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.

Spam piling up
Spam piling up

 

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.

The NoReply Dilemma: Best Practices For Your Email Strategy

Let me tell you a short, sad story. This is my inbox:

NoReply Inbox

For months, I have tried to stop a brand from sending me these emails (we don’t do naming or shaming here). But every time I try to contact them, I get back an automated reply which says that my email failed to be delivered. You can imagine my frustration here… Now I understand how my mom would feel when she asked me to tidy up my room. It was like talking to a brick wall.

Post GDPR, it is more important than ever to take the time to evaluate whether you should use a no-reply address for your marketing campaigns. How can you expect your subscribers to contact you to claim their rights if you don’t allow them to do so?

Our friend Chris Arrendale, CEO and founder of Inbox Pros, explains why sending your marketing emails using a reply-to address is always the best idea.

***
There is a misconception that sending from a noreply email address is the best way to go to avoid being flooded with email replies. If you’re not familiar, you’ve likely seen this type of sender address before – most of the time it looks like this: noreply@domain.com.

Want to define your email strategy to win customers over this holiday season? Check out Mailjet’s Holiday Email Toolkit.

What is a noreply email address?

A noreply email is an email address that is not monitored and blocks customers from replying. However, it can confuse and frustrate customers if their replies go unanswered or worse – bounce.  Let’s explore why it’s never a good idea to use this type of account for email marketing and what you should use instead.

Why you shouldn’t use “noreply” and what to do instead

A noreply email address decreases deliverability and increases spam

Certain ISPs,network spam filters, and customers’ personal email security settings are set up to send noreply email to the junk folder. This will decrease overall deliverability rates and being inboxed less leads to lower possible conversions.

Also looking at email trends from a broader sense, 53% of email is opened on mobile devices.  To accommodate for the smaller screen, inboxes on mobile devices show a preview of the sender and your email address as well.  As a consumer, would you open an email with a noreply email address? You’re more likely to feel like a company is unapproachable.

Swap out the noreply for a reply-to address

Most ISPs do not allow email recipients to add  noreply emails to their address books. If a recipient can’t add you to their address book, you’re more likely to be flagged as spam and sent to the junk folder.  It is also much more likely for subscribers to hit the spam button if they can’t reply back requesting removal of their email address.  I’ve seen cases where customers unsubscribed from some of their favorite brands because noreply emails addresses were not being monitored.

Another interesting point to remember is that it shows credibility to ISPs when recipients engage with your email, replying to your email being one of those cases. Safe sender privileges include bypassing some of an ISPs mail filters and delivering straight to the inbox.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 9.48.55 AM

Best practices to remember when sending email replies

As mentioned before, some people skip over the unsubscribe link and reply directly to your email asking to be removed.  These customers bypass the unsubscribe link because they’re afraid it will only flood their mailbox with more emails.  Make sure you honor these requests promptly and suppress the email addresses from your list.  The last thing you want is for these recipients to feel like they are being unheard and in frustration, mark your email as spam.

Also, monitor your reply email address is if you’re sending to a domain where the recipient never opted into your email program. The mail administrator (at the recipient’s domain) may try to contact you at your reply email address.  This is a crucial moment because if you don’t respond back, the email recipient may report you to a blacklist and/or try to contact the Email Service Provider or Data Center to complain about your email.

Building the best conversation

A reply-to email address is essential to any email marketing program.  It nurtures the conversation between you and your customers.

Many B2B senders will use a sales person’s email address as the reply-to to keep the conversation personal and on a more one-to-one level.  Where B2C senders may use a general reply-to address that may be monitored by multiple email marketing professionals.  Both scenarios build the confidence that when the recipient replies to the marketing email, the email will be received and followed up on.

To sum it up, the noreply email address should never be used to send from..  It tells your customers that you don’t really care what they have to say.  You’re also missing out on an important opportunity to collect feedback and learn how to improve your product and also it’s not the best way to grow your email list.

***

Have you had a bad experience with stubborn no-reply email addresses? Share it with us on Twitter. :)

Infographic: The Psychology Of Color In Email Marketing

So you’re wondering how “marketing colors” can help you convince people? We all realize that colors can have different effects on our mood, and marketers have been using this in branding and advertising since the profession began. Just think about how we describe emotions using colors: feeling blue, seeing red, green with envy etc.

Leveraging how colors can affect emotions is vital for the success of your marketing strategy and efforts. Considering that, on average, a reader spends about 8 seconds on an email once opened, you will definitely want to find a way to attract their attention and interest.

In this post, we will be exploring the psychology of colors in email marketing and what effect these can have on the end-user and even deliverability.

Applying Color To Email Marketing

What captures the reader’s attention once they open an email is not the text, but the visual elements, such as color, design, and images… However, it is color in particular that can awaken interest, or, conversely, cut it at the root, if the combination of colors does not work well.

