As you know, email is a vital part of your marketing. But if your specially-crafted email campaigns don’t make it to your customers’ inboxes, your ROI will fall short. Following email deliverability best practices is more than making sure your customers receive your emails—it’s making sure that your emails aren’t marked as spam.
To keep your domain or IP address from the dreaded blacklist, here are some tips and tricks to maintain a pristine sender reputation. By taking a tactical, targeted approach to the right audience, you’ll ensure your marketing delivers higher ROI.
What Not to Do in Email Marketing
1. Don’t use third-party marketing lists.
It’s tempting, I know. But these lists are often riddled with issues and crush deliverability. However, if you must use a third-party list, always cleanse the list and use within 7 days of purchase. Any time beyond that and you run the risk of plunging your sender reputation by sending to invalid addresses, illegally-obtained addresses, or just addresses that are no longer up to date.
2. Don’t include more images than text.
Did you know that including too much imagery can flag your emails? Internet Service Providers monitor the ratio of text to images, so be sure to strike the right balance. Your emails could be marked as spam if only images are detected.
3. Don’t use shortened links/URLs.
Affiliate marketers love to use shortened links, which is why some Internet Service Providers and Email Service Providers automatically mark these emails as spam and blacklist the sender – especially if your links are from an associated company.
4. Don’t attach other items.
Save attachments for personal emails. In email marketing, they can look like phishing spam to customers, leading them to avoid reading your email at all. You only have so much time to grab your customer’s interest and present a call to action – so don’t waste it on the hassle of attachments.
5. Don’t use overwhelming sales messaging.
Selling is your main objective, whether you’re selling a vehicle, a service, or just a better experience. But I often see marketing emails bogged down with ALL CAPS, multiple exclamation points (!!!!!!!!), a rainbow of colors, and too much code-heavy razzle dazzle. These embellishments will do everything except drive customer loyalty and promote action. Instead, be more direct. An email that’s half the length and easier to read will resonate far more with your customers than one they have to search through to find your true message.
How to Ensure Your Customers Get Your Message
1. Keep your marketing lists clean and up to date.
Attempting to send to outdated email addresses is the most common cause of reputation damage. And too many attempts classifies you as spam.
2. Ask your customers to add you to their address book.
This is the easiest and most effective way to make sure they get your emails – today or 2 years from now.
3. Ask your customers where they receive your emails.
In Gmail, you may notice that some emails go straight to your “promotions” tab – and this might be happening with ones you send, too. Check with your customers to see if they’re getting your messages, and if they’re hiding somewhere they don’t belong, ask them to move your emails to their inbox. This ensure future emails will arrive front and center in their inboxes.
4. Create compelling email campaigns.
If you don’t have a lot of time or bandwidth to put into your email marketing, find a resource that does. Hire an email marketing coordinator, or put your money towards an all-encompassing solution that comes with one. Our dealers on AutoLoop Essentials™ each have their own Performance Manager to develop an effective strategy and keep it going to drive repeat business with meaningful campaigns.
5. Remove unresponsive customers from your list.
It’s tough removing a customer from your list, especially if they were once loyal to your dealership. But the truth is, your efforts will pay off far more if you’re marketing to those who are actually interested. That’s not to say you should never attempt to contact them again. However, if you’ve made multiple attempts and you’re still not getting a response, it’s best to remove them from your list.
6. Run your emails through a spam filter. And run a test to yourself.
Spam filters offer a quick, easy way to know your email will deliver. There are plenty of free services out there you can use to make sure your marketing makes the cut. And before you send your campaign off to your customers, send yourself a test-run. This is by far the easiest way to see how it stands out in your own inbox.
Nailing down an effective email marketing strategy may take a few swings, but it’s more than worthwhile – it’s profitable. Perhaps more so than any other marketing channel. So, if you’re not driving awareness of your dealership or marketing your latest incentives to your customers via email, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to grow your business.
Author: Graham Annett
Graham Annett is Vice President of Marketing for AutoLoop, a leading provider of auto industry marketing and customer relationship management solutions. One of his main responsibilities at AutoLoop is to provide effective and efficient direct marketing strategies, campaigns and marketing consultation for both OEMs and individual dealerships. He has more than 20 years’ marketing experience with respected companies that include Gannett, Thomson-Reuters, and The New York Times and has been recognized over the years for his innovative marketing, including the “20 under 40” award by Presstime magazine, which recognizes 20 industry leaders under the age of 40 annually. Graham was also awarded the “President’s Award for Marketing Excellence” by Thomson-Reuters, and has been invited to speak at the International Circulation Marketing Association and Newspaper Association of America annual conferences.