RMT Tech Talk: Ensuring your email marketing efforts are delivered
By Jessica Foster
By Jessica Foster
To maximize your marketing efforts, you need to get your promotional messages seen to successfully attract new patients. Therefore, with email marketing, it’s critical that your messages land in the inbox of the intended recipients, not their spam folder. A successful email campaign is not simply composing an aggressive sales pitch, pressing “send” and waiting for new clients to show up at your door. For best results, there are many factors to consider when dealing with today’s sophisticated spam filtering techniques. In this article we will be exploring some of the best practices that should be used when sending email campaigns to avoid the dreaded spam folder.
E-mail service providers utilize numerous combinations of spam filtering techniques, so the level and method of spam filtering standing between you and your recipient’s inbox will vary. This means that the number of recipients who receive and notice your message can differ depending upon who you are sending to, as some email service providers have stricter spam policies than others. In fact, in some extreme cases mail providers will block messages they perceive as spam, and never deliver them to recipient’s mailbox – in these cases the intended recipient will not see the message in their inbox or spam folder and will have no idea it was ever sent.
Recently, we were approached by one of our clients asking why her email messages were not being received by some of her patients: “When I send out a mass e-mail to all my patients, every message sent to a Gmail address goes straight into their spam folder, where other addresses receive the message in the inbox as expected.” As it turned out, Gmail was tagging all the email coming from her domain as spam because she had a bad “sending reputation.”
What is a sending reputation?
Some email service providers (such as Gmail) incorporate a “reputation system” as part of their overall spam filtering policy, whereby they monitor and track the activity of the email messages that are received. Each time a message is ignored (left unopened) or worse, gets marked as spam by the recipient, the sending domain gets a negative rating – think of this as a thumbs-down from the recipient. Conversely when a message is opened (or better yet replied to), the domain that sent the email gets a positive rating (a thumbs-up). The combined positive and negative activity will determine your overall score or “sending reputation.”
If your sending reputation reaches a predetermined negative level (exact numbers vary and are not published), your messages will be tagged as spam and land in the recipient’s spam folder. If your reputation declines further, your messages will be blocked by that email provider.
One damaged, you cannot directly influence your sending reputation. However, it will repair itself with time and with help from your recipients. For example, pressing the “not spam” button or moving e-mail manually from the spam folder to the inbox has a positive effect on your sending reputation. In addition, the effect of negative actions will expire over time (the exact time is not published). Your reputation will eventually build back up, resulting in your messages landing in the recipients’ inbox where you want them.
Prevention is the best medicine
Below are some guidelines to follow to build and maintain a good sending reputation that will keep your mail flowing and increase your email campaign’s success.
Ensure your mailing list is current and those on it have opted-in to receive emails from you – do not add people to your list that haven’t specifically opted-in. If they are not expecting promotions from you, they could easily mark the message as spam and hurt your reputation.
- Have a visible and simple unsubscribe process in all your messages – if unsubscribing is not straightforward, recipients could simply mark the message as spam.
- When you receive an unsubscribe request be sure to immediately remove the address from your list to avoid reputation damage from future campaigns.
- Pay attention to the format and wording of your content – if you look and sound like a spammer your reputation could suffer.
- Use a relevant, enticing subject line to increase your open rate
- Keep your content meaningful and relevant to your audience
- Don’t promote or sell aggressively – avoid sales terms like buy now, free, discount, etc.
- Avoid including pictures
- Where possible, limit your call to action to a single link
- Be conversational, write to the recipient like they’re your friend
- Use “letter-like” formatting for your content with consistent styling throughout the message – avoid using multiple fonts, sizes and colors.
Jessica Foster writes on behalf of mindZplay Solutions, provider of massage therapy websites and practice management solutions. To learn more, visit massagemanedger.com.