To help you with your email marketing strategy and to ensure you use the ideal color combination to achieve your goals, we have prepared this infographic with examples of real emails and the messages that each color transmits to the user.

Psychology Of Colors For Email Marketing

In a Huffington Post article, Leslie Harrington, Executive Director of The Color Association of The United States suggests that: “we react on multiple levels of association with colors. There are social or cultural levels as well as personal relationships with particular colors”. You also have an innate reaction to color. For example, when you look at red, it does increase your heart rate. It is a stimulating color. This goes back to caveman days of fire and danger and alarm.”

From white to black and in between, here are 7 main colors and the different feelings they evoke:

Color Feeling Comment
Red Energy Boosts your energy levels and increases adrenaline. Considered a high energy color, to be used in rooms and areas where we need to be more productive, such as home offices. We also associate this color with passion and romance. This is proven to derive from our ape ancestors – male chimpanzees and baboons are attracted to the reddened females during ovulation, considered sexual signals.
Orange Fun Represents warmth and happiness, providing optimism and trust. With associations to sunny days and bright light, orange is known to bring a positive outlook on life and portray good health by being stimulating.
Yellow Optimism Yellow is known to be uplifting, happy and cheerful. It is also the most illuminating color, so used in a physical context (rather than psychological), it can be straining on the eye, thus providing a feeling of anger and frustration. No wonder all the cars try to run me over when I wear my high visibility jacket while cycling!
Blue Trust Blue is considered the color of honesty, loyalty and trust. Even though it is the most favoured color by men,  Blue is known to be a calm color with soothing effects. This could be one of the reasons that doctors and nurses wear blue and green, especially when we consider they are opposite red on the color wheel.
Green Growth Due to its extensive association with nature, green is the color for growth and peacefulness. Also considering that it’s in the middle of the color spectrum, it’s considered the color of balance. Green tends to be reassuring however with our modern conceptions of ‘$’, we can also see green as money.
White Neutral White is known to resemble sterility and cleanliness. Due to artistic depictions of religious figures as white and pure, this shade has also come to represent holiness and goodness. As white provides little stimulation for the senses, over use of it can come across as cold and boring.
Black Hidden Apart from its negative connotations such as “evil” (being the opposite of white), death and darkness, black can be seen as mysterious and hidden from the world. This is one of the reasons why when I was 18, I didn’t wear anything but black. In color psychology black means power and control. “People who like black may be conventional, conservative and serious, or they may think of themselves as being sophisticated or very dignified.” Judy Scott-Kemmis argues. Taking all these points into consideration, black can be an empowering shade to use, if used in the right amount, for the right audience.

Keep your product in mind when picking colors for your marketing campaigns

When considering the use of certain colors in email campaigns, the first thing we need to consider is its association to our brand. Maintaining the integrity of the brand is our number one goal, and after that we can start to think about the messaging and the moods that the colors will portray to the audience.

In a research report entitled ‘Impact of Color in Marketing’, it was uncovered that 90% of decisions made about certain products can be based on their color alone.

gender-colour

via KISSmetrics

Gender plays a role when picking colors

Another angle on choosing the right color for your email campaigns is gender. Psychology of colors can be gender specific and certain colors are favoured more than others by males and females, as KISSmetrics uncovered.

kiss-colours

via KISSmetrics

After considering your target audience, you’ll want to think about conversion. What colors will invite your prospects to take action? We recommend A/B testing (or A/X testing!) as well as Segmentation as different approaches work differently for each campaign and segment.

Here is an experiment done by Hubspot:

call-to-action-colours

Taking into consideration what we have learnt so far about these two colors, as well as putting them in a modern context such as driving, where green means “Go”, red means “Stop”; which of these two buttons do you think had the higher conversion

The red button outperformed green by 21%! Probably not what you had in mind, right? Knowing which colors to use for call-to-actions is an ancient old and biblical discussion that will never end (okay, not really).

The lesson we must learn here is that even if we do our due diligence and research, we should always be testing our campaigns. Every customer is different and their response to each color can vary depending on a variety of reasons such as mood, location, device used, choice of color combination and so much more.

Want to define your email strategy to win customers over this holiday season? Check out Mailjet’s Holiday Email Toolkit.

Impact of the use of color on email marketing deliverability

As you may already know, there are a host of key phrases which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) don’t like, which means if these words are used then the email is very likely to go straight to the spam folder. These are called SPAM triggering phrases.

Just like these phrases which may send your email into SPAM, you’ll need to consider your image to text ratio – as a rule of thumb use 25% image and 75% text.

Unfortunately, ISPs don’t reveal exactly what triggers spam filters, however through the same collaborative effort of finding out what words trigger them and what text to image ratio we should be using, we have come to understand that extensive use of red in texts is one of the main tip offs.

