The aim should be to delight potential customers with an unexpected treat, not to trick them. The mentality of huge mail-outs in order to increase list size, or subscriber number, can really poison your email program efforts and more specifically, your sending reputation. If your ultimate goal is just to increase the quantity of people you’re blasting your emails to with no regards to quality, then you’re headed down a very slippery slope.

To put this into a better perspective, your fate as a sender ultimately lies in the hands of the recipients of your email. Their engagement, or lack thereof, with your mail will determine your overall “sending reputation” - and your subsequent sending reputation can and often will define whether your messages ultimately reach the inbox or are relegated to the spam folder.

When you employ shady marketing practices in order to augment the size of your list - whether it’s purchasing lists, renting lists, sharing lists with customers and partners, etc. - you could end up sending your mail to targets, buyers or customers who probably don’t wish to hear from you. You are definitely far better off sending to those who expect mail from you - not those who wish they didn’t hear from you! The unintended recipient effect is, in short, the most sure-fire way for your email marketing strategy to end in disaster. Here are some ‘tricks’ we suggest that just may make your life that bit easier:

Make unsubscribe processing as easy as 1-2… wait. Just one.

Unsubscribes are healthy because people’s interests change. Maybe you’re a used car dealership and your recipient already bought a car from someone else a few months ago, so your messages aren’t of immediate value to them any longer. Or, if you’re a local daily deals site in Salford, but your recipient recently moved to Aberdeen. What you don’t want is to keep people on your list simply down to growing your list size, because they’ll probably stop engaging, or even worse, grow annoyed and mark future messages as spam.

Ensure a strongly, and tightly pruned, engagement list

You’re far more better off with a highly engaged list of only two or three thousand extremely engaged subscribers who wish to hear from you, than five hundred thousand dodgy emails pulled from a less-than-reputable source off the internet.

The larger your list size, the better

A common misconception is the bigger your email-list size, the more success you will have. In fact, the very opposite is true, and, in fact, many ISPs/mailbox providers have penalties against this sort of behaviour. Practice good email engagement and ensure your lists are regularly updated.

Subject lines can impact deliverability rates

Images and email subject matter is explored more fully a little later, but try to avoid having emoticons in subject headlines, as there is varying evidence on whether they are professional and appropriate, according to a 2013 post from Ask A Manager.

Getting to the inbox is the end game

No one metric should dominate in the email metrics, you should always weigh up your metrics to the ultimate ‘end goal’ getting to the client’s inbox.

Put brand engagement at the heart of your strategy for emails and you will ensure the healthiness of your campaigns.

More images may make emails more enticing, but keep in mind the golden ratio

Important to follow image to text ratio. Certain domain providers may think you’re masking useful domains by embedding them within images, so, if you can, remember to get the point across first; look cool second. Content’s more important to that end. Imagery should be supporting the body text only: text image ratio can be in a range but the usual rule is 70% text to 30% images.

If you meet legal requirements, you’re nearly there

Best practice does mean adhering to regulatory requirements in your region, but recall that they’re not the be-all, end-all. Before you start a new email campaign, confirm details with your legal counsel, adhere to the CAN-SPAM Act if you’re US based, and local requirements if you’re found in the rest of the world. And remember that anti-spam legislation applies not only to the region you’re sending to, but also the one you operate from.

By Warren Duff, Content Marketing Manager, SendGrid