Ultimately, each segment needs to have great execution in order to work.

After all, hastily creating email segments is like fitting square pegs into round holes.

Create Unique Content and Messaging for each Segment

Marketers need to make sure in sending the right content. This can include marketing promotional offers on vegan food to vegetarians and vegans, or announcing a special event to a segment of locals in that city.

Monitor results, A/B test, and adapt to continue to improve the impact of each segment

Mailjet analytics
Mailjet analytics

Of course, creating unique content for your segments is not only based on marketing intuition, but also on data. Data can reveal which type segments work, and which don’t. Data tracking also allows marketers to develop best practices for the next emails they send to these segments

Mailjet offers advanced email analytics from which you can easily get actionable insights. These can include:

  • the email providers marketers have sent their email campaigns to;
  • the open rate, or the percentage of emails opened by those in the segmented list;
  • the rate of users who have unsubscribed from the mailing list after receiving this; segmented email campaign;
  • the bounce rate, or the number of emails that failed to get delivered to the recipients; and
  • the spam rate, or the rate of emails that go to recipients’ spam folders.

These metrics and visual graph allow you to track your segmented email campaigns in real time. Tracking the spikes and stagnations in line graphs allows marketers to identify when the email campaigns are being opened.

Additionally, marketers can even compare which version of a segmented email campaign is being opened through Mailjet’s A/B testing tool.

Mailjet’s A/B Testing
A/B testing

These three tests experiment with the content and design of the same email campaign through its CTA and text. While these changes may seem trivial, psychology tells us that they can impact the way recipients engage with emails.

A step-by-step guide to Mailjet’s email segmentation feature

Email segmentation using Mailjet is as easy as pie and allows users to effectively create specific segments. Now that you’ve come up with a strategy for segmenting your campaigns create relevant segments in Mailjet and send emails that matter to your contacts.

Here’s how we can help:

  1. From your Contacts page, click “Segmentation”.

Click the ‘Create a segment’ button.

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Mailjet segmentation

2) Enter a segment name and create your filters.

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Mailjet segmentation

When you have completed your segment, click ‘Save’. Now you can apply your segment to a campaign: Create your campaign and once you select your contact list, you will have the option to apply a segment.

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Mailjet segmentation

You can also click the ‘Calculate number of contacts’ button to apply the segment to your selected contact list to see how many contacts will be matched.

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Mailjet segmentation

Continue with your campaign design and send your campaign as usual!

After your email segmentation

While segmentation can become a massive part of your email marketing success, it’s important to take it one step at a time. If you don’t have any segmentation strategy now, don’t try to create a robust strategy from scratch, simply identify one segment you can create and begin testing.

Perhaps this could be segmented based on language, or country, or whether or not they are engaging with previous emails.

Test out different messages and see what works.

From there, then focus on what new data could inform more segments going forward. Do you have data assigned to their purchase history, or user history. Do you have data on the size of their business? Can you connect this to their email address? If so, maybe you can identify new segmentation opportunities and create a second segment.

And on and on.

The point is to chip away and unlock revenue opportunities, but this takes time.

Let us know on Twitter what segments you’re experimenting with. Happy sending!

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Email Blast: 4 Tips to Send Better Email Campaigns

Email blast is bad. There, we said it. Email campaigns should never be unsolicited, but helpful and responsive. They should be careful and resourceful – not lazy and unfocused. Emailing, in general, should never seem aggressive.

Unsolicited B2C cold emailing campaigns are now illegal in Europe (thanks GDPR). And should you even try them, notice your sending reputation drop faster than your eye can blink.

Today, the average customer is sophisticated, and doesn’t only want a personalized experience (although this is still important); they love emails that help them realize their wants and needs.

To help you achieve company objectives, here are some slick up-to-date tips on creating more sophisticated email marketing campaigns that customers want to read and click.

A visual representation of multiple email blasts in Harry Potter
A visual representation of multiple email blasts in Harry Potter

 

Let’s face it. You’re probably older than 13, not a wizard/witch/made of magic and can relate more to the Dursley’s terror of getting unsolicited (e)mails than Harry’s delight. Evanesco, email blast.

1. What is an email blast

An email blast is one email sent to a lot of people. This email would not target particularly anyone, let alone a segment of people.

This email would be devoid of personality – a flavorless thing. If this email was a type of food, it’d be chicken breast, without the protein. If this was a drink, it’d be water that dehydrates. If this was waste, it’d be plastic trash… you get the picture.

Nowadays, no one likes being the victim of an email blast. So while this is a great piece of email history – and a great trivia to spurt out in email geek parties – email blast is an ancient practice that no efficient email marketer does anymore, because it doesn’t work.

2. Why should you stop sending email blast marketing campaigns

Today, when there are email apps that allow emails to be more personalized and data-driven, sending out an email blast is lazy and outdated, and could indicate that you’re not taking your email marketing seriously.

The ROI on email marketing may be high, but you might lose money if you use an email tactic that lowers your email subscription and deliverability. Your sending reputation is your digital credit. If your IP has bad sending reputation, all your digital actions might be labeled as untrustworthy and spammy. Not good for marketing.

