How to write copy for good delivery
The content in your emails impacts whether or not your message will be delivered. When you create new emails, follow these copywriting best practices.
Copy plain text HTML
Always include a plain text version of your email. Spam blockers often prevent the delivery of emails where the plain text and designed versions of the message do not match each other. Providing both copies, and making sure that they match, will improve your email deliverability.
As a best practice, you should click the “Copy from HTML” button after designing a new message or simply adding some copy.
No raw URLs
Make sure that every link in your message is either hyperlinked or connected to a button. Placing entire URLs into the body of your message can set off spam triggers. The reason for this is scammers will sometimes add deceptive URLs in their messages that actually link to a different page than where the link appears to go. For example the email message might show www.google.com, but actually be hyperlinked to www.spamwebsite.com.
Only repeat links up to two times in the same message
If an email contains the same link three or more times, ISPs are likely to filter your message into spam.
Keep formatting consistent
It is best to avoid switching between bold, underlined and normal text frequently because ISPs view inconsistent text style as a sign that the message may be spam.
Don’t use swipe copy
When spammers use swipe copy — sample copy for advertising and sales letters that spammers often copy and paste word-for-word — they ruin the reputation of that copy. Including this copy in your emails will likely decrease your delivery rate.
Don’t use URL shorteners
Although useful for social media, URL shorteners do more damage than good in email messages. Spammers will use shared domain link shorteners to send people to malware and viruses, which ultimately lands them in the spam folder. If you use the same link shortener as a spammer, your reputation will be lumped in with theirs. As it is a best practice not to include raw urls in messages, there is no advantage to using shortened URLs in your message.
Make sure that you have a good ratio between images and message (20% images and 80% text). Spammers often hide links in images within their messages hoping to get unintentional clicks. As a result, spam filters block image-only emails.
Your emails should contain at least 500 characters of text. A spam email often only has one to three sentences with a single link, so any email with fewer than 500 characters will likely be caught in the spam filter. On the other hand, an overly long email may not keep your contacts’ attention, so we suggest that you limit your emails to no more than five or six paragraphs.
Test your email before sending
Once you have drafted your message and implemented best practices, it’s a good idea to test the message before sending it. You can use the “Send Test Email” button on your message editor, or create a contact to manually send yourself the email.
“From” name and address
Your “From” name and address are the first things your contacts see in their inbox before opening your email. If your contacts don’t know who they’re getting mail from, they are more likely to delete your message.
When selecting your “from” name and address, it is important to:
- Keep your “from” information consistent across all communications
- Clarify who you are by including the name of your company or organization in your “from” name
- If possible, use an email address that’s from your own domain
- Don’t include any special characters
“Reply to” address
Your reply address should be an active mailbox where you can receive replies. It is best if your “reply to” address is clearly related to your business to make sure your subscribers don’t mark your messages as spam because they don’t recognize your address.
Receiving and responding to messages sent to your “reply to” address is an opportunity to build connections with your list. The more messages you have between you and your subscribers, the more likely their inbox is to automatically whitelist you, so it’s a win-win for both you and your contacts.
Subject lines and header titles
When writing your email subject lines and preheaders, try to avoid spam-trigger words whenever possible. Some are obvious, like “Make Millions Now,” or “$$$,” but even some of the more seemingly harmless words like “Call now” and “Amazing” can catch the spam filter.
If you need to use some of those words, you aren’t completely out of luck — just remember that context is what matters. As spam filters have become more sophisticated, they can now analyze the context in which you use words.
Engaging call to action
One of the best ways to get your message into inboxes is to start a conversation with your readers through an engaging CTA. You can encourage readers to comment on your blog or Facebook page or to simply reply to your message. A compelling CTA is a great way to boost click-through rates, make your email more engaging and improve delivery rates.
Include whitelisting instructions
One of the best things you can do to boost engagement is to encourage your contacts to whitelist your address. It is best to include step-by-step instructions on how to whitelist your address in your welcome email to contacts who just subscribed.
