If an email falls unopened in a subscriber’s inbox, did it ever really get delivered?
Answer: No. Like a doomed tree in a lonely forrest, an unopened email is a scream into the void—sent, sure, but effectively undelivered.
But seriously, in our well-intentioned focus on capturing our audience, creators often relegate email deliverability to an afterthought. You can’t be blamed: all of email is a decentralized protocol, and actual deliverability is an inscrutable black box with ever-shifting borderlines.
Fortunately, I’m here to share the most effective, easy and evergreen secrets to improve your email marketing deliverability.
Before we dive into all the juicy tactics, we need to understand two basic concepts:
- What is deliverability? Deliverability refers to the concept of actually getting your email into the right place in your subscribers’ inbox. The most obvious example of this: avoiding the spam folder.
- What is Sender Reputation? Good deliverability is function of a good sender reputation score. Think of sender reputation like a credit score: Email Inbox Providers — like Gmail, Apple Mail, Outlook, etc — are constantly evaluating you as a sender, based on your history of opens, clicks and best of all, replies. The better your score, the better your deliverability.
So in sum, you want high deliverability so that your fans actually see your email, and your deliverability goes up in lockstep with a good sender reputation score.
Got it? Good. Let’s get it then…
1. Signup to Welcome Email Flow
This is probably the single most impactful thing you can do to improve your sender reputation. Here is how to do it:
- Setup a Real-Time Welcome Email with Beacons. If you’re a first time user, the Beacons’ onboarding wizard will guide you to create one. Or, simply go to your Email app in Beacons and click on the top “Automations” tab to create a welcome email from scratch.
- Most Important: Instruct New Subscribers To Fetch Your Welcome Email. When you have the welcome email activated, let people know in the “Success Message.” This is the message people see on your Beacons profile AFTER signing up for your newsletter. This is moment to tell your new subscriber to go retrieve that welcome email, INCLUDING to check their spam folder.
- Make Your Signup Form Irresistible. In your Signup form block in your link-in-bio, customize your Title and Description. Think from the perspective of the potential subscriber: what’s in it for them? Give them specific and irresistible reasons to signup.
Once completed, your welcome email should be your highest and most engaged email ever. This is important for two reasons:
- Getting your welcome email opened and engaged should instantaneously and forever improve your placement in that subscriber’s inbox. Especially if you land in their spam folder.
- Email Inbox Providers like Gmail, Apple Mail, etc., assign you a general sender reputation score, which affects your overall deliverability and inbox placement. When they see good engagement on the welcome email build up over time, they’re likely to improve your overall sender reputation score and deliverability, for the next blast, the next subscriber, etc.
Watch this video for step-by-step instructions on how to do the above on your Beacons account:
2. Set Reply-To Address + Invite Replies
Don’t make email a one-way communication: get your fans to respond to your email!
An email blast is marketing, a reply is a connection. Even if you can’t reply back or read them all the replies, at least you offered an ear. And that human connection alone is worth it.
But beyond the fuzzy good feelings of human connection, a reply is like steroids for sender reputation. It’s the single most impactful action you can get from a subscriber to improve your score, multiples more valuable than an open or click. It’s the credit score equivalent of paying off a car loan on time!
🚨 PRO TIP: In your welcome email, ask your subscribers a question or prompt them for feedback.
And if you really want to get an A+… share your subscriber’s responses in future email broadcasts or social media posts, so your best fans know you’re listening to them. They’ll likely remember this and respond positively next time you solicit a reply.
If soliciting for replies, make sure you have the correct reply-to email set on your sends. There are two places in the app you can set this:
3. Establish an instant rapport
Your subscribers know you, don’t wear a mask. Instant split-second recognizability can be the difference between getting opens/engagement and, well, not getting them.
Start with your sender name. Make sure it’s instantly recognizable or familiar. It’s the first thing subscribers see in the email before opening. If your fans mostly know you by your username, handle or artist/brand name, maybe lead with that instead of your government name.
