How to Hit the Inbox with Your Next Email Fundraiser
By Larry Ward
Ted Williams, arguably the greatest baseball hitter of all-time, once said, “I think, without question, the hardest single thing to do in sports is to hit a baseball. To sync up the swing of the bat with the exact time and location of the ball’s arrival is the challenge that each hitter faces. If the intersection is off by even tenths of a second, the ball will be missed.”
Hitting the inbox is unquestionably the hardest thing to do in internet email marketing. It requires nothing short of a perfectly laid foundation, insight into ISP’s rules, data hygiene and engagement algorithms to achieve deliverability to reach the maximum number of individuals.
But even if you’re an email marketing all-star, some of your emails will still hit the spam folder — so the goal is always to keep raising your average.
Here are five things that will help immediately:
Expose yourself – Would you let an anonymous stranger into your house? You can’t hide your true self from the Internet and expect to be invited into the inbox. Never register an email domain with private or fictitious whois data.
Monitor your sender reputation – Remember when we were young and our parents told us that if we got into trouble it would end up on our “permanent record”? Well, turns out they weren’t just bluffing. As a sender, every piece of mail that is sent is stored and scored, to help the Internet determine whether or not to accept your mail, block it, or push it to spam. There are some online tools that measure the reputation of your domains and IP addresses, and you should be checking them daily (at least) or subscribing to their alert services.
Send securely – Protecting email accounts from hackers, phishing and fraud is the inbox provider’s primary task. Sending from a secured domain (https://) to a secured tracking url to a secured website demonstrates that you are taking the appropriate steps to protect your subscribers. Inbox providers will reward you with higher inbox averages.
Clean your email data, often – When you send to old, invalid, non-responsive email addresses they bounce (or worse they become spam-traps). This will immediately lower your sender reputation and get blocked. Stay out of trouble by cleaning your email addresses early and often.
Don’t be content with your content – Email design is very different than web design. When you design for websites, you need to make sure the website renders properly in a few browsers and devices. Emails need to render properly in dozens of email clients and they do not all render the same. Use tools like Litmus to test your email templates and make sure they appear as you expect them to across all email clients and devices. Inbox providers will punish you if your code renders poorly.
Bonus: The rules change often – Stay on top of the trends and email marketing industry news. Sign up for our newsletter, here.