- The setup is different for every inbox, so it’s best to give your subscribers instructions for several popular email services. These directions show your subscribers how to mark your email as a safe sender — here’s how Ontraport does it.
Additional email delivery services and strategy
In addition to creating email copy that follows best practices, Ontraport offers the following additional services and strategies to further improve your delivery.
Strategy for managing low open rates
ISPs are constantly trying to keep spam out of inboxes and, when they see messages that rarely get opened, it tells them that the message is unwanted. If you send your emails to people you know will click on it, before sending it to anyone else, it shows ISPs that the message isn’t spam and that it’s safe to deliver that message into other inboxes.
This strategy splits your contacts into groups based on their last activity so you can send your emails to your most engaged contacts first to boost the credibility of the email before sending it to your less engaged groups.
- Create three groups in your account based on your contacts’ engagement with your content. Use the following conditions to create your groups:
- “Last Activity is on or after 30 days ago” — Contacts that were active in the last 30 days
- “Last Activity is before 30 days ago AND Last Activity is on or after 90 days ago” — Contacts who were active 31-90 days ago
- “Last Activity is before 90 days ago” — Contacts who have not been active for over 90 days
- Start a re-engagement campaign for your contacts who have not been active in over 90 days.
- After these contacts run through your re-engagement campaign, remove all uninterested contacts from your mailing lists.
- Continue sending your usual emails to the contacts who have been active within the last 30 days.
- Send fewer messages to your less engaged contacts. Send emails to your contacts who were active in the last 31-90 days only once every third mailing.
- On days that you are sending messages to your 31-90 day actives, we recommend that you:
- Email your engaged contacts first (active in the last 30 days)
- Email your 31-90 day actives two hours after emailing your engaged contacts, ISPs are more willing to treat your second send better when they see that your active group engaged in with your first email.
- On days that you are sending messages to your 31-90 day actives, we recommend that you:
- Implement a list re-engagement campaign moving forward to keep your list clean.
It is important to note that ISPs will not change how they handle your mail overnight. This process can show some pretty noticeable results in as little as two weeks, but if your engagement issue has gone unaddressed for years it could take over a month to see noticeable changes.
A seed test is an email sent to a list of tracked email addresses to test delivery. Ontraport integrates with 250ok, a service you can use to run a seed test and interpret the results. Information that you can get from seed tests can include:
- Which specific internet service providers are delivering your email to the inbox
- How your list quality affects the delivery of your email
- Whether the content of your email affects the delivery of your email
- How fast your email is being delivered
Purchase a private IP
If you would like to send emails from an IP address that is used solely by your account, you can purchase a private IP address. The private IP allows you 500,000 messages per month in addition to the emails included with your subscription.
Generally we suggest only accounts that regularly send 500,000 or more emails a month take advantage of our private IP program. If you are interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will send you a questionnaire you can fill out to determine if your account is eligible.
If approved, it will take Ontraport about a week to set up your private IP. Once your new IP is set up, our Email Delivery team will reach out to you for coaching and instructions on how to warm your IP to develop a good sender reputation and get the best delivery rates possible.
DKIM and SPF signing
Ontraport sends emails on behalf of the “from” email addresses you add to your account, and Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) block unauthorized senders from mailing from your domain. If you do not have Ontraport added as a valid sender you will see “Sent by yoursite.com via ontramail.com” next to your email “from” address. This will not affect your email deliverability, as the authentication standards are met by disclosing who is sending the message. However, if you would like your emails to appear as if they were sent directly from you, you can follow these steps to remove “via ontramail.com” from your emails.
Email Delivery Handbook
Ontraport provides a free Email Delivery PDF download wherein you’ll learn ethical strategies and tactics for getting your emails into your subscribers’ inboxes, tips for complying with the latest spam laws, tools for monitoring and optimizing deliverability rates, and more.