🚨 PRO TIP: Put your face or instantly recognizable logo at the top of the email. It can be the difference between clicks/replies vs an instant close.
4. Don’t blast to a big import before warming up your sender account
For those of you who start your Beacons Email Marketing account with a sizable audience import from another platform: resist the temptation to send a broadcast right away.
We all know you got their permission and signups elsewhere in accordance with ICANN SPAM laws (right? right?). But the fact is, if you’re sending to an imported list of previous subscribers for the first time, the machines at inbox providers like Gmail will see you as a stranger.
Put on your robot goggles and imagine this situation from the perspective of a spam filtering machine: you are an unfamiliar sender, attempting to send to hundreds or thousands of emails simultaneously for the first time. That looks suss. So they’re likely to send a lot of those emails to spam, and ask questions later.
🚨 PRO TIP: “Warm up” your sender reputation by setting up your welcome email (as outlined above). Encourage a few signups on your socials. Even just a handful of highly engaged welcome email activity from your new sender setup is infinitely better than none.
So by the time you send that first blast, you should land in a lot better place for more of your audience.
5. Invite people to unsubscribe
Here’s a common myth about email marketing: unsubscribes are bad. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here’s why:
- Email inbox providers do NOT punish your reputation score when you get a proper unsubscribe. But they WILL punish you if you don’t provide an easy way for your recipients to unsub.
- IF you make unsubscribes unavailable or difficult, oftentimes your recipient will resort to marking you as spam in their inbox. This is uncategorically very BAD for your sender reputation score; just a handful of these actions can tank your reputation score. This is the credit score equivalent of getting reported to a credit agency for extremely late payments.
- Unsubscribes are essentially improving your sender reputation by filtering themselves out of your audience. You should actually thank them, they are helping your deliverability in the long term. There’s real long term harm from unengaged subscribers; this is a silent, slow killer of sender reputation.
So we want to encourage uninterested recipients to unsubscribe. How do we do this?
So all of your footers will automatically have an unsubscribe button (as required of all marketing emails per the FCC!). But you can take it a step further and actually FEATURE a link to unsubscribe in the body of the email.
To do this, add a text block to your email build, and look for the option to add the unsubscribe link in the “PERSONALIZE” pull-down menu:
Here’s an example of disarming copy you might want to use to prompt a no-hard-feelings unsub:
Teaser: We are working on an automation feature that automatically sends a “opt-in to keep stay subscribed” email to your most unengaged subscribers! So keep a look out for that!
6. Physical address in footer
Per requirement of the FCC and ICANN spam guidelines, every marketing email should have a physical address of the sender in the footer. This is one of the ways they filter for spam senders.
Beacons doesn’t know your physical address, so we leave this field empty as a default. Don’t do default. The big inboxes will see an empty physical address field as one signal that you might be a spammer.
How to fix this in Beacons?
Go to your email marketing app, then “Settings” at the top navigation. There you should see where you can add your physical address as the default in your footer.
The above settings will affix your physical address automatically for any new email you build, but NOT for emails you made in the past, like welcome and automations. For running automations, click into the individual email and click to edit the footer, where you should find the field to edit the physical address in the footer.
Peek into the Future
We've reviewed some of the tactics you can do today on your Beacons account to really boost your reputation score: so get on it, now!
Deliverability is super important to us at Beacons as a company. Your reputation score affects our platform-wide deliverability, and vice-versa. For this reason, we are spending a lot of time working on a ton of pro features to improve your deliverability. Win win!
Shhhh, don’t tell our competitors, but here’s a sneak peak at one we’re on right now: the ability to automatically filter for unengaged subscribers hurting your sender reputations score (as determined by AI), and automatically send a one last “opt in to stay subscribed” email before cleaning them out of your audience.
So keep an eye out for more pro tips!
Go forth inbox seeker and enact these deliverability decrees. So that the Gmail gods shower you with precious clicks, exalted replies and anointed deliverability!
🥚 Pssst! If you haven't upgraded to email pro or marketing bundle, use code "CU504" to get 50% off the next 4 months. 🤑
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