Email Deliverability

DJayagoda
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

[Webinar] Email Deliverability: Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox | 10th May 2022

Email Deliverability:

Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox

 

 

Watch On Demand

 

 

Join us on Tuesday 10th May at 2pm BST

 

Marketers spend a lot of time drafting copy, designing, and crafting enticing email subject lines that get open and click-through rates skyrocketing. But before hitting send, have you considered whether your email will even reach your subscriber’s inbox?

 

Learn why email deliverability is so important to your email marketing strategy and how to improve your sending reputation.

 

  • What email deliverability is and which factors affect email deliverability
  • Why focusing on email deliverability is essential to your email marketing strategy
  • Best practices to improve email health metrics and the benchmarks to aim for
  • Common myths around email deliverability
  • BONUS: After the panel, we will have a live Q&A to answer your email deliverability questions

 

amberfernald
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

[Webinar] Email Deliverability: Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox | 10th May 2022

Before signing off the weekend, I want to add another batch.  

 
Q: Apple is strengthening their privacy rules and restrictions. Are there any tips on working the best way around this?
A: Apple's iOS15 updates have made it so that mail delivered to Apple Mail on a device with iOS15 will be pre-opened.  This makes the open less reliable as it could be coming from a bot.  Bot opens have been around for a long time and so opens haven't been the most reliable metric when tracking marketing emails.  However, they're still a good metric to use when tracking trends.  A more reliable sign of engagement would be a click or a response.  
 
I recommend checking out these two resources:
Q: What technical measures (not marketing/engagement ones) can be taken if a domain is already damaged? I.e. 2-3% opening rate and currently running segmentations, AB tests...
A: It's worth taking the time to ensure that proper authentication has been set up for your sending domain. Connecting an email sending domain (DKIM) is a great way to take basic authentication measures. If your brand has a DMARC policy, you will also want to make sure that HubSpot has been added to your SPF record.
 
This resource also includes additional technical steps to help with authentication, database migration, building a healthy database, and reviewing email strategy for opportunities: Overview of email deliverability.
 
However, it's important to know that low open rates are a sign of reputation issues and/or strategy issues. It's best to first confirm that contacts have proper consent to be sent marketing emails, suppress anyone that does not have proper consent, and then try a reputation repair plan. This plan is focussed on identifying and isolating solely those that have been engaged recently and those that are most likely to receive mail in their inbox.
 
Q: So most of our email campaigns have 40+ percentage open rate, but they do not reply. Any tips for how to get replies?
I have two recommendations:
  • Review your recipient list and confirm that these are the contacts that are most likely to engage with the mail being sent to them. With a 40%+ open rate, it sounds like you've already done that, but the best way to increase an engagement rate (of any type of engagement) is to remove those that are unlikely to engage.
  • Secondly is make sure that you're asking questions and giving individuals a reason to reply. This is very similar to making sure that you include links/CTAs when hoping to increase click rates. You could try AB testing different email copy to learn more about what does and doesn't work.
Q: What is a method for segmenting a bought mailing list of whom you have limited knowledge?
A: A purchased list will never be a good fit for marketing mail as they have not provided consent to be sent marketing emails directly to your brand.  Most ESPs do not allow purchased lists, HubSpot included
 
This could be a good list to connect with on LinkedIn, target with ads, reach out to via a phone call, or reach out with 1:1 mail sent from your individual inbox.  However, until that contact has provided verifiable consent to be sent marketing emails, they should not be included in marketing sends.  It's important to keep in mind that sending a large volume of 1:1 mail to contacts that do not engage and/or mark mail as spam will also impact your brand's sending reputation, which can cause inbox placement issues for all types of mail.  When thinking about sending 1:1 mail to a purchased list, it's always best to put in the time and confirm that all contacts you reach out to fit your buyer persona and are going to be likely to engage in a positive way. 
 