Red is known as a ‘loud color’, so extensive use of it within text or background usually means that we’re really trying to get the users attention. The same principle is used towards CAPITALS, large texts and symbols such as exclamation or the dollar sign.

Most SPAM filters work on a scoring system. Each of the mentioned attributes above carries a maximum score. The higher your total score, the more likely your emails will end up in SPAM.

Final thoughts

So what have we learnt so far? Psychology of colors in email marketing can be tackled from different angles. Next time you’re designing your email campaigns, keep these thoughts in mind:

  • Does my color combination of text, images and background complement my brand?
  • Have I overused ‘loud’ colors?
  • Have I considered what call to action colors are used to increase conversion?
  • What mood am I trying to create with this message and choice of colors?
  • “I must A/B test. I must A/B test. I must A/B test. I must A/B test.”

Has any of you email marketing campaigns benefited particularly from the use of color? Share your experience with us on Twitter.

***

This blog post is an updated version of the post “Psychology Of Colors For Advertising, Marketing And Email“, published on the Mailjet blog on February 16, 2015 by Amir Jirbandey.

Email Campaign Statistics: What Do They Tell You?

In the mind of many marketers, emailing is mostly about having a contact list, coming up with engaging content ideas (from the subject line to CTAs), and pressing send, with the satisfaction of a job well done. Yet, funny enough, this is just half of the job. There is more to emailing than just sending campaigns or setting up transactional emails. It’s also about tracking your campaigns’ performance, analyzing the results and drawing conclusions to improve your future sending. “But how do I do this?“, we hear you ask.

1-how
 

Fear not, dear reader! Email statistics (and your marketing experts friends from Mailjet) are here for you. In this post we’ll walk you through the stats you should keep an eye on, why they are important, what the results can say about your emailing practices and overall marketing strategy, and how you can improve them.

Email statistics you should keep an eye on

Obviously, all email statistics provided by the different email service providers are relevant. They’re actually so relevant that, whatever platform you’re using to send your emails, the different email status’ available in your statistics dashboard will be labeled the same way. Yeah, email stats are that important.

The Good… And The Bad

Email statistics can roughly be classified in two categories: positive and negative. It’s not an official classification, but it can help you understand what is good, what is not so good, and what you definitely need to improve.

Positive Stats

Positive Email Stats

  • Sent and Delivered

These are the most obvious and easy to understand stats: the Sent and Delivered rate. Their names are pretty straightforward. The Sent rate is the proportion of emails which have actually left the sender server to reach your recipients. If large numbers of messages stay as “sent” for a long period of time (usual sending time may vary between a couple of seconds to a few hours), you are probably experiencing a deliverability issue.

The Delivered rate is the proportion of sent emails which have landed in the recipient’s server. However, being “delivered” does not necessarily mean the email ended up in the recipient’s inbox. It’s impossible for anyone other than the recipient to know if the message was delivered to their inbox or the junk folder.

Usually, if you’re respecting the best practices of emailing, these stats are somewhere between 95% and 100%.

  • Opened

The Open rate is the percentage of delivered emails that have been opened at least once. It’s a good way to know if people want to read your messages or if they bin your emails them straight away without even opening them. You clearly want this stat to be as high as possible.

  • Clicked

The Click rate is the percentage of opened emails that have been clicked on at least one time, excluding clicks on the unsubscribe link. This statistic is very important as it shows how subscribers interact with your content, and if it is interesting enough to drive readers to your website. High click rates are a sign of interest and can help shape your future campaigns.

Negative stats

Negative stats are the ones which can hurt your sender reputation. Very badly, if they’re too high. So, you’ll want them to be as low as possible. At Mailjet, we set a threshold for you to not pass, otherwise, you run the risk of having your account put in quarantine or even blocked.

Negative Stats Threshold

  • Bounced

The Bounce rate is calculated on the total amount of emails sent. A bounce means that the email didn’t reach its intended destination – your contact’s inbox – for different reasons, and it was returned with an error message. At Mailjet, we make a distinction between Soft Bounces and Hard Bounces.

Soft Bounces are temporary issues such as the recipient’s inbox is too full, or there is a connection timeout. In these cases, redelivery will be attempted automatically. If the email is not delivered within 5 days, it’s marked as bounced.

Hard Bounces are permanent delivery errors caused by an invalid email address (e.g. a mistyped email, a non-existent destination server, etc.). These types of bounces negatively impact your sender reputation. To avoid deliverability issues, it’s very important to regularly remove bounced email addresses from your contact lists.

  • Unsubscribed

The Unsubscribe rate is linked to the open rate. It indicates the percentage of recipients who clicked on the unsubscribe link – or the unsubscribe button provided by some webmail clients and ISPs – in the open email. Think of it as a healthy way to keep your contact lists up-to-date. Note that, if you’re using Mailjet, unsubscribed email addresses are automatically removed from your lists.