Lisa Simpson talks about email blasts
Lisa Simpson talks about email blasts

3. 4 tips on how to send better and cleaner email campaigns

3.1 Grow your email lists organically

There are many ways to organically grow your email lists. You could use social media, include subscription widgets and pop-ups on your website, include a newsletter opt-in in your emails, create multichannel campaigns that encourage subscription… if you just flex your creativity, the sky’s the limit (unless you hire a skywriting service).

3.2 Segment your email lists

Segmentation divides your contact list into smaller groups based on a set of traits. This can be a great personalization technique to deliver relevant emails that subscribers want to see based on their interests.

At Mailjet, we have advanced segmentation features for data-tracking. These allow you to track the effects of segmenting your contact lists in real-time. To really jumpstart your segmentation, we also have an API integration with Segment so that you can see the effects of creating subgroups that are relevant (or not).

It’s no secret that segmenting your lists can increase email click and open rates. But segmentation needs to be correct in order to work well. Whether this is on gender, age, location, industry, or email behavior, you need to be data-driven but person-led in your segmentation tactics. It pays to know how to segment your lists but you already need to be sending the right emails, with the right content, at the right time(s) in order to be effective. Done well, segmentation can increase not only open rates but actual revenue.

3.3 Send personalized email campaigns

Sending out personalized email campaigns is the bread and butter of modern email marketing. You want to take advantage of the plethora of services that both automate and personalize your email campaigns. Personalized email campaigns perform better in open and click rates than their bland counterparts. And who wouldn’t want to see that you’ve done that extra mile in including their name in your emails?

For example, at Mailjet, we have personalization features that allow you to fill in various types of property information. You can also use our API integration with Zeta to segment your contact lists into relevant subgroups that get the right content on the right time. As we have already covered on our article on great newsletter examples, Really Good Emails simply but elegantly does name personalization quite well.

3.4 Follow email marketing best practices

Adapt a customer-centric email design that highlights your products
While it is always best to design marketing campaigns that customers would love to read and scroll through, they also love to discover. Holistic Marketing has written a great article on the importance of creating emails that are helpful and customer-facing, with great examples.

Add an unsubscribe link
Including an unsubscription button or link to your emails is mandatory in Europe, but it’s also best to do it elsewhere, too. This is because people who don’t want to get your emails anymore will tend to avoid reading your future emails, or, worse, flag you as spam.

Ratio text/images
Sending out well-optimized emails for as many email clients as you can will, well, ensure that everyone receives your emails in the same format. Our friends at Litmus created an excellent guide on optimizing background images. At Mailjet, we agree and like to keep our design responsive.

Create emails that render well across multiple email clients
Arguably, the most important thing in email marketing is ensuring that your emails are sent in the way you intended them to be. Unfortunately, as there are 50+ email clients out there, rendering for each can be a daunting, complicated task. Our MJML templating language simplifies this task by (1) simplifying HTML allowing you to code much more efficiently and (2) getting regular updates that ensure your design and coding remain responsive.

4. Get creative

Of course, there are also tons of other stuff you should be following in order to really improve your email campaigns. You could add inspired .gifs on your emails. You could also add rich media if you know how to code for emails – always a banger. You can also improve your subject lines by adding emojis.

This list is endless.

Tweet us @mailjet if have ideas on doing things other than an email blast.

Email Deliverability: A How-to Guide To Get Into The Inbox

Email Deliverability: A How-to Guide To Get Into The Inbox

How often do you check your spam folder? Almost never? Then how do you know that important emails aren’t in your spam folder? Do you just trust your Internet Service Provider (ISP)? Well, your ISP – whether this is Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, or the now-defunct Mailbox (RIP) – doesn’t just magically sort out what email goes to your inbox and what doesn’t. And there’s no guarantee that your important emails get sent to your inbox. And vice-versa. Nothing in life is ever that simple. It’s a process related to something called email deliverability.

That doesn’t sound like a sexy buzzword. And it isn’t. Neither does it effortlessly roll off the tongue. De-li-ve-ra-bi-li-ty – a whopping seven syllables that doesn’t even score much on Scrabble (only 24 points). But it’s very important. Please, bear with me.

 

1. What is email deliverability

Email deliverability looks at the number of emails that go to your list’s inboxes. Deliverability failure is when your emails don’t get into your customers’ inboxes. Simple enough, right? The process behind ensuring deliverability can be complicated, though. But we will provide you with tips on how to improve your deliverability.

2. Why does email deliverability matter

Are you a business that sends emails? Do you want your emails to land in the inbox, and not the spam folder? If yes, then you will have to care about deliverability.

Businesses, especially in eCommerce, typically send two types of emails to their customers.

    1. The first type is marketing emails. They’re sent to customers who have opted-in to get emails from that brand. These can include everything from discount emails, weekly newsletters, or Holiday campaigns.
    2. The other is transactional emails, which customers receive after they do an action on a website or app, including a registration confirmation, password reset, or a purchase receipt.