Q: I receive an "opened" message but the email was opened by the system and then deleted. so the receiver never saw the email but i received an opened response. is this possible?
A: This is definitely possible. If the recipient's email server crawls emails and uses bots that trigger a tracked open, the mail will appear as though it's been opened. They could also have security measures in place to divert mail to filters and could have processes in place to delete mail altogether.
 
Have a great weekend!
MatthewShepherd
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

[Webinar] Email Deliverability: Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox | 10th May 2022

...and some more questions and answers from our webinar:

 

Q: If you have a poor sender reputation - is one option changing your company email? Or is that an extreme?
If you have a poor sending reputation, changing your company email domain would be extreme, could create trust issues with your audience, and wouldn't help for a number of reasons:

  •  if you are still sending from the same I.P. addresses the Inbox Provider will still be able to identify you
  • Inbox Providers can use a number of other techniques to identify problematic emails from the same senders even if they aren't from the same domain or I.P. address e.g. creating a fingerprint of problem emails by looking at subject lines, content, templates, links, email signatures etc.
  • Starting to send email from a new domain and/or I.P. address means Inbox Providers will treat your emails as suspicious until you establish a positive sender reputation. You do this by gradually sending an increasing volume of emails over a period of days or weeks that are most likely to receive positive engagement. If you keep sending the same content to the same users as before and generating the same negative signals that created your poor reputation in the first place you will be no further ahead.

Q: Does the embedded image quality, size or content affect the deliverability?

It can do. Using one large image as your entire email, or too many images in general, tends to end up in recipients' spam folders.

 

Large image file sizes can also lead to long email load times, which could negatively impact engagement and in turn your future sender reputation.

Q: Open rates for 23% is the benchmark for B2B campaigns as well?

This is a general benchmark set by the HubSpot email deliverability team for all HubSpot users as an indication of open rates that are generally achieved by those with good email engagement metrics regardless of business type or industry. The HubSpot email health tool has recently added the ability to set your Industry so we can provide you with industry-specific benchmarks too. For more information on what benchmarks you should aspire to based on your business type or industry take a look at resources such as:
https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/average-email-open-rate-benchmark
https://mailchimp.com/resources/email-marketing-benchmarks/


Matthew Shepherd

Senior Inbound Consultant

Professional Services | HubSpot

He/Him

linkedin.com/in/matthewshepherd/
https://www.hubspot.com/services/professional
MatthewShepherd
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

[Webinar] Email Deliverability: Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox | 10th May 2022

More email deliverability questions and answers from our webinar:

Question: Can you check the health of the emails sent by a particular person? (is there a filter?)
You can review your marketing email performance metrics in a number of places in your HubSpot account: your email dashboard (select 'manage columns' at the top of the table if you don't see the performance metrics you are looking for), in the performance tab of each sent email, in a custom report (though you can currently only report on one metric per report), in reporting dashboards, or in the email health tool. Out of these reporting methods the email dashboard is the place to go to filter your sent emails and associated performance metrics by the HubSpot user that created the marketing email. Select more filters at the top of the dashboard and search for the user or teams you would like to filter by.

Question: If subscribers reply to emails, does this impact future deliverability?
Replies are considered positive engagement with your email so should be a positive factor when Inbox Providers are determining sender reputation for future inbox placement.

 

Question: How many hyperlinks (for clicking) are too many in an email?

From a deliverability perspective, there is no set number I can give you here, spam filters will vary and don't tell us how they are configured. Spam filters may filter emails with an excessive number of links (more links than content or more than they see on average), links that are shortened, or links that are misleading (URL shown is not the URL the link points to.) Inbox Providers may also interpret a large number of links in an email as a signal that an email is promotional and therefore divert your email to the Promotional Tab.

From an engagement perspective, you should have as many links as are useful for your reader, but at minimum, I would say most marketing emails would have three, one view in browser link, one unsubscribe link, and one call to action link. In your main content body, some would argue to use only one call to action link to focus your reader on converting or taking the one action you most want them to take, but in practice, we see readers will click on multiple links if the content is trusted, relevant, and valuable to them. I would say put your most compelling call to action link closer to the top of your email and only include more links in your email if they are on topic for your segment of readers and they will add value for your reader. Remember your email isn't a website so it shouldn't contain extensive amounts of content or links, provide a summary of your message, the benefit to the reader, and then link to a more comprehensive resource.

