As a marketer, many of your campaigns may be built around one primary objective: getting people to fill out a form. Often, designing a compelling advertisement isn’t enough to encourage people into handing over their details. Many factors can deter someone from submitting a form, including the unwillingness to provide contact information.
Here are some content design strategies and tips that you can employ today to effectively nudge people toward conversion:
When driving people to a form, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to distract them with detours. Landing pages should be built as simple as possible. Here’s how:
1. Drive people to a landing page—not your website.
You want people to do one thing, and one thing only: fill out that form. You must drive them with a simple and engaging email to a landing page that is specifically built for your campaign. Sending someone to your website offers a plethora of distractions, including images and text that don’t apply to your campaign’s appeal, multiple links to other information, and in some cases, flashing beacons of light that are begging folks to take some other action. If you want people to drive directly to your destination, don’t drop them off in the middle of Las Vegas where sparkling lights from competing assets beg for their attention. Likewise, steer clear of cluttering your emails with the same distractions.
2. Remove ALL navigation from the landing page.
Don’t offer an exit ramp when you are trying to capture a person’s information on a form. Doing so can make your lead stray away from your primary call-to-action. Will they find their way back to your form? Maybe. Most of the time—no. At that point, you may have lost their impulse to decide. Instead, your landing page should be designed simply, and with only ONE action they can possibly take: fill out that form.
Emails, advertisements (online and offline), and social campaigns should have a similar look and feel. Using too many different images, layouts and copy between assets can create a disconnect for people, and can even make a person feel like the content is not reliable. Instead, try to use the following techniques in design:
All too often, I have seen emails and landing pages designed with too much text, and entirely too many images. Asking people to read an entire magazine before filling out your form will certainly contribute to losing their interest. Here are some tips on how to do more with less:
Create an impulse decision.
Don’t give up the farm!
Keep all the important stuff above the fold.
Use a short form.
In this exciting new digital age, social media has impacted customer behavior in a way that creates multiple challenges for marketers. Today’s savvy internet surfers are accustomed to getting all the information they need in a short social media status message or in a brief article online. We can learn from this behavior. These micro status messages entice people to follow links to landing pages. Your content marketing strategy should do the same.
Creating short, simple, and actionable marketing messages using the techniques I described here can have a positive impact on conversion rates. While this is not an exhaustive list of conversion strategies, these basics can significantly impact your results.
Do you have any conversion strategies that you use? Please share them here!
On the surface, blogs appear to be fountains of free-flowing information.
You read lots of rich and valuable research.
You collect plenty of juicy data.
You discover how to do a valuable task.
And, sure, some blogs are happy with lots of traffic and satisfied visitors.
But most content marketers know that blogs have the potential to drive insane conversion numbers.
Yes, conversions—as in people taking a desired action on your website. Maybe you want more email signups, more downloads, more free trials, or more purchases.
But here’s where things get dicey. Even though blogs are supposed to drive conversions, they usually don’t.
It comes down to this. There is a disconnect between a blog’s conversion potential and its practical ability to achieve those conversions.
If your blog isn’t converting well, don’t beat yourself up. You’re about to discover some incredibly powerful ways to amp up the conversion power of your blog.
If you can improve the conversion power of your blog, it will transform into an unending revenue stream.
Once you learn how to remove the barriers, there’s no telling how high your conversion rate will soar.
First, let’s make sure we set the stage for the techniques that’ll follow.
What’s the purpose of a blog?
In a word, it’s this: revenue.
I hate to be so cold and businessy about it, but it’s true. Everything in business comes back to revenue.
Let’s say you’re a small business. Ultimately, you want more revenue, right?
More customers will produce more revenue. And a great blog will help you get those customers.
This infographic from SmallFuel Marketing makes the point:
But do blogs drive conversions?
Hubspot’s research demonstrates that yes, indeed, they do. Hubspot’s analysis of a business’s blogging efforts showed that content published in the past 12 months gained an increasing number of contacts as time went on:
Get this. The more you blog, the more customers you’ll gain.
You may be thinking: But what about PPC, social media, and email marketing? What about all those other sexy techniques for driving conversions?
Fair question! Aren’t those effective methods?
Sure, paid search and social media are effective. But when you compare their conversion potential to that of organic search, there’s no contest.
What’s my point?
It’s simple. Your blog can be a conversion machine.
But no, it doesn’t happen if you simply create good content. Good content is a given—something we should assume is already happening.
