Avoid the Spam Trap and Supercharge Your Email Deliverability

Each day email marketers think outside the box to make their emails reach target customers.

But are your customers actually receiving your email?

Spam filters are becoming smarter in keeping inboxes free of marketing automation emails which they consider spam.

Therefore, it is imperative for marketers to devise ways to bypass the spam filters and reach their customer’s inbox the right way.

If you’re new to email marketing, one of the most important areas to focus on is deliverability – that is, making sure recipients actually see your messages.

To do that, you may need to spend some time building up the reputation of your IP address and making sure you’ve done everything possible to avoid being labeled a spammer.

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Why should I care about email deliverability?

When you send ”snail” mail, you can ensure its deliverability by super-scribing the correct address legibly.

The postman reads the information, checks for due postage, and completes his job of reaching the right address and delivering the mail.

The type of content does not matter much because the postman is duty bound to deliver it even if the package is devoid of content!

If, however, there are typos in the recipient’s address, ZIP codes are incorrect, or state abbreviations are non-standard, delivery rates go down and transit time goes up, postage is wasted, and mail is returned as undeliverable.

When technology took over and communication forms such as email marketing messages began the campaign manager had to take into account all of the above factors, and more, just to reach a stage when the email “package” could be marked as “Eligible to be Considered for Delivery,” by the email service provider.

In the initial days, nearly the entire budget of email marketers went to selecting a suitable ESP – the virtual post office.

Pan to today and as much as 40% of budgets is being earmarked for dealing with delivery and deliverability issues.

And for good reason – deliverability can make or break your carefully crafted email campaign.

Let’s take a look at the factors you should be leveraging to boost your email deliverability rates.

Scrub your email list often

A wrong email address can also be because of an incorrect entry or an old system that has out-dated email addresses.

Having invalid addresses spoils your reputation as a sender.

Therefore, it is ideal to practice proper email list hygiene and keep ‘potential troublemakers’ out of your database.

To maintain an effective list it is recommended that you scrub your email list at least every quarter.

Here is a list of email addresses every email marketer should try and avoid having on their email list:

Invalid or duplicate email addresses

Before you add an email address to your list, confirm it is a working one.

Performing an email checklist for invalid email addresses is a must-do for every email marketing campaign.

Unsubscribed addresses

If a subscriber has unsubscribed from your email campaign, make sure you have the address removed immediately.

Sending emails to people who have opted to unsubscribe from your list will mar your reputation as a sender.

Addresses of people who have not opted-in

Rid your email list of addresses who have not opted in to receive information from you.

Often an email list can contain addresses that are acquired through list buying, list scrapping etc.

If you limit your list to the addresses that have opted-in, you increase the effectiveness of your email deliverability.

Email bounces

There are two types of email bounces – hard bounce and soft bounce.

Hard bounces are those that cannot be delivered permanently.

Such email addresses should be deleted immediately as it affects a sender’s reputation.

Soft bounces are those that have not been delivered due to some temporary problem like a full mailbox.

Soft bounces need not be deleted immediately but have to be closely watched. If it continues to bounce, the address should be removed as the address can be inactive.

Disengaged email recipients

If your contact has not shown much interest in your email, has stopped opening or clicking through, take a good look at them.

Try sending re-engagement campaigns where you ask for their specific feedback to determine their interests or needs, which you can then tailor your emails to suit their needs.

Even after a re-engagement campaign, if your contact remains disinterested, then that email address needs to go.

Additionally, here are a few questions you can ask to find out how often your email list needs a thorough scrubbing:

  1. Where did you obtain your original email addresses from? This could be from subscribers who have opted-in, or someone who has passed on your information, or someone who visited your website or from an older database. If you have followed a good opt-in process and have verified the addresses before saving it to your database, you are assured of their validity and can reduce the frequency of email scrubbing.
  2. How often do you send out emails? If you send out an email every month, having a quarterly scrub is more than enough to maintain a clean list. But, if you send in emails only bi-monthly or once in three months or more, a list scrubbing is necessary to rule out invalid addresses each time you send your emails.
  3. How often do you get bounces? If you are encountering more bounces than before you should be scrubbing your list more frequently. Sometimes you may find more invalid addresses in a random scrub. If so, it is highly recommended that you reduce the intervals between your email scrubbing.

Creating trust in your IP address

Internet service providers protect their email clients from spam and malicious emails by blocking suspicious messages and diverting some emails into the spam folder.

If your IP address has been mostly inactive and then sends out 10,000 emails at once, ISPs are likely to flag your IP address as a machine sending spam.

To build the trustworthiness of your IP address, start off with a small email marketing campaign.

Increasing your recipient list over time will help ISPs recognize you as a legitimate sender.

If your company has only one IP address, and everyone uses that for company email, personal email and checking Facebook, you should strongly consider a dedicated IP address that’s solely for sending marketing emails.

If even one employee has a weak personal password and a spammer is able to hijack their email account, that employee – and by association, your company – may be flagged as a spammer.

Using the double opt-in

When people sign-up on your website for your newsletter, ask them to verify their subscription by sending a follow-up email with a link they must click to activate their subscription.

This double opt-in process ensures that all of the email addresses you collect are valid – if someone incorrectly types their email address, they’ll never receive the opt-in message, and you won’t be sending an email to the wrong person.

Simplifying the unsubscribe process

If people no longer want to receive your emails, they should be able to easily unsubscribe from your mailing list – and if they can’t, they might label your messages as spam, or apply a filter that sends all of your messages to the trash can.

Every email you send should contain an obvious, clickable “unsubscribe” link. You could also consider offering subscribers a way to modify the frequency of your email communication. Maybe they just want to see less mail from you, instead of none at all.

If so much of deliverability depends on the behavior of the sender, and if all legitimate ESPs have similar technical controls in place to hold up their end of deliverability, then what’s the difference among email vendors, anyway?

In Delivra’s case, the difference is experience.

As one of the original email companies, going back to 1999, we have the expertise to diagnose your deliverability concerns.

And our high standards cause us to turn away questionable clients whose sending practices–while they may be perfectly legal–are so poorly advised that they impact our ability to deliver mail on behalf of our customers who are committed to doing it right.


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