How to Use Automation to Improve Email Deliverability

This is the blog transcript of our video “How to Use Automation to Improve Email Deliverability”. If you’d like to see more of our videos, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

This email marketing thing is great, but I’m only seeing like 10% of my emails get opened. How can I get in front of more people?

Hey everyone, I’m Ian Campbell, CEO of Mission Suite. Before we jump into today’s video, do me a favor and hit the subscribe button and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos.

Ok, so it’s 2021 and an average open rate for email marketing falls somewhere between 18% and 22%.

That’s awesome, I remember when average open rates dropped to somewhere around 15% because people were so used to seeing junk emails that they just ignored anything that they didn’t need to address right then and there.

This might be the optimist in me, but it seems to me that the fact that we’re seeing a lift in email open rates again says that people are sending out more valuable content that people actually want to see.

As we’ve discussed in a bunch of our past videos, that’s a HUGE factor in making sure that your open rate stays up, and that’s helping your deliverability as well.


Well, we can get pretty technical with the answer to this question, but for now, let’s just say that Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Verizon, and all of the other email providers are keeping an eye on you. And they’re paying attention to how their users are interacting with your emails.

If they see that people using their service aren’t opening your emails, well you’re going to start getting redirected to clutter boxes, to spam boxes, and eventually they’ll stop delivering your emails all together!

I’ve seen this happen with some of my clients in the past, and it’s a nightmare to fix. It’s not impossible, but it takes a LOT of time, attention and effort.

So, if you want your emails to be opened, you’d better focus first on deliverability. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to automate these efforts, make sure that people are getting the content that they want, and ultimately keep your deliverability and open rates high.

So let’s dive in!

Start with the sign up

Well, like anything else, it all starts at the beginning. How are you getting people onto your list in the first place? And, once they’re there, how well are they segmented?

List segmentation is something that marketers have been talking about for years, but it almost seems like the message has just become noise at this point. The problem with that, though, is that it’s still a REALLY important thing to focus on if you want to focus on deliverability. 

Fortunately, you can address this right off the bat with people signing up for your email list.

Instead of just having one “newsletter” list, create different lists for how you’re sending emails and then make sure that people can select or de-select lists that they want to be on or not from the time that they first sign up.

If you send people content that they don’t want to see, they’re just going to unsubscribe from your list in its entirety, so why not make sure that they’re getting the right stuff from the get go?

This can look different depending on your business and your content marketing efforts. 

At Mission Suite, we have our Journal, which is our primary Tuesday newsletter, we have our Announcements list for special announcements and events, The Community Table group for people who want to know when our next panel discussion is, our Referral Bench Podcast group, a group for Guidepost Webinars, etc, etc.

Obviously creating valuable content is a huge priority for us, so we do a LOT and give people plenty of access points to engage with us.

But if you’re not generating quite that much content – and most people aren’t – then maybe you just let people choose how often they want to hear from you.

If a weekly newsletter is just going to bother them, maybe create a monthly offering as well. That way they can tell you what they want. 

And who knows, you may actually find out how frequently you really NEED to create content. If 90% of your list is opting for a monthly option, do you really need to create content weekly?

Obviously you’re going to have to make these choices for your own business, but your email platform should absolutely be able to allow you to create signup forms that allow people to choose their own segmentation.

And once they make that choice, all you need to do is stick to the purpose of that list and you’ll be in good shape!

Keep checking in with people to make sure they’re getting content they want

Now that you know what kind of content people WANT to get, or how often they want to get it, or whatever your segmentation strategy is, you’ve got a huge leg up on most of your competition because most businesses who are marketing with email don’t even have a simple segmentation process like this set up.

But now you want to make sure that you’re checking in with them to make sure that they still want your content, but also to make sure that they have the opportunity to be added into groups that they may be developing an interest in.

Again, the most important aspect of email marketing is providing valuable content that your audience is interested in, but once you’ve been providing them that value for a while, there’s nothing wrong with letting them know what else you offer and making a pitch to get them interested in joining one of your other groups.

Now you don’t want to do this frequently, I’m talking like once out of every 12 or 15 times you send an email, but it could be a good way to boost some of your other efforts. Not to mention a good way to find out what’s actually interesting to people.