What you need beyond good content is the means and methods of persuading users to convert when they access your content.
Basically, it’s how you create that content and what you do with that content that makes all the difference.
So, what should you do to rev up the conversion engine that is your blog?
Instead of giving you granular tactics, I want to show you some of the deep methods that produce conversion power from the very source.
Have you ever wondered why I occasionally write a 10,000-word blog post or a 50,000-word guide?
Is it because I get carried away? Have too much time to burn? Am getting paid based on word count?
No, no, and no.
I write articles like these for several reasons. Here are three of them:
Content marketing, as I understand and practice it, is all about value.
I am intent on providing the best darn value, free of charge.
I tend to think a really long article will give you helpful information and hopefully have a positive impact on your business.
Second, we’ve seen the massive impact long-form articles have on SEO.
Let me show you.
Top results on Google correlate with content longer than 2,000 words. In other words, the highest ranked pages on Google also have the most content!
Plus, there’s the social sharing aspect to keep in mind. The longer your content, the more social shares you earn.
Finally, there’s the bit about conversions, which is where I want to settle for just a moment.
Let’s say your blog’s conversion rate is around 2% at the moment.
If 1,000 people visit your ordinary blog article (1,000 words), two of them will sign up for a free trial.
A long-form article, however, gets more traffic than the average blog article. Using the share metrics as a benchmark, we can safely assume that a long-form article (3000+ words) gets 100% more traffic than a shorter article (0-1,000 words).
Now, you have 2,000 people visiting your content—twice as many! And you have twice as many conversions too!
This introduces a logical question: How long is long-form content?
I hate to be “that guy,” but the answer is: as long as it needs to be.
You were looking for a word count, right?
Okay, I’ll give it to you, but you have to listen to my little lesson first.
I—and Google and the rest of the world tend to agree with me—am more interested in the quality of your content than the actual length of said content.
If you spin out 5,000 words of crap, you’ll destroy your conversions, not improve them.
As cliche as it sounds, quality is more important than quantity.
If you’re looking for a word count, I suggest 2,500 words or more are sufficient for outranking your competitors, turning on the traffic floodgates, and boosting your blog conversions.
The Lesson: Crank out long-form content on your blog, and you will double your conversions.
What kind of content drives the most conversions?
There’s no question about it: using long-tail keywords brings in the highest blog conversion rates.
What are long-tail keywords?
A long-tail keyword is a search query—the words that people type or speak to find stuff on the web.
Long-tail queries are…well, long. They generally have more than three words.
For example, “shoes” is a short keyword (called a head term). But “Nike women’s running shoes” is long.
The important thing to realize about long-tail and short-tail keywords is this: Your blog is more likely to rank for long-tail queries.
Best of all, the conversion rates on long-tail queries are sky high.
Take a look at this benefit list of the long-tail keyword. Pay special attention to that last point:
What is a “high” conversion rate? Since “high” is a relative term, let’s do some comparison.
Notice the difference in conversion rates between head terms and long-tail queries. Which is higher?
Long-tail queries converted at 26%, a whopping 160% increase over the 10%-converting head terms!
It’s one thing to know that long-tail terms have higher conversion rates. That’s nice. But the real question is: What do you do about it?
It doesn’t take an SEO whiz to know that your blog probably won’t rank for short head terms like “computer.”
When I query “computer” in my browser, here’s what I come up with:
The bulk of the above-the-fold results are major retailers. Below that are local results.
Sorry, but none of that stuff is long-form content!
I use “computer” as an example because of my personal experience.
I once had a client tell me, “We provide professional web hosting services. We’d like our website to rank for the term computer.”
“Hmm. I don’t think that would be the best approach,” I cautiously countered.
“Well…okay. What about server…or maybe web server?” they replied.
I had a different perspective, so I proposed an alternative solution. I said, “Let’s focus on more specific keywords that could provide a more direct source of traffic and revenue.”
That two-step process, although simple, was all it took.
What were the results?
One of the keywords I picked was “dedicated server capacity for e-commerce site.”
Yeah, it’s a mouthful. But a 2,690-word article on “How to Know if You Need a Dedicated Server for Your E-commerce Site” produced thousands of more conversions than a more general article would have.
To begin producing your own conversion-crushing long-tail keyword articles, follow this process:
The Lesson: Develop your blog’s content to target long-tail keywords.
One of the most direct ways to gain more conversions is to create content that satisfies user intent.
What is “user intent?”
