Last week, we published our post 5 Deliverability Tips from SendGrid Experts. Today, we have a continuation of that post, and a few more takeaways from Luke Martinez, Deliverability Consultant, and Taylor Ferguson, Associate Delivery Consultant.

Below, Luke and Taylor talk about what they think companies should focus on when it comes to email deliverability, and some of the changes coming to email in the future.

SendGrid views great deliverability as a holistic thing that’s achieved by implementing a lot of different tactics. BUT, if a company had to choose, what should it focus on first and foremost?

Luke Martinez – I’m going to cheat and give you two things: address collection and list management.

  1. Address collection

When you add an address to your mailing list, think hard about how you’re setting expectations, and ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does this person know you’re going to email them?
  • Did you give them an opportunity to decline your offer to contact them via email?
  • Do they know what types of emails you’re going to send them?
  • Are the emails you’re going to send them relevant to the context in which they gave you their email address?

The age of acquiring email addresses and sending whatever content might make a quick buck is over. There’s no way to build a sustainable email program that way.

2. List Management

The second thing to focus on is managing your list. A good email marketer knows which recipients are highly engaged with their messages, and which aren’t engaging at all. These users should be treated much differently.

It might seem counterintuitive, but you should send more mail to highly-engaged recipients, and less mail to less engaged recipients. Addresses that haven’t engaged for an extended period of time should be targeted with special campaigns designed to win them back. If you still can’t get their attention, take the hint and stop sending to them altogether. Having a large number of non-engaged recipients on your list can be a death sentence for your deliverability.

Taylor Ferguson – Tough question, but I’d say frequency. It’s really hard to maintain great deliverability as a daily sender. There are plenty of senders who send two times, and even three times a day. If your recipients are receiving this high volume, and they’re always opening and clicking, then keep sending because they want the mail and they engage. For the majority of businesses however, this isn’t the case.

High sending volume almost always dilutes engagement rates. ISPs look to engagement, along with a plethora of other inputs, to determine where to place an email. Email fatigue is a real thing and ISPs are only getting better at detecting it. More isn’t always better and you have to be cautious when it comes to email frequency.

What changes are happening in the email landscape that people should take into account from the deliverability standpoint?

DMARC and sender reputation. In a few years, having a DMARC record published for your sending domain will be as important as having an SPF record. It may seem like this is a long ways off, but implementing DMARC can take some time, so get started sooner rather than later. Before you know it, sending email without DMARC will be extremely difficult. You don’t want to be scrambling to get your house in order when the changes come.

Not long ago, your sender reputation was pretty much synonymous with your IP reputation. These days, your IP is still an important part of your reputation as a sender. However, inbox providers are also fingerprinting your content, assigning reputation to your domain, the links in your emails, and even some of the data found in your headers. The reputation of all of these pieces is based on how users interact with your messages:

  • Did they move it to their primary folder?
  • Did they move it from the spam folder to the inbox?
  • Did they forward it?
  • Did they add you to their contacts?
  • Is the message properly authenticated?

Fortunately, we cover all of this in more detail in SendGrid’s 2016 Email Deliverability Guide that Taylor and I recently updated.

We aren’t just entering, we are in the age of engagement. Mail won’t simply arrive in the inbox anymore. ISPs are smart and are getting better and better at responding like a person would. If a person doesn’t want your email, there’s a decent chance the ISP won’t deliver it. The success of an email program isn’t simply authentication anymore. Today, and in the future, recipient engagement and content relevancy will be the edge that successful senders have over others.

Luke and Taylor both contribute regularly to the blog on a wide range of email deliverability subjects, including opt-in best practices, how to warm up IPs, and how to navigate CASL. Check out their posts and learn more about email deliverability best practices in our 2016 Email Deliverability Guide.

Warren Duff
Warren is the Sr. Content Marketing Manager at SendGrid, specializing in email and content best practices, he develops many of the new guides you see SendGrid release as well as other pieces of content, including blogs, videos, case studies, and emails.