 

Ultimately, keeping an eye on delivery and engagement metrics and A/B testing emails with varying amounts of links will tell you what's right for your audience.

Question: Is there any impact of inbox clients blocking tracking images, or do you tend to ignore that and focus on click-through anyway?
If Inbox Providers block a tracking pixel image we won't know if the email is opened, which can mean your open rate metrics don't capture all actual opens, but this shouldn't impact tracked links which pass through a redirect to track the link click. There are a number of factors which can make open rate a less reliable metric of overall email performance nowadays so I tend to look at the trend of open rate over time as an indication of improving or worsening performance compared to your own past performance (rather than an absolute indication of whether your emails are being delivered or if your subject lines are compelling.)

 

If your open rates are far below recommended benchmarks I would still do some further list segmentation and subject line testing to see if you can improve them. But ultimately, if your emails are getting clicked you know they are getting opened so it is a great metric to add some context to your open rates and a great indication that your emails are driving engagement.


Matthew Shepherd

Senior Inbound Consultant

Professional Services | HubSpot

He/Him

linkedin.com/in/matthewshepherd/
https://www.hubspot.com/services/professional
amberfernald
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

[Webinar] Email Deliverability: Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox | 10th May 2022

I'm going to start by echoing Matthew's post - thank you all for taking time to attend the webinar and to ask great questions. Additionally, please be sure to follow this post to get notifications for additional comments with answers. 

 
Here is the next batch of questions and answers:
 
Q: The age old question: How do we get through the spam filters? And what are some of the HubSpot best practices for getting past those filters.
A: If mail is getting stuck in a spam filter that has been configured by the recipient's IT team on their mail server, have the recipient allowlist your sending IPs or sending domain (what's behind the @ symbol).
 

If the mail is being directed to a spam folder, or if the recipient is using a free address and doesn't have access to allowlisting, a reputation repair and attention to email strategy will need to happen in order to improve inbox placement.

 
Q: Is it true that sender emails starting with "info" or are more likely to be sent to spam so it is better to personalize the sender email with the name of the sender or go along with "hello@blabla.com"?
A: Not necessarily, but it's going to be beneficial to be consistent and use a recognizable name/email. For inbox placement, the sending domain's reputation (in this case @blabla.com) is going to have the most impact on inbox placement.
 
Q: Does this mean that if my colleagues (in the same company, same email domain) have a lot of bounces, that affects me?
A: Yes. All sends from the same domain are going to be impacted by other sends from that domain.
 
Q: Why is verbal consent less reliable than exchange of business cards without explicit consent to be emailed? someone might just give a card because they're given one, out of politeness.
A: Verbal consent is difficult to track and verify. Many ESPs require verifiable consent to be tracked as they may require the original source of consent to be provided if a direct complaint is ever submitted directly to the ESP about the sender. Verifiable consent also allows for strategy changes and database review to be streamlined if there is a source that is over performing or underperforming.


In the case of the business card, it's an approved source of verifiable consent in HubSpot, but it isn't always the healthiest form of consent. I would say that if someone doesn't seem as though they are going to be engaging with the brand's mail, they're probably best to leave off of the recipients list.

A good practice here is to send a follow-up email with a CTA allowing for those that provided a business card to confirm that they'd like to receive marketing emails from the brand. Many customers will do this immediately after an event to identify the best contacts based on that confirmation. It's important to note that this method cannot be used to gain consent, but it can be used to confirm consent (in this case the consent was provided by a business card exchange). 

 
Q: Do prospecting emails count as marketing emails?
A: If the mail is sent from a marketing email tool utilizing an ESP's network, they do (and will require verifiable consent to be sent marketing emails before sending).  If the mail is being sent from a 1:1 inbox or an inbox that has been connected to HubSpot, they do not. 
 