  • Blocked

The Block rate is calculated on the total amount of emails sent. Blocked is a status Mailjet sets for its users. Emails which have previously hard bounced, have been marked as spam, or that have potential spammy content, are pre-blocked by our system. This way, your sender’s reputation is less impacted.

  • Set as spam

This stat is also calculated on the total number of emails delivered. Spam complaints are made when the recipient believes an email is unsolicited. Spam is typically aimed at marketing emails. Transactional emails usually don’t get marked as spam. Many ISPs provide a ‘spam’ button or link in each email delivered. When a recipient clicks on this button, the email is reported as Spam and this is displayed on your Stats page.

Spam complaints are taken very seriously and can be detrimental for your sender’s reputation. You will want keep your spam rate lower than any other email stat. Some tips in our sending policy to keep your spam rates down are:

  • Only send your emails to recipients who have given explicit consent. The use of Third Party contact lists is prohibited.
  • Always include a clearly visible and easy to use unsubscribe link in all your emails. You don’t want subscribers to mark your email as spam to stop receiving it.
  • Your sender name and domain must be communicated in all your messages. Content should be relevant and reflect your subscribers’ expectations. Cleaning your lists regularly ensures that your emails are sent to engaged readers.

What do these stats mean for you?

Stats Dashboard

These stats don’t exist for the sake of our love for numbers (not sure we even love them that much…). They mean something. And following the results, you should take different actions, depending on the KPIs you have set, obviously. Let’s go through a few common scenarios…

1. I don’t have any significant negative stats, but my open rate is low.

Before opening your emails, your recipients will check 3 things: your sender name, your subject line and your pre-header. Have you tested these different elements? The sender name you’re using might not be as clear as you think. Or perhaps your subject line could be pimped a little with emojis. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered with this post about the elements you can (and should) test.

Emoji Subject Line

Why not use emojis in your subject lines to capture recipients’ attention? Just like we do.

2. I have a good open rate, but my click rate is not taking off.

Great! Your recipients open (and hopefully read) your emails. Though, for some reasons, they don’t seem to click. This could be down to either a CTA or content issue. If there are not enough things to click on in your email, your readers might not click; or if your content isn’t appealing enough to them, your readers won’t click.

So be sure to test (yep, once again) the positions of your CTAs and the length of your content. Make your CTAs more clickable, with clear buttons and/or images instead of simple hyperlinks in your wording. This is also practical: if your emails are opened and read on a mobile device, it will be easier for readers to click on a button using their thumbs rather than having to zoom in to enlarge the text.

3. My negative stats are going crazy, help!

The issue here it’s clear: the quality of the contact list you are using is bad.
This could be due to a number of things:

  • You haven’t sent an email for a looooooong time, and your recipients don’t know who you are anymore;
  • You recently purchased or borrowed a third-party list (HUGE NO-NO!) and are currently experiencing the consequences;
  • Since you started sending emails regularly, you haven’t cleaned your contact list, resulting in a clog of bad stats.

To prevent this from happening, you have limited options. First, before sending: NEVER USE A PURCHASED LIST! Second: NEVER USE A PURCHASED LIST! And third: you get the message? It’s like Fight Club: you have to repeat the first rule to be sure it sticks.

Fight Club GIF

Now that we’re sure you know and remember the golden rule, there are a few other things you can do. If it’s the first campaign you’re sending since… forever? Or at least for quite a long time, send smaller campaigns before you send to all your contacts, and ask them if they want to stay on your list or not. This way, you’ll limit the risks of your unsubscribe and spam rates skyrocketing.

Also, don’t forget to remove bounced, reported as spam and blocked emails from your contact lists. It’s like cleaning your teeth each night: it takes just 3 minutes of your time, it’s kind of annoying and looks useless. Yet, in the long run, the results are worth it: you still have all your – possibly white – teeth and you’ve preserved your sender reputation. Everybody (but your dentist), wins!

And here you are. We’ve walked through the main stats you should follow when looking to improve your email campaigns. As you’ve seen, it’s not rocket science, but simply testing, improving, and testing again. Oh and, of course, following best practice (You haven’t forgotten the golden rule yet, have you?). So go, make your positive stats increase and reduce the negative ones to a pulp!

You liked the post, or have something to add to it? Let us know on Twitter! We’d love to hear about your stats, let us know.

***

This blog post is an updated version of the post “What Do Your Stats Tell You? Emailing Doesn’t Stop When You Press Send!“, published on the Mailjet blog on March 23rd, 2017 by Thomas Hajdukowicz.

Double Opt-In: Should I Or Shouldn’t I?

