A few weeks ago, I posted a blog article about the importance ofDomain Authentication. To-date this has been one of the most popular blog articles on our site. As much as I'd like to take credit for this, it's likely because email marketing is a pretty important component to a real estate sales & marketing strategy these days. It's not only inexpensive — it's relatively easy and it can reach a large uniquely targeted audience quickly.
There are several ways to improve deliverability to the inbox. First of all, let's talk about what the internet service providers (ISP's) do with your email. Think of them as body guards for your email recipients. They will do one of three things:
- Throw you aside – delete this email and not deliver it to the email address.
- Allow you through but search you first and possibly flag you as a troublemaker – deliver the email to the account, but mark it as spam and send it straight to the recipient's junk folder.
- Welcome you in – deliver the email straight to the inbox.
Obviously, we'd all like the third option! The reality is that it's not our decision and it can be pretty tough to get through that 250 pound guard at the door, especially considering that for some of the major ISPs, 95% of the email sent is considered junk! As a result, they have every right to be cautious. It's therefore important to play by the ISPs' rules.
Here are a few things you can do to improve your relationship with the ISPs and increase deliverability:
- Keep your lists clean – I'm sure we sound a bit like a broken record but it's important. What does this mean? Don't keep sending email after email to the same people who never open your email. Not only is this pointless, many ISPs will shut the door on you and none of the email will get through . . . even the ones who want to receive your email. ISPs are monitoring whether emails get opened or if there's activity within accounts. If you keep sending to an email address that is non-active, the ISP is going to assume you are junk and block all your email. Sounds drastic but when you consider the millions and millions of spam email that is blocked each day by ISPs, it's no wonder they consider you guilty until proven innocent!
- Watch for spam-type words – although this doesn't come into play as much in a business to consumer environment, choose your words carefully. We have had a client who used the words “mortgage rates” in their email and this was the root cause of the email going into some junk folders. Choosing your words carefully is important especially when you're sending to corporate email accounts like brokers. While you're at it, make sure that you have titles on images, and try to avoid using a lot of different fonts and colours and large text. A SUBJECT LINE ALL IN UPPER CASE LETTERS WON'T NECESSARILY GET MORE ATTENTION . . . and it can trigger going to junk. Test your email by sending it to yourself using different email accounts.
- Email Frequency – this is a tough one. Sometimes it may be okay to send email on a daily basis but most of the time it's not. In fact, often weekly is too often. When someone signs up to receive information from you, let them know at the same time how often they are going to receive emails. If you're sending too frequently they will either opt-out of email or worse, they will mark the email as spam and the ISPs may not allow you back in. The flip side to all this is don't go too long without sending an email. Your registrants could forget who you are and it's a common fact that email addresses change. Always be consistent with the “from” address – let the recipients become familiar with the sender and be able to identify your email easily.
Email Marketing can be really effective but it does take some work and creativity. You can't just keep sending to see what sticks. It takes work managing your lists and really developing a strategy, but the return on investment is extraordinary. It's important to work with and understand the ISPs, they are the ones who will determine which mail gets delivered. For more information refer to the following white paper on email deliverability.