Q: If you send to large batch of data (3k+) and for example, a couple 100 contacts are at the same company, therefore same ISP - will that result in higher risk of landing in their spam?
A: This depends on a lot of factors. If you have direct consent from the contacts to send the mail, they have engaged with mail from your brand in the past, and this send is normal volume for your brand, there probably won't be any large spikes in spam placement.


However, if you're sending to contacts that haven't provided consent or contacts that haven't engaged with your brand recently, both would lead to a higher likelihood that mail would be delivered to a spam or junk folder.

Additionally, healthy senders are sending a steady volume of mail throughout the month. A large spike in volume can look suspicious and lead to spam folder placement.

Lastly, reputation will always play a large role in deliverability. If your brand is struggling with inbox placement before this send, this send will likely also have the same issues independent of the points above. 

 
Thank you!
 
amberfernald
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

[Webinar] Email Deliverability: Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox | 10th May 2022

 

Hello again! 
 
I've answered a few more questions below:

 

 

Q: I have some clients with decent open rates on their newsletters (35%+) but low click throughs - how does this affect sender reputation?

A: A high open rate shows that contacts are likely receiving this mail in a primary inbox - which is fantastic!  A click is a more reliable metric (because of bot opens) and a stronger indication to ISPs that contacts want the mail that they're receiving.  Having a low click-through rate won't immediately destroy a strong sending reputation, but it's an opportunity for growth. I'd say that a low click-through rate uncovers opportunities for better CTAs and segmentation.  Typically the senders that I work with that are experiencing low click-through rates are sending to lists that are too general. 
 
Q: What is the best way to optimize your email strategy (through A/B testing etc.), without getting penalized for bounces?
A: Bounces can happen due to many different reasons, but the most avoidable are "unknown user" hard bounces and reputation related soft bounces.
 
The best ways to avoid being penalized is to avoid running into bounces - which is impossible altogether, as lists depreciate, but steps can be taken to alleviate the number of bounces:
  • Abide by all email best practices and make sure that you're also following the requirements of your ESP. HubSpot's sending requirements can be found here: Determine if it's OK to send marketing emails to a contact list. These requirements can seem stringent but they're written with reputation in mind. An ESP's requirements are written to protect both your sending reputation (because they want you to be a successful sender) as well as the reputation of their network (which other customers rely on).
  • Utilize a validation tool. No validation tool will ever be able to identify all contacts that will hard bounce, but their data can help you identify contacts that are known to hard bounce. It's important to note that a validated contact still needs to meet the sending requirements mentioned above to be eligible for marketing sends from your ESP.
  • Lastly, review your soft bounces and hard bounces. The bounce messages that are included when the message bounces often (although not always) includes insight into why the message bounced. This can help you identify strategy, volume, reputation, source, or allowlisting roadblocks. It can also offer insight into whether or not an individual's inbox is no longer active. These messages should offer some opportunities and next steps for investigation.
Thank you 🙂
MatthewShepherd
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

[Webinar] Email Deliverability: Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox | 10th May 2022

Hello all!


Thank you to everyone who attended our email deliverability webinar and for all of your engagement and questions. As expected, there were a lot of questions on this topic (over 80) and while we answered as many as possible in our webinar Q&A, we couldn't get to them all on the day. As promised though, my colleagues and I will be answering the questions submitted during the webinar over the next few days.

 

If you use the "Follow" option at the top right of this thread you will be automatically notified of new comments as we answer more questions.

 

 

MatthewShepherd_1-1652260348237.png

 

 

Here are some answers to the first batch of open questions from the webinar:

 

Question: Do you have any advice on how can you get people to indicate 'not spam' if the emails are already going to spam - they probably won't see them?

This is definitely tricky, but if these are customers or contacts that you usually directly call or email outside of the marketing email tool you could perhaps email them directly via a one to one (non-marketing) email or call them (maybe your sales or service team talk to your subscribers regularly?) In the email, you could let them know that you have noticed some of your emails to subscribers are being filtered as spam, ask if they have been receiving your emails, and provide them with instructions on how to add your email to the primary inbox and add you to their address book.

