Your email deliverability depends on engaging content.

*Editor’s note: This post is brought to you by a guest blogger, Cheyenne Ng of Zembula!*

Getting trapped in the spam folder is one of a marketer’s worst nightmares. After all, we spend countless hours crafting our email campaigns, and for them to fall on deaf ears, so to speak, is really unfortunate.

Deliverability is a fickle beast. As many as 15% of emails never make it to the inbox. You might even already be doing many of the right things, like ensuring users are opted in, authenticating your email, and maintaining a properly warmed IP. But how are you improving your deliverability with your content? If your email content isn’t resonating with your audience, you are more likely to be sent to the spam folder.

It starts with engagement. Your reputation depends on it. Basically, when you send an email containing no content relevant to the recipient, even if they open the email, you risk them marking the message as spam. Complaints, low or no engagement, and user-driven spam folder placement all have a negative impact on your sender reputation. But don’t worry, the opposite is also true! When you send segmented and personalized emails, your messages resonate with your audience. They are more likely to open, click, and even mark your messages as important—all good signals for your deliverability.

Let’s go through some of the ways you can boost engagement and achieve higher deliverability at the same time.

Be more relevant.

I already hinted at this one, but you need to be relevant in order to get email engagement. There are three main ways you can be more relevant. Segment your emails, personalize your content, and send contextualized messages.

All three of these things rely heavily on email data. You need to make sure you are collecting and maintaining the right data in the right ways.

Segmenting your lists is the first step. Think about chunks that make sense for your business. For retail, gender and age can be a good place to start. For hospitality, you can segment by loyalty membership, number of visits, length of stay, etc. Location is useful for restaurants and airlines.

Once you’ve got that down, you can start really personalizing your content. New Epsilon research indicates 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences. Luckily, there are lots of tools you can use to create individualized messages with the data you already have. This can be as simple as inserting a name merge tag in your subject line of body of your email, which many email service providers (ESPs) allow you to do with a few clicks.

Contextualized content is a little trickier to pull off and you will need an add-on solution to help you, but it can really help with engagement. You can create messages for different users based on where they open them, what the weather is at that moment, or other demographic data. A study by The Relevancy Group found that advanced personalization (think in-email package tracking updates) has an ROI of about $20 for every $1 spent, so it’s definitely worth your while to try out hyper-personalization.

Get interactive.

Another way to improve email deliverability is get your audience clicking on your emails. What better way to do that than by using interactive content? Interactive content can be anything, like polls, digital scratch-offs, or even gamified content.

It also helps you inject powerful marketing psychology like FOMO, curiosity, and the IKEA effect. With zero extra effort from the marketer, these are incorporated into many interactive content options for your emails. Interactive content in email is not only a great way to encourage action on your offers, but it also delights your audience and shows them something they have never seen before. In turn, they will be more engaged with both the emails you send them and your brand, leading to improved sender reputation for you.

Don’t look spammy.

Now that we’ve talked about all the things you should do with your emails, it’s time to mention a few things you shouldn’t do. Even if you’ve properly segmented, crafted personalized content, and feel good about your strategy, you could sink the effort with a few ill-chosen words.

There are words and phrases that raise red flags for anti-spam algorithms. You probably know what the common ones are, but there are a lot more where those come from.

Check out this huge list by These 455 terms are the most flagged for spam, so it is best to avoid them if you can. But don’t worry if you need some of them. Context matters when it comes to the inbox. Just use your best judgment and use them sparingly.

Timing and frequency are also huge factors in spam filtering. If you’re sending 12 emails per day to a single subscriber, you can imagine most of those go unread or marked as spam, if they’re not immediately filtered out by ESPs. And sending emails at 2am almost ensures nothing is being opened, at least not right away. With the volume of email the average person receives every day, they may never even see it. Time your emails for maximum impact, and keep the frequency down to a reasonable level for your audience!

I know first hand how frustrating getting flagged as spam can be. But there are ways to help lessen your risk. Follow these steps along with keeping up with relevant deliverability standards and being proactive in monitoring your email data, and you’ll give yourself the best shot possible at landing right where you want to be: the inbox.

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