Q4 Email Deliverability | Finish the Game Strong With These 5 Tips 

Nathan She

6 minute read

The last quarter of the year is the busiest and most competitive time for email marketers. To ensure your email campaigns are reaching the inbox and your subscribers are engaged, Trendline and Webbula have teamed up to put together 5 tips for Email Marketers to end Q4 with a win. 

Target Active Subscribers

You can kick off your journey to deliverability success by focusing on targeting your active audience. As spam filters continue to grow more complex and proprietary, engagement remains a key metric in the game of email deliverability. Mailbox providers have a duty to their customers to provide a good experience by sending mail their users want to receive to the inbox and filtering or rejecting mail their users do not want to receive. When a recipient opens, reads, and clicks your emails, it shows their mailbox provider that they are interested in content from you as a sender. In return, that Internet service provider (ISP) will be more likely to deliver future emails from you to that recipient’s inbox.

Aside from optimizing your open and click rates, honing in on active users helps minimize invalid addresses and other threats to deliverability. So what do you do with your less-active subscribers? Turnover is inevitable regardless of the strength of your content and practices. There are many causes for subscribers becoming inactive. They could have completed a sale, received the incentive for which they signed up, or otherwise lost interest in the content they receive. In any case, you need to have a plan for suppressing these users rather than continuing to send to an unengaged audience. We recommend routing these recipients through a re-engagement funnel to try to “wake them up.” The activity time frame and re-engagement funnel depends on your email program, but it is important to have some sort of suppression in place. These practices, along with email hygiene (more on this later), will help you maintain a clean, qualified list.

Conversions, as well as open rates, click rates, and forwards are essential KPIs to any email program. Optimizing these key metrics puts you on the path to boosting your ROI, and targeting subscribers most likely to perform these actions will drive up not only your deliverability, but also those KPIs that will net you an all-star email program. 

Create Engaging Content

Now that you’ve built an active audience to work with, the next step is to keep their attention with strong subject lines and relevant content. Again, engagement is your MVP when it comes to deliverability.

Recipients primarily have only two things to look at to determine whether or not to open your email: who it’s from and the subject line. This means the subject line for your email is the window into why your recipients would want to open this message to read further, and you only have a few words to convince them. You’ll want your subject lines to be compelling (but not gimmicky) and clear about what you are offering in the message. Though spammy trigger words hold less weight in deliverability than they did previously, here is a short list of spam filter words and phrases to avoid in your subject lines.

Upon opening a new message, you want this email content to add value to the recipients’ day-to-day life. Your messages should be like a conversation between you and the reader, and should focus on subject matter relevant to their interests. Aim to provide quality material on a consistent basis. You also want to ensure your emails are user-friendly–all that work you put into your content will go unnoticed if your recipients can’t see it. A few ways to ensure user-friendliness are:

  • Format email content to be read on all mobile devices
  • Build deeper relationships and improve future engagement by personalizing emails with first/last names 
  • Be clear and not deceptive about what you are offering in the subject line
  • Have a healthy balance of image to text in order to dodge automated spam filters

We are big fans of testing to ensure your emails are at peak performance. You can test your content with various applications to see what might get flagged by spam filters or how your email will look on various devices. Try different approaches to your subject lines and content to find what works best with your subscribers. A/B testing is a great way to experiment with this!

Be Conscious of Your Sending Cadence

Q4 presents ripe opportunities for marketers to send emails. With so many holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas on the horizon, isn’t this an optimal time to sling daily emails and capitalize on the immense consumer need for holiday deals and reminders?

Ironically, sending too many emails can actually be a hindrance to your conversions. Companies in every industry often make the mistake of sending far too often in hopes of piquing interest from their subscribers. The problem with this is you will most certainly not be the only sender blowing up a recipient’s inbox–and when recipients get too many emails from any particular sender, they are likely to begin ignoring those emails altogether. Worse, they may even begin to mark you as spam. This can be detrimental to your sending reputation and impact current and future sending abilities.

