Aug 11

7 Steps to Email Deliverability Heaven

Ensuring email is delivered to subscriber inboxes is an increasingly difficult battle especially with developments in spam filtering. Open and click thru response rates can be dramatically affected by as much as 20-30% due to incorrect spam filter classification.

Not all email is equally important to a recipient and so there is often a gap between email a recipient is happy receiving and email a recipient both wants and is expecting enough to complain about not receiving.

To ensure that your email deliverability is the best it can be follow these 7 steps

1. Verification

The number one step in the battle for deliverability is confirming that the people who ask for your information have actually requested to be on your list. You can do this by using a process called confirmed opt-in or verified opt-in to send a unique link to the subscriber. They must click that unique link verifying that they own the email address and did actually request to subscribe.

2. Email Addresses

When asking visitors to subscribe, you should be asking for their “primary” email address instead of a free email address like Google or Hotmail. Free email accounts tend to be used far less.

3. Bounce Backs

Always remove undeliverable addresses as soon as possible. An address that consistently  bounces should be removed from the list. ISP’s track what percentage of your newsletters bounce and will block them if you attempt to continually deliver messages to closed subscriber mailboxes.

4. Format

Usage of HTML messages to allow for text formatting, multiple columns, images, and brand recognition is growing in popularity and is widely supported by most email client software. Most spam is also HTML formatted and the difference between the two can be hard to distinguish. Always consider plain text emails too as deliverability failure is around 1.2% compare to 2.5% with HTML.

5. Content

Many ISP’s filter based on the content that appears within the message text.

  • Advertising

Research potential newsletter advertisers before allowing them to place ads in your newsletter issues. If they have used their website URL to send spam, just having their URL appear in your newsletter could cause the entire message to be filtered.

  • Language

Choose your language carefully when crafting messages. Avoid topics often found in spam such as medication, mortgages, making money, and pornography.

  • Images

Avoid creating messages that are entirely images. Use images sparingly. Commonly used open rate tracking technology uses images to calculate opens. You may choose to disable open rate tracking to avoid being filtered based on image content.

  • Attachments

Avoid attachments where possible by including a web link instead- where complete avoidance is not feasible. Many people are still afraid of the spread of viruses through opening of attachments.

6. Relationships

Where possible contact the ISP and let them know about your email service. Many large providers such as AOL and Yahoo have specific whitelisting programs and postmaster website areas to ensure your email is delivered as long as you meet their policies and procedures in handling your opt-in list.

7. Legal Practice

There are a number of laws relating to email deliverability. It’s important to keep up to date with current legal practice and you must make sure you periodically review your current practice to ensure legal compliance. The two most important rules include having a valid postal mail address listed in all commercial messages and a working unsubscribe link to remove the subscriber from future messages (which must be swiftly tasked).

3 Responses to “7 Steps to Email Deliverability Heaven”

  1. Jason See Says:

    “When asking visitors to subscribe, you should be asking for their “primary” email address instead of a free email address like Google or Hotmail. Free email accounts tend to be used far less.”

    — My opinion only here, but I actually see a very large percentage of most in-house lists contain these “free” email addresses. I think people want to be connected to your newsletter/offer/service but would rather do it through a free account. Many people create filters and sort this account into buckets and go back through it at their convenience. Any email tracking proves this theory – you’ll see emails from as far back as 6 months still making conversions/sales.

    I would be hesitant to place any restrictions on email addresses being collected. If your content is relevant, engaging and timely, you’ll be fine collecting the free email accounts.

  2. Andrew @ Says:

    You seemed to have missed one of the fundamentals: Authentication. That is: SPF, DomainKeys & DKIM

    Essential to improving inbox placement and deliverability.

  3. Andrea Says:

    Thanks Andrew- will make sure this is added to our glossary!

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