User intent is what someone wants when they type something into Google.
For example, if I want to fly to Delhi next week, I would type in: “tickets from Atlanta to Delhi.”
My intent as a user is to purchase an airline ticket from Atlanta to Delhi, India.
In response to my query, Google would show me some airlines with flight times and rates.
There are three main types of user intent, often called “query types.”
Google is pretty good at determining the type of query you’re using and the best results to provide.
When I searched for airline tickets, Google provided a quick and accessible way to make a purchase based on my transactional query.
When you’re creating long-form blog articles, you are most likely targeting informational queries. These informational queries often bring up blog articles. (Transactional queries, by contrast, usually bring up product pages.)
But we still need to understand the following: What does user intent have to do with conversions?
The answer lies within the buying funnel.
The buying funnel is a model that marketers use to demonstrate how users get around to purchasing something.
The iterations of the buying funnel are many. But the basic idea is this:
Congrats! The prospect has become a customer.
This is what the funnel looks like:
You, as a marketer or website owner, are targeting an individual within the second phase of the funnel—research and comparison.
Your content gives the user what they want.
They want detailed information? They want to hear a solution? They want a helpful discussion?
Enter your content, which satisfies their intent.
Such content can eventually lead to a purchase.
That’s why I recommend you deliver content aligned with user intent.
A simpler way to say it is this: Figure out what the customer wants, and give it to them.
Remember, at this point the person typing in a query is not a paying customer. They are an individual looking for information.
If they trust your website and content, they will move closer to becoming a customer—to converting on your content.
Keep in mind you should not expect to gain conversions simply on account of content that satisfies user intent. As I’ll explain below, you should also make it easy for users to convert.
Let me give you an example of how this process works in real life.
Let’s pretend you want to understand SEO. You type in “how to do SEO.” That’s an informational query.
You are not a customer, but you are in the awareness/research phase of a typical purchase.
This is what you might see in the search results:
The first result from Moz looks hopeful, so you click on it.
You see a comprehensive guide that “covers the fundamental strategies that make your websites search-engine-friendly.”
This is what you’re looking for! Your intent has been satisfied by this comprehensive long-form content.
This feeling of satisfaction is important because it has now prepared you to convert on a call to action.
Let’s take a look at what that might mean.
First, you might be likely to click the yellow button, “Start My Free 30-Day Trial.”
Perhaps, you see this call to action in the sidebar as you’re reading the content.
Or you may want to subscribe to Moz’s Top 10.
Moz creates content that satisfies a user’s intent. Then, they provide an easy way for users to convert on that content.
How do you figure out user intent on your website?
One of the most straightforward methods is to use Google Search Console.
(If you do not have GSC set up on your site, please refer to this guide from Google on how to get started.)
Search Analytics provides a variety of keyword data with configuration options not easily accessible in Google Analytics.
Turn on “Clicks,” “CTR,” and “Position” by clicking the checkboxes:
Next, sort the results by position so you can find out what queries you are ranking for. Click “Position” in the results table:
In the table, look for queries that have a CTR (click-through rate) of 30% or above.
This means that 30%+ of the users who typed in a given query clicked on your results when they appeared in Google. We can safely assume these users are interested in your content.
For this website, I notice that a high percentage of users are clicking on the result for “django benefits.”
The query is django benefits. This is an informational query.
To satisfy user intent, I should provide comprehensive information on that topic.
You can visit the SERP the query directs to by clicking the icon next to the query.
From there, you can navigate to the relevant page on your website.
This foundational technique is helpful. If you give users the kind of content they want (their intent), you will provide a way for them to convert.
But that brings us to a really important point: How do you get them to convert?
The remainder of this article will show you some super practical ways to score those conversions.
Content is king. Keywords are necessary. User intent is important.
But what about the actual conversions?
So far, we’re driving relevant traffic to your page.
Now that we have those readers, we want them to convert.
The definition of conversion is pretty simple:
“The point at which a recipient of a marketing message performs a desired action.”
When you ask for a conversion, you’re not asking your blog reader to pull out their credit card and give you their money. You’re simply asking them to take the next logical step.
Often, this is an easy, low-cost, and logical way to take the relationship to the next level.
Here are some common conversion actions. Notice that each of these takes a few seconds and clicks:
Let’s take a look at a few of these. Each of these are located on a long-form blog article.
