You can have the best looking and most informative email marketing newsletter on the planet, but it’s useless if it never gets to the subscriber inbox. Deliverability is one of those aspects of email marketing which everyone should be thinking about and yet too few do.
Deliverability is not going to get any easier in the future – quite the opposite! Carol Catajan, Product Manager for Yahoo! Mail, announced at the spring 2010 Email Insider Summit, that its systems block 60% of all email messages received. Of the 1 billion or so email messages that Yahoo! delivers, in a given day, 40% of them are placed in the spam folder.
As, goldLasso makes clear, your email service provider (ESP) should be knowledgeable about deliverability and able to support you in obtaining and maintaining solid deliverability rates for your email campaigns.
There are several components to deliverability which you should understand:
Just as it sounds, these programs confirm you are the sender you claim to be. It protects you from having spammers hijacking your name and reputation. Among the most popular protocols for this are: SPF, DKIM, SenderID and DomainKeys. Ask your ESP about these protocols and what they use/offer.
As the name suggests, this type of filtering relies on flagged key phrases or words to filter out/block spam. You may even have run into this kind of thing on your own mail server at the office, depending on how aggressive your IT team is about using it. Content filtering has issues with false positives and that’s one reason why sender reputation is used by major ESPs and even free web based services primarily.
Many ISPs use this as their primary filter to cut down on spam – for some, this is their only method. Sender reputation works like the financial credit rating system.
The five key elements for sender reputation are:
Volume and consistency – how much you send and at what frequency is a flag for ISPs to monitor a sender.
Unknown subscribers/hard bounce rate – Sending to a lot of email addresses which don’t exist (old inactive addresses for example).
Complaints – Complaints can come from the “spam” button in email clients or directly to the ISP via an email from a user.
Permanence & IP stability – The longer you send from the same IP address the more reputable you will appear.
Spam traps – These are set up by ISPs and others to catch spammers and those with poor list management (never buy an email list). If you send to these “phony” addresses too often you will likely end up on a black list and that will definitely impact your sender reputation and deliverability.
Establishing and maintaining a good sender reputation is a work in progress. You have to actively monitor and manage your reputation by keeping your lists clean, up to date and adhering to best practices which will prevent any ISP flags going up. For the vast majority of email marketers, this means partnering with an ESP that understands the ins and outs of sender reputation and provides the support to keep your rep in tip top shape.