If you want to improve email deliverability it’s important not to neglect how your email looks, including the formatting! We’ve talked more than once here about how not just your content, but even the formatting of your content, can make a big difference to your email deliverability. It can either improve email deliverability, or it can hinder it. It’s something on which we cannot put too fine a point, as some people just don’t get it, others don’t believe it, and still others feel that it shouldn’t matter, gosh darnnit, especially if their list building practices are kosher and their users really want their email.

But it does matter.

First of all, it’s your job to remind your users that they really want your email – each and every time they open an email from you, they should be reminded of just how much they want it.

And we don’t mean by your telling them “You want this email,” or “You have requested this email,” or “You are getting this email because you signed up”, in fact that’s a great way to get your email blocked.

No, we mean, by making your email as appealing and readable as possible to them.

Here’s why it matters: if they open your email and either don’t recognize it as being something they asked to receive, or simply don’t like the looks of it, they will likely as not mark it as “spam”.

And, over time, as enough of your users do that, your email will start getting sent to the junk folder.

As we said, we’ve discussed this before. But it doesn’t stop people from ignoring it. In fact, let us tell you a story about a well-known business in the financial sector, let’s call them Acme (not their real name). Acme had a 100% confirmed opt-in list. In fact, some of their users paid to receive their financial services newsletter. But their email was consistently going to the junk folder at places like Gmail. Because they didn’t listen. And when we say that they didn’t listen, we mean that our CEO personally stood in front of them and gave them a 2-hour custom talk, for which they paid to fly her in, and in which she personally explained all of this to them.

But they didn’t listen.

Why were they going to the junk folder at places like Gmail? Because their email was hard to read. It had lots of HTML – big fonts, lots of different colored fonts – you name it. It looked like an HTML factory threw up in their email. Which made it look spammy. Of course their unsubscribe link was in a much smaller font, which made it harder to unsubscribe, and also looked spammy.

So Gmail and other users were hitting “this is spam” instead of delete or unsubscribe (which in itself would be bad enough, as if you are alienating your mailing list they sure as heck aren’t buying from you). And because Gmail, like so many other web-based email providers, listens to their users, when enough of them say “this is spam”, Gmail believes them, and into the spam folder you go.

So listen to us when we say that it isn’t enough to have scrupulously clean list building practices. It’s a necessary, but by no means sufficient, element towards good email delivery. Put another way, it’s a good start – it will get you through the door, but list mailing is a lot like dating: getting in the door isn’t enough, you have to impress the other person, and continue to impress them. You have to make your users fall in love with you all over again with each and every email. And that never changes.

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