The Content Marketing Institute invites you to subscribe to their mailing list and to read their e-book. This is an example of conversion action that includes email subscription and downloading a resource:
Buffer invites you to get started with a free account. The header pictured below is persistent, meaning you’ll always see it as you scroll through the article:
The Optimizely blog invites you to get a copy of their customer stories:
The Marketing Sherpa blog uses a shadowbox popup to invite you to subscribe to their mailing list:
Qualaroo uses a “Start Free Trial” button in their header:
Kissmetrics asks you to try their SaaS:
Invitations to social accounts are so common that it’s easy to overlook them.
In the Kissmetrics screenshot above, you can see a list of social icons on the right side.
The Content Marketing Institute uses an entire section on their sidebar to ask for social connection:
Each of these conversion actions is simple, easy, and painless.
That’s what you want to do. You want to make it easy for the reader to become a regular.
Here are some rules of thumb for effective low-barrier conversion actions:
I suggest only one field (an email address) if possible, but this depends on the product you’re selling.
SumoMe asks for only a user’s email address:
For creating an account—a different purpose—they’ve included three fields on the form:
It’s still easy, fast, and effective.
Don’t lie, cheat, or steal when you’re asking for a conversion. Just be honest and ask for what you want.
The right kind of users want to convert. But sometimes, it takes a little persuasion and some good old-fashioned appeal.
Here’s an example.
If you read my blog, you’ve probably seen this little box:
I’ve put that call-to-action box in my content because I want to persuade you to get your website analyzed.
You have a choice. I’m not twisting your arm.
But I am trying to persuade you.
And the reason I keep using that box is because it’s working!
You know the expression “ask and you shall receive.”
It’s true in online marketing.
Asking for the user to convert is a gift. They want to do it.
All you have to do is ask.
A business that uses free consults as part of its sales cycle should offer the user a free consultation. Here’s an example:
A company that provides heat mapping analytics should ask users to create a heatmap, like this:
A chiropractor can offer users a free exam and x-ray:
The conversion action you choose depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.
All you have to do is ask for it.
I don’t know what business you are running.
But whoever you are and whatever you’re doing, this is my plea.
Give value. Metric tons of value. Dump trucks full of value. Warehouses of value.
You believe in the product you are selling. You believe the world needs it. You believe there are people whose lives you can improve.
Do you want them to see it?
Then give it to them straight. Go for in-your-face levels of value.
You should offer so much value that the user can’t help but accept it.
Your goal as a marketer isn’t to take. Your goal as a marketer is to give. You want to provide an enormous amount of value free of charge.
That’s what I mean by “in-your-face.” It’s all about the sheer amount of value you deliver.
The website ConversionXL is recognized for actionable, data-driven, highly-researched long-form content.
When you visit the blog, here’s what you see:
They are asking you to subscribe.
This is good. Because they are offering insane amounts of value!
And that is why I recommend in-your-face techniques. Value, value, value.
It’s one thing to praise the in-your-face marketing methods, and it’s quite another to actually implement them.
Getting more conversions sounds simple.
Put up a form field!
Add a button!
Use a popup!
Those are fine methods. I’ve used all of them.
But getting conversions requires a lot more than just techniques. It requires a strategy.
That strategy is built on long-form content, enhanced by long-tail keywords, and maximized by giving people value.
Using this method for getting conversions is virtually guaranteed to work!
What are some strategic methods you’ve used to increase conversions on your long-form content?
If you’re looking for more conversions, revenue, and customer engagement then it all starts with your email deliverability.
For the last fifteen years of my professional career, and as the Senior Director of Deliverability at Maropost, I’ve specialized and concerned myself with one thing: email deliverability.
While email deliverability has changed a lot in fifteen years, it’ll always remain relevant and of primary significance for email marketing.
Which is why I created a deliverability checklist to guarantee the success of our deliverability… and I’m sharing it with you today.
This 8-step checklist is the first thing we look at with all new accounts when onboarding them with Maropost.
It compiles the most fundamental and most essential steps for email deliverability success and provides invaluable insight on the health of the client, their campaigns, and their data.
On average, after running through these eight steps, accounts see an immediate 15–20% increase in inbox placement and a long-term increase of up to 50% for all engagement and conversion metrics.
Use this as the ultimate tool to ensure that your deliverability is on the right track.
Here’s an excerpt of the checklist…
You can download the complete checklist here.
But before we can dive into the details of each step and really understand how to optimize them, first we need to understand exactly what email deliverability is and how it’s determined…
Deliverability is the FIRST step in the email process.