 

Just keep in mind that even sales one to one emails sent from the same domain can impact your deliverability so don't mass email all contacts with this request.

 

To help avoid this situation in the future you can test sending new subscribers a welcome email that mentions something to the effect of "To be sure our emails always make it to your inbox, please add us to your email whitelist." Some more advice on the approach and language to use when seeking whitelisting can be found in this blog post https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/email-whitelist."


Question: Can you share any best practice examples of how to ask subscribers to add to inbox/address books?

Yes, see the answer above.

 

Question: What is the best way to try and get people to add us to their primary inbox if our emails are going straight to their spam and they won't know to add it?
See above.

Question: Sometimes emails end in the primary inbox with a "Possible Spam" in front of the Subject Line - how do I avoid that from happening?

This is known as an Email Prepend Disclaimer, where a warning message is added to the subject line by a security filter on the recipient's email server. This won't necessarily prevent the email from reaching the primary inbox but as these are custom rules configured by each organisation's I.T. team we can't predict when this will happen and what impact it will have on deliverability.

 

If you have a subscriber that mentions that this is happening to your emails, ask them to reach out to their I.T. team to see if they can have your email address whitelisted so it can avoid this particular security filter.

 

Question: If you are not conducting email engagement analysis, does having low engagement matter? Will email inbox providers track this data and make an email more likely to land in spam?

Yes, even if you aren't aware of low engagement with your emails, Inbox Service Providers are, and they will use this data to determine your sender reputation and make future decisions about if and where the email from your domain/I.P. address is placed in your recipient's inbox.


Matthew Shepherd

Senior Inbound Consultant

Professional Services | HubSpot

He/Him

linkedin.com/in/matthewshepherd/
https://www.hubspot.com/services/professional
MatthewShepherd
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

[Webinar] Email Deliverability: Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox | 10th May 2022

Some more answers to the questions posed during the webinar:

 

Question: If your open rate is above average but click rate below, does that purely come down to the content of the email or are there deliverability considerations?

For clarity, I'm just going to make a quick distinction between email click rate and click through rate.

 

Click Rate: This is the percentage of people who clicked a link in your email out of the people who were delivered your email.

 

Click Through Rate: This is the percentage of people who clicked a link in your email out of the people who opened your email.

 

So, if we are looking at click rate we are measuring clicks from recipients that were delivered your email, which can include those that opened and those who did not open your email. For those that did not open your email, this could be due to deliverability issues, as they may not be seeing your emails in their primary inbox. You have an above-average open rate, which suggests you are reaching your recipient's primary inbox or at least an inbox they check regularly.

 

If both your click rate and click through rate are low and your open rate is good, then the first things to look at are your content and your calls to action. Is your content delivering on what you promised in the subject line or what the recipient signed up to hear about from your business (think segmentation, relevance of content to those segments, and value to the recipient)? Do you have one prominent linked Call To Action high up in your email content? Do you have a small number of clear secondary links/calls to action in your content that would entice the reader to click to seek more information?

 

There's no one-size fits all solution to improving click through rate, but A/B testing different approaches to content layout, messaging, and calls to action will help you figure out what has an impact and what doesn't.

 

A few other considerations to keep in mind when troubleshooting low click/click-through rates:

  • Is your email one large image or does it contain a lot of images which contain text or which are essential to understanding the content of the email? Keep in mind that some inbox providers or email clients will block images from loading which could prevent your recipients from reading and clicking through on your content. Try to avoid a lot of images, large images, and placing essential text content in images in your email and make sure your email also contains a 'view in browser' link so the recipient can view your full email if it isn't fully loading in their inbox.
  • If your recipients work in industries with very strict security requirements their email servers can sometimes block certain types of tracking or links. As that is set up on the recipient's side, there's no way to get around that."

