Everyone who does online business needs to know about email deliverability. But surprisingly enough, only a small percentage of people do. Having poor deliverability can impact your business significantly, because every email you send, whether it be a customer registration email, an invoice, or a marketing newsletter, needs to have the maximum opportunity to arrive. Or else you're throwing money down the drain. Here's 10 interesting things you may not know about email deliverability...

email deliverability

1. URLs Can Be Risky

If you're linking to a page or embedding an image from a URL that is different than the domain you're sending the email from, it might impact your deliverability. Since domains can be blacklisted, it's possible you can unknowingly use a link from a bad domain, which could cause your entire email to be rejected or considered to be spam.

It's a good idea to avoid URL shorteners, as many of them can be blacklisted domains. Also, make sure the links you're using don't redirect to another domain that's not trustworthy.

2. Authentication Rules

By setting up domain and IP authentication, you're basically telling email providers and ISPs "Hey, here's my ID! See how legit I am? Let me in!". SPF, DKIM, and Reverse DNS are a few methods that are fairly easy to setup, and can greatly improve your Sender Score.

If you're using a 3rd party email marketing service like MailChimp or AWeber, they typically have help documents that tell you how to setup authentication for your account.

3. Don't Ignore Complainers

If a subscriber replies to an email asking to be removed from your list (possibly with the use of expletives ;)), COMPLY with their request. By ignoring them, it's likely they'll hit the "Spam" button for future emails they receive from you, which can negatively impact your reputation.

Another important thing to do is setup Feedback Loops at the popular ISPs so when a subscriber marks your emails as "Spam", you will be notified, and you can manually unsubscribe them from your list.

4. Your IP May Be Shared

Email marketing services like MailChimp or Mad Mimi or iContact typically share single mail servers for multiple clients. This means someone else sharing your sending IP could be sending spam and this could impact your IP reputation, causing your deliverability to suffer.

It's never a bad idea to use a dedicated IP address, if possible. These cost more money but it could be a valuable investment in the long run. Check with your provider to see if it's possible to do this.

5. Know Your People

The more "clean" your list is, the more your subscribers are actively engaged in your communications, the less bounces you get, etc...the higher your email deliverability will be. But oddly enough, many email marketers and business owners ignore this factor.

It's always a good idea to regularly remove soft bounces, unsubscribe spam complainants, and even suppress addresses that have not opened or replied to your emails over a certain period of time (like 6 months). This will make sure your list is super clean and super easy to deliver to.

6. Whitelisting Is Your Friend

Whitelisting involves building a relationship with an ISP or email provider, proving that your domain/IP is reputable, that you only send emails to legit subscribers, you avoid spammy content or URLs, that you provide clear instructions for opting out, etc.

There are plenty of free whitelisting services and some premium paid ones that help get you to the front of the line (and into your customers' inboxes). Just Google to find them.

7. Reports Help

I know, most of us don't like to read reports and analyze data (actually, I do, but I'm a pretty big nerd ;)). But as far as email deliverability is concerned, it's crucial.

Hopefully your email marketing service or software provides some level of reporting and analytics. Pay attention to EVERYTHING from open rates to click rates to bounces. Learn which subjects get more opens, which content gets more clicks. If certain emails get a lot of unsubscribes and spam complaints, try to figure out why. Sometimes you may end up on a few blacklists, and you'll need to perform some actions to get removed (or in some cases you automatically get removed if you're not "naughty" for a specific length of time).

8. Bigger is Not Always Better

Sending a large volume of email quickly can result in blacklisting or blocking by ISPs (because this behavior is often indicative of spammers), especially if your domain or IP hasn't been properly "warmed up". It's best to send your emails slower and in smaller batches, or spread out over a longer period of time.

If you run your own mail server, it's likely you can configure it to send only a certain # of emails per minute/hour. If you're using a 3rd party email delivery service, make sure they offer this capability as well.

9. Content is Key

There's measures you can take when crafting your emails that can impact its deliverability.

  • Make sure you have a good text-to-image ratio (ie. not too many images and too few text).
  • Ensure the content matches your audience, and is what they expect to receive (ie. don't send a coupon for yoga pants to a dentist list).
  • Design emails for both mobile and desktop presentation
  • If your call to action is an image/button, also include it nearby in a text link, in case your recipient doesn't accept images
  • Design emails for both text and HTML recipients

10. Engage Your Audience

Believe it or not, but email providers and ISPs monitor opens and clicks similar to how you do. If your open rates and click rates are high, that generally means that you aren't a spammer, and your emails are likely to be delivered properly.

This means your subject lines are important, because you want to grab the attention of your viewers. It's a good idea to test subject lines out in as many devices as possible, because some smaller screens or different email clients may show less characters than others.

Split testing is highly recommended. Check to see if your email marketing service or software has this feature, and if so, use it as much as possible.


Kane Miller from Winning.Email

Kane has a background in computer engineering, but now focuses on creating new and interesting web services. His passion for improving his own email deliverability rates was the driving force behind the creation of Winning.Email.