Stay Out of the Spam Box: Email Marketing Pitfalls (and How to Avoid Them!), Part 1

Email marketing is an essential component of any successful content strategy, but do you really know if your message is getting through? Many emails never make it to their final destination, or if they do manage to make it past preliminary filters, they’re sent straight to spam where your recipients never see your message.

Low deliverability results in diminished engagement, low conversion rates, and damage to your brand.  What’s worse is that many email marketing campaigns never get off the ground due to just a few highly-preventable mistakes.

If you’re a small business owner, take heed. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been sending emails for a day, a month, or several years: these mistakes can kill your response rates, get your IP address blocked by major email servers if you are sending in-house, or get you locked out of your own account if you use a third-party email service provider (ESP).

In this three part blog post series, we’ll look at each of these pitfalls and what you can do to keep your email marketing campaigns clear of the spam trap.

Email Marketing Mistake Number 1:

Not Warming up Your List

Your sales team has just come back from a huge trade show and you’ve collected thousands, if not tens of thousands of new contacts taken from the attendees list. That means tens of thousands of new email contacts for your next email marketing campaign, right?

Not so fast. Even assuming that the attendees explicitly agreed to be contacted by email, you can’t send out an email “blast” to thousands of new email addresses without getting marked as a potential spammer. (Exception: If they are all double opt-in email addresses confirmed by your ESP, your account isn’t likely to be flagged. Still, it’s better safe than sorry.)

The same is true if you are just starting out with email marketing, or are moving from one ESP to another – sending tons of emails at once from a new list will almost always send up a red flag that will get your emails sent straight to spam.

So, how do you fix it? The easiest and best way is by “warming up” your email list. You do this by sending out a few hundred to a couple of thousand emails at a time. This means that if you have a big email campaign, you send it out in batches over the course of the day until all of the emails are sent.

You don’t have to do this for too long. In fact, as long as you have a complaint rate of less than .1% from the entire list after the initial campaign, you can send larger batches of emails from that list with little to no problem.

Can you perform an A/B test even while you are warming up your list? Absolutely.  For a simple subject-line test, it’s as easy as splitting your list down the middle and keeping track of response rates for each batch (keeping in mind that time of day may also play a factor in the open and click-through rates).

If you are segmenting your list by demographics or some other criteria, it gets more complicated, but it’s definitely possible – you’ll need to be sure each segment is properly labeled, and when you compare stats in the aggregate, you’ll be able to get deeper insights despite the fact that the list was not emailed all at once.

Email marketing can be one of the most profitable conversion channels for your business when done right. Take the time to ensure that your email marketing strategy is up-to-date and if you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll be more than happy to help your email campaign get off to a great start.