Having your carefully worded collections email flagged as spam is not only incredibly frustrating, it also drastically reduces the efficacy of your collections process. Put simply, it's very difficult for your customers to pay from an invoice reminder if they don’t receive it in the first place. (Duh!) Today, sophisticated servers can quickly decide to send an email directly to the dreaded spam folder, never to see the light of day again. Thankfully, utilising some simple guidelines as well as using a reputable email service will ensure your reminder is delivered directly to your customer’s inbox.
1. Use a high volume email delivery service
When sending receivables reminders, look for a service that is geared to sending and receiving high volumes of emails. Just as digital marketers and online retailers will select a reputable platform to keep in contact with their customers, accounts receivable professionals should also find a cost-effective platform that reliably delivers their high volume of emails.
ezyCollect, for example, chooses Amazon Simple Email Service, a cloud-based email sending service that commits to achieving high deliverability rates (likelihood of an email ending up in the inbox). The benefits of going with a specialist platform is the rigour behind their solution - content filters verify that outgoing emails sent through the platform meet the standards of ISPs. An inbuilt feedback loop reports on sending activity measures such as accounts bounce, and complaint and reject rates, giving you the opportunity to continually improve your sender reputation.
2. Separate your promotional and transactional email sending
Every email serves a unique purpose. Promotional emails are just that - sent from a company to promote their brand, services and offers. Transactional emails have a different purpose - they support the customer through their journey with you. Emails like welcome messages, confirmation of purchase and payment reminders are transactional emails.
Use unique email address for transactional versus promotional emails
Avoid sending your reminders from the same email address as your promotional emails. Gmail suggests “separating mail by purpose as much as possible.” Why? Because you don’t want your transactional emails with customers ( like payment reminders) to be incorrectly classified by email services as bulk promotional email (same content sent to a large number of recipients). Promotional email has a higher likelihood of inadvertently ending up in the spam folder or a subcategory inbox folder. And you don't want to confuse your recipient about the purpose of your email, either.
To avoid the land of the lost, protect the reputation of your email addresses. Send important transactional emails like payment reminders from a dedicated address such as firstname.lastname@example.org. In the world of email delivery, quality content matters. Not only do your customers expect and deserve it, email services scan for quality content before deciding where your email ends up.
3. Less (sent) is more (read)
Customers don’t like to be bombarded with emails. If your company is sending individual reminders for each invoice (and some customers will have a number of outstanding invoices at any time), the sheer volume grates on the recipient and taxes your staff’s time, too.
At ezyCollect, our philosophy is less is more. Be consistent, be persistent, but not overbearing.
To lower communication volume, you can follow a simple technique we use at ezyCollect: each time a reminder is due, consolidate all overdue invoices at the time into a single communication, listing every invoice and total outstanding. Not only are you making it easy for your debtor to understand their total debt, you avoid annoying them. Go one step further and add a ‘Pay Now’ button so debtors can click and pay online. When you go the extra mile to make your debtor's day easier, they soon learn that your email reminders are worth opening because they actually help them to get their job done.
4. Optimise subject lines and copy
ISPs use metrics such a open and click-through rates to determine if an email sender address should be marked as spam. Essentially, sending high quality communications with valuable content will increase open rates and deliverability.
Start by writing a simple subject line that accurately describes the purpose of the email. Consider placing a first name in the subject line. As a rule, don’t write deceptive subject lines and avoid emails that are heavy on graphics and light on text.
Avoid subject lines with:
- ALL CAPS
- symbols like @!$%
- no-reply sender names e.g. email@example.com
- A question mark and an exclamation point. Why not? Web servers don’t like it!
Now that your email has been opened, you will want your customer to ‘click through’ on any clickable links e.g. invoice attachments as PDFs, ‘Pay Now’ button etc. At ezyCollect, we recommend users customise our reminder templates with their own language so the tone lands well with their debtors. Your reminders should encourage people to engage with you about their payment intentions, so provide all the necessary information and invite a conversation.
5. Fix bounce issues
Be sure to use an email delivery service that notifies you of delivery issues - many don’t. For example, when using ezyCollect, if there is an issue with any email being delivered, you will be notified by email of the cause, allowing you to fix the problem then and there. Typically, an email will bounce due to one of two reasons:
Hard bounce: If an email hard bounces due to a persistent delivery failure, it could be due a non existent mailbox server. Amazon SES will not attempt to resend hard bounces, except in the case of DNS lookup failures. If a hard bounce occurs within ezyCollect, the system notifies you via email.
To remedy this, ensure all contact details are correct in your accounting system and at least once a year, do a full contact detail audit, updating any new or changed email addresses.
Soft bounce: A soft bounce indicates a temporary delivery failure, most likely due to the mailbox being full, the connection with the server timing out or a bottleneck due to the quantity of servers attempting to connect, known as throttling. A service like Amazon SES will attempt to re-send soft bounces for a period of time. If the error persists, the server will flag this email as non-deliverable.
To avoid throttling and server time-outs, try altering the communication time. For a high open rate, research has suggested 10 a.m. is the optimal time, although your best delivery time will be dependent on the demographics of your customer base. To optimise your communication time, ezyCollect allows you to alter the time of reminders being sent out, so that you can test what works best for your customer base.
Understanding the environment in which your reminder emails are sent and received can help you to optimise their delivery. To see how ezyCollect can help improve your collection efforts, request a demo today.