Feb 10, 2009

A check list for 100% inbox delivery

Even though a 100% inbox delivery on an email campaign is 100% fictional due mainly to temporary errors and soft bounces, it is possible to secure your email delivery through a few steps.

Here is a check list, should you match all these requirements, then there is no reason why you would not be able to reach near 100% email deliverability:

1 - Do you have enough dedicated IPs?
Your ID when broadcasting newsletter is most of the time based on the couple IP/Domain.
Some ISPs and webmails limit either the number of hourly or daily number of emails to be received form an IP. You therefore need to have sufficient IPs according to the volume of emails sent to these ISPs in one go.
I also insist on the dedicated part of the question since sharing your IPs with other senders might get you into troubles should the other senders send dodgy campaigns.
It's also very necessary to build up your own sender reputation using always the same IPs and slowly getting the ISPs' confidence.

2 - Are your DomainKey/DKIM and SPF correctly configured?
Yahoo! and Hotmail use the DomainKey (or recently DKIM) and SPF to identify sender domains. Having a correctly set ID will help you build up you, if you have a good reputation, to go through.

3 - Is your revers DNS working correctly?
Most of the email receiving servers query the revers DNS to see who's sending, you need to make sure your reverse DNS is correctly set before broadcasting.

4 - Are your email headers correctly set?
There's a few things to know when broadcasting, Gmail for example asks for "precedence=bulk" to be stated in the email header.

5 - Do you use double optin in your newsletter subscription process?
Nowadays, double optin is the only way to make sure of two things :
a) the user realy wants to register to your newsletter
b) the real owner of the email subscribed went through the process of subscription.

6 - Do you have a simple and efficient unsubscribe process?
With the spam complaint button so easily reachable above each and every email in the webmails inbox, you need to have the simplest unsubscribe process as possible.
The more complicated the unsubscribe process is, the more likely the user is to click on the spam complaint button, and we don't want that.
For the same exact reason you realy want to take each and every unsubscribe request into account ASAP, any email received after the user having unsubscribe is a potential complaint to the ISP.

7 - Do you correctly identify complainers and remove them systematically from upcoming broadcasts?
Several ISPs provide email senders with feedback loops. These feedback loops are very usefull to measure the perception users have of your newsletter and of course to stop sending to complainers.
A list of available feedback loops is available here

8 - Do you sometimes check for inactive profiles and remove them from your list?
An email that haven't reacted (opened) on any email sent to him for a long time should probably be removed from your list, it's very likely you will never get any benefit from sending to this person, you probably pay a fee to send emails to this user and you also take the risk of this email being a spam trap.

9 - Do you avoid spam words, special characters and ALL CAPS in your subject lines?
Part of the email filtering is made on the email content itself. You therefore need to check your email subject line for common spam words (Viagra beeing an obvious one), it's also preferable to avoid special characters such as $, £, % or accents and avoid also using too many capital letters (some say also it's preferable not to use exclamation marks).

10 - Is the Image/Text ratio correct in your email?
One of the most common technique spammers use to bypass content based email filters is to use images instead of plain text. Having only images in the email you broadcast can make the ISPs very suspicious and sometimes lead to false positives (legitimate emails being blocked by filters).

11 - Is your HTML code tidy?
One very important thing when sending an email to users is to have a clean HTML code, the first reason being that all webmails, browsers and email readers might deal with your bad HTML in different ways and therefore your email might be displayed incorrectly on several of them.
The second reason is that the Spam filters are very likely to block poorly coded emails.

12 - Do you monitor your marketing pressure on your subscribers?
When people subscribe to your newsletter it's very recommended that you tell them how often you will send emails to them, even if the time of year is special (sales period, christmass, valentine's day,...) you need to make sure you don't over communicate with your subscribers.
If you don't you might see an important increase in your unsubscribe and complaint rates.

This list covers the main issues you might have to deal with while setting up your email strategy and choosing your ESP (Email Service Provider). Not all these points are compulsory (some are more heavy weighted than others) but the more "yes" answers you have while checking these points, the better you will perform.


Anonymous said...

to have a higher chance of deliverability one also has to keep in mind to check whether their domain has been blacklisted or not. Your domain will definitely be blacklisted if you’re a spammer. Some email servers such as Exchange Server are loaded up with automatic check with IP block lists. There’s an interesting post explaining ip block lists and the connection filter agent in exchange 2007 over here: http://www.allspammedup.com/2008/12/using-ip-block-list-providers-and-the-connection-filter-agent-in-exchange-2007/

Matthew said...

The purpose of any email is to convey the intended message to the desired audience, be it an individual, a group or a wide spread audience. The successful delivery of an email can be curtailed by several technical factors. This can sabotage your communication efforts, marketing campaign and critical time in getting a response or feedback.

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Annie Monie said...

It is an efficient method for managing certain contacts and generating a targeted list. Through just a few of the clicks, you will be able to section your contacts by using various criteria, like purchasing history, interests or demographics. In this manner you can lure your subscribers to buy the products that you promote.

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Annie Monie said...

Most of the "Autoresponders" offer all the required materials and tools like web forms, HTML templates, autoresponders' messages, targeting capabilities and list segmentation. They also offer automatic reporting and tracking. These materials and tools made the system of email marketing easier.

email delivery