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Building Inbox Credibility: How to Get into Inboxes (and Stay There)

Travis Balinas
June 4, 2014

Building Inbox Credibility – How to Get into Inboxes (and Stay There)There are several factors and metrics that go into building up your inbox credibility, and they are continually changing. In short, if you cannot successfully land your email marketing content in someone’s inbox, then there is no point in sending it.

What Is Inbox Credibility?

Your inbox credibility is a combination of deliverability metrics and the desire of the end user to engage with your email.

These metrics used to be simple, controllable elements like IP addresses, content formatting, subject lines and a few other factors. These are all still important and play a role, but with the advent of new safeguards like Gmail’s priority inbox and tabbed inbox, your inbox credibility is now also in the hands of the recipient.

Simply put, your email marketing now has to be something the recipient actively opens and reads, while still passing the standard safeguards that all good email marketers overcome. This is why your inbox credibility is so important.

How to Get into Someone’s Inbox?

Over the last two weeks, I’ve covered the primary terms and metrics that email marketers use to achieve high email deliverability. By sticking to best practices, email marketers shouldn’t have any trouble landing their emails in their recipients’ inboxes. You can read the full summary of these metrics here.

For a more in depth look at these metrics and how to use them appropriately, check out these blog posts for additional details:

  • How We Get Our Customers 99% Email Deliverability [Read Here]
  • Understanding Email Deliverability, Inbox Rates and Bounce Rates [Read Here]
  • Understanding the Impact of Open Rates and Subject Lines on Email Marketing [Read Here]
  • Understanding the Importance of Unsubscribes in Email Marketing [Read Here]
  • What are Email Spam Reports and Why Do They Matter? [Read Here]
  • Email Newsletter Design Best Practices Checklist (10 Steps) [Read Here]
  • How to Get High Email Deliverability: 8 Email Marketing Success Metrics [Read Here]

Those blogs lay out the groundwork to help you craft an email marketing strategy, explain how to correctly design an email campaign and cover the rules and laws all email marketers have to follow in order to get a server to accept your emails.

How to Build Your Inbox Credibility?

Just because an email marketer can get an email past the deliverability safeguards, doesn’t mean that the recipient will actually open it. This is where the end user’s interactions with your emails play a huge role in the continued engagement with the emails you send.

Subject Lines

After landing an email in someone’s inbox, the subject line is the trigger mechanism that helps boost your open rates. I’ve talked before about how email subject lines are just like first impressions. Did that person you just met make you smile or say something that caught your interest? If not, then they’re not memorable and future encounters with them won’t leave you eager to say hello. Email subject lines are very similar.  In short, writing effective subject lines increases your inbox credibility because your users are continually opening your emails.

Good, Engaging Content

You’ve got a bite; someone opened your email. Now what? If the only thing you’re sending prospects and customers messages about is you getting more business, your approach is heavily misguided. It’s also one of the 5 Warning Signs that You Don’t Understand Email Marketing.

Your emails shouldn’t always be a sales pitch. They should provide value either through informative how-to’s and ideas, or through humor. The key to better email marketing is great content. You want to showcase your creativity to your audience by sharing things with them that help, not sell. Remember, if all you’re sending them are continual sales pitches, then they won’t be inclined to open future emails.

Good content that’s new and entertaining helps to build high inbox open rates which, in turn, builds up your inbox credibility.

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Timing & Volume

One of the evolutions of email marketing has been experimentation with when to send emails and how often. The time of day to send an email is continually evolving trial and error, and the volume of emails sent is something that plays an important role in your open rates.

At OutboundEngine, we’ve found that sending emails twice a month is the optimal rate to send messages. If we were to send an email once a week, the email would get lost and lose the audience’s interest. We’ve found that people will continue to open emails for about two weeks after they’re sent, so even if someone doesn’t read an email right after getting it, there’s still a chance it’s going to be read in the coming week.

On the flip side, if we were to send an email only once a month or quarter, we risk the chance of losing the top-of-mind recall for our customers. We want to keep our customers top of mind with their clients, but in a casual way that doesn’t flood their inboxes.

With this approach, our emails will continue to have a consistently high open rate while still keeping our customers top of mind with their contacts.

Long-Term Inbox Priority

With the way many inboxes work these days, the more often you open an email from a certain sender, the higher that sender’s emails will rank in your inbox. If you’re using Gmail’s priority inbox, the contacts you interact with more frequently will hold a higher spot on the page. If you’re using Gmail’s tabbed system, that sender’s email will start appearing in your primary inbox folder, rather than the newsletter tab.

Google isn’t the only company with a weighting system like this, and it’s certainly the next evolution of email. With the amount of content being sent these days, the end user is playing an ever-increasing role in deciding what is important to them. That’s why the sum of catchy subject lines, high-quality content and appropriate delivery time play key roles in making your emails something that people continue to open, thus giving you higher placement in their inbox.

Concluding Thoughts

Building inbox credibility is becoming increasingly important. As email services evolve to help keep people’s inboxes manageable, the risk for decreased visibility for emails is a bigger issue. Email deliverability is part of the equation (and an important one), but there is an increased emphasis on how the end user interacts with an email. It’s no longer only about getting the email delivered; what a user does with the email once it’s in their inbox will ultimately define how much inbox credibility that email and sender have.

This cycle is continual too. Sending a high-quality email that entices the end user to open it will tell their email client to give more preference to that sender in the future. Continual higher placement of those emails will help boost open and engagement rates, which ultimately will help businesses maintain customers and enjoy top-of-mind awareness. Building this inbox credibility is crucial for businesses as email continues to grow and evolve.

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