You’ve been working hard on your newsletter and made sure every single announcement is in there. Your graphic designers have been making the design look awesome. There’s no rogue code running in the HTML portions of the send-out. You’re confident that this email blast will bring good conversions. After pushing send, you run into problems. Your emails are getting bounced, and error messages are telling you that your emails are blocked. Something is very, very wrong.
Fortunately, these issues can be solved easily. Email deliverability consists of multiple factors, so we’ve compiled a list of tips to help your emails reach their targets.
1. Diversify your email sending address (low impact, low lead time)
The simplest way to improve deliverability is to set separate addresses for your send-outs. More often than not, marketing emails are sent from the same address as your transactional emails. This causes the address to be considered “spammy”. It’s better to use addresses such as sales@yourcompany, newsletter@yourcompany, or invoices@yourcompany. Make sure these emails do exist and receive emails since the (auto-)replies you receive should have a place. If these addresses bounce, your domain reputation will go down as you’re not receiving emails.
Some organizations filter emails based on the address alone, so there is a chance your marketing email address might be filtered by default. The delivery is also affected by the name of the sender. If the “From” field isn’t aligned with your address and content, this could be considered spam. The same goes for “No Reply” addresses. These are often associated with marketing emails and end up filtered out or placed in a lower priority inbox for Gmail users.
2. Check the contact database (low impact, high lead time)
The common source for your email deliverability issues lies in your contact database. Regular cleanup of your contact database can go a long way, as you’ll ensure emails get delivered to the right people. Here are some quick fixes you can do to clean up the database:
- If you have users that are hard bouncing, you might want to remove them from your emailing lists. Check the hard bounce status for information about why it bounced. Most commonly, these addresses are either erroneous or do not exist anymore. Sending to these mailboxes causes harm to your email reputation.
- Look for soft bounces. These users might be affected by erroneous email settings or domain blocking. Usually, these are related to your domain DNS settings. See step 4 for more info.
- Create a list with unengaged contacts. Some users will not ever engage with your emails, which brings your open & engagement metrics down. Your email reputation is affected by opens and clicks, so sending to unengaged contacts can lead your email to become spam. With a list of unengaged contacts, you can exclude these users from your emails. HubSpot can automate the list population, so you will always have an up-to-date unengaged contact list to exclude.
- Of course, if you want to make this even simpler, you can always turn on the “Don’t send to unengaged contacts” setting. This will make sure unengaged users will not receive emails. You don’t need a separate list to exclude users. The flip side is that you will always need to explicitly include unengaged contacts, should you wish to email them.
3. Run a spam check (medium impact, diagnostics)
You can always run diagnostics on your emails. Online email testing services give you information on how your emails perform. These tools analyze aspects of your email and give you pointers on what to fix. Here’s how to test your email:
- First, you need an email to send. Compose an email in your email marketing tool, or just clone an existing one. Either way, you want to have an email as close to the ones you normally send. Refrain from using the “send test email” feature found in many tools, as it is an approximation.. Be careful not to send too many test emails, since this can cause an impact on your email domain reputation.
- Use a tool, such as https://www.mail-tester.com/, to test email deliverability. They provide you with a single-use address, that you can send your email to. After you’ve created a contact, send the email to this address and check the site for results.
- As the tool receives the message, it will run a list of. Things tested include email formatting, DNS settings, and whether you have clear enough unsubscribe headers.
- After the checks are completed, you receive the results. If any tests fail or something is off, these are immediately presented with suggestions on how to fix them. As these are automated suggestions, take them as a guideline and always look into the reason behind the error.
4. Check portal settings (medium impact, low time)
Your HubSpot portal is the key tool for ensuring email deliverability. A correctly configured portal has everything you need to get your marketing emails flowing.
- Confirm that the correct sending domains are in use. These can be set up in the settings panel. HubSpot's domain configuration is streamlined and easy to use. During the process, you have to do some DNS settings. For these, you might require your IT or hostmaster to support you. Subdomains should not be used for the sending domain if possible.
- Check SMTP settings (where applicable). If you are using an external server to send emails, you have to set your SMTP settings in HubSpot. Erroneous SMTP settings can cause issues for email security and cause emails to bounce.
5. Check DNS settings (high impact, medium time)
As emails are coming from your domain, the domain acts as your identity. Emails are very easy to spoof, but with correctly configured DNS settings, you are verifying that the emails you send are real. Using DKIM, SPF, and DMARC entries in your name server settings, you can ensure your validity.
- To check that your domain is configured correctly, use a DNS checker tool. Sites such as https://dnschecker.org/ are good for checking different entries in your DNS. They’ll notify you if some information is missing. You can also check your subdomains.
- If you are missing some settings, you have to log in to your DNS administration console and set the settings there. Alternatively, your IT department can help you set these up.
- If settings are missing, you might have to reconnect your domain to HubSpot. As a part of the process, you are presented with the right DNS settings that you can add to your DNS entries.
- (OPTIONAL, but recommended) Append an SPF record to the DNS settings. This can be found from “Settings” -> “Website” -> “Domain & URLs”. SPF is one form of verification that your emails are legit.
- The final recommendation is to add a DMARC configuration setting to the domain. Add the line “v=DMARC1; p=none” to the TXT entry of subdomain _dmarc.YOUR DOMAIN. The dmarc setting helps email deliverability by verifying email signatures and proving that the email is coming from an authorized source. DMARC provides guidelines for recipients on how to handle unauthorized emails.
Email deliverability is the metric for ensuring your message reaches your audience. It all comes down to trust. You want to be a trustworthy sender. With the tips presented in this blog post, we hope you can make improvements to your overall trustworthiness and build up your domain reputation. In case you have any questions or want to know more about how to improve your email deliverability and reputation, book a meeting with our HubSpot expert via the link below!