how to improve email deliverability

How to Get More Eyes on Your Marketing Emails: Brian Minick Talks to Sarah Noel Block

“How do you get more eyes on your marketing emails?” This was the question Sarah Noel Block posed on her livestream show, “Marketing a Tiny Bit Smarter.”

Her guest was Brian Minick, COO of ZeroBounce, who talked to Sarah about some of the most burning topics in email marketing, such as:

  • the difference between getting your emails delivered and seen,
  • how to improve email deliverability,
  • what we can do to avoid being marked as spam,
  • how often we should validate our email lists, and
  • why it’s important to send emails consistently.

With so many companies sending emails and other competition in the inbox of your subscribers, growing can seem intimidating. In his very easy to understand way, Brian helped share actionable, tiny steps you can take that can give you immediate results.

If you weren’t there, have no fear. You can still catch it! I’ve also shared some of the highlights that stood out to me. Here’s Brian talking with Sarah Noel Block, founder of Tiny Marketing.

How can we land more of our emails in the inbox?

Brian explains that the “delivered” status you see in your email marketing reports is a bit ambiguous. Paying attention to all of the details he mentions helps you reach the inbox, which is where people are looking!

What you see a lot from the email service providers (ESPs) is “delivered,” but what they never really tell you is where it landed, which is really the holy grail.

There’s a lot of things you want to pay attention to: from the quality of your list, to the content, to your domain and IP address.

On how to improve deliverability

The emphasis of Sarah’s webinar is what you can do right now. Whatever size list you have, email validation is the best and fastest way to improve your deliverability. Brian explains where to start.

If you’ve had a list for a while, or you acquired that list, you definitely want to run it through a verification software. 

At ZeroBounce, we’re actually going through and connecting to each mailbox to see if it still exists. It may have existed a year ago, but with the pandemic, business emails have been churning.

You want to make sure that the recipient exists because if it doesn’t, you’ll bounce. A high bounce rate is a big red flag for all of the mail servers. When emails are bouncing or you have a lot of people marking you as spam from complainers, the other mail servers start to take action. 

So, starting with a clean email list is very important.

Want to see how ZeroBounce works? Give it a try!

Then there’s the content, like how many images you’re using. Try to link images as little as possible. Don’t try to fool people. Be careful with spam words like “free.” Some phrases are spammy, so think about how you phrase things.

The other thing that’s very important is testing. ZeroBounce offers an inbox testing tool where you can send to a bunch of our seed accounts. From there we’ll tell you if it landed in the inbox or spam so that you can fix things.

What is the right ratio of images to text?

It may be tempting to think that including a lot of pictures in an email is ideal. Brian explains your efforts are better placed elsewhere. Rather than obsess over images, he says that a winning tactic is “good text and nice spacing.”

You want as little images as possible. Logos, banner images and pictures of a product are okay, but you don’t want a whole lot of images, especially linked ones. 

Keep in mind that it’s common to view your emails on the phone. So you should always make sure that all your emails are mobile friendly.

Check out this email from A Kids Book About to get an idea of a good image/text ratio. Source: Really Good Emails

When you have engaging content, that’s what makes people click. And interaction with your content is what gives you a great reputation with all of the mail servers. When people are opening and clicking on your emails, that’s considered engagement. It all means that people want your content.

What are the risks of not validating your list?

Email validation is simple to implement, but what if you decide to skip this part of your email marketing program? There are consequences to not verifying your list, and in the age of lockdowns, it’s never been more critical. Many have lost their company email address and this has created a rising problem. Lots of bounces! Fortunately, there’s a simple solution.

We’re seeing that 22% of business contacts are churning. So, let’s say 20% of your list is bad and bounces. This hurts the infrastructure of whatever email service provider you use and they may give you a warning or even kick you out. You could also be blacklisted.

Bonus tip: So while this churn Brian talks about is very real, the fix remains the same. Validate your list and use an email validation API on your sign-up forms. That way anyone trying to subscribe uses a valid email address and any typos are caught immediately. This keeps mistyped, abuse or invalid addresses off your list in the first place.

What email marketers can do to avoid being labeled as spam

Aside from the obvious, Brian points out that one of the biggest mistakes an email can have is not including an easy to see Unsubscribe option. The problem with making it hard to unsubscribe is that encourages people to mark you as spam instead. So, allowing people to leave is a must. Apart from helping you build a more powerful list, it registers as engagement, Brian says.

As a marketer, you think, “well I don’t want anyone to unsubscribe. Let’s bury it in the email.” But it’s still engagement. The servers still see it as if they clicked on your email.

People are going to get off of your list one way or another. They’re going to email you and give you a whole lot of heat, so make it easy for them. Being marked as spam is the worst-case scenario.

how to email marketing

How often should you validate your list?

Brian explains that “at least every six months” is a good rule of thumb. Of course, all lists are different. For example, B2B email contacts tend to churn more quickly. With so many companies forced to let go of millions of employees this year and last, it may be a good idea to validate your list even more frequently.

Once you have a database, my recommendation would be to clean it at least once every six months. If you’re heavy in the B2B world, you may want to shorten that to one every three-four months.

Keep in mind that most of the ESPs make their money off of the size of your database. Not how often you send, but the size. If a lot of your addresses are bad, you’re spending money for a lot of bad data. They don’t highlight it for you because it’s perfect for them.

What are the immediate benefits of email validation?

The “Marketing a Tiny Bit Smarter” webinars like to focus on immediate payoffs which will lead into long term benefits. As Brian pointed out, getting rid of this bad data has an immediate benefit.

Typically, we see an immediate ROI and on top of that you’re getting better inbox placement.

Bonus tip: Speaking of inbox placement, don’t forget to check out our Inbox Tester. ZeroBounce gives you 20 testing email addresses that you can send your campaign to – before it goes out to your list. Within minutes, the tool tells you where you landed (inbox, spam, not delivered) with the most popular email providers in the world.

Why send email consistently?

It’s important to send regularly, and if possible, on the same days and times. Like many of the people watching, Sarah asks the great question, “Why though?”

There’s a lot of things that go into sending mail. There’s something called keeping your IP address warm or keeping your domain warm. If your postman always knocks on your door at 4:30 PM with a package for you, you come around the corner, you expect your package. All is well.

Now that postman knocks on your door at 8:30 AM the next day, most people in today’s world aren’t going to answer it.

Well, these mail servers get accustomed to when you’re sending. When you start sending things sporadically, it kind of puts a checkpoint in place for those mail servers. They take a look and think “hmm, I’m not used to this.” 

What you’re doing is keeping a cadence that is familiar on the web and on the mail servers. 

Main takeaway

Consider this: email engagement is up 200% since the lockdown and unsubscribes have decreased by 50%. It’s a clear that sign people are checking their inboxes. Make sure you’re there.


By sending engaging content regularly and by validating your contacts. 

It’s free to start a ZeroBounce account

Many thanks to Sarah Noel Block for inviting Brian on her show. Make sure you follow Sarah on LinkedIn so you don’t miss the next episodes!