If you still haven’t completely figured out why deliverability matters, imagine this.

YOUR IMAGE ALT-TEXT
Email Deliverability matters

 

You’re a bus company. A ticket purchase confirmation email goes into your passenger’s spam folder, which they don’t check quite often or would not even think of checking. This issue happens with say, 1% of your customers. On a week this could happen to thousands more people.

Then, thousands of angry customer complaints flood your company inbox, and your support team can’t handle this outpour. You lose customers to competitors, and it’s turned into a big crisis. And you lose a huge chunk of profit.

If your marketing emails with discounts also get sent to your customers’ spam folders, again you could be losing out on a big proportion of new revenue. It’s also equally annoying for customers who might have wanted to take these discounts.

Scratch that – it’s annoying for everyone.

You can easily avoid these if you carefully consider your email deliverability.

Your customers need to see your business’ important transactional and marketing emails in their inboxes, not spam folders.

3. What’s the difference between email delivery and deliverability

Email delivery is whether or not your audience’s ISP (e.g. Gmail) received your emails. Deliverability is on emails that hit the inbox.

There are other key words to consider: sent vs delivered. Delivered emails simply mean that the receiving server has accepted your emails and that the recipients can see them.

But sent emails means that they are still being processed or have been placed in a queue for various reasons (e.g. the recipient’s inbox may be full, or the email address may not be right).

It’s ultimately better to measure your campaign success in terms of deliverability, not delivery. Deliverability indicates whether the types of emails you deliver are good enough to get into your customers’ inboxes, and your sending practices can ultimately impact this. The delivery rate might be on other factors outside your factor, such as your ESP of choice and your bounce and block rates. It’s always good to do your due diligence in picking your ESP. In reading this article, you’re probably already aware of how seriously Mailjet takes deliverability.

4. How to improve your email deliverability

Okay great, but how do I actually control deliverability?

4.1 Avoid email spam filters

The process of emails getting sorted into either the inbox or spam folder is not as dramatic as Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader. But spam is like the Star Wars prequels – no one wants to see them – ever. And both should never have been made.

In any case, ISPs have similar criteria on email content that can trigger their spam filters. For marketing and transactional emails, these can include simple typos, large attachments, inaccurate sender information, sending your emails out to inactive addresses, and the sender having an extensive history of delivered unread emails. So only send emails that people, including you, want to see.

Our marketing team previously wrote this excellent, comprehensive guide on how to avoid various ISPs spam filters, and you should check it out. It’s not only helpful, but also funny. For example, here’s the table of bad words that might trigger spam filters.

Spam Words

4.2 Have a clear opt-in process or your reputation might suffer

There’s nothing worse than getting emails no one wants. Now, imagine if someone absentmindedly subscribes to you, only to realize that they actually don’t want to? This could result into an inbox full of unanswered emails you’ve sent. Not good for your sender reputation, which matters a lot in the digital age. If an IP address has poor sender reputation, ISPs could filter this IP’s emails as spam.

Sending reputation can be based on many things, including your email sending history, spam complaints associated with your IP address and spam complaints associated with the domain name.

In any case, it’s always better to have a clear opt-in process. It’s also better to have double opt-in for your subscriptions. Sending an email confirmation email before that person can get your emails will ensure that:

  1. The email is valid.
  2. The email address owner is the one who in fact subscribed.
  3. They really want to get your emails.

Also, it’s also important to include a visible unsubscribe button in your emails. Just do it. Otherwise your customers might flag you as spam. In order to be GDPR and CAN-SPAM compliant, this is mandatory.

If you also introduced the option to mass subscribe customers to other affiliated newsletters, you also better visibly show that mass-unsubscribe option in your emails.

4.3 Clean up your list to improve deliverability

Cleaning up your email contact lists can be a good way to make sure that you’re sending emails to active users. It’s like cleaning up your shared kitchen. If you don’t, your roommates will start regretting in having you as their roommate, stop being friends with you, and live elsewhere (or worse: kick you out). If you keep sending emails to a dirty, filthy list, you will get less opens, clicks, and engagement.You send marketing and transactional emails to get that sweet email marketing $40:1 ROI, not to send emails to people won’t ever open them to begin with.

One of Mailjet’s customers, Videostream, came to realize that their email list was not longer clean and their emails were not delivering, not being opened, and certainly not being clicked in the way that it could.

When Videostream shifted over to a Custom Enterprise account, our Customer Success Manager Kyle noticed right away that while their contact list was growing massively (from 200K to 1.2 million contacts), their engagement was flatlining and in fact decreasing.

So, Kyle put them on a plan to clean their list of inactive, “dirty”, contacts and Videostream immediately saw a massive jump in not only open rate but actually total opens. They were sending emails out to their list of 1.2 million contacts but were getting an open rate maxing out at 1.88%. Kyle worked with them to identify inactive contacts, and those getting blocked and bounced to reduce their list from 1.2-million back down to 350K.

The result was a spike in open rates, but most interestingly a spike in total opens by 451%. Less people received the email, but more people opened it. This magic is the result of cleaning your email lists.

