Better e-mail deliverability starts with best practices

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Promotions claiming 99.99% anything set off alarm bells. It's just too good to be true, a little voice tells us, and in most cases the little voice is right.

Some e-mail service providers (ESPs) make claims that they can provide customers with 99.99% e-mail deliverability rates. Sounds enticing, but it's misleading. An ESP alone can not deliver such a result. Choosing the right ESP to fit your business helps, but much of e-mail marketing deliverability success is determined by you. It comes down to following best practices.

A study from Aberdeen Group, called Demystifying E-mail Deliverability, debunks the 99.99% myth and provides marketers with practical insights for improving the performance of their e-mail campaigns. Aberdeen identified 'Best-in-Class' marketers who achieve an average deliverability rate of 90.2% — a realistic goal to strive for. These marketers earn great deliverability rates by listening closely to customers and using tactics such as segmentation, personalization, list hygiene and opt-in strategies, all tried and true e-mail marketing best practices any business can achieve.

Marketers should take heart. As the Aberdeen study reveals, improving e-mail marketing deliverability is not a complex mystery that rests with your ESP to solve. In fact, it's straightforward. Improve campaign results by taking the following steps:

Always get permission and set expectations. Ask permission to send e-mail and then take the opportunity to set expectations by telling your subscribers how frequently you'll be e-mailing them and the type of information you'll be sending. Also make it easy for subscribers to opt out. Happy and engaged subscribers — even if that means fewer — lead to strong deliverability rates.

Be relevant by knowing your customers' interests. Sending relevant and timely information to your subscribers helps build your reputation as a trusted and responsible e-mail marketer and makes it less likely that you'll receive spam complaints. Since your customers' preferences and interests are bound to evolve over time, the best way to stay relevant is to periodically ask for feedback and then provide more of the information they want.

Segment for better targeting. Gathering information on customer preferences and interests makes it easier to target them better by segmenting your e-mail list. The most effective marketers, such as the 'Best-in-Class' identified by Aberdeen, segment their contacts into multiple lists based on customer preferences and behavior.

Marketers are in the driver's seat when it comes to better e-mail deliverability. Follow best practices, get more e-mails delivered and watch your campaign performance improve.

Jeremy Saibil is director of deliverability at Campaigner. Reach him at jsaibil@campaigner.com.

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