Before opens and clicks, before landing pages and conversions, before drip campaigns and upsells, you must be sure your customers are even receiving your marketing campaigns. And that’s deliverability in a nutshell: getting your emails to your customer’s inboxes.
Because there are a lot of barriers.
Internet service providers (ISPs), inbox providers, email service providers (ESPs), and third-party companies all want to protect recipients from spam. In fact, 1 in 5 of all commercial emails don’t land in the inbox.
Contrary to common opinion, deliverability is not measured by the “delivered rate.” The delivered rate simply measures the number of emails that don’t receive a hard or soft bounce.
Deliverability is all about landing in the inbox.
So, if you had a high delivered rate and a high spam rate, then your inbox placement and deliverability is actually very poor.
Poor deliverability means you’re not reaching your customer’s inboxes. The fewer delivered emails in the inbox, the fewer key performance indicators (KPIs) across the board, and that’s going to negatively affect your bottom line.
The more delivered emails to the inbox? The more engagements, conversions, and revenue. That’s the Maropost deliverability funnel to revenue…
Broadly speaking, deliverability can be measured in two ways and from two perspectives.
Inbox providers pay attention to how recipients interact with your emails and whether that interaction is positive or negative.
Positive actions, such as opening an email or adding the sender to the address book, indicates that the email is relevant and will improve your deliverability.
Positive actions include:
Negative actions, such as marking the email as spam, will adversely affect your deliverability. They include:
You should already be aiming for the positive actions in pursuit of your KPIs – and now you know they’re doubly important because they affect deliverability, too!
The good email marketer knows how to think like their audience.
So, always be asking yourself: How can I get my recipients to engage positively with my emails?
As the sender of the email, it’s up to you to ensure that you have the best deliverability practices executed and running.
There are three areas that you need to concern yourself with:
This is the foundation for your emails and deliverability strategy, and it’s key that it’s set up correctly.
To do this, ask yourself the following questions:
These are the recurring activities that you need to maintain.
You should already be following email acquisition and list cleansing best practices; we’ll explore how these specifically affect deliverability further in this post.
Are your email marketing processes designed with deliverability in mind? You can ensure they are by answering these three questions:
This is the actual email that gets sent to recipients.
There’s the structure of the email, which you’ll need to set up once per template, and there’s the content of the email, which you’ll need to set up per every email blast:
Infrastructure, processes, and email will be the main focus of the checklist.
We’ll go over all three areas in more detail and tell you exactly what steps you need to take to master each one, so you can be sure you’re your deliverability and inbox placement is the best it can be.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Infrastructure is the foundation of your email and deliverability strategy. This is what you need to set up (or ensure that it’s been set up correctly).
An IP, or internet protocol, address is a unique string of numbers that identifies your computer or network.
IP addresses have an associated deliverability reputation metric that inbox providers look at.
There are two types of IP addresses:
A dedicated IP address is used by a single sender or company.
No other marketers can use it.
The reputation is wholly determined by the emails of that single sender or company.
A shared IP address is used by multiple senders or companies.
The overall reputation for a shared IP is based on all the senders – so the reputation cannot be managed by an individual sender or company.
So, which type of IP is right for you? Generally speaking, email marketers should use a dedicated IP to exercise maximum control.
However, shared IPs are acceptable under two scenarios:
In these two scenarios, a shared IP is preferable as it’ll give you a more consistent email send and volume, which matters a lot.
On the other hand, if you are a high-volume sender, one dedicated IP might not be enough.
Consider segmenting critical emails to a different IP from standard or promotional emails.
This will ensure your critical emails have the highest deliverability rate and will not be diluted by other streams with poorer deliverability scores.
Authentication allows the inbox provider, third parties, and the recipient to verify the identity of the sender, and it is normally set up by your ESP.
Authentication creates a portable and specific reputation specific to your brand.
If you run your own mail server, you will need to edit your Domain Name System (DNS) records and mail server settings to comply.
Here are the four types of authentication you need to confirm have been set up:
SPF verifies the sender address.
It cross-checks the domain in the “Mail From” line of an email against the published record that the sender has registered in the DNS.
DKIM authenticates that an email was sent from a legitimate and authorized source.
It requires the sender’s computer to generate public/private key pairs and then publish the public keys to their DNS records.
TLS encrypts and delivers mail securely, ensuring that no-one else is intercepting or tampering with your emails.
