Optimize Your Email Deliverability
It's easy to take emails for granted, until you realize that most of your emails are hitting the spam folder, or even getting dropped by the recipient's email provider.
Depending on how you use IntakeQ, we can send a lot of emails on your behalf; think of forms, appointment notifications, form reminders, appointment reminders, invoices, secure messaging notifications, etc.
This guide is a summary of email best practices that we have learned from sending emails on behalf of thousands of users, and analyzing their delivery and open rates. If you have found that some of your clients are not receiving your emails, we highly recommend reading this guide.
By default, IntakeQ will send emails using our own email@example.com email address. However, most of our users prefer to send form their their own domain. Our Email Sender feature allows our users to do just that.
In order to accomplish this, we require users to go through a simple authentication process where they need to click on a confirmation link that our email provider sends out. Most of the time, this is enough to tell email providers that we can send on your behalf. However, adding additional authentication methods will improve the reputation of your emails.
These additional authentication methods (DKIM and SPF) are a bit more technical and may require the assistance of someone who is comfortable editing DNS settings on a domain name. You'll find the DNS information to provide to your domain tech under "More > Settings > Email Sender", at the bottom of this page. You'd first have to set the records on your domain's DNS, then click the "verify" buttons to active each. See the example below as to how this looks:
If you are not familiar with DNS records, this website does a great job at finding specific instructions for your DNS provider: https://dnshelp.stunning.co
- Some systems append your domain name at the end of the DKIM hostname, this will often prevent us from being able to verify the address.
- If you're having a different issue verifying one of the records above (usually the DKIM), please email us as sometimes we need to manually validate it.
One of the most important things you can do for good email deliverability is to only send emails to people who have a relationship with you.
Email providers build a profile of your domain over time. Each person that opens or replies to an email from you is signalling to their ISP that you are a good sender. On the other hand, each person who ignores or deletes your emails is sending the opposite signal.
Furthermore, if a person flags your email as spam, it's sending their ISP a strong signal that you are violating email etiquette rules, and once you get enough of those, it can get really hard to reverse the damage.
These are some actionable tips for keeping a high engagement levels when sending emails via IntakeQ.
- When collecting emails, make sure you have the correct address.
- If you notice that an email is invalid, fix or remove it from the client profile.
- Don't create fake email addresses for your clients. It's better to just leave it empty.
- Ensure clients opt-in to email communication.
- Don't send unsolicited emails.
- Never send emails from a "no-reply" address.
Much like real world reputation, your domain reputation is one of your most important assets. If you use your domain to send marketing emails to people who have not opted in, your domain will eventually be added to a blacklist. Then even when you send legitimate emails, mail servers may block them.
- When using email marketing tools like MailChimp or Active Campaign, make sure to follow all email marketing guidelines to avoid hurting your domain reputation.
- For marketing campaigns, use an email address that is different from the email you use to send forms and appointment confirmations. Using a different domain or subdomain is even better.
A key aspect of good email deliverability is the content of your emails. You can have a great email reputation, but if the content of your emails look like spam, spam filters will start to flag them.
Here's a few tips that will help you avoid spam filters:
- Don't use shortened URLs. Spammers love to use URL shorteners (like bit.ly) in order to hide malicious URLs, which makes them always look suspicious to spam filters.
- Avoid using images.
- Avoid having too many links.
- Avoid using marketing lingo when sending forms, appointment reminders/confirmations.
- Test your emails using mail-tester.com (covered in the next section).
Testing Your Emails
Our favorite tool to check if an email has a good deliverability score is mail-tester.com. This tool will not only check the content of your email message for spammy content, it will also check the reputation against blacklists, verify your authentication, and other technical issues that may be preventing your emails from arriving at their destination.
The instructions below show how to test your "Send Form" email with mail-tester.com. We will need to send a form to a fictitious email.
- Go to www.mail-tester.com.
- Copy the email address that is provided on the center of the page.
- Leave that tab open and go to IntakeQ on a different tab.
- Open the Send Form dialog.
- In the Client Name field, enter a fictitious name like "Test Client".
- In the Email field, paste the email address copied on step 2.
- Send the form.
- Go back to the mail-tester tab and click on the "Check Your Score" button.
After a few seconds, you will see the results of your email test.
Hopefully, your result is as good as the one above. If not, keep tweaking things and try to get it above 8. Feel free to contact us if you need any help.