Essential background guidance for maximising your email deliverability rate
All marketers know the importance of getting their message targeted to the correct recipient, with the most compelling message and effective creative execution.
Get those elements right and your print ads, your inserts and your mailing pieces will be read and responded to.
Luckily, marketers don't have to worry whether their ads will be printed by publishers, or if their mailing packs will be delivered by the postman.
But marketers using email marketing need to know about another, unique and critical piece to the jigsaw.
They need to understand email deliverability because put simply, email delivery cannot be taken for granted. And if your email isn't successfully delivered, your message won't be read.
Spam, spam, spam
Unsolicited emails, sent without prior request or permission, are known as spam. And spam is big, big business.
With huge quantities sent out, often to randomly 'harvested' email addresses, it's accepted that between 85% and 95% of ALL worldwide email traffic is unsolicited.
This incredible volume of unrequested emails has a major impact on the industry.
In capacity requirements alone, it costs the ISPs (Internet Service Providers and email providers, e.g. AOL and Hotmail) enormous sums to handle.
Corporations too, face the hidden cost of lost productivity in dealing with unsolicited emails.
And consumers face the cost of falling victim to fraudulent and criminal scams.
No wonder then, that the email industry has made it a mission to block, filter-out and eliminate this enormous quantity of unwanted email traffic.
What does this mean to marketers?
The problem faced by marketers is that the blocks and filters used by the ISPs can also affect legitimate commercial emails, blocking them even when they have been requested by the recipient.
That means you could be paying to create and send emails that are not being delivered.
The extent to which these blocks impact on your email campaigns represents your Email Delivery Rate.
Every marketer needs to know how to MAXIMISE their email delivery rate, because it's the first step in the critical path to getting ROI...
Click through rate
How do your emails get blocked and filtered?
In order to ensure you maximise your delivery rate, i7t will help you to have a basic understanding of the ways in which ISPs analyse and classify emails as spam.
The 2 key factors that impact your deliverability
In reaction to the problem of unsolicited email, the industry has established 2 critical factors by which it judges an email and its sender.
These are the factors by which ISPs decide whether to allow your marketing email to be delivered to the recipient’s inbox.
Authentication - has the email actually been sent by who it appears to be from?
Reputation - what are the standards of the sender’s email behaviour?
There are 3 widely used protocols for authenticating the identity of a sender against the email being sent: Domain Keys, Sender ID and SPF (Sender Policy Framework).
Put simply, these authentication protocols enable ISPs to check that an email is being sent from a server that: A - is who it claims to be, and B - is authorised to send it.
Spammers do not go about building relationships and good reputations with ISPs. They stay undercover, invisible, and keep moving.
So email marketers who make themselves known to the ISPs, build relationships and follow their rules and best practices to the letter, can satisfy filters, become white listed and get fast-tracked into inboxes.
Authentication and reputation are 2 of the key areas where good ESPs can help you, by enabling you to take advantage of their volumes of send, best practice behaviour and established reputations with the ISPs.
dotMailer, for example, has over 10 years email sending reputation.
There are further elements to mention, along with sender reputation: Feedback loops, Goodmail, White lists and Black lists.
Choose an ESP that is signed up to ‘Feedback Loops’ on the major ISPs such as Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo.
A ‘Feedback Loop’ allows the ISP to send an unsubscribe mail to your database when a recipient of your email hits the ‘Report Spam’ button.
This in turn enables your ESP to unsubscribe/suppress the complaining recipient from future sends, avoiding repeat complaints and protecting your reputation.
Return Path Certified impose strict standards and requirements on senders, in order to grant accreditation.
Accredited senders can enjoy guaranteed delivery into specified inboxes, with functionality such as links and images turned on.
Real-time black lists or ‘block lists’, such as SpamHaus, provide a database of IP addresses, servers and domains that have been reported and identified as spam by ISPs.
All ISPs can check an email in real-time against this database and decide whether to accept or reject it.
Will you be judged on the content of your email?
Sender authentication and reputation are the over-riding factors in the filtering and blocking used by ISPs.
But they’re not the whole story. ISPs may also apply content filters to emails they have accepted.
These content filters will analyse your email’s content against a series of rules and give it a ‘spam score’ based on certain key elements.
An email over a certain score may suffer the fate of being delivered into the Junk Mail inbox.
A good ESP can help you ensure your email design and content has a low spam score.
Key elements to consider avoiding in your email design and content include: large graphics or a high proportion of graphics to plain English text; lots of different colours for text and links; an excessive number of links relative to the number of words; suspicious subject lines and ‘salesy’ web text words such as 'free'.