Links in Emails: Best Practices to Increase Deliverability
Email marketing is a powerful B2B marketing tool, and using links in your emails can be a great way to direct prospects to engage with your company. When not handled properly, however, links can negatively affect email deliverability. When including links in emails, follow these best practices to strengthen your domain authority and increase your email deliverability.
What is email domain authority?
Domain authority, or domain reputation, is how trustworthy email providers perceive an email domain to be. It’s how Outlook or Gmail decides whether to deliver an email to your inbox or send it straight to spam.
The ways people interact with your emails (or don’t interact) have a compounding effect on your domain’s authority (DA). If people consistently open and interact with your emails, you’ll have a higher DA. If people ignore your emails or mark them as spam, this lowers your DA. A lower DA means it will be harder for you to get your emails into your target’s inbox.
This is particularly important for email marketers. Because you are sending emails to a potentially large subscriber list, the email domain you use (likely your company’s domain name) will be under higher scrutiny than a personal email account.
This is also where it gets trickier for B2B marketers. In B2B marketing, your campaign recipients are generally using their company email address. Company email accounts are often configured by the IT department to be fairly strict about which emails are allowed into inboxes – more so than a personal Gmail account would be. So B2B marketers must work extra hard to ensure their campaigns are credible enough to have a high email deliverability.
How does domain authority affect email deliverability?
Email deliverability deals with how likely an email is to reach its intended inbox. Email providers can be discerning, and they are constantly working to balance letting in good emails while keeping spam out.
Having a high domain authority gives your campaigns a better chance of reaching their targets.
If your past campaigns have gone unopened by your subscribers – or worse, been marked as spam – your overall domain authority may be low, and this will bring down your future email deliverability as well.
There are several factors that tie in with domain authority and email deliverability. In this post, we’ll focus primarily on link usage.
How links can affect email deliverability
Unless you are sending a quick notice or update that needs no interaction, your email campaigns likely include a link back to your website. After all, you want your recipients to keep engaging with the subject of the email.
The links you use, and the way you use them, can affect your email’s deliverability. If an email provider automatically perceives your links as spam, it will lower the deliverability of that campaign. If people receive the email but think you’ve sent them a spam link, they’ll flag the email, lowering your domain authority and future email deliverability.
Best practices for using links in emails
Below are several tips on how you can optimize the links in your email campaigns for maximum email deliverability.
1. Use self-hosted links.
For best results, link to content that resides on your website – the same domain as your email address. The authenticated link between the two will lend itself to your email’s perceived credibility. If linking to other websites, be sure you are confident in their reputation.
2. Limit the number of links in your email.
While it is certainly okay to include links in your email, too many can negatively impact deliverability. It can also overwhelm the reader, resulting in no clicks. (As they say, “a confused mind does nothing.”) Use a few key links to engage your reader and send them to the pages on your site most relevant to the campaign topic.
3. Let readers know where your links will take them.
Let the reader of your email know where the link will take them by using a brief call-to-action (CTA) or description. For example, a button reading “Learn More” or “Download Whitepaper” is more likely to be clicked than a button reading “Click Here.” Additionally, when using a hyperlink, ensure that the associated hyperlinked text accurately describes where the link will send a reader.
4. Don’t use URL shorteners.
It can be tempting to use a URL shortener, like bitly, to hide long, unsightly URLs – especially if you are using UTM tracking codes. But email providers see shortened links as untrustworthy because it masks the final link destination. The user has no way to figure out whether the link is going to a trusted source or a virus-laden website. For best results, stick with undoctored URLs, and let them rest behind a CTA button or hyperlink. That way, at least the email recipient can hover over the link to see exactly where it will take them.
5. Avoid email attachments.
When it comes to email marketing, links are good, but attachments are bad. Attachments are never recommended for cold emails because your message will likely get flagged as spam. If you have a document you would really like to use as part of your email campaign, it is best to host it on your website and include a link to that page in your email.
Using links in emails can be a great way to build prospect engagement, but be sure to follow these best practices to ensure your emails see a high delivery rate.
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