Search “Double opt-in” in Google, and you’ll get over nine million hits! Clearly, a lot has been written on the subject. Nine million results, a large part of which are composed of questions like “Should I use a subscription confirmation?” and “Double opt-in or single opt-in?”…which leads us to believe that there is still a great deal of doubt about whether this technique is really necessary.

And with GDPR knocking on our front doors and some ESPs deciding it is time to move to single opt-in, we think it’s time for you get the facts and learn why, at Mailjet, we strongly believe double opt-in is the best way forward.

 

What is double opt-in?

When your users subscribe to your email marketing program via a registration form, you have a choice. You can welcome them and start sending them newsletters right away, which is what we call single-opt in. Or you can ask your contacts to confirm they want to receive your email communications by sending them an email with a confirmation link. It is this latter possibility that we call the double opt-in. Double, because there is a first authorization at the time of registration and a second one, with the confirmation email. Let’s take a look at what this looks like…

 

Skyscanner opt-in

 

Skyscanner’s Price Alert form allows you to check a box to subscribe to their email communications.

Welcome_to_Skyscanner_Price_Alerts__Please_confirm_your_address__—_Google

Once you’ve filled in the form, Skyscanner follows up with a confirmation email, asking you to click on a link to confirm you want to receive their Price Alerts. In this email, they clearly specify what you can expect from their email communications, and what you need to do if you don’t want to receive any more emails from them.  

The advantages of double opt-in

Double opt-in allows you to be sure:

  1. That the email address is valid;
  2. That the owner of the email address is really the person who subscribed to your mailing list;
  3. Your new contact is really interested in receiving your communications and is more likely to engage with your content.

These three advantages allow you to begin your relationship with your subscriber on good terms:

  • He/she agrees to receive your newsletter; he/she even agreed to it twice. Thus, the subscriber will not classify your emails as spam later on down the road.
  •  By requesting that he/she clicks on the confirmation link, you have already generated your first interaction with your subscriber. This is a positive sign sent to the webmails and a good start for your sender reputation.
  •  You avoid sending your newsletter to an incorrectly typed email address. This will prevent you from having to clean up your list later. Although we recommend cleaning your list every few months to keep engagement as high as possible.

In summary, the double opt-in allows you to obtain a more qualitative and more reactive list of subscribers who are really looking forward to your content. Who could ask for more?

 

The new double D: Double opt-in & Deliverability

If we look at the reality of the situation, the popularity of the double opt-in has increased significantly, but there are still some senders (and even ESPs) that favour single opt-in.

While some might think double opt-in is an unnecessary step that will make it harder to get email addresses, it should not be seen as a barrier between the user and your company.  Having a more engaged contact list is key to improve your deliverability. A user that really wants to receive your content is more likely to engage with it, which will improve your open and click-through rates. It will also mean you don’t get any undesired email addresses in your contact list, mitigating the risk of falling into a spam trap or being marked as Spam. If you send from a dedicated IP, all of these are key signs for ISPs that will increase your sending reputation and your chances of landing in the inbox.

While not all ESPs do, at Mailjet we strongly recommend double opt-in for those sending from shared IPs too. At the end of the day, every email campaign send to any contact list in a shared IP contributes to its sender reputation, and as a leader in good deliverability we want to ensure all of our users have the best possible chances of reaching the inbox. We don’t want any of our shared IPs blacklisted, do we?

Double opt-in- Should I or Shouldn't I?

 

Have any more questions about double opt-in or how it can impact your deliverability? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Twitter!

 

***

This blog post is an updated version of the post “Double Opt-In: Should I Or Shouldn’t I?”, published on the Mailjet blog on September 13th, 2013.

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

If we take a trip down memory lane (some of our lanes might be longer than others ?), we might remember a parent telling us if we didn’t tidy our bedroom or help clean the dishes we’d end up on Santa’s naughty list and only find a lump of coal in our stocking. Let’s face it, none of us wanted to end up on the naughty list. We wanted to be on the nice list so we could stuff our faces with chocolate on Christmas Day morning or play with that toy we’d been whining on about in the run-up to the holiday season.

200

As email marketers, we know if we don’t clean our email contact lists we could find ourselves on the naughty list (or as it’s more formally known, an ISP Blacklist…). So, what do we do to avoid this predicament? You’ve guessed it. Follow our top tips to get onto Santa’s Nice List (and make sure your holiday emails land safely in the inbox).

Want to define your email strategy to win customers over this holiday season? Check out Mailjet’s Holiday Email Toolkit.

Get your list in order

Chances are the holiday season is one of the most lucrative times of the year for you. So, don’t let all your hard work go to waste. You want your subscribers to engage with your content in the inbox and not for it to land in the junk folder. Removing inactive, unengaged contacts from your list is just as important as growing your email contact list with new and captivated subscribers.