4.4 Set up your SPF & DKIM

Your Sender Policy Framework (SPF) will ensure that the IP you’re using can send emails on behalf of a domain. Domain Keys Identified Email (DKIM) ensures that the emails you send have not been changed in the process of getting sent (it’s a perilous journey). Set them both up by following our comprehensive guide.

4.5 Follow the industry best practices

Following Mailjet’s Sending Policy will optimise your sending. Pictured below are the minimum thresholds we expect from all of our senders. Note that this is not showing the ideal scenario, but instead is showing the rates at which Mailjet’s compliance and deliverability team are flagged to take a look… This is the danger zone.

Sending Policy
Mailjet Sending Policy Thresholds

You should also follow the email legislation in your country for marketing and transactional emails. Otherwise, your emails may get flagged as spam by ISPs, and your deliverability will suffer. Or worse, you might get fined. Not being GDPR-compliant can cost you up to €20 million in fines.

Companies should also avoid resorting to dirty tactics to game the system of various ISPs. For example, don’t try to get your marketing emails into Primary Tab on Gmail, or risk getting flagged as spam. And just don’t try to creep into their personal email folder. It’s like entering your roommate’s room uninvited. It’s creepy and not cool.

4.6 Use a trusted sender name

Partner with a trusted ESP like Mailjet for your marketing and transactional emails to make sure that your emails hit your customers’ inboxes.

Conclusion

Deliverability can be a tricky and unsexy thing. But the more you learn the ins and outs of email marketing, the more you’ll realize how important this can be in order to really optimize your sending.

The path to great deliverability can be long, confusing and winding, but these tips can help you find your way in sending great email campaigns that hit the inbox

As always, if you have any more insider tips on how to improve email deliverability, tweet them to us @Mailjet.

 

6 Great Newsletter Examples with Actionable Insights

At Mailjet, we see a lot of great email newsletter examples. Some of them are funny, some exciting, others engaging. But one thing is for sure – creating email newsletters is never straightforward. Each one requires creativity, contribution from your team members, an analysis of how past campaigns have performed and what you can learn from them moving forward.

So, to give you some inspiration, we have compiled six excellent email newsletter examples that we really liked at Mailjet, and actionable insights that you can apply.

Newsletter example #1: The haunting creativity of AdWeek’s Webinar newsletter

email newsletter example 1
AdWeek’s Haunting Webinar Newsletter

Why it works: Sometimes, creativity doesn’t need to involve flashy design or rich media. Sometimes, it doesn’t even need to involve a lot of content. This AdWeek email takes simplicity to a new level by letting anonymous speak. Anonymous is a woman; she has a pixelated stare, and she doesn’t want to get personal with you. It’s haunting, and it doesn’t need to do a lot to show a lot.

Actionable insights: A striking above-the-fold image like this one works like an effective subject line; it incites users to become receptive with the email content.

Optimize CTAs by placing them after specific engagement points. AdWeek places them (1) after the striking image and (2) the description. Including a CTA above-the-fold will ensure that users don’t miss it.

Newsletter sample #2: The pop-culture savviness of this Google Home Mini product marketing email

newsletter sample 2
Google Home Mini’s Marketing Newsletter

Why it works: Google’s product marketing newsletter sample is pretty rad and well-designed. Featuring a slick, white canvas, the one-column layout directs attention to its references – a Weekend playlist, KEXP radio, House of Cards, and the Mad Libs game. Let’s be honest, this email would not have the same impact if music they referenced was, say, Satie’s Gymnopedie.

While these may seem random, they provide an implicit statement – that they are current and aware of modern cultural references, and that Google Home can play them if you simply say so. It’s ingenious. And of course the plethora of streaming services listed just increases Home Mini’s appeal as a personal voice-recognition device. With effective marketing newsletters like this and a banging Cloud Platform, Google is unstoppable!

Actionable insights: Cultural references drive up engagement, even in email marketing. Use them to your advantage. Your references don’t need to be industry-related (although that may help if you’re marketing towards specific niches).

Including the logos of top brands will increase the hype surrounding your product by emphasising its credibility. Google Home Mini is compatible with a lot of streaming channels people use on a daily basis. At Mailjet, we have a Success Stories page for big companies that are very happy using us as their ESP.

Newsletter example #3: Really Good Emails’ personalized weekly newsletters

newsletter example 3
Really Good Emails’ Weekly Newsletter

Why it works: When you do personalization in a not-creepy and non-invasive way, it could be fun. This newsletter example from Really Good Emails shows just that. It’s a neat party trick that really goes a long way in making your contacts feel valued. What do you know, Really Good Emails sends out…really good emails – certainly good in the business of email curation.

Followed by fellow #emailgeeks, Really Good Emails knows how to engage with its community and this newsletter, with its relevant content, is no exception.

Actionable insights: Really Good Emails uses NiftyImages to optimize their personalization. Scene7 is also another alternative.

Point is, you should use tools to optimize your email personalization, which should be data-centric but person-led. You should see recurring data trends, but create best practices within the context of your own company. At Mailjet, we have a whole list of integrations you can use to ensure that your emails are as personalized as possible.

