Spam filtering has made it increasingly difficult to ensure email deliver-ability to your opt in subscribers, which is critical to your success in monetizing your list and delivering value to your subscribers consistently. An incorrect spam filter classification can reduce your click through response rates by as much as 20-30% of your total number of messages sent.
Here are are 12 specific actions you can take to ensure your email gets delivered.
#1. Always be CAN-SPAM Compliant
This is RULE NUMBER ONE! The January 2004 Federal CAN-SPAM law introduced a number of rules regarding the delivery of email. It’s important you have your legal counsel review your practices and ensure you are in compliance. The two most important rules include having a valid postal mail address listed in all commercial messages and a working unsubscribe link that is promptly honored to remove the subscriber from future messages.
#2. Get Your Subscribers Permission
Confirming that the people who ask for your information have actually requested to be on your list is the number one step in the battle for deliverability. You should be using a process called confirmed opt-in or verified opt-in to send a unique link to the attempted subscriber when they request information. Before adding the person to your list they must click that unique link verifying that they are indeed the same person that owns the email address and requested to subscribe.
#3. Get Your Subscriber’s Best Email Address
Always ask you new subscribers to opt into your list using their “real or best” email address. Many online marketers and information seekers use a throw away or catch list as a means of sorting through opt in email. Typically this is set up using a free email service such as G-mail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. This means that the address you are mailing to can be easily thrown away or at their capacity, which will result in bouncing email addresses that hurts your delivery statistics.
By confirming an email address that is hosted with the subscribers primary ISP, you develop a higher quality list, dramatically increase your deliverability an achieve higher click through rates.
#4. Maintain Your List and Sort Out the Bad Addresses
Review your campaign stats after every mailing and promptly remove all email addresses that are bouncing. Make note of the address and send a direct private email that request a new email address, advise the subscriber that you had to remove them from your list and provide a simple opt in gift to persuade the subscriber to subscribe back into your list. If this email bounces, move on and do not invest anymore time correcting this problem.
There are times when a bounce is caused by a temporary situation, such as a full email in box or ISP downtime. A less aggressive practice would be to review addresses that return a permanent error more that three times in 30 days should be removed from your list. Keep in mind that ISPs track the number of emails you send to accounts on their servers that are closed and with enough frequency may in turn block you from address as a result.
#5. Use the Multi-part Message Format
For marketers HTML messages provide a powerful opportunity for branding and sending multi-column messages to format newsletters and e-zines. Most auto-responders offer both HTML and text formats for sending your email, the best services for marketers offer a feature known as Text/HTML multi-part mime format, which allows you to create both an HTML and text version of your message and the format delivered will depend on the receivers email client.
AWeber conducted a study in 2004 which determined that plain text messages are undeliverale 1.15% of each mailing and HTML only messages were undeleverable 2.3% of each mailing. consider this, many spam messages are HTML formatted and it can be difficult for spam filters to determine spam from requested email. I personally feel that the brand opportunity is greater than the risk of a small percentage of your messages being filtered out. I always use the multi-part format and so should you.
#6. Write Spam Free Content
Many ISP’s filter messages based on the content that appears within the message text itself in addition to the sender’s email address. Be sure to use an auto responder service that includes a “spam grader” feature that measures the likelihood of your message to be blocked as spam based on your content. The “spam grade” is determined by the frequency of words appearing in your message that are deemed to be spammy such as make money, business opportunity, etc.
Don’t make your messages appear to be spam by using odd character and spacing to disguise spam sensitive key phrases (for example ca$h). If you must use a phrase in your message that results in a high spam grade, try to replace the phase with the same meaning and re-score your message. Repeat this process until you find a phrase that works.
#7. Advertiser’s Website URLs Matter
If you are offering advertising opportunities on your newsletter or e-zine, take care to research potential 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.
#8. Use Images Selectively
Properly titled images can greatly enhance your SEO results and should be used to enhance your newsletter and e-zines. When it comes to email, I would largely avoid using images or do so sparingly.
#9. Always Use Links and Rarely Use Attachments
With viruses running rampant and spreading thru the usage of malicious email attachments many users are wary of attached documents. It’s often better to link to files via a website URL to reduce recipient fear of attachments and reduce the overall message size.
#10 Monitor and Protect Your Reputation
As you grow your list and begin to deliver a growing volume if email across a growing number of ISPs it become a necessity to monitor, manage and protect your reputation within the ISP community. Many new and experienced marketers alike are unaware that you can take a proactive stance in exposing your good practices to the “Reputation Services” that many ISPs reply upon to identify safe senders.
Take the initiative to become listed with these services and as a result, your messages will be given far less scrutiny or in many cases may no longer be subject to filtering as long as your reputation is maintained.
Here are three reputation services your should consider:
#11. Relationships & Whitelisting
Several of the major ISPs including Yahoo and AOL have specific whitelisting programs and postmaster website management tools developed to ensure your email is delivered on the condition that you messages meet their stated policies and procedures. Again, be proactive and advise the major ISP’s and email service providers of your opt in and mailing procedures and policies related to subscriber email.
#12. Always Give Your Reader an Easy Opt Out
No matter how hard you try to ensure the quality of your list, from time to time a subscriber will forget that they opted in or decide that they no longer want to receive your mail. When these circumstances occur you must make it easy for them to opt out, which will decrease the chances of a false spam complaint.
The major email service providers include a subscription management function which places an opt out script at the bottom of your messages by default – verify that this is the case with the provider you use. If not, create a signature to include in all of your email message resulting in a one click opt out function.
Email deliverability is about ensuring requested opt-in email is delivered to the intended recipient. While no single tip will enable you to get 100% of your email delivered each one utilized as a group can go a long way to reaching that goal.
By following the advice provided here you can ensure that your email is delivered and that your sender reputation is maintained as a viable asset in your online business. I welcome your comments or questions, so please feel free to leave a comment and if you like what you have read, be sure to re-tweet this post.
I am here to help you succeed!
(c) Copyright 2008-2009 James A. Holmes. All Rights Reserved.
James Holmes, Global Team Builder, Coach and Trainer, combining online and offline techniques to help you grow your business. To request a free 30 minute consultation contact James by phone at 303-523-9503 or email at james@AskJamesHolmes.com
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