How to Boost Your Inbox Placement

Avatar for Kat Garcia Kat Garcia
Avatar for Kat Garcia Kat Garcia

September 8, 2021

9 min read

How to Boost Your Inbox Placement

Your inbox placement, it’s not just if your emails get delivered, it’s if they get delivered to an inbox.

The most amazing email marketing campaigns will fall short if they don’t land in the desired inboxes. You need to boost your inbox placement to make sure the right audience is looking at your campaigns. Unfortunately, email deliverability can be a tricky task. Despite your best efforts your emails may not end up in the correct inboxes due to several factors you may not even be aware of. In this article, we will discuss ways to improve your inbox placement.

Boost your inbox placement with these easy steps

You may say that the best email marketing is based on how great your content is. Yes, content is key when your emails are actually getting opened. But the first step to a great email marketing campaign is that your emails actually get delivered to an inbox. Your inbox placement is key.

It’s reassuring that your emails have received the oh-so-satisfying check that they have been delivered. You know that the time and effort you put into your email campaign has reached its final destination. But then comes the question “Did it land in the inbox or spam folder”? Nowadays, ESPs have dedicated a folder for their users that is only for items that they think are spam. Although the emails get delivered correctly, they may be ending up in the designated spam folder that typically users are not checking.

Your inbox placement rate, which is the percentage of emails that make it into the inbox can be affected by numerous factors. If you’re having trouble getting a spot in the inbox, we’ve got the tips for you.

Improving your inbox placement

Did you know there is a difference between delivery rates and deliverability? Once you know and understand the difference between the two, you will have a better understanding of how to improve your ROI and get the most out of your email marketing campaigns.

The delivery rate is the number of emails that actually reach the inbox of your subscribers. This value only takes into account that the email didn’t bounce and was delivered to some sort of place, either inbox or spam folder. But it does not indicate whether it ended up in the inbox or spam folder.

While your deliverability is the number that indicates if your email has actually been delivered to the recipient’s inbox. This is also synonymous with the term “inbox placement”.

  • Delivery rate: the rate at which your emails are delivered to a recipient, nonindicative of Inbox or Spam folders.
  • Deliverability: the number that indicates how many emails were actually received in an Inbox (AKA “inbox placement”).

Why is there an important difference between these two metrics? Although your delivery rate may look wonderful and you see a high number of emails getting delivered, the key variable you should consider is actually where they got delivered, and their deliverability. The most important aspect of an email marketing campaign is that your emails reach an inbox.

Let’s first take a look at how to increase your email deliverability

The first step is to make sure that you are using an opt-in list. From there you are able to manage and nurture your list to prevent a dirty list that can cause bounces and impact your sender reputation score. Also, you need to stop using any spammy subject lines that could flag you for spam and adjust your content to always include value for your recipients. Then, you will be able to improve your engagement.

But there are other ways to improve your engagement and deliverability. It’s not one size fits all and depends on your industry and niche.

Make it as simple as possible

No one wants to do any sort of extra work, especially your subscribers. The most effective way and efficient way to improve your engagement rates is by making it as simple as possible for your subscribers to complete the CTA you have at the end of your emails.

Do what you can to minimize any spam complaints

A spam complaint can make or break your campaign and jeopardize your ROI. If you are putting your emails at risk, then what’s the point of a great campaign? If you are noticing more and more spam complaints, inbox providers (ESPs) will hesitate to put your email in the desired inbox. Because their first priority is to protect their subscribers. Some email subscribers will eventually get tired of your email and churn, but unfortunately, this is inevitable. But, you can do your part to decrease complaints and keep yourself in good standing with ESPs as well as off of any blacklists.

Start by making sure that you have a clear opt-out option on your emails. Not only does this help keep you in the good graces of CAN-SPAM but it’s also a great way to keep your lists naturally clean and only engage with subscribers that actually want to receive your emails. If your recipients can’t find how to get off your email list, then they will just send you to spam which will put you at risk for spam traps and blacklists.

Secondly, if you are sending too many emails, you will become annoying, overwhelming, and obnoxious. Subscribers are then more inclined to mark you as spam. You can even offer the solution of “taking a break” from your email list and only send a select few of your emails instead.

One of the most important tools to boost inbox placement: Keep Your Lists Clean

When you send an email, you need to make sure that the address is correct as well as valid. Because sending an email to an invalid, misspelled, or incorrect email address can land you in the heart of a spam trap and on the fast track to getting blacklisted.

Blacklisted is when an email service provider (ESP) marks your IP address and puts it on a list that rejects and blocks any emails coming from your company. So despite all the hard work you’ve put into your email marketing campaigns, your emails will never get delivered.

A spam trap is an email address used to stop and prohibit any spam from entering their user’s folders. An ESP has several spam traps in order to protect the integrity of an inbox and reduce the amount of spam getting delivered. If you end up sending to one of these spam traps your emails will never be delivered. Which will affect your deliverability score as well as your sender reputation score.