It may seem counterintuitive, but sending more targeted, yet less regular emails can increase the chance that your subscriber will open your email during the busy holidays. While tired eyes scroll past dozens of annoying daily emails from Company X, your organization will stand out when the subscriber sees an email from someone who doesn’t send everyday.

Consider adjusting your workflows given this insight. A subscriber who often opens and clicks your emails may be fine with a more frequent mailing schedule. For those who may not open or click as often, ensure that your workflow accommodates this and automatically lessens email frequency. You can even be upfront and send a preferences email so the recipient can tell you themselves how often they would like to be emailed! Offering these options and adjusting to user activity appropriately will help boost your opens and, in turn, your conversions. 

Cleanse Your Email Data With Email Hygiene 

Email Hygiene is a key play to win the deliverability game. Content, segmentation, links, and subject line matter, but if you’re sending to inactive users or threats that can harm your sender reputation, then it’s game over.

Let’s take a quick timeout to explain the difference between email hygiene and verification, and why hygiene will help you finish the game stronger. Email hygiene is the process of identifying active and inactive email threats in your email data. Hidden threats include spam traps, moles, bots, honeypots, seeded trackers, and more. (Check out our recent intelligent report to learn more about the hidden threats in your emails.)

The reason why email hygiene is so important is because 3% of your customer data becomes obsolete due to people changing jobs, moving, changing names, getting married, and abandoning old emails. These cause threats such as disposable domains, temporary emails that will explode after a certain amount of time, to arrive in your data such as disposable domains, that are only temporary emails that will explode after a certain amount of time. Spam traps, a tool used by organizations to identify spammers, are another threat. If you have them in your data and send to them, you could damage your sender reputation or be permanently placed on a blacklist. 

Verification alone cannot detect the spam traps. This is why email hygiene is a must before you hit send on your next campaigns. Email verification detects active threats, like bounces, but only email hygiene can detect inactive and fraudulent threats that can receive, open, click, and track your campaign. 

It’s imperative that you keep up with good email hygiene practices on a regular basis.  (Read Did You Schedule Your Data Check-Up)

Enrich Your Data 

Now that your email data is clean, rid of any malicious threats, the last play in the email deliverability game is to grow your database without having to purchase a list. It is important to update your data list frequently; sending to a list that is even 4 to 6 months old opens you up to considerable risks. If you fail to keep up with your data lists, you will lose existing customers and will also tarnish your opportunity to attract new customers. 

Data appending and reverse appending give you more information about your customers and contacts, allowing you more flexibility when it comes to marketing and communication. There are many ways you can do so:

Data appending is the process of filling in the missing pieces of your data, completing the puzzle you’ve already started. As long as you have some sort of information, such as an email address, phone number, or name, we can often fill in whatever might be missing, whether that be additional contact information, demographics, interests, and more, thus revealing the complete customer picture by essentially obtaining data that might otherwise have been lost or not initially acquired. 

Forward Appends means you already have an individual’s name and address on file and you’re seeking more information such as a phone number, email address, demographics, interests, or vehicle information. 

Reverse Appends is when you have one field of contact data (usually email or phone) and use it to append other data that can be tied to that email or phone number. 


In conclusion, good deliverability isn’t built overnight. By using these 5 tips, you will begin setting yourself up for success not only in Q4, but into the new year as well. To learn more about email deliverability, contact one of our deliverability experts at Webbula or Trendline


This post was written by Webbula’s Jenna Devinney and Trendline’s Nathan She

Trendline Interactive

Ready to send better messages?

About the Author(s)

Nathan She

BS in Computer Science from Kennesaw State University. Nathan is an avid tennis player and certified USPTA teaching professional who competed at the collegiate level for KSU. After univserity, Nathan found his way into the email world through MailChimp and Inbox Pros. Nathan's competitive spirit is still present to this day at Trendline where he helps clients combat poor deliverability. Interestingly, Nathan was once hit in the head by a motorcycle. Follow Nathan on LinkedIn

Let's Take This to the Inbox

Sign up for our news, resources and updates. The inbox is our favorite place after all. We’ll make sure it’s worth it. (You can unsubscribe at any time, but you probably already knew that.)