Newsletter example #4: The simple elegance of Taylor Stitch’s menswear email

newsletter example 4
Taylor Stitch Menswear Email

Why it works: As you’ve already seen in AdWeek’s newsletter example, a minimalist design can go a long way. Taylor Stitch’s  before-the-fold image is an impactful way to market their product, emphasizing versatility through different backdrops. Not only do they have clothing attire for the metropolitan, concrete jungle, they also have good jackets you can wear for an actual jungle expedition. This image also sets the content narrative as you scroll down the newsletter – their clothes are great for the city, forest and mountains. By presenting a solid aesthetic for their menswear campaign, their email branding plays around the notion of simple sophistication.

The headings translate this feeling into design, with the use of a serif font indicating maturity and elegance, and their overlaid placement over the empty, white space and images accentuate this duality as presented in the above-the-fold image. They’re traditional but not rigidly conventional. This is a well-conceived, strongly-branded newsletter.

Actionable insights: This is a great blend of content and design, and the content doesn’t even have to be creative, but effective. By creating an overall engaging layout, the products themselves pop-out; the white space allows customers to see the products clearly, and on mobile, an area to click on.

Finally, be aware of the colour palette you’re using. Here, the analogous colours make everything cohesive – and it’s done very carefully. For example the font headings are overlaid on the lighter parts of the image to ensure legibility, and each photo’s hue has been modified to fit with the overall aesthetic. Consider these minute details in designing your emails.

Newsletter sample #5: Station F’s exuberant originality

newsletter sample 5
Station F Anniversary Newsletter

Why it works: As Station F, the (in)famous French startup incubator, states: “What the F*ck?!” Celebrating their first year, Station F has created a very… explosive email: bright colours, fabulous visuals (pink flamingo!), some gifs here and some emojis there to spice up this eleganza… this newsletter grabs your attention, doesn’t let it go, and incites curiosity. What kind of hijinks are they up to for their one-year anniversary? After making such a loud newsletter, they better deliver. These are techniques that you can use to shine the brightest in that inbox filled with other emails.

Actionable insights:Use .GIFS. Be interactive with your design, and be creative with your CTAs. Use colours to incite interest whether consciously or…subconsciously.

Newsletter example #6: The rich media of this DMA Awards-shortlisted Blue Planet II email newsletter

Why it works: This Blue Planet II rich media newsletter by Action Rocket, a UK-based email marketing creative agency, has been recently shortlisted for the DMA Awards 2018, and it’s clear why: it contains dynamic design elements that interact really well with each other. For one, it does not shy away from scrollability and even includes it as an integral element. Above-the-fold, a lone walrus greets you above a sheet of ice, barely surviving from the dangers lurking down below.

Then, the arrows pointing downwards encourage you to dive deeper into the email. What you find as you go down is a series of interesting animal facts, with some nice moving background to boot, until you finally reach the Challenger deep – the deepest place on Earth. It is an incredible journey as they state in the copy. Most importantly, the small facts create buzz around the show by inducing a sense of wonder – much like in a picture encyclopaedia.

Actionable insights: All the previous letters and this have in common – an overarching narrative effectively conveyed by content and design. Notice that this time around there are no clear CTAs above-the-fold. The CTAs in the end create more interest around this show and its content. In your emails, you should also focus on the hierarchy of importance as done here. A marketing copy with links and CTAs arranged haphazardly can be confusing, after all.

newsletter sample 6
Blue Planet II Announcement Email

I’m sure we missed many awesome emails, and with each passing day brands are continuing to innovate on their email design, copy, and optimization. What are you going to do innovate your emails this year?

The Ultimate Guide to Email for eCommerce

Ecommerce is growing at an astronomical rate. In 2017, global Ecommerce was responsible for $2.3 trillion in sales, and this is expected to grow to $4.5 trillion in 2021. Alongside this growth, all signs point towards emailing as the preferred method of communication in Ecommerce over other channels, including social media. In fact, 72% of people, (including those elusive millennials and teenagers) still primarily prefer email as their primary mode of communication with brands.

This is not surprising.

Email marketing heavily depends on 4 pillars – content, design, data, and deliverability – all of which must be integrated into an overarching email marketing strategy. When they are not working together, you may well just be getting through your emails, but not optimizing at full capacity.

In this article, we will give you everything you need to get your Ecommerce email strategy up to par, including the different types of emails you’ll need in your customer journey, and essential tips to get content, design, data, and deliverability right.

 

Email marketing strategy: The essentials

Before you send a large number of emails to your customers, it’s important to define your email marketing objectives. After all, to build a house you need a solid foundation. Your objectives will be your foundation.