It’s important to remove unsubscribed contacts, and hard bounces from your contact lists to optimize the performance of your email campaigns and give them the best chance of making it to the inbox (and not the spam folder). But, what else can you do to optimize your email contact list? Well, I’m glad you asked.

You could also segment your list based on the engagement of your contacts. Target the ones that have not opened your emails in the past 3 to 6 months. Send them a ‘we miss you’ reactivation email, and if they don’t engage in that, remove them from your contact list until after the holiday season. Let’s face it, if they haven’t engaged with you in the last 6 months the message is pretty clear, they’ve lost interest in your offering. You can always try to capture their attention again once the holiday season is over.

re-engagement

Ramp-up to full capacity

Along with cleaning your list, it’s important not to increase your sending frequency and volumes too quickly. You may think that your list is performing better than ever, so you’re exempt from the normal rules of emailing, but sadly that’s not true. ISPs often become very suspicious if you go from emailing your list once a week to daily and have huge spikes in your sending volume. We know it’s tempting to send more emails to get a higher ROI, and you can, you just need to warm the ISPs up to the idea first. You might end up looking suspiciously like a spammer if you send significantly higher volumes in a short time period, so take your time, and slowly increase sending over a few weeks.

So now you finally know, the secret to getting onto Santa’s nice list is cleaning your email list and ramping-up your sending gradually… not cleaning your room. At Mailjet we recommend you only target subscribers who have engaged with your emails in the last 6 months. We know it’s tempting to reach back further into your email contact lists to maximize potential profit opportunities, but make sure you do it safely. Focus on your most active subscribers first, increasing the size of your list and sending volume slowly. That way, your efforts won’t go to waste and you’ll avoid your emails being blocked.

Do you need some inspiration to create beautiful Holiday email campaigns that not only will end up in the inbox, but also that your subscribers will definitely open? Download Mailjet’s Ultimate Guide To Holiday Emailing and discover great tips, from creating jaw-dropping designs, to crafting original content and working with our unique checklist.

Holiday Emailing Guide

 

Have you cleaned your contact list and seen great results? We’d love to hear your experiences. Tweet us @Mailjet using the #Iamonthenicelist.

Dedicated vs IP Addresses Explained

 

In New York, as in most large cities, there are only a fortunate few that live alone. Rent keeps increasing by the day and spacious apartments are hard to come by, so we live with roommates. Sharing an apartment with someone means sharing less favorable habits; dishes left in the sink, waking up at dawn to do Pilates in the living room … but it also means a lower financial burden and responsibility of maintaining the place.

The same kind of consideration goes for IP addresses. You can either share an IP address or buy your own – neither is better than the other, there are pros and cons to both. This Flight School Friday, we’ll explore the two options and help you determine which one works best for your business.

What does this have to do with Email?

Similar to roommates, when it comes to sharing an IP address, you’re in it together. Each sender’s reputation on the IP address will affect the others. If you’re just starting off with sending email campaigns or you send a low volume of email, sharing an IP address is a great solution to quickly establish credibility with ISPs such as Google, AOL and Yahoo. At the risk of taking this metaphor too far: this is the same concept as using a guarantor for your apartment if your rent or credit history isn’t established enough.

ISPs will look for consistent sending volume and consistent implementation of email best practices to determine your sender reputation. If your business sends email on a seasonal basis or only needs to communicate occasionally, sharing an IP address is a good way to share the reputation of more established senders. It’s also typically the less expensive option, since you don’t have to pay additional set up fees for an individual IP address.

The downside here is that you’re sharing the reputation of other senders. If these senders forget to clean their contact lists, send an email that falls into a spam trap, use a sensational subject line or any of these black-hat practices, that damages your reputation as well.

Should I get a dedicated or shared IP?

As your business grows and you send larger volumes of email, you’ll likely want to consider moving onto an individual IP address. The reputation of this fresh IP address will be as good or as bad as your sending practices warrant. This means slightly more responsibility than a shared IP address, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve read up on your deliverability best practices and CAN-SPAM law, and of course GDPR.

Working off of your own IP address also makes it easier to track down and troubleshoot deliverability issues. You can even take your campaigns one step further by dedicating an IP address to marketing emails (newsletters, promotional messages) and transactional emails (triggered messages such as thank you emails, birthday emails and reactivation emails). Marketing emails, due to their promotional nature, are more likely to be marked as spam or generate unsubscribes and bounces. While transactional emails tend to be more used to generate responses like invoices, with password resets and tailored information in response to an action taken by a customer. Separating your traffic onto two separate IP addresses ensures that more crucial transactional emails such as invoices and account updates are not affected by the reputation of your marketing emails.

