Key takeaways:

  • The unsubscribe link has effectively been replaced by the in-browser “junk mail” button
  • ISPs track your sender domain reputation individually
  • Engagement ratio – marketers must understand this term
  • Marketing automation features, including dynamic email, dynamic landing pages and responsive templates, can have a big impact on deliverability.

User behavior is changing

The top three reasons for hitting the unsubscribe link in an email and for hitting ‘spam’ or ‘junk’ are exactly the same, according to Adapting to Consumers’ New Definition of Spam, an ebook from Litmus and Fluent:

  • Recipient was getting too many (irrelevant) emails.
  • Recipient lost interest in the brand.
  • Emails were not displaying properly on recipient’s devices.

Email clients have made it easier for users to simply hit the ‘spam’ or ‘junk’ button, rather than fishing around for your tiny unsubscribe link at the bottom of your message.

They simply hit this

Burying the unsubscribe link is not a valid strategy and can actually backfire. Now more than ever, every single send cumulatively creates your sender reputation.

Introducing the ‘engagement ratio’

ISPs look at the engagement for a specific email send, often sampling a send initially, reviewing the engagement of the sample, and using that data to determine how to deliver the rest of the mailing. This is the engagement ratio. The lower your engagement (i.e., the more often your email is marked as ‘spam’ or ‘junk’), the less likely your send will make it to the inbox.

Sender domain is pivotal

‘Hiding’ in an IP pool of good senders is a thing of the past. Today, ISPs require and track your individual sender domain – the specific email address you are sending from. Since the reputation of your sender domain is affected by the engagement of your past sends, two senders that are fully authenticated using the same platform and the same IP address can have radically different results.

Further, the algorithms used by different email providers to determine your sender domain reputation vary, and no one knows exactly what data points count. The only way you can be sure you’re protecting your domain is by employing good sending practices every time.

So, what’s a marketer to do?

Take heart – email remains the most effective marketing medium on the planet with an average ROI of $38 for each $1 spent.

However, putting good sending practices in place is critical to success. This includes:

  • Sending relevant emails
  • Using an appropriate cadence
  • Ensuring emails display properly on a variety of devices.
  • Personalizing your messages

A key reason you NEED marketing automation

If that sounds daunting, don’t worry. Your marketing automation platform gives you to the tools to fully authenticate your messages and execute on these imperatives. Note that these features are not available in a typical email service provider.

Use behavioral-based email marketing to send relevant messages.

Send your leads just the right information at critical points in their unique buying journeys, so they’ll be more likely to engage with your messages and want to keep receiving them. Triggered emails are especially safe, because they reach a subscriber when he or she is engaged with your brand and contain content that’s tailored to his or her needs at that moment.

Marketing automation gives you the power to send triggered messages instantly, capitalizing on engagement. It also provides “after-the-click” tracking, so you see complete information on a visitor’s activity after he clicks through from an email. You’ll know every page visit, form fill-out, webinar sign-up, and white paper download so you can ensure your future emails are always on target.

Use dynamic email to send personalized messages.

Swap out entire phrases, images and offers – all based on what you know about your contacts – to give your messages a highly customized look and feel. Personalized email marketing shows your leads that you understand what they want – a sure way to stay in their good graces.

Marketing automation allows you to create dynamic emails. Look for a provider that provides this feature without the need to write code. You’ll easily leverage valuable lead data to send personalized messages that resonate.

Build dynamic landing pages to create personalized experiences.

Personalized landing pages and landing page funnels provide customized experiences that transform visitors into leads and leads into sales. The content changes based on visitors’ interests and attributes.

Look for a marketing automation platform that includes a landing page builder for creating dynamic, personalized landing pages. You should be able to leverage beautiful, pre-built templates or build your own with a simple interface – no coding required.

Design responsive emails.

Use responsive templates, and pre-test your emails to ensure they render properly on all device types.

Your marketing automation platform should include dozens of templates that look great on any device, including smartphones, desktops, laptops and tablets.

You are ‘the master of your domain.’

I couldn’t resist the Seinfeld reference, but take heed: marketers have the power to improve deliverability with every send. Use good sending practices and leverage your marketing automation platform to make each one successful.


This article was originally published on

Rick-Carlson CEO SharpSpring
Rick Carlson
Design Team