Email is a great way to initiate the first contact, negotiate a deal, or keep-in-touch with customers. Despite the new and alternative mediums of communication always popping up, emails are still used to establish a relationship with clients; in fact, emails are 40% more effective for finding new leads than Facebook and Twitter combined.
To tap into your email’s potential, you have to increase your email deliverability and decrease your chances of ending up in spam.  

Let’s increase your read-rates with this step-by-step outline of what you can do to ensure your email doesn’t land in or get marked as spam –

Step 1:  Follow Protocols
Protocols are a type of identity or a way to authenticate your email domain. Ensure these Protocols are in place before trying to send out an email-
a) Sender Policy Framework (SPF) – an email-authentication technique used to prevent spammers from sending messages on behalf of your domain.
b) DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) – allows the receiver to check that an email was sent and authorized by the owner of that domain. This is done by giving the email a digital signature.
c) Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) – prevents the domain’s name from being used illegally.
Here’s how you can configure email authentication protocols.
Bonus: PHP mail function – Many PHP mail function hosting providers like WordPress aren’t set up to send emails. This means you have to use a script to send emails. This can cause a discrepancy for recipients trying to identify where the email is coming from. You can solve this issue by using SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), a standard email protocol, to send your email.

Step 2: What’s your email’s reputation?
Every email has a reputation, a score that shows how trustworthy you are. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and other organizations might have different scores. This score also depends on your domain’s and email host’s reputation. If your email score goes below a threshold value then the email will land in spam.
You can generate a good reputation by making sure you only send relevant emails, engaging with those who reply, and by not contacting those who have unsubscribed. Your score will increase as your contact list grows to trust you.
Getting marked or reported as spam, mailing to unknown users, being on industry or domain blacklists, and other inconspicuous practices bring your email score down.
Some sales (like Zoho CRM) or email software companies have a dedicated team constantly working to improving your sending domain’s reputation.
You can check your sender score here 

Step 3: Are you an unwanted visitor?
Don’t buy email lists or lead lists, as tempting as they may be. While it’s true that there might be one valuable lead in the list, it’s not worth having the rest of your recipients treat your email as spam. When you buy email lists, you contact email addresses that look real but aren’t. They are spam traps set by spam detecting services. When you send an email to those addresses, spam detecting services block your domain and ISP. That could be another reason your emails are ending up in spam.
It could also be because your IP address has been blacklisted or blocked, or your domain could be blocked. If your IP address has been ignored by your web hosting company, any mail you try to send will be blocked and not forwarded.
Companies like Zoho CRM have a team to keep IP addresses whitelisted and replace the blacklisted ones with fresh ones.
Always check if you are allowed to email someone before hitting ‘Send’. 

Step 4: Let the disinterested go
Unsubscriber behavior could make or break your email campaigns. If you don’t allow your audience to unsubscribe then they will mark you as spam to avoid receiving your emails in the future. Not having an easy way to unsubscribe from your email list also brings your email reputation down. If disinterested contacts aren’t allowed to unsubscribe then you’ll continue to email them not knowing that the lead has gone cold.  So remember to immediately remove unsubscribers from all your email lists to help improve your reputation.

Step 5: Evaluate your pitch
– Subject lines – Most emails don’t get opened due to bad subject lines. 33% of emails are opened based on subject lines alone, while 69% of emails are marked as spam simply because of the email’s subject. Your subject lines shouldn’t sound too sales-y or like clickbait. Things to avoid include using ALL CAPS, non-grammatical punctuation marks, reusing subject lines that make it seem like the information in the email isn’t new or useful to the reader (eg: a subject line about a discount without indicating that new products have been discounted so your reader assumes its a repeated email), too many emojis, clickbait like “open me, read me, don’t miss this email, urgent”, typos, long subject lines—anything more than 41 characters is too long, and using salutations like ‘hi’ or ‘hello’. Here’s a list of 100+ keywords to avoid so you don’t get marked as spam.
– Email templates – It’s nice to use interesting and visually appealing email templates, but they shouldn’t take too long to load! Readers tend to get impatient and close the email long before the images load.
– Personalized content – The best way to spend your time is by personalizing your emails. Personalized subject lines result in a 26% increase in open-rates, while personalized emails have a 14% increased click-rate. An easy way to personalize an email is by using the recipient’s name in the email body or subject line. Check out this listicle to learn how. (Stats source: Campaign Monitor)
Did you know: The worst subject line is ‘The results are in..’ while the most opened sales emails have ‘Re:’ in the subject. But, a word to the wise; falsely using ‘Re:’ can REally annoy readers. 

Step 6: Don’t address the crowd, make groups. 
According to a MailChimp study, segmented emails receive a 14% increase in open rates and more than a 100% increase in click rate. Once you have an email list, don’t email everyone with the same content at the same time. Breaking up your email list into smaller, targeted lists leads to better results. You can segment your lists based on different criteria like geography, level of interest, customer loyalty, etc. In fact, test your email on your loyal customers first to know how your email is going to be received. You can also use this opportunity to test subject lines and templates for different lists by sending them out in batches and seeing which gets the better open and click results.
Remember – Send or schedule emails to be sent at a time when your recipient will be available. Most software lets you schedule emails based on the recipient’s IP address, and some even calculate the best time to reach out to each contact.  

Step 7: Numbers and emails
After sending out email campaigns, it’s important to look at the analytics to understand how you can improve response rates. If your open-rate is low, perhaps the subject line could be changed. If the read-through rate is high but the click-through isn’t, perhaps you’re not giving your readers the right CTA (Call To Action). If emails are bouncing, then it is time to go back to step one.  

Tips – 
1. Always send a test email to yourself before sending it to your list.
2. Emails with questions or clear calls-to-action receive better engagement.
3. You can test the deliverability of your emails with these free tools –
Mail-Tester.com 
Spamcheck 
MxToolBox 

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