 

Question: Grey mail – what is engagement here? Open or clicks?

Both. Graymail is email that contacts have opted in to receive, but never open or click.

 

Questions: Are emails read in the preview pane (without clicking on them, just scrolling) recognised as read or open?

Potentially, yes. Email clients like Outlook or Apple Mail have a preview pane as part of the inbox view. If recipients scroll over your email in their inbox, this can trigger a preview of the email. If that preview loads the one-pixel tracking image contained in that email, this will be counted as an opened email.

Question: If an email is viewed in a review pane and not 'opened' what status is that email given?
If the preview loads images including the one-pixel tracking image contained in that email, this will be counted as an opened email.


Matthew Shepherd

Senior Inbound Consultant

Professional Services | HubSpot

He/Him

linkedin.com/in/matthewshepherd/
https://www.hubspot.com/services/professional
franksteiner79
HubSpot Moderator
HubSpot Moderator

[Webinar] Email Deliverability: Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox | 10th May 2022

I'm adding some more answer to the questions we have received:

 

Question: If someone unsubscribes (for a good and valid reason) does this affect the sender's reputation?

Yes, and no. There is no differentiation between a "good" and "bad" unsubscribe, what is important is the percentage of unsubscribes per sent / overall and the overall development of that unsubscribe percentage. Unsubscribes can/will happen, but they should remain below the 0.01% of total sends. So unsubscribes will impact sender reputation if they reach/breach certain thresholds.

 

Question: About prospecting email, do you need consent to send emails from an ESP to people’s email you find on the internet/scraping tool? Can you send e series (flow) of emails?

Consent is paramount when you want to be GDPR-compliant. There have been a number of rulings  recently which have resulted in fines being issued when companies scraped emails and spammed recipients. Scraping emails off the internet does not meet HubSpot's acceptable use policy. Please see https://knowledge.hubspot.com/email/understand-opt-in-consent-for-email#unacceptable-forms-of-consen... for more information. The information in this article will help you follow HubSpot's Acceptable Use Policy. Local laws may have additional requirements. Your legal team is the best resource to consult if you have questions regarding your local laws.

 

Questions: If a contact bounces, does that mean they will always bounce - would it make sense to identify all bounces (maybe just hard bounces?) and remove them from further sends?

It's important to differentiate between soft and hard bounces in this scenario. Depending on which type of bounce and bounce reason we are dealing with, there are different ways to address those. See this article for more information: https://knowledge.hubspot.com/email/what-is-the-difference-between-a-hard-bounce-and-a-soft-bounce#t...

HubSpot will automatically exclude hard bounced contacts from future email sends. This means that if for example your distribution list contains 1000 contacts, 10 of which have hard bounced previously, the email will only be sent to the remaining 990 contacts and the 10 contacts will show in the "not sent" section of the recipient tab of the email, along with an explanation why the email wasn't send to them (see screenshot).

Screenshot 2022-05-11 at 11.04.22.png

poetmichealace
Member

[Webinar] Email Deliverability: Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox | 10th May 2022

Link not working please.

0 Upvotes
DJayagoda
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

[Webinar] Email Deliverability: Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox | 10th May 2022

Hi there,

 

The link is working but in case you cannot still access it, you can get to the registration page via the following link: https://offers.hubspot.com/uk-email-deliverability?utm_source=community 

 

Thank you,

Dilan

0 Upvotes
poetmichealace
Member

[Webinar] Email Deliverability: Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox | 10th May 2022

Is it like the page is accessible only to people in a specific location? Because the page isn't opening here still.

Capture.JPG

0 Upvotes
DJayagoda
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

[Webinar] Email Deliverability: Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox | 10th May 2022

Hi there,

 

The page is not restricted to any country. I have sent you a message in your inbox with some possible solutions.

 

Thank you,

Dilan 

0 Upvotes
poetmichealace
Member

[Webinar] Email Deliverability: Best Practices for Reaching the Inbox | 10th May 2022

Alright. Thanks.

 

0 Upvotes