Emails Not Hitting Your Audience? 8 Tactics to Identify the Issue


A well-executed Email Marketing campaign takes a lot of time and effort from an organization so the last thing you want to see after hitting the “Send” button is that people aren’t receiving your message. In the eBook I recently collaborated on titled 3 Phases to Execute a Successful Email Marketing Campaign, we spoke on the strategy side of Email. This was meant to help you go from start to finish, on targeting a campaign, ensuring the content is appropriate and knowing what analytics to look for in success metrics. In this blog post, my goal is to walk you through how to identify & fix problem areas when you find that your users aren’t receiving your emails.

Step 1: Occam’s razor aka the simpler explanation is generally better than the complex

When your emails are not being received, it is normal to jump to conclusions about why that is the case. The simplest explanation, and the most likely, is that after all the work you did ensuring the email itself had no errors you missed looking over the distribution list for similar errors. Simple spelling errors can make the difference here so make sure you try and eliminate all user error on your next campaign.

Step 2: Look to the SPAM/JUNK Folder

Once you’ve verified spelling wasn’t the issue, check to see if recipients got the email in their SPAM or JUNK folder. There are many reasons an email can end up in this location, and popular email providers like Gmail help explain why this is the case. Below I’ve summarized just a few of the popular explanations.

  1. Message is from an unconfirmed sender
  2. Message is sent with a noreply@example.com from/reply to address making it appear suspicious, see our eBook for tips on testing “From” addresses
  3. Message looks like a phishing scam designed to get you to enter too much personal information
  4. Recipient has previously moved one of your other emails into the SPAM folder or has created a rule to move it there whenever it is received

Step 3: Identify if the issue is with the Internet Service Provider (ISP)

If this is your first email campaign, or your recently switched ISPs; or if you are increasing the volume of your email sends–then the issue might be how you went about IP Warming. IP Warming is the gradual process by which you establish your reputation as a legitimate email sender in the eyes of an ISP. By sending too much too soon (generally over 10,000 emails/month), you risk being flagged and having your emails not delivered. If you are interested in learning your sender reputation, you can find it using Sender Score to evaluate how trustworthy your server is to ISPs.

In order to reach your user’s inbox, be proactive in the things you can control. Make sure you are always cleaning up your distribution lists, and for any hard bounces either delete them or check to see if they bounced because of a spelling error. To avoid the SPAM filter, do not over format your HTML design with an abundance of images or heavy use of HTML. Write content that is human, and engage with recipients in the way you best respond to emails you personally receive. Another preemptive tactic is to send an email campaign requesting users to add your company’s sending Email Address to their address book (or Primary tab in Gmail) so future emails miss the SPAM folder. If you are interested in learning more about Email Marketing, visit Bridgeline’s Resource Center or see our Digital Strategy services section. To get in touch with us visit our Contact page or call 1-800-603-9936 to see how we can best assist you.

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