TLS is the email equivalent of HTTPS.
DMARC is a standardized method of authenticating via SPF and DKIM. DMARC is optional but it will ensure that your authentication results are consistent across ISPs and inbox providers.
Having one of your emails marked as spam is obviously a negative action and will have a tremendous adverse effect on your deliverability.
However, senders and ESPs aren’t able to see or measure an “email marked as spam” rate.
To overcome this limitation, most inbox providers offer a service called feedback loop processing.
Feedback loop processing means the inbox provider will email the sender directly when a recipient has marked one of their emails as spam.
This tells you which recipients have marked your emails as spam, when they did it, and to what email.
It’s absolutely crucial that you set up feedback loops!
You need to know when a recipient thinks your email is spam, so you can take the necessary steps thereafter. Whether that’s:
You’ll need to set up feedback loops separately for each inbox provider.
Take a look at your mailing list and see which inbox providers you send to the most and set those up first.
We’ve included links to resources that will help you begin the feedback loop process with the four biggest inbox providers:
(NOTE: Need Email Marketing training? See DigitalMarketer’s Email Marketing Specialist training and certification program by clicking here.)
Processes are the recurring activities that you need to maintain.
Of those processes, we’ll focus on email acquisition and list cleansing – both of which are staples in email marketing.
We’ll continue with Step 4 and explain what spam traps are, so you can avoid them.
Spam traps are email addresses that are specifically used to identify poor email acquisition or list cleansing. There are two types of spam traps:
Recycled spam traps are email addresses that once belonged to a real person.
However, these email addresses have since been abandoned and appropriated by spam trap operators.
If you send emails to a recycled spam trap, that indicates that you have poor list cleansing and data sanitation practices, and this will NEGATIVELY affect your deliverability.
(Don’t worry though – we go over best practices for list cleansing in Step 6, so keep reading!)
Pristine spam traps are email addresses that have been created for the specific purpose of catching spammers and senders with poor email acquisition practices.
Spam trap operators will often hide their spam trap email addresses on websites, so they are only visible to email harvesting spiders. When spammers harvest email addresses from websites, they will also gather the honeypots.
Sending emails to pristine spam traps indicates that you have poor email acquisition practices, and this will negatively affect your deliverability.
Deliverability shares the same golden principle as email marketing when it comes to email acquisition: You want relevant and interested recipients who will actually open and engage with the emails you send.
These next points will guarantee that you’re only collecting the most relevant emails and that you’re processing them in the optimal way for deliverability.
Quality, not quantity, is what matters to deliverability.
You want recipients who are interested in receiving and engaging with your emails.
Third-party lists such as appends, rentals, and purchased lists have low opens, clicks, and engagements – all negative actions which have an adverse effect on deliverability.
Third-party lists are also much more likely to have spam traps, which can result in your IP being completely blacklisted by inbox providers.
If your landing pages don’t have basic validation, you’ll need to validate your email lists after the fact.
To do this, remove role accounts (e.g. email@example.com), fake addresses (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org), and errors (e.g. email@example.com).
Also known as closed-loop confirmation, double opt-in is the gold standard to get emails and confirm relevant interest.
Double opt-in requires recipients to confirm their subscription after providing their email addresses.
This will guarantee that they are real people who are interested in receiving your emails.
Double opt-in confirmation is also a great time to get additional information and the contact preferences of the recipient.
If you’re sticking with single opt-in, be sure to secure your landing page with CAPTCHA. This will prevent robots from registering with illegitimate addresses.
Quarantine new recipients until you can send them a welcome message and you can confirm that there is not a hard bounce.
This prevents you from adding bad email addresses to your list.
If you find yourself with a backlog or a high-volume of new recipients, you’ll want to ration out your welcome emails.
Inbox providers are always wary of huge email blasts to new addresses as this is indicative of spam. You also risk a higher chance of negative actions when sending to new emails for the first time.
Instead, you should limit and mix your welcome email volume with your regular email blasts.
A good rule of thumb is 10% welcome emails and 90% regular emails. This way, regardless of the welcome emails’ engagement, the overall positive recipient actions will still be high and your deliverability won’t be penalized.
It’s important to clearly set expectations with your welcome email. This will tell your subscribers what to expect and set the tone for future engagement.
It’s not enough simply to optimize your email acquisition.
You need to ensure that email addresses in your email lists remain active and relevant – or else you need to remove them.
Inactive subscribers are either recipients who have lost interest in your email campaigns or are spam traps who were never interested in the first place.
