Did you know that email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than social media? Of course, that stat really won’t make an ounce of difference if your messages are ending up in your recipients’ spam folders. The fact is, email service providers (ESPs) are constantly trying to keep unwanted mail out of clients’ inboxes. That’s great for your inbox, but can be tricky for marketers trying to reach those who have given permission to keep in touch. If your marketing efforts are being hindered by poor deliverability numbers, here are seven rules for reaching the inbox.

Be compliant.

First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure all of your email communications fall in line with the CAN-SPAM Act, which establishes requirements for all commercial messages. Not only does non-compliance with this act reduce your email deliverability, but it could result in penalties of more than $40k for each violation. (You can learn more about the seven main requirements here.)

Get permission.

The best and easiest way to improve how many email messages reach their intended recipients is to get their permission in advance. Coincidentally, this is also the most effective way to stay compliant with the aforementioned CAN-SPAM Act. To gain express permission, incorporate opt-in forms on your site with a message that makes it perfectly clear that by sharing their email address, your visitors are also subscribing to your email list.

Ask to be whitelisted.

Oftentimes even those who willingly sign up to receive your email communications may end up unreached due to their ESP’s filtering mechanism. To avoid this, remind email subscribers to add you to their whitelist – that is, add your “From” address to their list of contacts. Once done, this will ensure that all future communications are delivered free and clear of any spam filters.

Avoid spam “triggers.”

As part of their effort to help protect consumers from being inundated with unwanted messages, ESPs have set up comprehensive filters designed to identify and redirect spammy content to the junk folder. While there’s no be-all-and-end-all list of which words trigger the filter, certain risky terms, like “free,” “buy,” “prize” or “bonus” can be enough to send your beautifully developed and well-intended message in the wrong direction.

Be consistent.

The goal of most email campaigns is to stay top-of-mind with customers and prospects, thereby increasing the chances of conversion. If you are only sending emails once or twice a year, chances are your recipients have already forgotten about you. What’s more, if they don’t recognize the sender, they’re more likely to physically flag your messages as spam, hurting your deliverability rates. The key is to deliver quality email content on a consistent basis – not too frequently, but just often enough to keep you connected.

Be relevant.

A generic or uninspiring message can cause recipients to send you right to the spam folder. Marketing automation can help you send emails that hit home with your audience and make them want to take action. With marketing automation, you’re constantly gathering information about what your audience is interested in, making it super simple to segment your list and trigger relevant emails when they hit a specific goal – like checking out a product or service on your website, or filling out a form.

Test and tweak regularly.

There’s really no magic formula for getting more of your emails into your recipients’ inboxes. This is why A/B testing is so important. Don’t be afraid to play around with different subject lines, email lengths and image-to-text ratios, measuring results to see what works and what doesn’t. This will help you to determine what types of messages get the kind of results you’re after so you can optimize future campaigns for better performance.

According to the Data & Marketing Association, email marketing can provide an ROI of $38 for every dollar spent. But those results are only possible if your messages are successfully getting through. Our comprehensive email marketing tool, along with the tips listed above, can help you manage, execute and optimize your campaigns like a boss, improving the chances of turning those email recipients into loyal, paying customers.