Last month, I ran my first half marathon in Disneyland, the happiest place on earth! It was pretty amazing and as I was reflecting on all the training it took me to get to the point of “finish without dying,” the whole process seemed quite familiar to starting an email delivery program!
Alright, alright, so that was obviously a lie. I wasn’t exactly thinking about email while running (especially towards the end – my focus was more, “get me water” and “why do hills exist?”). But when I was putting my email and DNS thinking cap back on and hanging up my vacation cap, I thought of one of the first articles I read when I started to train: 7 Training Tips for Your First Half Marathon.
When I reread the article I thought, “Yep, I can totally relate to all these steps to ramping up for email delivery.” After all, starting up your email program is more like a marathon than a sprint. You don’t want to go out full steam ahead and get marked as spam.
So now that I have both running and email on the brain, let’s go over this list and see how you can use these tips as tools for your own email marathon:
1. Build A Base
One of the most important aspects of a good email program is a list of email recipients. Especially considering that without a list, you have nowhere for your email to go. To build a good base for your list, make sure your customers opt in to receive your mail.
If at all possible, double opt ins are best. We say this a lot, but never really explain why it’s better. Say a user gives you their email address at a store, online, at an event, etc. Believe it or not, not everyone is truthful. Shocking, I know. People can write down whatever they want as long as it looks legit, and walk away with whatever enticed them to sign up for to begin with.
Unfortunately, this means that JohnDoe@gmail.com probably gets bombarded with a lot of email that he didn’t sign up for. With a double opt-in, the person on the other end of the email address actually has to verify their subscription via an automated email. They click, are added to a list, and the process begins. Without it. there’s no real way to figure out if the addresses you’re collecting from signups are legit or not.
So for John Doe’s sake (and to prevent him from marking you as spam), try to always do a double opt in.
2. Pick A Plan
What will your rollout plan be like? Who will you send to? What type of message will you start with? How are you going to keep your sending consistent?
When you start up an email program, you need to put a lot of thought into the future before you hit send on your first message. Figure out an email calendar for the year so you can keep a consistent sending pattern and your recipients will begin to expect your mail.
3. Think Quality Over Quantity
This tip can be applied to two areas: your list and your messages.
With your list, it may impress the higher ups if you have 1 million recipients, but if only 32 people actually open your campaigns, that big number is meaningless. Keep an eye on your list to weed out people who don’t engage with you.
As for your messages, don’t bombard your lists with tons of emails. First, give them the option of what types of messages they want to receive and how frequently they want to receive them. You don’t have to send an email every day to get the point across that your spring sale is pretty awesome.
When people think about email delivery, their mind tends to go straight to bulk email (newsletters, promotions, etc.). However, transactional email delivery needs to be monitored as well. If you don’t pay attention to your transactional email, it might end up going to spam and can ultimately bring down your overall email reputation which, in turn, can hurt the delivery of your bulk emails.
5. Find A Training Group
If you don’t want to go at it alone, find a company you trust to help you with your delivery. There are plenty of email delivery services out there that have experts who know how to keep your deliverability up and can help diagnose any problems that you may be having. Dyn is one of those companies, by the way.
6. Research The Race
If you get a great email delivery provider, don’t think you can just sit back and let them take care of your reputation. You still have to do your part. If you don’t already have an expert on email, become one yourself (or hire one if you can). Research rules and best practices to know exactly what might cause you to go to the spam folder.
Okay, so this one is going to be a bit of a stretch. After you are all set up and have been sending email for a while, take a step back and look at what you’ve done. Do you notice any trends? How are your stats? If you just keep on going and going without monitoring your progress, you may not notice a big problem (like no one’s actually opening your email) before it’s too late.
Also, everyone should rest once in a while. You don’t want to be constantly thinking of email, do you? That’s what we’re here for.