5 Common Mistakes That Destroy Email Deliverability

This post is brought to you by our friend Jessica Martinez. Jessica is a music advocate, social media enthusiast, and Marketing Director of Kickbox.io. 

In this article we’ll be discussing common mistakes email marketers make that keep their messages from reaching the inbox. If you send email, take note, as you may be committing an email deliverability faux pas without even realizing it.

Email deliverability is the percent of emails that land in the inbox. It doesn’t matter how dazzling your email campaigns are if you have low deliverability. Only a small portion of your recipients will ever see your messages. Inbox placement is influenced by many factors, including your sender reputation, so it’s important you adhere to best practices to ensure your messages get delivered.

While it’s common to make errors from time to time, these offenses can land you in big trouble if they occur frequently. This is a big deal because email deliverability issues are not easily fixed.

The following five mistakes will keep you from seeing the results you want.

You Are Ignoring Inbox Engagement

There are several signals email clients and ISPs consider before determining where to place your email. The way a subscriber interacts with your email within their inbox can impact deliverability in a positive or negative way. Since this is relatively new concept, many marketers do not consider how these interactions affect inbox placement and spam filtering.

Years ago the technology to track actions within the inbox didn’t exist. Only recently has inbox engagement become a factor. Now actions like reads, replies, and folder placement all play a part in determining where your message lands — in the inbox or caught in spam filters.

Positive indicators include:

  • Reads/opens
  • Replies
  • Not moved to junk/spam folder
  • Moved to other folders (not spam/junk folder)
  • Adding sender to address book

Negative indicators include:

  • Moved to junk/spam folder
  • Deleted without reading
  • Marked as spam

Marketers can impact these actions by writing great headlines and consistently sending relevant emails to subscribers. Basically, just be awesome and you’ll breeze by those spam filters.

Your “Open Door Policy” is Too Lax

When you’re collecting email data in an effort to beef up your mailing list you have two methods to opt-in subscribers: single opt-in and double opt-in. Single opt-in will get you more leads but doesn’t necessarily guarantee stellar deliverability.

While it’s true, an open door policy like single opt-in provides less of a barrier to signup and you’ll get more customers in the door, your list will likely be riddled with low-quality and invalid email addresses, corrupting your data from the start.

As your email list quality continues to degrade over time, fewer emails will reach the inbox and an increasing number will get lost in spam filters.

Aside from the compliance benefits, the most important reason you should consider a double opt-in method over single opt-in is because it gives subscribers an opportunity to confirm they actually want to hear from you.

This extra step results in higher levels of engagement, lower complaint rates and better email performance. If you’re in it for the long haul, it’s just a better strategy.

Wouldn’t you rather have a smaller list of engaged users and kickass deliverability than a large list with deliverability issues?

Your Email Data is Stale

Your email data is the food that nourishes your email marketing. If your list data is stale, poor quality and/or full of rotten email addresses you can’t expect top-notch results. Sounds like common sense, right? Well, marketers are often so focused on building their email lists that they forget the simple step of list hygiene.

An email list naturally degrades over time, if you’re ignoring list maintenance and/or you’ve never cleaned your list, a good portion of the email addresses you’ve collected are likely bad and/or low-quality. Email performance and deliverability will both suffer if you don’t maintain a healthy list.  

People change jobs, change names, change email addresses… some email addresses are just plain rotten. There are also email addresses that are poor quality. These are harder to spot because they may not result in a bounce, but could also not be your target audience. Disposable and role addresses are examples of low-quality addresses.

Trying to prune your list manually is a nightmare if you’ve racked up a sizeable amount of email addresses. That’s why smart marketers rely on email verification services, like Kickbox, to verify their email lists to identify deliverable, undeliverable and risky email addresses.

It’s important to note B2B lists degrade at a higher rate than B2C lists due to higher turnover rates. If your email list consists of a high number of business emails, you should be cleaning your list every three months, whereas, B2C lists should be cleaned every six months.

How to use Kickbox to verify your list

You’re Using Purchased Data

In the fight for email dominance, purchasing an email list as a lead gen tactic is a mortal blow — not to your competitors — to your deliverability.

Purchased lists are chock full of bad email addresses that will knock you out of the game before you even get started. The truth is, when you buy an email list, you don’t know what you’re getting and the list will likely include a high volume of invalid, abandoned and poor quality email addresses — not to mention spam traps and honey pots designed to expose non-permission based lists.

Sure, buying a list is an easy way to acquire lots of leads, fast, but it’s also an easy way to ruin your sender reputation and any chance you have of reaching the inbox.

Any email service provider worth their salt will waste no time suspending your account if they suspect you’re using a list that is not opt-in compliant. With so much on the line, it’s just not worth the risk.  

If you throw caution to the wind and somehow manage to send to a purchased list, don’t think you’re out of harm’s way. These leads are ice cold and the recipients don’t know diddly about your business, which means you’re going to have an unusually high number of complaints, spam reports and unsubscribes. These are all red flags sure to get you banned by your ESP and will drastically affect your campaign ROI in a negative way.

When it comes to email marketing there’s no fast track. The best way to attract customers is by providing value in everything you do — from the products and services you offer to the content you create and share.

Once you have their attention, employ best practices when it comes to data collection. If they are opting-in to a newsletter, let them know what to expect and how often you plan on sending to help manage expectations.

Yes, this is a slower tactic, but one that will be worth it in the end. Following these best practices ensures that the leads you collect are high quality, engaged, and actually interested to hear from you. Remember slow and steady wins the race.

You Are Not Sending Enough Emails

If you’re not sending email on a regular basis you’re missing out on the most effective marketing channel for ROI and you are inadvertently destroying your deliverability.

Think about it. It’s hard for people to remember what newsletters they’ve subscribed to, especially in a world where so much of our communication occurs via email. Even if someone legitimately signed up for your newsletter there’s a good chance they’ll forget about you if it has been months since your last email. There is an even greater chance they’ll unsubscribe and/or report your email as spam.

In order to stay top-of-mind with subscribers, create an email schedule and stick to it. Do not ruin your hard work with lead acquisition by sending irregularly with long pauses in between. At the very least, you should be sending one email per month. This will minimize complaints and keep your sender reputation from taking a hit.


Interested in more content like this? Tune in for our upcoming webinar with Kickbox when we are going to talk about stale email data and Segmentation. Reserve your spot!

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