Writing emails without a solid strategy will run the risk of sending campaigns that aren’t relevant, and that can result in a low click rate or worse – skyrocketing unsubscribe rates. You don’t want this, do you? 🤔

The key question you should be asking yourself here as an Ecommerce company is: What do I want to achieve? Your objectives could include:

  • Converting new customers
  • Increasing sales
  • Receiving reviews and feedback
  • Boosting customer loyalty and communication
  • Providing customers with information (about special offers, new products, etc.)
  • Introducing your company and your unique selling points
KPI Framework

Of course, you don’t have to pick just one of these objectives, but it is beneficial to have just a few clearly defined objectives. Concentrate on those most important to you, your business, and where you want to grow. This will allow you to utilize your resources efficiently and also means you won’t waste unnecessary time creating email content that provides no added value.

Instead, ensure that your email campaign is perfectly tailored to your needs. Follow a clear objective that you can naturally adapt, modify, or realign over time.

Ecommerce email campaign ideas along the customer journey

As an online shop, there are many types of emails that you could send out. In order to make the most of all email marketing potential, we recommend integrating marketing and transactional emails along the customer lifecycle.

The benefit of focusing on the customer journey is that it allows you to deduce current customer needs and create personalized content.

Here are the seven different email campaigns you should use, depending on your objectives and customer journey:

1. The welcome email

No matter what, first impressions really count. When welcoming a new “member” to your email list, send them a welcome email containing valuable content that will inspire them to continue to engage with new articles. For instance, this is a great opportunity to:

  • Introduce your company and your products.
  • Make the subscriber aware of your social media channels.
  • Provide an overview of what type of emails you will be sending.
  • Send them a welcome gift to validate their decision to subscribe
  • Indicate important links.

Ultimately what you want is to convey a positive and trustworthy first impression, which will make your new subscriber look forward to receiving more.

Welcome Email
Mailjet’s Welcome Email

2. The classic newsletter

Once you’ve won over new subscribers, you need to make sure they stay in your list by providing them with valuable content.

Naturally, the exact content depends on your business model and customers. As an Ecommerce company, you can offer the following newsletter content:

  • Promoting your own products
  • Guides for your products
  • A behind-the-scenes look at production
  • Compelling content and entertainment like videos
  • Customer interviews and testimonials
Penguin Newsletter
Penguin Books Newsletter

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your newsletter is only there to sell. Sending out newsletters that are too pushy will cause people to unsubscribe from your list, or put a bad taste in their mouth.

Instead this is an opportunity to take an engaged list of potential customers and make them love you. Ask yourself the following questions and create your newsletter accordingly:

  1. What interests my readers?
  2. What questions might they have?
  3. What problems are they currently facing?
  4. How, specifically, can I help them solving these problems?

3. Special occasion newsletters

In addition to your regular newsletter, you can create email campaigns for special events. These can be for holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day, as well as seasonal events such as the World Cup, the Olympics, or Oktoberfest.

You could even, for example, showcase your expert knowledge in the form of useful tips and tricks, or make readers aware of special offers. Make sure, however, that it all ties back to your company and brand message.

Nokia Mother's Day NL
Nokia Holiday Newsletter

4. Order and shipping confirmations

While you can send out marketing campaigns at any time, transactional emails are triggered by customer action. These include, for example, newsletter subscriptions, invoices, and purchase confirmations.

As an Ecommerce company, your main objective is obviously to promote sales in your online shop. Once a customer buys something, you should first send them an order confirmation and then an email receipt. Once the purchased product is sent for delivery, you can then send them a shipping confirmation.

Transactional emails tend to have higher open rates, as customers already expect to receive your communications and look forward to receiving their purchase.

Make sure you leverage these emails to make your customers aware of other products or special offers. This is the best time for you to upsell, when they are most engaged and you know they are opening the email. Don’t miss the chance. 😉This applies to all types of Ecommerce brands, from global brands to Shopify stores and dropshipping.

Order Confirmation
Order Confirmation Email

 

5. Customer surveys

Show your customer that their opinion is important to you by sending them customer surveys and other feedback emails. This could target individual products, the entire shop, the service, or all of the above.

Customer surveys are absolutely essential to you for the following reasons:

    1. To check if your communication with customers is clear and coherent.
    2. To obtain and guide the attention of your customers.
    3. To strengthen customer loyalty.
    4. To inspire you with new product ideas.
Headspace Survey Email
Headspace Survey Email

6. Shopping cart dropouts

Has your customer halted a transaction or left an item in their shopping cart? Remind them with a friendly email! This gives you an additional option to show them similar products and offers, or provide them with buying incentives through discounts.

Dote Abandoned Cart Email
Abandoned Cart Email

Don’t give up on any customers! You can send a personalized email to inactive users. This allows you to find out if they are still interested in your services and remind them about your unique products.

If you succeed in winning the customer back, you can surprise them with a “Welcome back” email. You can make a good impression here with the aid of discounts or coupons.

If you don’t receive a reaction following several messages, then it may be best to part ways and remove the contact from your list. Yes, we know it’s always hard to let them go… 😔 but it’s best for everyone this way (more on this below…)

7. Personalized note to your customers

You can engage your customers in a more personal manner and develop a friendly relationship with personalized touches such as a birthday email with coupon.

Think about whether you would like to show appreciation to particular customers – after all, loyalty should be rewarded! For example, cheaper account upgrades are a possibility here.