Sometimes you will find yourself caught in a spam trap because companies buy email lists that have old or outdated email addresses as well as those that could potentially be spam traps. When you acquire lists such as these it is imperative that you clean your lists before sending out any emails. You can use an email checker service like Emailable, where they can verify your list and give you metrics such as “deliverable” “undeliverable” or “risky”.

By cleaning your lists, you are on the right track to boosting your inbox placement and ensuring that your emails get delivered.

Your Email Engagement Metrics

As spam filters get more sophisticated, that means so do your email marketing techniques. Your engagement rates matter when it comes to key metrics for your campaigns. In order to ensure a better inbox placement, you need good engagement rates. Such metrics include:

  • Marking as “not spam” or adding your emails to a “safe senders” list. When subscribers tell their email service provider that they are not spam, ISPs (who are responsible for spam traps and blacklists) take note.
  • Your forward rate is also a key metric because as your subscribers send content to other people, ISPs also take this as a good indicator that you are not spam and will be more likely to deliver your content.
  • Reply rate, if you are sending from a “no-reply” address, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity to drive additional engagement. It is encouraging to subscribers that they have the ability to reach out and communicate with you.

Provide the Ability to Update Preferences

Another hindering factor to your sender reputation score and leading to the possibility of getting put on a blacklist is the unsubscribe rate. This can signal poor engagement with ISPs. To avoid this, you can give the option to your subscribers to update their preferences and select which emails they would like to receive.

For example, you can give your subscribers the option to only receive emails pertaining to a certain subject or when a product or service goes on sale.

The preference page is a ‘hail mary’ for a way to keep your list clean and healthy without having higher unsubscribe rates. Lastly, when your subscribers use a preference center, you also gain more insight as to what they are interested in and can see a commonality between your product or service and your subscribers. This will help you personalize your email campaigns as well as boost your inbox placement when you are giving information that pertains to your clientele.

Email Segmentation

Another great tool to help boost your inbox placement is list segmentation. It will help ensure that your email campaigns are aligning with your audiences.

You can segment your list by looking at the parts of your list that your subscribers don’t engage with and putting them in a different list to receive emails less often. By doing so, you are able to minimize the risk of your subscribers clicking the ‘unsubscribe’ button or ‘mark as spam. This also increases the likelihood of them engaging with your content.

Have you seen a chunk of subscribers who haven’t clicked on your emails in months? You will have more luck reminding them of your product or service by using a re-engagement email campaign. If successful, you will have a revitalized email group where they are more likely to engage than the rest of your list. If not, you should consider removing them from your list entirely because they aren’t contributing to your email marketing campaign and provide a bigger threat to your sender reputation.

Take Advantage of Seed Testing

You may first ask, what is seed testing? Essentially, email seed testing is a way to get a feel for how your emails will appear before they are even sent out. By monitoring your test email addresses, you can catch deliverability issues before sending them to the entire list. This also will help decrease any red flags that could be reported as spam.

With seed testing, you are able to test your deliverability before ever pressing ‘send’. This will help increase your inbox placement because you know that you have a high-quality email.

Although it won’t solve _all _of your deliverability problems, it’s a great practice to put in place. It will give you a better idea of what mailbox providers are doing in terms of inbox placement allowing you to adjust your strategy accordingly.

Bigger List Doesn’t Always Mean Bigger Risk

When the holidays approach or the sale season starts, this can also affect your inbox placement. Some email marketers will look at this and say “forget it” there’s too much strategy that goes into it. It’s no secret that email marketing comes with its risks, especially when adding new addresses to this list.

During the holiday season, your lists tend to get bigger and bigger, but this means you have to take extra precautions to ensure that you have a clean list and aren’t putting yourself in jeopardy of ending up on a blacklist. If you get too many spam complaints, you’re going to get blocked.

But adding new subscribers doesn’t automatically mean that you are risking your email deliverability. An email marketing campaign that focuses on the proper characteristics of the new subscribers, and collects them in an appropriate manner, can minimize a lot of risks.

Let’s Recap

Inbox placement is very important for successful email marketing campaigns. There is a big difference if your email gets delivered to an inbox, and if it gets delivered to a spam folder. Although an email is deliverable, there is no way to guarantee that it is deliverable to an inbox. So, in order to minimize your risk of ending up in spam and maximizing your email marketing campaigns, you need to do everything you can to boost your inbox placement.

As we mentioned above you need to:

  1. Provide easy opt-out options instead of being sent to spam.
  2. Include preference updates so subscribers can decide which emails they would like to receive.
  3. Have clean and up-to-date lists.
  4. Utilize email segmentation so you are not constantly sending emails to recipients that are not interested in a certain subject
  5. Try seed testing

Great content can only take you so far. You need to make sure that you are working with email service providers and following the rules to boost your inbox placement.

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