I’ve been sending a daily newsletter for almost 3 years now and in that period I’ve learned a couple of things about email deliverability, some of which are not actually addressed in the thousands of deliverability articles on Google.
In 2020, we sent 3,366,573 emails that had an average open rate of 46.6% (thus the title of the post).
Without further ado, the 6 lessons everyone who sends emails can use to improve their deliverability and open rates.
Lesson 0: People must want to get your emails to begin with, otherwise all the lessons fall flat because a 10% improvement of 0 is… 0.
Lesson 1: Authenticate your domain.
This one is recommended everywhere, yet people still don’t do it.
Set up DKIM, SPF, DMARC and BIMI.
It helps deliverability plus it makes it harder to convincingly spoof your domain.
The last one on the list, BIMI, is somewhat of a newcomer but it has the added benefit of adding your sender address a profile picture in certain inboxes which brings me to…
Lesson 2: Use a profile picture.
BIMI will hook you up for Yahoo! Inboxes and a few others that are less used.
Gmail has also started testing BIMI but there’s no full rollout when writing this.
That said, for Gmail, you can get a profile picture by making your sender address a G Suite account and adding a profile picture.
We’ve seen this change add about a 2% extra open rate. So 2% more people reading our newsletter every day just because it’s easier to identify us in their inboxes.
Lesson 3: The right type of welcome email.
Too many lists try to do too much or do nothing with their first email. It should have one clear goal: get engagement (especially for Gmail users, which there are plenty of).
Welcome emails have over a 50% open rate (75% is not uncommon). Focus on getting at least a click in that email. It will heavily help your deliverability with Gmail.
Make sure that request for a click is early and clear in the email. You can then also ask for things like adding you as a contact/VIP.
Lesson 4: Avoiding the dreaded Gmail clip.
A tip focused on Gmail specifically because it’s just too important to ignore. If your emails get clipped they will have a lower open rate for two reasons:
- The open tracking pixel is often at the bottom of the email (which isn’t loaded when Gmail clips it).
- Clipped emails are more likely to be sent to Promotions (or sometimes Spam).
Either way, clipped emails just aren’t good.
The issue appears because Gmail clips emails that are around 102KB HTML file size. It’s not 100% clear what the breaking point is, there are sometimes anomalies but for the average sender, keep your emails under 102KB in the HTML file. This is just the code size, your 100KB images are considered separately.
Lesson 5: List hygiene.
As I mentioned, the starting point must be with people who want to get your email. Very often people just stop opening your emails and don’t unsubscribe.
Make sure you have an always-running process to send a re-engagement email to those who seem to drop-off and segment them out if they do not re-engage.
It might seem counterintuitive but sending to less people can actually make more people read your emails.
A big part of your subscribers are “on the edge” when it comes to Gmail’s placement algorithm and the deciding factor will be what your average recipient does. It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The less people open, the more Gmail sends it to Promotions/Spam to the “on the edge” subscribers too.
Lesson 6: Always test, monitor and adjust to the changes.
While changes for email are less sudden, they do happen and you have to monitor your sender reputation and regularly test your inboxing.
You will also have to adjust your content based on this. The more engaged your readers, the more you will be able to “get away” with using typical spam words and phrases.
But that might change so you have to stay on top of things. There are several tools that can help there. I like using GlockApps (it’s paid) but GMass has a good alternative for Gmail specifically (it’s free).
If deliverability is something you need to do better at, these lessons are the base that should put you ahead of 90% of people who send emails on a regular basis.