Either way, inactive subscribers means your emails won’t be opened or clicked (or worse still, they’ll mark your email as spam!) – all of which are negative actions that will adversely affect your deliverability.
You should already be using campaign performance data to analyze email engagement, but it’s important to drill down to the individual recipients for list cleansing.
The general context and frequency of your campaigns and blasts matter when deciding how to define “inactive.”
If you’re sending weekly emails to a recipient, and they haven’t engaged in two months, then it’s clearly time to take a look at your journeys and funnels to see how you can get them to re-engage again.
(Find out how to Win Back Inactive Subscribers with a Reactivation Email Campaign.)
A good rule of thumb we follow is six months – that’s the maximum amount of time a recipient can stay without engaging.
Otherwise, it’s been too long and it’s best to remove them; they’re clearly not interested.
Worse, they could be honeypots that are hurting your deliverability every time you hit send.
It’s a good idea to routinely audit the sources of inactive emails.
Export any inactive emails and do a count based off the domain.
Are there any behavioral relationships to the source?
If so, you might want to add a validation rule excluding these email sources from your landing page or list acquisition.
Finally, there’s the actual email that gets sent to recipients.
Inbox providers and filters look at each individual email that is sent.
Keep the positive and negative actions in mind!
Remember, an email that drives position actions (such as opens, clicks, and forwards) will improve deliverability while an email with negative actions (such as being marked as spam) will hurt deliverability.
You have to optimize the actual structure of the email. You’ll need to set this up every time you create a new template.
You do this by:
It should be EASY for recipients to unsubscribe.
There’s no point retaining recipients who have no interest in your emails – they’ll only drag your deliverability down.
A preference center allows recipients to select the frequency and topics that best suits them.
Having a preference center allows you to tailor to the individual subscriber and this will boost engagement and deliverability.
Bonus Tip: Inserting the recipient’s preferences into the header or the footer of the email is a great way to let them know you value their subscription.
Most email editors will flag any HTML errors – but they’re not always perfect. Especially if you’re building an email template, you should always review your code and ensure it is correct and bug-free.
And this isn’t isolated to the back-end code.
Test, test, and test to make sure your email is rendering correctly on the front-end across all platforms!
Most ESPs have a display functionality that will show you it renders across different clients and devices.
If you don’t have that luxury, it’s a good idea to see what the most popular inbox providers your subscribers are using, set up test accounts for those inboxes, and send to those accounts to test manually.
HTML is the standard when it comes to emails.
But not all recipients and platforms enable HTML. It’s important to have a plaintext and web version of the email, too.
Having a plaintext version of your email is looked upon favorably by inbox providers while the web version allows you to provide a functional, offsite version of the email.
The truth is, email content doesn’t matter too much anymore when it comes to deliverability.
When email was just starting out in the 90s, content was the primary factor when it came to deliverability.
Today, reputation far outweighs content—but it’s still a good idea to follow my rules below and optimize your email content.
These rules also impact the general readability of emails, so they will improve your deliverability via position actions (such as clicks), too.
Good design is universal.
That means a balance of text and imagery.
Whatever you do, don’t create email messages with a single image – this will almost certainly get you flagged as spam.
Instead, you should use a good balance between text and images.
The focus should be on communication and readability (i.e. text) with a complementary design (i.e. images).
Keep in mind that images don’t always render.
Certain recipients and platforms will turn images off. That’s why it’s important to have alt text (alternative text) for your images and to ensure that your email still makes sense if the images are missing.
Email filters will analyze all the links in your email to see if they are reputable. Every link has a domain which has an associated domain deliverability reputation.
If you’re linking to third-party sites, you should ensure they’re legitimate websites.
In a similar vein, you shouldn’t advertise your website pages through spammers. If your website is found in “spammy” emails, it can affect your deliverability.
If you don’t know what base64 is, you’re probably not using it.
If you are using it – STOP.
Spammers use base64 to hide email content from filters.
Emails with a base64 encoded body or subject line are much more likely to be flagged as spam.
And those are the eight steps we go through to increase inbox placement by 15-20%.
Every aspect of email marketing influences, and is in turn influenced, by deliverability.
It’s important to adopt the deliverability mindset and truly integrate it into your email and marketing strategy, which the checklist will help you do.
(NOTE: Need Email Marketing training? See DigitalMarketer’s Email Marketing Specialist training and certification program by clicking here.)