While we’re on the topic of rewards, you may want to provide incentives for customers and subscribers who recommend you others. Make it easy to recommend your website and shop, and show your appreciation for each customer gained this way.

Nike Birthday Email
Automated Birthday Email

6 Tips For Successful Email Campaigns

Within each of these campaigns, you always need to keep in mind the 6 key elements of any email strategy: content, design, data, tactics, personalization, and deliverability. To get right to the point, we’ve outlined what you need to consider in each email and included some examples (as well as cautionary tales) to help you with your own campaigns.

1. Spend time on your email content and design

Working on your email content and design should be one of your main concerns in your email marketing strategy. An unengaging subject line won’t entice customers to click on your emails, while poor design reduces the chances that your customers will find the right product for them.

What you want is to first optimize your subject line and preview text. After all, they are the gateways the first things people see in deciding on whether they should open your email or not.

Let’s take a quick look at Etsy as an example. Etsy’s subject lines effectively create something called a curiosity gap. This painfully arises when you feel as if you’re missing “valuable” knowledge, and makes you want to click into that email to find out more. Which fabric is in-season? What are those fresh finds? This is very effective marketing tactic. However, each “preview” text is simply their URL, www.etsy.com which is a missed opportunity to engage the reader some more.

Good content does not rely just on being creative, and good design isn’t just about being beautiful. Good content is about personalization and timeliness. Good design is about inciting an action.

This is especially impactful for Ecommerce where a sale is just a click away, and good content paired with good design can effectively drive clicks.

Read more: How To Improve The Design Of Transactional Email Templates

Julep - eCommerce Email
Julep Email Example

 

This Black Friday email by Julep fulfills the basic rules of smart email marketing by (1) knowing how to sell what it wants to sell, (2) writing good, creative, holiday-oriented copy and (3) ensuring responsive design across all devices and inboxes.

The header immediately introduces the email content (hint: it’s Black Friday sales!); the multi-column design blends image and text into creating compelling copy that guides customer attention. The Call-to-Action (CTA) button (SHOP NOW) also is strategically placed above-the-fold alongside the content. Customers don’t have to scroll down to see these great deals ($19.99 instead of $82), inciting them to click on the CTA.

2. Know the difference between marketing email, automated email, and transactional email

Learning the different types of emails will not only allow you to target different audiences, but to also target the same audiences in a variety of ways. Sending identical promotional emails every single time with just slightly-altered copies can quickly lead to a smash of the unsubscribe button.

As with all marketing efforts, email-marketing should be diverse and creative. As an Ecommerce business, you will be sending 3 main categories of emails – transactional emails, marketing emails, and automated emails.

Transactional emails are the types of emails you send out to customers after they’ve done an action. These emails can be purchase confirmations, account verifications, or password resets.

Harrys - eCommerce Email
Harry’s Razor Transactional Email

 

This confirmation email by Harry’s does its intended job and more. In addition to ensuring that your order has, indeed, arrived, it’s also included some quick shaving tips for customers to read. Beyond just trying to drive sales, they’re trying to drive engagement, loyalty, and through education they are growing their connection to their audience.

On the other hand, marketing emails are bulk emails you send to your subscribed customers. This marketing email from New York & Company contains two types of promotions. The top section includes coupons encouraging customers to spend more to save more. The email’s main body introduces the arrival of their new collections by introducing a sale on their kimono sleeve sweater, for that perfect autumn aesthetic. Get creative and create value where customers had not seen. That’s showbiz marketing baby!

NY & Company - eCommerce Email
NY&C Email Example

Finally, automated emails are triggered by milestones. They can be automated in many ways, depending on your analysis of customer data. Automated emails can include welcome emails, feedback emails, anniversary emails, and retention emails. For example, if a user purchased a product from your store, you can send an automated email one week later to how they are liking it, whether they would like to buy one for a friend, or perhaps write a review on your site.

Of course, when you’re new to sending these different types of email, you’re bound to make a couple mistakes, or miss out on some things. Before sending emails or committing a template, make sure to pull your teammates into the email builder to have them provide their comments, and be sure to A/B test your campaigns to identify which piece of content, design, subject line, or CTAs drive the most engagement.

One email not to send, however, is from a useless “no-reply” address. “No reply” emails are those annoying emails you get from businesses sometimes who are making it very clear they don’t want to hear from you. Not only is it a little rude, almost more importantly it can negatively impact your business as it is often flagged as spam.

NoReply Inbox

3. Don’t ask for subscribers, incentivize subscription

Before sending emails to your customers, you have to make sure that your customers have subscribed to your emails in the first place. There are a lot of different ways to do this. For example, you can invite website visitors to subscribe to your emails via pop-ups integrated into your website using Mailjet’s subscription widget or third party providers like SumoMe. Or like many of our customers have done so effectively, use the power of social media to invite customers into your mailing list.

