Discover simple but useful email marketing tips to get you started right.

If you've just a beginner in email marketing - welcome! We want to help you learn the ropes quickly so you can experience the most success. This guide is certainly not meant to cover all there is to know about this subject. However, it should give you the means to feel confident when you start your first campaigns.

Email Marketing or Transactional Email?

When you send bulk emails, you probably want to change your email campaign strategy. If you're not really sure what you're sending, you won't be able to tailor your campaigns for the best results. So, to help you figure it out - just answer a few questions:

A) Do you send updates like password changes or account sign-ups or receipts for purchases?

If you answered yes to question A, you are probably sending Transactional mail.

B) Do you send notices like newsletters, news updates, promotional offers, or realty listings?

If you answered yes to question B then you probably send an email marketing.

C) Do you send commercial bulk offers or advertisements to a third party?

If you answered yes to question C,  then you probably send affiliate marketing mail or advertising mail (ads).

D) Do you send mail to email addresses that were purchased or did not sign up to receive your mail?

If you answered yes to question D, then you might be sending spam - take our SPAM Quiz.

You can get additional tips on types of mail here.

There are rules that you should be familiar with

We know, we know! It's not the most fun to read through pages of terms and conditions - but it's important. The last thing you want to do is get started and then get your account gets shut down. That said, we always try to help Elastic Email customers who accidentally break the rules. This usually leads to more long-term sending success. You can review our easy to reference policies here:

How to know if the contact list is legitimate

Your contacts (sometimes referred to as subscribers) are the heart of your business or group and we know you want to start sending them messages as soon as possible. Before you mail off your first campaign, review your list by asking these questions:

First, ask yourself how you acquired the list you have:

  • Was it purchased?
  • Did someone give it to you without telling you where they got the list from?
  • Did you grab some email addresses you found online?
  • Do you lack proof of permission for any address on your list?

If you answered YES to ANY of these in regards to your list of addresses then you might have a list of contacts that you can't send to, period. If this sounds harsh, well, it's a standard that's in place to protect everyone who has an email address, that means you too. You see, one important rule in email marketing is that you must have explicit confirmation that someone wants to receive mail from you (meaning you definitely can not use a purchased list!).

Confirmation of consent is when a subscriber has given you permission to send them an email. The clearest way of doing this is by a method called Double Opt-In - the quick explanation of this is when a subscriber first asks to receive your mail, you send them an email that asks them to confirm again. You can find out more about the benefits of Double Opt-In contacts here.

Second, ask yourself how old your list is:

  • Did I slowly gather the addresses over the last 10 years?
  • Was the last time I sent it to this list over 6 months ago?
  • Did I take one list I found in my files and add it to my more recent one to have more volume?

If you answered YES to ANY of the above questions regarding how old your list is then you could have too many invalid addresses. Invalid addresses are ones that will no longer be available for you to send mail to and should be removed from your list. We know what you're going to ask - how are you supposed to know which ones?

There are a couple of approaches to what is often referred to as "cleaning" your list.

Start by removing any email address that is over 6 months old (Ouch! But, that is half my list you say - we know, but you'll get a chance to send to them later). Review the addresses and remove anything that has an obvious typo (ie. june@hottmaail.com, or tim@ggmail.com, etc). If you have a giant list, use a professional service to verify your addresses: DataValidation, BriteVerify, etc.

We know it's hard to say goodbye to all those addresses, but you will have better engagement with your mail and your email and account reputation will be in much better shape (plus, if there are too many invalid addresses, we might have to stop you from sending until we get it sorted out, better to start out strong).

So, I know you're wondering about those old addresses you cut out - now, you can send to some of those - slowly! One or two old addresses at a time, each campaign and you can start to see if they are valid or not, but for goodness sake be patient so it doesn't ruin your account reputation or our sending network.

Avoid spammy mail formats

So now that you know what you are sending and you figured out who you're sending to, now you can create the message to be sent. Though we'd like to say you can just let your creativity flow and put whatever artistic spin on your message you want, well, we can't.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad mail out there (thanks, spammers) and you need to make sure your message format follows some rules so recipient servers will know its the good kind of email - email they want. There are a few ways to do this, but mostly you need to do some testing. Once you create a message you like, you can use a tool like Mail Tester to help you see how it might do when you send it.

And, you can always review your Elastic Email Spam Check results (you can find this by going to your Account >> Reputation Details >> Spam Check Results) that will help you figure out if you need to make some changes. If you get confused by Spam Assassin, this article can help.

React to bounced emails and resolve issues

When you send a campaign, even if you've done everything right, a few emails might not make it to their destination. The emails that don't make it might be recorded as "bounced". Don't worry, usually, there is a pretty understandable explanation about why this happens. There are many reasons why a message is stopped, three of the most common are the following:

Mailbox unavailable or No Mailbox

This means the address that you sent to doesn't exist anymore, is shut down or it might even be full. You won't want to send to this address again

IP Reputation Issue

This means that one of the IPs that was used to send your mail is having a little trouble. It might have been caused by another sender in your IP pool or it might be your mail. You'll want to contact support to have someone look into it. (see link below)

Policy Reasons or Spam

You might see something like this. "The email was not delivered because the recipient server or user has flagged this email as spam". This means you have to go back to the drawing board and review your mail format, contacts list, and settings. It's necessary to ensure that you can earn your mail a better reputation with recipient servers. Again, ask for help if you're not sure what steps to take.

Spam Filters

Your email will inevitably encounter at least one, but more likely several, email spam filters. These filters are set up by recipient servers to help figure out what messages are good and wanted and which ones to reject.

Private IPs and IP pools

Your account, at least when you sign up at Elastic Email will be using one of our free IP pools.

An IP pool consists of several different IP addresses. When you send as part of a pool, you will be sharing these IP addresses with other senders. As you start deploying your campaigns, depending on the quality of your mail and list of subscribers your account is moved to different pools that send mail that is similar to yours. To really simplify it - accounts that have similar levels of reputation (great--good--neutral--poor etc) send to other accounts that rank similarly.

IP pools are very successful in sending a lot of mail! You can occasionally be affected by someone else who sends bad mail, but this is pretty rare as we monitor these IPs carefully. However, if you want the most control over your own account and sender reputation, you may opt for a private IP (sometimes referred to as a dedicated IP).

A private IP is an IP (or you can have more than one) that is solely for sending your mail only. This means that you get a bit more control. You can do things like whitelist (whitelisting basically means that get your mail approved by some of the major ISPs that you want to send to) your IP and you don't have to worry about any other senders affecting your IPs reputation. When you choose to get a private IP, you get one that has a good reputation and isn't on any blacklists - it's your responsibility to keep the reputation of that IP in good shape using good sending practices.

Don't hesitate to look for help

A helping hand is never far away, if, at any time you have a question regarding your account, dashboard, tools, bounces, sending reputation or any other email-related query, contact our friendly support team. We are available 24/7 to assist you.

Serene

I write and edit for Elastic Email's blog and support documentation. When I'm not at work I'm probably busy making something organized or more efficient, a small obsession.

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