At the end of the day, there’s really no right or wrong answer here – it’s simply a matter of what your business goals are and how your customers prefer to communicate. We do encourage customers to use a dedicated IP address if they can, to have full reign over their deliverability needs and sender reputation. But most likely you’ll get a chance to use both shared and dedicated IP addresses during different stages of your business and for various types of email campaigns. The key takeaway is to do regular maintenance on your IP address, monitor your sender score and review your deliverability reports.

What do you currently use: a shared or dedicated IP address? What do you like/not like about your set up?

The Myths Of Switching Email Service Provider

“I no longer have a reliable Customer Success Manager.”

“My current ESP is no longer investing in their email solution (!!).”

“My Open Rate is declining, I’m not even sure my emails are landing in the Inbox.”

“I can’t afford the costs or downtime incurred with switching to a new ESP.”

We’ve all been there: the company you work for relies on a business critical software solution. We put up with a few aches and pains, as this is probably the best it can get. Sounds familiar?

I imagine the answer’s “yes”. Let’s take a look at the most common myths of switching and show you that the grass can be greener on the other side. Well, yellower if you move to Mailjet .

Switching ESP

5 myths of switching Email Service Provider

Myth #1: A complex process

First up, where do you begin? Moving all your contacts and email templates to another platform sounds daunting enough. But, then you consider all your integrations, your API keys, configuring your SPF and DKIM authentication, sending addresses and domains, dedicated IPs… The list goes on.

At Mailjet, we believe it can be simple. Leave the complexities of switching to us. We’ll tailor an onboarding plan bespoke to your business, removing the headache, and allowing you to see tangible results fast. Our Customer Success Team will make your success their priority, with an actionable project plan to get you sending with Mailjet ASAP, offering helpful advice and best practices along the way.    

 

Myth #2: Difficult integration to insights solution, CRM, and other systems

When you think about your email activity, you have your three main types: marketing, transactional and automated emails. But each of these does not operate in a standalone way. Data from your other systems feeds into your email communications.

Your CRM might store all your contact information for your marketing emails, your ecommerce platform might store all your transactional data, so you send that all important order confirmation email at the right time, and your insights solution might help your automated emails to be even more relevant to your recipients. So how do you ensure all these emails keep sending?

Our team of API experts is here to support you with all your integration needs, Ensuring that your business critical emails keep sending in the way you want them to.  

 

Myth #3: Downtime in email activity

Switching ESPs will mean you have a period of time when you cannot send emails. Won’t it? Well, actually no. At Mailjet, it’s is possible to transition smoothly from your existing email service provider with minimal interruption. Linking back to Myth #1, a tailored onboarding plan, bespoke to your business needs, will reduce disruption.

To ensure optimal deliverability, we recommend warming your IPs up (if, a dedicated IP is the most suitable option for you), gradually moving your sending across to your new provider (hopefully us ).    

 

Myth #4: The new solution might not solve delivery issues

What happens if we make the switch and our deliverability gets worse? At Mailjet, we’ve put all the necessary processes in place to ensure it won’t. Starting from your initial conversations with Mailjet, we’ll point you in the direction of best practice resources.

Before you sign up to our solution, your current sending activity will have to pass a compliance process. Sometimes, we might need you to make some changes to your data collection methods to ensure your activity is compliant. This vetting process ensures our high deliverability standards, and is part of the reason why we hit the Spam Traps so infrequently.    

The successful configuration and warm-up of your account will give you the strongest chance of having a great sender reputation with the ISPs. Similarly to building a house, strong foundations are key. Our deliverability team will be with you every step of the way during the first few weeks. But, fear not! They’ll be monitoring your IP and sender reputation throughout your journey with us.  

 

Myth #5: It’s expensive

When email is great, it can be your best performing channel. But don’t listen to us – take it from the experts. Econsultancy found that 73% of marketers rank email ROI as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. The DMA also reported that 18% of email marketers see an ROI of more than £70 in their email marketing campaigns. Initial switching costs might seem like a waste of money, but it could be money well spent if you can maximize your ROI potential.

See? We told you… Sometimes the grass can be greener (yellower) on the other side. 

If you’re thinking of switching ESPs or have recently switched, why not share your views, fears and relief with us on Twitter? We’re always keen to hear your stories.

Email Security And Deliverability For The Banking And Governmental Agencies

With the increasing digitalization of most of our administrative or banking tasks, emailing has become a favored communication channel for both the financial and governmental industries to communicate with their users and customers. The piles of paperwork to validate a loan or to fill in your tax return are pretty much a thing of the past.

But the rise of emailing in these industries means that they have to face new challenges. Even though email is a quick, cheap and highly customizable way to contact their customers, these companies still have to be sure that these emails actually reach their recipients’ inboxes, and that the extremely confidential data they’re sending is completely safe. But, how can they be sure their emails will have the best deliverability and security possible?

