One of the many advantages e-mail marketing has over more traditional methods is the amount of feedback available to senders in the form of deliverability metrics – data that can be used to produce the best possible ROI. And while I’m certain this is not news to most senders, it still surprises me to learn how many use e-mail in “set-it-and-forget-it” mode. The time they allocate to e-mail marketing is limited to crafting the best possible offer, wrapping it in beautiful e-mail, and getting it out the door.
The deliverability part of the e-mail campaign is not nearly as fun or sexy as developing the message and the creative – it can look downright boring, or even a little scary. But senders who don’t take a little extra time to look back at their metrics are missing a crucial opportunity to squeeze the last bit of deliverability – and ROI – out of each campaign. Here are four easy steps you can take right now to improve the deliverability of your next send, and each of them takes a only a minute or two:
1. Resend your soft bounces. Most e-mail bounces are of the “generic soft” variety, which is the receiving server’s way of inviting you to try sending again later. The receiving server may be having temporary issues, or it may have de-prioritized your mail. In either instance, you should take them up on that invitation.
Real Magnet will automatically attempt to resend certain types of bounces for a few hours after your messages are sent, but some problems can take longer to fix. After 24 hours, log into Real Magnet, click on the Track tab, and select a message to track. In the “Message Sent Results” report, click on the Details icon for bounced messages. You’ll see a breakdown of the bounce results, and a button for resending bounces. Check the box next to each bounce type you want to resend, and hit the Resend Bounces button. Real Magnet will take another crack at delivering the bounces. (Real Magnet will not re-send “User Not Found” or hard bounces, even if the boxes for those bounce types are checked when you hit the Resend button. These are addresses that your recipients’ ISPs have told us are dead, and continued attempts to send to them can damage a sender’s reputation score.)
2. Use “Track Deliverability”. Get an instant read on possible deliverability issues for any of your messages, all on one screen. On the Real Magnet Send tab, click on “Send Deliverability Test” in the left navigation pane. Select a message to be tested, and hit the “Send” button.
Now hop over to the Track tab, and select “Track Deliverability Testing”. Click on your message to see the results of a battery of usability, rendering and spam tests. It’s a great way to catch any potential issues early, and provides quick guidance on the most efficient use of the time you spend on your e-mail campaigns. If this option is not enabled on your account, give support a call (301.652.5074) or an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
3. Leverage Domain-Level Reporting. For many senders, some receiving domains are far more important than others. You can catch possible delivery problems earlier at these important domains by adding them to your personal list of domains to track and analyze.In the Tools tab, select “Account Management” in the left navigation pane. Then click on “Domain Tracking”. You’ll see a field to type in the domains to be added to your domain tracking list. Enter a domain and click the “Go” button. Now tracking information for that domain will appear on the Tracking page for all of your future messages.
Let Real Magnet know about domains with 100% deliverability but zero opens on large volumes of mail. That’s often a sign that a domain is either quietly discarding your mail after accepting it for delivery, or is no longer handling mail for any recipients. Our delivery team can find out which it is. If it’s the latter, time to prune that domain from your lists. If it’s a block, we can reach out to the domain and see what can be done to resume normal delivery to your recipients.
4. Automatically ask your recipients to whitelist you. This might be the easiest change to implement resulting in the biggest improvement in deliverability. Place a line of text above the creative in your messages asking the recipient to add your “friendly from” address to their contacts list. Place the same text next to your e-mail list sign-up form on your web site. An entry in your recipients’ contact lists can mean the difference between delivery and soft bounce, between delivery to Junk or to the Inbox, between images on or images off by default. It takes just a minute, and you’ll never have to do it again. You might even go so far as to point recipients and their ISPs to the Real Magnet Whitelisting Information page. It gives both Desktop-level instructions for recipients and Server-level instructions for e-mail administrators.
Take a few minutes to follow these four easy steps. If they help generate just a few extra conversions per send, they might be some of the most profitable extra few minutes you spend on e-mail.
Andrew Barrett is Senior Director, ISP Relations & Deliverability at Real Magnet.