Good Things - eCommerce Email
Subscription Widget Pop-up

One thing that you need to include is an unsubscribe button in your channels. Yes, adding this will mean your list may decrease in size, but more importantly it lets your audience do the different work of cleaning your contact lists for you. By removing customers who’d rather not see your emails, you are ensuring that only those most active engaged users are being sent an email, which in turn means you are (1) spending less money sending emails to people who won’t open them anyways, or worse would mark it as spam, and (2) increasing your domain and IP reputation with ISPs and inboxes.

BetaList - Email
Unsubscription Email

One of Mailjet’s enterprise users, Videostream, knows the value of this all too well. With the help of a Customer Success Manager, Videostream cleaned their list from 1.2M contacts to 120K contacts. This 10x decrease in users actually resulted in a 5x more total opens, and an increase in ROI of 10x. This is because the more people receive unwanted emails from you, the less likely it is you will land in the inbox of those who do in fact like you. Here’s a full case study on how Videostream accomplished this.

4. Track and use your data

Data should serve as the bedrock of your email marketing campaigns. Considering different buyer personas and the customer lifecycle in your email marketing will allow you to send the right email to the right people. Whether it is creating promotional holiday emails, or segmenting people into different groups, data will help you send the relevant emails to the right people.

Email Stats - eCommerce Email
Mailjet Email Stats

Useful email metrics to consider when using Mailjet’s platform include how many emails have been sent, delivered, opened and clicked. Sent is a way of saying that the recipients’ servers have received the emails, and delivered means that the recipients can now read them…somewhere (in their inbox? Spam? Mystery. Well, kinda.). The opened rate shows how many people have opened their emails, and the clicked rate shows how many times your customers have clicked on a link in your emails since receiving them.

Other types of data that you want to track, of course, are related to the types of customers you want to target. Getting actionable customer insights will help you send the right types of emails to the right segments, and create engaging, personalized emails.

5. Personalize!

Even the most successful email campaign can be improved. So you need to keep testing your performance.
Which email subject line has the best opening rate? Which links and call-to-action buttons generate the most clicks? Which email content was uninteresting for your subscribers? Ask yourself these questions and adjust your content accordingly.

You can use A/B testing to compare different types of content and then see which alternative was received most positively by your customers.

You can use a tracking function for a step-by-step breakdown of if and when an email has been opened, and which links and widgets were used. With this knowledge, you can improve and adjust your future campaigns.

Personalised Email
Boden Email Personalization

Segmentation can also be carried out based on this evaluation. You can send personalized email content and build an optimized list of newsletter subscribers.

6. Deliver on your Deliverability

Improving your deliverability – the rate at which your email reaches your customers’ inboxes – is of utmost importance to ensure that your emails do not go not into the spam folder, where emails go to die.

Essentially, all of the previous tips lead up to getting a higher deliverability rate for your Ecommerce business. Creating compelling, data-driven email copies will increase the open rates and click rates, which improve your sender reputation. Your contact list should be constantly updated and adequately segmented so that the right people receive the right emails.

To get high delivery rates, have a good, reliable email service provider (we recommend Mailjet). There are many marketing platforms that can send your emails, and have become particularly good at providing both a CRM and an email system, however these tools are often good at a few things but are simply not as strong in email deliverability as an email service provider can be.

This is primarily because good deliverability requires three things that take time, resources, and a commitment to email: (1) strong and on-going relationships with inbox providers, (2) robust infrastructure and third party vetting tools like Mailjet’s partnership with 250ok, and (3) devoted deliverability experts to help maintain quality domain and IP addresses for senders like you.

On your side of the equation, you will need to enable your Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain Keys Identified Mail Option (DKIM). These allow your ISPs to recognize the fact that your emails come from a reliable, authorized system, and prevent spammers from stealing the identity of legitimate identities. Mailjet provides an easy-to-follow guide to do this.

In summary, here are some digestible email tips for Ecommerce businesses:
Tip 1: Marry good content with smart design to drive customers towards your products.
Tip 2: Learning different kinds of email will really allow you to take advantage of email’s sweet ROI. And don’t do no-reply emails. It’s bad for business.
Tip 3: Take multi-channel approaches to incentivize subscription. But make it also easy to unsubscribe to make sure that you’re not sending emails to people who will never read your emails.
Tip 4: Tracking data on customers and email will help indicate what works and what doesn’t.
Tip 5: Personalize and segment your email campaigns, putting in that little extra effort on each campaign and in data collection will go a long long way in standing out from the crowd.
Tip 6: Make sure your emails don’t go in the spam folder by sending emails smartly and following the previous tips.

Now it’s your turn!

You are now ready to make the most of email marketing for your Ecommerce company. You know you need an effective email marketing strategy, how to create and manage email lists, and which types of emails are just waiting for you to use them.

Mailjet offers you all of the email functions and tools that online shops need for this purpose. Don’t miss any more opportunities for your Ecommerce business. Simply log into Mailjet or set up a free account:

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Have you tried any of these email campaigns? How did it go? Share it with us on Twitter. And why not sign up to our newsletter? 😉

This blog post is contains parts from an old post “7 Emails for Small Online Shops”, published on the Mailjet blog on September 25th, 2018 by Jan Bernecke.