Email deliverability

These days I have made it a point to check my spam folder at least once a day when I access my email. Even though a large portion of of the mail in that folder are junk, some important and relevant mails do seep into that folder once a while. Why does this happen and how can we avoid this? Well here is a small list I have compiled to start off. Please feel free to add your take as well.

Check for SPAM keywords and phrases

Be weary of using special characters, long keywords, promotional oriented keywords such as free in your subject line and email copy as it can often trigger spam filters of ESPs. Be also weary of using longer subject lines which exceed 70 characters as that may not go down favorably with ESPs as well. But then how do you know whether the content you have developed will trigger the spam filters? The first approach is to check your spam score online for which free and paid tools are available on the web. For example you can use Contactology’s free spam checker tool here: to check your spam score. It is also advisable to test your mails with different ESPs to see how they render and whether they end up in spam folders post which corrective action can be taken.

Check for blacklisting

If you notice problems with your deliverability, check whether or not you are on a blacklist. There can a number of reasons for being blacklisted. Some of them are sending large volumes of mails to the same email address, using spam content, not providing opt out options etc. You can check using a service such as Lashback, Blacklist Monitor the free check available via Return Path Senderscore.

Remove inactive subscribers from list

If you have a large number of email subscribers, then send an email to people who have neither opened nor clicked in the last year asking them to confirm they still want the email. Then you are less likely to be reported as SPAM and this is a potential way to remove emails in spam traps.  Regular cleaning of inactive addresses, which have not interacted within a 12 month period will help to prevent deliverability issues caused by emotionally unsubscribed recipients. Similarly when using opt ins, ask your subscribers to confirm their email addresses by sending them a confirmation link. This will keep your subscriber list updated and relevant.

Prompt users to add you to their address book

You should encourage recipients to add your address to their “Safe senders” list or address book, so that even if message has characteristics of spam it is not placed in junk box.  Not many will do this, but it is still worthwhile since it can guarantee inbox delivery.

Review deliverability of campaigns

While most marketers will mainly be interested in opens, clicks and transactions when reviewing their campaign reports, you should always look at delivery also. Compare each campaign to your past history of delivery percentage to see whether you have a problem and then act on it.  You should separately review inbox deliverability since an email may not bounce, but has been placed in the junk mail folder in which case it is less likely to be acted upon by the recipient.

You can tell whether you have an inbox delivery problem by comparing the relative delivery for different groups of recipients.  Better still, look at open and click rates for different groups of subscribers and this will give you an idea of inbox delivery or rendering problems in a specific email client such as Hotmail

Ask people to subscribe to your mail:

It’s important that the people who receive your mails have actually subscribed to read it. While you may use a drive to mail blast initially, make sure the drive to email specifically states the benefits of subscribing to your email. You may also use subscribe buttons across your other social media, partner and blog mediums to build your list.

Use social sharing icons on your email creative:

This is another way to build your subscribers. If you use Share with your network social media icons on your email creatives, you are giving your readers an opportunity to share your content with others on their network. Be sure to add a landing page link where people can subscribe to your emails, when sharing your content.

Use an interest center:

On your subscription form make sure you use an interest center for subscribers to point out the topics of their interest. The list can then be segregated by topic areas and you will have a more healthy, vibrant and functioning list if you are able to do this with better response rates. However only do this if you have a wide variety of content to share, else you may be setting expectations and not meeting them which may be harmful to your chances of grabbing enough eyeballs.

Set frequency expectations:

If you allow people to choose how frequently they would like to receive content from you, both you and your subscriber will be able to set up a calendar. Based on this input, you can set your editorial calendar to match subscriber expectations, while your subscriber sets a calendar to receive your content. There are higher chances of then opening and reading your content. However again be cautioned of doing this only if you have enough quality content to match the frequency expectations of your subscribers.


About rahulkohli

An avid marketer with interest in discussing and debating new and emerging trends in marketing.
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