If you’re using an email platform that’s powered with automation, this can be as simple as creating an email with links describing the different options they can sign up for. The automation in your email platform will take care of the rest and sort everyone for you!

For example, in Mission Suite, when someone clicks on a link in the journal to listen to The Referral Bench podcast, that tells me that they’re interested in the podcast and it’s going to automatically drop them into the group to let them know when new episodes are launched.

Just the act of clicking on the link can add someone to that group – I don’t even have to think about it.

Do you segment your email lists? If you do, drop down and hit that thumbs up button. And while you’re there, let us know how many different lists you’re working with!

Don’t email people who aren’t into your content

So this is a big one because people tend to have a tough time getting rid of email addresses on their list. It’s easy to fall into the mindset of “well they may want something from me sometime right?”, but that mindset is hurting your deliverability and keeping other people who actually DO want something from you from seeing your content or offers.

Remember, if people aren’t opening your emails, the email provider WILL STOP SHOWING THEM YOUR EMAILS.

If they’re just not that into you, bump them from your active email efforts and see if you can re-engage them. But STOP SENDING EMAILS TO PEOPLE WHO DON’T OPEN THEM.

If someone hasn’t opened a single email from you in four months – do you really think that the next one is going to be the magic subject line that gets them to open your email? Sure, there might be a possibility, but I’d give it less than 5% odds.

I’ve talked a lot about this recently – keeping your list clean is more important than keeping your list big.

So set up some automation to start bumping people from your active list. Typically 90 days/12 weeks/3 months (however your platform measures time) is what I like to start with, but you should be able to see when there’s a consistent drop in engagement.

For example, we have a tool in Mission Suite that can show people who haven’t engaged in anything after a set period of time. I started with 12 weeks, but realized that there were still some people who would engage after 12 weeks of no activity. That graph also showed me 13 weeks through 52 weeks, though, so I was able to see that after 13 weeks, if they hadn’t engaged then they were going to.

Using that insight, I was able to set up automation to automatically remove people from my primary list and move them into a re-engagement group. Now my list stays clean without me having to go into the tracking reports of every email that I send and find all of the people who DIDN’T open those emails and manually pull them out.

Who’s got time for that?

Try to re-engage folks and, if you can’t, bump them from your list.

The re-engagement of people who have fallen off of your primary list kind of relies on a “if you love them let them go, if they love you too they’ll come back” kind of mentality.

If you have a re-engagement group, set up a drip campaign in that group that’s set to send off the first email after two or three email cycles (however long that is for you – for me, it’s two or three weeks).

Sometimes all people really need is a bit of space – just a break in the ongoing emails that they’re getting. So give that to them first and foremost.

Once you’ve given them a bit of space, use that drip campaign to send off an email asking them if they’re still interested in hearing from you.

I like the subject line “Are you still with me, John?” (or whatever the firstname placeholder pulls from the contact record).

If they open that email, you can use that activity to trigger another automated step that moves them back into your primary list.

Or, even better, let them tell you what content they’re interested in getting from you or how frequently they’re interested in getting it, maybe even both!

It’s always great when you can save an email address from that re-engagement list, but if you can’t, that’s ok, too. Sometimes you just have to let them go. Believe me, it’s not like they won’t be able to find you if they’re interested in engaging with you again.

You’ve been sending them emails for long enough that if they ever wonder “gee what ever happened to those folks?” they’ll be able to do a quick search or look up your website to get in touch.

But if they don’t re-engage, it’s time to just let them go. There are processes that you can implement with most platforms that will allow you to ultimately delete them from your system all together.

Not only does this help to keep your list clean but, since most email platforms charge based on the size of your email list, it also helps you keep your email platform costs in check.

Back to You

If you want to see how Mission Suite can help you manage your email efforts and keep your deliverability up and your open rates high, drop down to the description of this video and click the link to register for one of our upcoming demo webinars.

Hey I hope you got something out of this video. And if you did, go ahead and give it a thumbs up and maybe a share so that others can see it too. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos and while you’re at it, check out these videos too!

We’ll see you next time around!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.