Daisy at Signup.to posted a list of 11 things to do when mail is going to the bulk folder. Her suggestions are a good start to troubleshooting and fixing persistent bulk foldering of mail.
One thing she doesn’t mention is that while bulk foldering can sometimes be the result of poor content, more often it’s the result of unengaged recipients. Think of bulk foldering this way: the ISP has some subscribers they’re pretty sure want your mail, so they’re not going to block your mail. But they’re pretty sure a lot of subscribers don’t want your mail so they’re not going to deliver it to the inbox.
The trick to getting mail moved out of the bulk folder is to get more people engaged with your email marketing. This is tough to do if they’re not actively checking their bulk folder for mail but there are some ways I’ve helped clients get mail into the inbox.
- Contact customers through a method other than email. This works well to remind them to look for your mail. You can also tell them how to add your From: address to their address book which will override the ISP bulk foldering decision.
- Segment your list and focus on engaged subscribers. Improving the reputation of your IP addresses and content will help improve delivery. Focus on those people who are highly engaged (clicks and opens) and stop mailing those people who aren’t reading your mail any way.
- Create a re-engagement campaign with enticing subject lines. Your goal is to get unengaged recipients to actively seek out your email in their bulk folder and move it to the inbox. Having good subject lines (test, test, test) is critical to this effort. People just glance through their spamfolder and don’t open mail unless the subject line catches their interest. If you can catch their interest enough to have them open the mail and move it to their inbox then you’ll end up in their inbox by default.
- Let go of your unengaged recipients. I know it’s difficult to admit that it’s over between you and some of your recipients. But, it really is over. The longer you hold on to them the more they’re going to hinder your relationship with other recipients. Dropping the long term unengaged off your list will help increase your reputation and inbox delivery.
None of these are quick fixes. When I’ve worked with clients to deal with long term bulk foldering problems it’s taken from 2 to 4 months to resolve the issue. In some cases it did require contacting the ISP to get them to recalculate the reputation, in other cases the ISPs changed their filtering without any contact needed.