Ways to improve email deliverability

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Rob Dyer

Written by Wood for Trees Consultant Analyst, Rob Dyer

Earlier this year, I signed up to receive emails from a range of charities. It’s always interesting to see what charities and not-for-profit organisations are sending out to their supporter base. Often, it was easy to sign up because there was a
convenient button to press on the home page of the website. But in some cases, it was much more difficult. With some, the sign-up button was at the bottom of a lengthy web page. And others involved requests to ‘contact us’ and provide a postal address, phone number, etc, to be added to the mailing list.

Irrespective of how slick the sign-up process was, a steady flow of emails trickled in, usually a few per day. I’ve noticed that some charities send me content all the time, whereas I’ve barely heard from others… but that’s a subject for another day.

What I’ve found interesting recently is when I find emails languishing in my spam folder. I fish them out and file them away for future reference. It’s often the same charities who don’t seem to make it into my inbox… and it makes me wonder how often deliverability issues must crop up and aren’t dealt with effectively.

As a non-profit organisation, do you keep tabs on how many of your emails bounce? And do you analyse any of the data for those that weren’t delivered?

A couple of things could help if you’re seeing more than the expected handful of emails bouncing back. First, it’s always a good idea to diagnose the root cause of the problem. Any number of things could be causing your emails to bounce, particularly if you’re sending them infrequently. One quick, easy check is whether an email domain could be refusing to deliver some or all of your emails.

This is where interrogating your bounce data can be a big help. For example, you may find you’re not getting to your Gmail supporters. That’s kind of a big deal, given Google’s market share… and any future supporters who sign up with a Gmail account also wouldn’t get your emails either.

But knowing you have this issue means you can resolve it. And by putting in a support call to Gmail to let them know your problem could mean it’s resolved fast. This would mean a significant amount of your mailing list is contactable again.

Having reopened that line of communication, it might be tempting to go all out in contacting these supporters. But sending them a load of email volume could trigger a spam filter and give you the same problem all over again.

A better idea would be to ‘warm up’ that domain, gradually introducing your emails to them. Once your supporters start opening and clicking on your emails, the domain will recognise that people want to engage with you. Future email campaigns you send should then be delivered to inboxes, not junk folders. You can also help this process along by segmenting your mailing list by recency of engagement.

In summary, here are two tips to help increase your email deliverability and engagement:

  • Figure out if you have a specific issue with one email provider by completing domain analysis
  • Segment and schedule your emails to those domains carefully

If you need help with deliverability, segmenting, scheduling plans or any other aspect of your email programme, Wood for Trees can help. We’ve built online data analysis and reporting structures to give in-depth analytics and reporting at the touch of a button. Feel free to get in touch for an informal chat contact us here.