boost inbox placement

3 Easy Tweaks to Boost Your Inbox Placement

Even your best emails fall flat if they land in spam. Here are three easy ways you can boost your inbox placement.

It’s reassuring when your email service provider tells you that your email was delivered. You believe the time and effort you invest in your newsletters and campaigns will pay off.

However, “delivered” is a rather vague term in email marketing. It means your email successfully reached someone’s mailbox – but did it land in the inbox or got lost in the Spam folder

Here’s a fact: 21% of marketing emails never reach people’s inboxes. Some go missing and others go to the junk folder while still being reported as “delivered.”

To boost inbox placement, you have to understand it first

There’s a common confusion in the email marketing space between delivery rates and deliverability. Knowing the difference between these two will help you get a more realistic idea on how your emails perform.

Your delivery rate refers to the number of emails that reached your subscribers’ mailbox. It only means that your email did not bounce, but it doesn’t tell you anything about where the email went – inbox or spam.

Your deliverability reflects the number of emails that managed to reach your subscribers’ inboxes. You’ll also hear marketers referring to email deliverability as “inbox placement.”

When it comes to your performance, why should you differentiate between the two metrics? It’s simple: while your delivery rates can look solid, you can still have deliverability issues and not even know it.

Picture of smiling Caucasian man using ZeroBounce's email deliverability tester to boost inbox placement. Green and yellow elements on light gray background.
Improving inbox placement is easier when you have the right tools. Find out where your email will land with providers around the world.

Let’s get into some easy tweaks you can make today to ensure you’re doing the best you can to land in the inbox.

#1. Your email list health is key

Ask any email marketer, and they’ll tell you: to boost deliverability, the number one thing you need is to use an email deliverability checker.

So, if you get an unusual number of bounces (more than 2% per email) or your open rates have dropped, take a look at your database first. The pandemic has caused data to degrade even faster, so use email list cleaning to weed out invalid contacts before sending another email.

Also, keep an eye on spam complaints: you shouldn’t get more than one complaint for every 1,000 emails. Any more than that and your sender reputation is at risk.

Along with bounces, spam complaints contribute the most to your poor inbox placement. If people label you as spam, inbox providers use that feedback to direct your messages to the right folder – in this case, the spam folder.

A trustworthy email address list checker not only removes invalid contacts from your list, but can also spot people who have a history of marking emails as spam. That gives you the option to prune them out and avoid the risk.

#2. Deal with inactive subscribers

What should we do about subscribers that don’t engage with our emails? It’s something marketers often wonder about – and the answer isn’t always simple.

A good place to start is to analyze these subscribers’ journey with your brand. This allows you to determine when they’ve stopped engaging and whether there’s a chance of winning them back.

Removing people who never opened your emails

Some people may have subscribed to your list to download a free content offer. If they’ve never opened any other emails from you, remove them without hesitation. They’re a waste of resources and could end up bouncing, which would hurt your reputation and inbox placement. It is one of the reasons to use email list cleaning — not just to remove invalid contacts, but also inactive subscribers.

Bonus tip: Learn more about your subscribers’ activity

Now you can get feedback on the overall email activity of your subscribers. Our latest tool, Activity Data, tells you how active your subscribers have been in the past 30 to 365 days.

Give ZeroBounce Activity Data a try

Approaching people who’ve stopped opening

Then, take a look at subscribers that haven’t opened your emails in more than 90 days. If they used to be active and even made a purchase, there’s a high chance you can get them to click again.

The best tactic is a re-engagement campaign: a series of emails that includes an offer worth coming back for. Once your campaign completes, remove the people that still haven’t clicked. You’re better off without each other.

One thing is clear: if you avoid dealing with inactive subscribers, it will hurt your inbox placement. These people are telling inbox providers that your content isn’t interesting, so your emails may start going to spam.

#3. Switch to a different content strategy

What are some of the best marketing emails you get? And what makes you click every time? In my case, it’s knowing that I always get something useful out of reading that email.

With the average inbox receiving about 122 emails a day, businesses need to go the extra mile to get their subscribers to open consistently. The most efficient strategy is to be consistent yourself, especially in the quality of the content you send.

Many marketers fall into the pitfall that to sell more, they have to focus on promotional content. While having a promo calendar in place is vital, no one subscribes to a list to be overwhelmed by an avalanche of promotions. To build engagement, we need to be of help, and that help doesn’t always take the form of a discount.

Instead, it could be a valuable piece of information that you share exclusively with your list.

What are some of the most frustrating issues your audience is dealing with? How can you help people overcome these challenges? Make a list, then add every one of these topics to your content calendar.

Bonus tip: Check your blacklist status

Make sure your IP or domain aren’t on any email blacklists. Our blacklist monitoring tool runs daily checks and alerts you if your emails are in danger of being blocked.

One blacklist status check is free, every month

Furthermore, when you do send out a promotional email, make sure it has a relevant angle. Why do people need your product or service? Start with a pain point, then show how you can solve it. In the end, include your call-to-action and invite people to learn more on your website.

Sending an occasional great email isn’t going to bring you spectacular results. What will boost your engagement is to deliver something helpful – every time. Don’t compromise on that and you’ll see steady engagement and more of your emails landing in the inbox.

A version of this article appeared in Entrepreneur magazine in March 2021.

FAQs about how to boost email inbox placement

How do I check email deliverability?

You can check potential email deliverability by using an inbox placement tester before you send your campaign. That way you know whether or not your email has a fighting chance of landing in the inbox. If the test shows that your email lands in spam with certain providers, you can adjust it until it goes to the inbox.

How can I check if an email is spam?

To check if an email is spam, you must use an email address list checker. The tool will determine if an email address is spam, inactive or toxic. Such email addresses will bounce, get you blacklisted and tarnish your sender score. Emailing those addresses is not advised. They have no value and they’re risky to your inbox placement.

How do you fix email deliverability?

You fix email deliverability issues by following best practices for email marketing. This means never buying a list, validating your contacts a minimum of quarterly and following a sending schedule. You can also keep bad data off of your list by connecting an email address checker API on all of your signup forms.