You want your prospects to read your emails, that’s why you send them in the first place right? But the first step is ensuring it reaches their inbox by protecting your sending reputation and getting them through spam filters. Here are our top tips for doing just that.
Give Pardot permission to send emails on your behalf
Pardot will send emails from your own domain (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) so, when they reach your prospect’s inbox, they appear to be from you. However, email servers can see that the sender is in fact Pardot and they could consider the email spam because the email sender doesn’t match the domain name. To overcome this, you can tell email servers that you have given permission for Pardot to send emails on your behalf by including a statement on your SPF record. Yep this is way over my head too, so your IT team or server administrators should be able to help you set this up here.
Import fresh data
One area we often get asked about when a company is just starting out with Pardot is what data they should import and who to send their first email campaigns to. Pardot holds a strong line with their Permission Based Marketing policy and rightly so. As most Pardot users send their emails from a shared IP address, it benefits everybody if you maintain a good sending reputation with major email providers. Your average deliverability should always be over 90% and you can start best practice with your initial data import:
- Separate any unsubscribes or hard bounces you’ve collected in the past – import these into Pardot and mark them as globally opted out so Pardot will never try to email them.
- Remove any generic email addresses such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org as these generally don’t relate to individual contacts that you have a personal relationship with.
- Remove duplicate data – an instant way to clean your data and import it into Pardot quicker.
- If you’re not sure on what permissions are held against your data, try to use the most up-to-date email addresses that you’ve collected in the past year for your first few email sends. These email addresses are more likely to be valid and you’ll often get a better response from contacts that remember your brand, having engaged with you more recently.
- Alternatively, use your first email campaign in Pardot to send a Permission Pass – ask your audience if they’d like to receive your communications to gain explicit consent to contact them in the future.
- To remove any dummy or false email addresses, use a data cleansing service such as Data8 to determine how much of your data is invalid before deciding to import it into Pardot.
Optimise your email design
Another way to get past the spam filters is to think about your email design. When your email gets sent to your audience, their email server will scan it for elements that it considers to be typical of a spammer. Avoid these red flags and you have a far better chance of it being let through into the inbox:
- Ensure you have a high ratio of text compared to images. Sending your email as one big image or too many images may cause it to be blocked by spam filters.
- Avoid words that are considered spammy. This spam filter phrases list from Web Marketing Today is a really handy guide, and although you may legitimately want to use some of these words or phrases, just consider using as few of them as possible.
- Try not to use too many variations of font sizes, font colour, capitalisation and use of punctuation as all of these are common styling effects of typical spam emails.
- Avoid using a URL shortener such as bit.ly or linking through to too many different domains. The expectation is that the majority of the links in your email are going to link through to your own site.
Include an unsubscribe link
It is best practice to offer your audience the choice to unsubscribe if they no longer want to receive your emails and, on top of that, honour their request. The alternative is they report your email as spam to their email provider and your deliverability could be affected to every recipient using the same email service.
Pardot won’t let you save any email templates without an unsubscribe or email preference center link and they make it easy for you to manage your unsubscribes by marking them as unmailable and automatically excluding them from any other communications you send.
Now that you know how to avoid the spam filters, it’s time to start thinking about the design and layout of your email in more detail. Read our next blog post to find out how to Create your email templates.