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Tony is CEO of PostUp.

From Lena Dunham to TechCrunch, it seems like everyone is getting into email newsletters these days. It should come as no surprise that email is becoming the new darling among publishers, since mobile users love to kick back and read a curated digest of great content every day.

As newsletters take off, it is important that publishers not just focus on click-through rates, but keep deliverability, inbox placement and readability top of mind. These factors could be the most important details in email marketing, yet are often overlooked by publishers who are blinded by clicks. However, an email that is not delivered to a subscriber’s inbox is effectively worthless; if a subscriber doesn’t get it, they can’t click through.

Engagement is one of the key factors that impacts deliverability. The ISPs look at what you are sending and who you are sending it to in order to determine whether or not it should be placed in the inbox or some other folder. The fact is that you don’t get placed in the inbox if people don’t open and click your messages. If your recipients are engaging with the communications that you are sending because they are well-formatted and providing valuable information, then the ISPs have no other option than to deliver your messages to the inbox. Engaged recipients are reinforcing the idea that the message is relevant and deserves good placement.

Creating a strategy around engagement will improve deliverability, which will lead to a more successful email program. To boost engagement, you should consider the following points:

  • Have a clear email-specific strategy. Don’t just dump web content in an email and call it a day. While publishers are very good at creating content, they are often challenged in determining which content makes the most sense in an email. Publishers need to make decisions about content based on who is signing up and customer behavior. Unfortunately, by not considering deliverability, publishers often end up formatting emails that are optimized to their website rather than considering how it would best generate traffic to the website. Instead, publishers should adopt a well-thought-out communication strategy for the email itself to improve deliverability and inbox placement.
  • Design for mobile & execute campaign previews. As mobile engagement continues to grow, previewing becomes a necessary task before you hit send. Viewing how an email will look across webmail clients and mobile devices using rendering reports can help publishers optimize the creative, which in turn makes the message more clickable. This helps to optimize the creative before you send which in turn increases the chances of driving engagement. Better engagement equals better delivery rates.
  • Use targeting techniques to increase engagement. Unfortunately, a lot of publishers have a “batch and blast” mentality and send emails to anyone who has ever signed up for their list, and the emails become irrelevant for many. This can negatively impact deliverability rates. For example, if you have a million recipients on your list and you always send to the entire list, you could hurt your delivery if an overwhelming majority of those recipients never engage. It tells the ISPs that you aren’t sending relevant communications and could eventually lead to spam folder delivery. Because engagement affects inbox placement, targeting plays a role in deliverability, and publishers that want to land in the inbox should consider targeting their messaging.

Publishers have to send relevant, engaging content that people will open and click. If you send something that people don’t open and click, you will have challenges. If you don’t consider these elements, then you are not likely to find the inbox because poor engagement will lead to poor delivery rates. Don’t forget: if the email doesn’t make it to the inbox, no one will open it, no one will click on it, and you won’t make money.

Gigaom Search

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