How Content Affects Email Deliverability

Email remains one of the most important channels in digital marketing today. The pandemic hasn’t changed that, but it has made the email space more important and also more crowded.

That means competition is up, but email continues to be an extraordinarily effective channel. In a report released in January 2020 by Campaign Monitor, email is more valuable than ever with an ROI of $42 for every $1 spent in 2019. That’s up from $38 in 2018.

But in order to achieve ROI like this, you need to ensure that your emails actually land in the intended inbox. That’s where email deliverability comes in.

Email deliverability is when an email successfully arrives in a user’s inbox. There are three intertwined factors that determine whether or not your email is successfully delivered to a user’s inbox. They are:

  • Content
  • Identification
  • Reputation

In today’s post, we will focus on content specifically, then address the other two areas in another post. But don’t be confused. Content, identification, and reputation are intertwined and affect one another dramatically.

So how and where does content affect your email deliverability?

Mind Your URLs

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to URLs. They are:

  • Link shorteners

Link shorteners can make your content seem spammy because they hide the content they are intended to direct you to. Spammers will take advantage of this. You don’t need to use link shorteners in your hyperlinks in email, so don’t bother. Be sure to check that the link you’re using wasn’t already shortened for something like a social media post.  Shortened links can hurt your deliverability.

We just wrote a post about the difference between using HTTP or HTTPS. You can read it here. But the main difference is that HTTPS is encrypted and therefore safer. Spammers will often use unsecured HTTP to hijack your website.

It costs money to register an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security, an updated, more secure version of SSL). Do it anyway. Many ESPs will penalize you or prevent your email from landing in an inbox if you don’t secure your website.

Choose Your Words Carefully

It feels redundant to write this but spammy words hurt your deliverability. You know this, but it’s worth reiterating. What can spammy language look like?

  • Typos (clean it up)
  • Overuse of special characters ($%^&)
  • Overuse of punctuation!!!!
  • Spammy words like “100% free” or DOWNLOAD NOW”

Seems simple enough right? Here is a complete list of words that might impact your marketing messages’ deliverability.

Hit the Right Image vs. Text Blend   

Images make your emails beautiful, but not everyone has their images on. You need to strike the right balance of beautiful imagery and informative text. Having a balanced blend of both images and texts also tells ESPs that you’re trustworthy.

Don’t forget to use alt text on your images. It means that images won’t show up as blank space for those with different accessibility needs or those with their images off.

Create Responsive Email Templates   

Mobile-friendly responsive emails are less likely to get marked as spam. That’s a fact. It’s also a fact that mobile opens account for 46% of all email opens.

If you aren’t creating responsive emails yet, you’re hurting your deliverability.

Add Permission Reminders  

One last thing. One of the best ways to keep users interacting with your emails and trusting the marketing messages you send is reminding them that they gave you permission to email them.

This helps prevent users from marking your email as spam. Here is an example of a permission reminder you can attach to your emails.

Hi! This is just a reminder that you subscribed to receive our emails on our website. We promised to consistently deliver relevant, actionable marketing content to your inbox on a weekly basis.

It is so simple to add this permission reminder, but it will save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Don’t skip this step.

Email deliverability is an art and a science. Delivering quality content ensures that your email deliverability is unaffected by what you put in your emails. Make your emails safe, fill them with beautiful images, and well-crafted, valuable words.

In the next post in this series, we’ll talk about how sender reputation affects email deliverability.


Let us know what you think:

  • What kinds of emails feel spammy?
  • Have you ever had an email deliverability issue due to content?
  • Is this list missing anything that could optimize content for deliverability?



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