In this Security and Deliverability Guide, you’ll learn all about:

  • The deliverability best practices.
  • The technical solutions to reach the inboxes of your recipients.
  • The legal and technical aspects of email security.
  • The different processes set by Mailjet to get your emails properly delivered and secured.

deliv-security-guide-cover
Interested in an Enterprise Plan? Contact our Team here.

Send Transactional Email Confidently With Mailjet Real-Time Monitoring

Transactional emails are at the forefront of most businesses today. Whether you are directly selling online or operating part of your business through the web or apps, you need to set up account creation emails, password resets, booking or order confirmations, invoices, shipping notifications and a wide range of alerts.

We’ve all been someone else’s client, we know how highly anticipated these emails are. They confirm the transaction has successfully taken place and usually provide really valuable information, which explains why these messages have the highest engagement rates.

Not monitoring transactional emails can lead to loss in revenue

Transactional emails are critical for the business execution, but a lot of sand grain can thrown into the gears. Sometimes an issue with your web application, payment gateway, server configuration or connection with your email service provider can disrupt your sending. Or your website could be hacked to send numerous emails to non-existing addresses.

All of a sudden, your shipping notifications start ending up in the Spam folder. Your clients are not receiving their train tickets because the emails are rejected when they try to reach the inbox. Your open or click statistics start dropping dramatically without you even noticing.

It can take long to discover these issues, which could severely hurt your business in many different ways. Not sending account creation emails can damage customer acquisition. Customers no longer receiving their tickets or their purchase confirmation will lead to extra customer service workload, with loads of angry clients wondering whether their transaction’s been completed and where their money’s gone. Repeated bounces in key service information can ultimately drive loyal customers away from you, leading to a direct drop in revenue.

All in all, both your brand reputation and your ROI can be severely impacted if your transactional email goes wrong. So how can you ensure these issues are promptly identified?

Land in the inbox safe and sound with Mailjet’s Real-Time Monitoring

Mailjet is the first email service provider that enables you to have a constant supervision on your transactional feeds. Not only will you be able to set up monitoring for your business’ critical emails, but you’ll be the first to know if anything goes wrong, allowing you to save time and money, and improve customer experience.

Mailjet’s Real-Time monitoring will inform you by email, Slack or even SMS* in case a problem arises, to be able to quickly troubleshoot and identify the cause of the issue. This way, you’ll be able to address the matter and resume your transactional sending in no time.

Img-1

Setting up Mailjet’s Real-Time Monitoring is as easy as 1-2-3

1. Create your monitoring categories

To make it easier for you to monitor your alerts, the first step will be to name each monitoring category you think could be useful. Think about what make the most sense for your business. It could be to split your messages into groups of emails with the same purpose, the same deliverability patterns, or even to group all the emails which are critical to your business.

In our example below, we’ve decided to classify our transactional emails into different categories, so that we can set up specific alerts for each:

Img-2
Once you’ve created your categories in the Mailjet interface, you can go back to your transactional messages to add the category in the headers of each transactional email you wish to monitor.

2. Define your alerts

When your categories are defined and applied to your messages, you can proceed to the setup of monitoring alerts. Our Real-Time Monitoring’s intuitive interface enables you to create your alerts with a step-by-step wizard, based on pre-defined alerts rules. No coding required!

Img-3
You can create as many alerts as you want under one of our four types of monitoring alerts, allowing you to fully control your sending:

  • Messages not sending: triggers a notification when emails are not sent or delivered at all for a certain period of time.
  • Error on critical message: alerts you each time a message is blocked by our systems or bounces from the recipient’s inbox.
  • Delivery delay: notifies you when emails are delivered slower than expected.
  • Unusual statistics: sends you an alert when delivery, bounce or open rate are lower or higher than your predefined threshold.

3. Choose when and how you’re notified

Because you’re not behind you laptop 24/7, email is not the best channel to let you know about your transactional sendings. And because your company won’t have the same level of engagement at all times throughout the day or even throughout the week, some moments might require closer monitoring than others.

Mailjet’s Real-Time Monitoring lets you define the time and day during which an alert is active, and the channel that should be used to notify you. This way, you could schedule alerts on Slack and by email on weekdays, during the hours on which you are at the office, and create the same alert to be notified by SMS* outside working hours.

Img-4

You are completely in control

Thanks to Mailjet’s Real-Time Monitoring, you have complete control of the emails that matter the most to your business and could drive an important part of your revenue. Aside from these alerts, you also have access to a monitoring dashboard that serves as a control tower for your transactional emails.

Img-5
Mailjet’s Real-Time Monitoring is available in Crystal Premium plans and above. Create an account today, and experience it as part of our Premium Features.

P.S. Do you need help to create your transactional emails? Discover our step-by-step Templating Language tutorials to create your emails using MJML, our open-source email framework.

*SMS option coming soon.