This is the One Skill All Email Copywriters Need to Have

It doesn’t matter how fantastic your email copywriting skills are if no one is actually getting them. 

You could have put together the most magnificent email copy that’s ever existed, but it’s not going to do your clients any good if it’s just lying dormant in the SPAM folder.

Email copywriting is in incredibly high demand.

And new copywriters everywhere are taking email copywriting courses to hone their skills and get a piece of the pie.

But…

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.

The amount of copywriters that understand email deliverability is sickeningly low.

If you want to become a sought-after email copywriter that delivers awesome results to your clients, knowledge of email deliverability is definitely going to put you at the top of the list.

What is Email Deliverability?

A term coined by Internet Policy Attorney (and author of part of the CAN-SPAM law) Anne P. Mitchell, email deliverability is a combination of factors that result in an email being successfully delivered to the recipient’s inbox.

At its most basic level, email deliverability is a combination of factors that show inbox providers that the emails you’re sending aren’t spam.

What Makes an Email Go into the Spam Folder?

Email deliverability is nuanced–and a little complicated. There are technical factors that happen behind the scenes as well as “public facing” factors that need to work together to keep your emails compliant with inbox providers.

Let’s look at a few of the biggest factors:

Technical FactorsPublic-Facing Factors
SPF (Sender Policy Framework) recordsText-to-code ratio 
Domain verificationSpam “trigger words” in the email copy
Sender domain addressEmail personalization (i.e., [First Name])
IP address reputationEmail Frequency 
ESP (email service provider) reputationLinks to non-domain sites

If you’re new to email copywriting, all of this can be really confusing. While as email copywriter you have limited control of what your clients do on the backend, you can contribute to good email deliverability by creating compliant emails. 

Let’s break down each of these public-facing factors and what they mean.

Text-to-Code Ratio

In email marketing, the text-to-code ratio is the amount of text as compared to the amount of code in an email. 

For example, picture this: You get an email with a completely black background, gifs, different colors and fonts, and tons of images–and about 50 words in the entire email.

This text-to-code ratio is earning the sender “SPAM points,” and these emails will eventually make their way into the SPAM folder.

If you’re an email copywriter, keep the text-to-code ratio in mind, aiming for a 70% text and 30% text ratio.

Spam “Trigger” Words

(this is only a small snippet of spam trigger words. I give you a list of 116 in my Email Copywriting Accelerator course)

SPAM trigger words are words that are commonly seen in unsolicited emails. Think of all of the emails in your SPAM folder: chances are that they include words or phrases like “NOT TRASH!” or “DON’T DELETE!” 

As an email copywriter, you need to understand when it’s ok to use these, and to use them sparingly.

Email Personalization

When I say personalization, I don’t mean a triggered drip sequence, although that’s important to deliverability, too (and a post for another day). 

I mean using first name tags to signal to inbox providers that this is an email specifically for the recipient and not just a big spammy blast to email lists you purchased.

Which, by the way, never purchase email addresses. You’ll destroy your reputation with email service providers like MailChimp and ActiveCampaign. 

Email Frequency 

How often you send your email matters in email deliverability for a couple of reasons:

  1. If you don’t send emails often enough, the recipients forget they even signed up and could start marking your emails as spam.
  2. If you send emails TOO often, your audience is going to get annoyed and start marking your emails as SPAM–and that’s if they don’t unsubscribe first.

As an email copywriter who knows their stuff, you can advise your clients on sending frequency. The right frequency depends on the industry and the business itself and may take some A/B testing to figure out the perfect flow.

Links to Non-Domain Sites

You know what spammers do? They send a ton of emails out from multiple domains with links pointing to other sites. This is usually because they’ve been blacklisted and can’t send from their domain. 

For example, my website domain is lizslyman.com. I want to send emails coming from my lizslyman.com email address, and I want to include ONLY links to my domain when possible.

This is why, often, businesses who send out emails through an email service provider with a gmail address often find themselves in the spam folder. 

This doesn’t mean that you can’t send out links to external sources every once in a while, but if it’s the only thing you’re doing, you’re going to find that your emails are getting flagged and skipping the inbox entirely. 

Remember when we talked about “SPAM” points? The same thing applies here. If you’re sending out non-domain links AND sending too many emails AND not personalizing your emails AND your emails are full of code, you’re going to accrue a lot of SPAM points and most likely go straight to SPAM.

Frequently Asked Questions About Email Copywriting and Deliverability

My Emails Keep Going to SPAM and My Copy is Compliant! What Do I Do?

There are a ton of different factors that go into email deliverability, and as an email copywriter, you can only control so much. 

And if you work long enough as an email copywriter, I’m going to promise you this: you’re going to get a client or two that thinks that email marketing just doesn’t work and that the problem is 100% your email copy…when the emails aren’t getting to the recipients inbox in the first place.

If you’re confident in your copy, investigate the following:

  • Is your client buying email addresses or opting people in without their consent? That can make emails go to SPAM.
  • Is your client sending emails from a gmail account or other non-domain address (even if it’s through MailChimp)? That can make emails go to SPAM.
  • Does your client have their SPF records set up and their domain authenticated through their email service provider? If not, that can make emails go to SPAM.
  • Have they been blacklisted by email inbox providers as a SPAM sender? Yep. 100% going to SPAM, no matter how long ago.
  • Are they cramming their emails full of code like images and video after you send over the copy? SPAM SPAM SPAM.

While these aren’t the only factors that contribute to email deliverability, they’re significant. Advise your client to resolve any of these issues before they pull the plug on email marketing. 

If your client isn’t tech savvy, you can send them to an email deliverability service to help fix their issues.

How Can I Make Sure My Emails Always Go to the Inbox?

There are two companies in the world that operate the list of email addresses that are verified good senders. The one I recommend to every client I work with is Get To The Inbox. I recommend them because I’ve seen their work in action, and because the owner of that company is none other than Anne P. Mitchell who founded the term deliverability and wrote part of the US CAN-SPAM law.

Where Can I Take an Email Copywriting Course?

There are a multitude of email copywriting courses available, but not all of them are going to teach you what you need to know about deliverability as an email copywriter. I’ve put together a comprehensive email copywriting course that not only shows you the basics of email marketing, how to construct your emails, and gives you templates and prompts to work from, but I also go into detail about email deliverability AND teach you my signature 4E method for email copywriting. 

Is Email Copywriting in Demand?

Email copywriting is absolutely in demand. Email lists are where the money is. People who have opted in have expressed interest in your product or service, basically qualifying themselves. 

If you build up enough trust with subscribers and they get value from your emails–and not just ask for sales–you’ll see a ton of conversions in your email list.

Learn Deliverability to Really Deliver for Your Clients

Email copywriting is in high demand and email marketing itself is a massive money-making industry. If you take the steps (and the email copywriting courses) necessary to learn email deliverability, you’ll position yourself as a knowledgeable resource and edge out the competition. 

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