15 Easy Ways to Improve Your Emails’ Deliverability

Email deliverability rates vary widely. Some senders barely get 60% of their emails through, while other email services, like AWeber, claim to have 99% deliverability. And then there are email experts who claim that even AWeber is getting 75-80% of its email messages through, at most.

The rough estimate is that as much as 30% of email messages don’t get delivered. That’s a hefty figure, but the upside is that if you can improve your email deliverability rates, you can significantly improve your email list responsiveness – by as much as 20%. If earning 20% more from your email list sounds good, here are some steps to take:

1) Try using text-based emails. Html emails get blocked more often than text only messages.

2) Do not change your sender name or your from address. Every time you change this, you lose all the people who whitelisted your emails.

3) Do not send bulk email messages from your computer. Do not use email marketing programs that let you send bulk emails from your computer. You’ll be sending from a dynamic ip address and you will look like a spammer.

4) Every time you mail, remove the hard bounces from your list afterwards. Hard bounces are a major red flag to ISPs. Any more than 15% hard bounces may get you blocked. Hard bounces are basically emails that have gone to email accounts that no longer exist. They are much more severe than “soft” bounces, though you may also want to delete soft bounce email addresses if they have bounced more than three times.

5) NEVER buy email lists or subscribers. Run from anyone who offers to sell you an email list. Using a bought list is actually against the terms of service for most of the major email service providers.

6) Use double opt-in. This will give you a much cleaner more responsive list. That results in fewer spam complaints, and that results in your email messages having a better reputation with the ISPs. Also, if you use double opt-in (also called “confirmed opt-in”) you will have a record of someone asking and then asking again to be on your list. You’ve got proof you’re not a spammer.

7) Do not send out huge amounts of email in isolated bursts. Try to spread your mailings out, and send to segments of your list. Sending a massive blast all at once is one of the marks of a spammer. In the trade, these isolated email blasts are called “unusual bursting”.

8) Test your email messages against a spam filter tool. Spam filter tools will show you simple fixes that can significantly improve your email deliverability with just a few simple fixes. Even the innocent use of a flagged word can be enough to push a message into the bulk folder.

9) Make sure the ip address you are sending your emails from is not blacklisted. MXToolbox has a good free tool for this. So does SenderScore.

10) Make sure your message’s headers are properly constructed. If you’re not sure, use tools like this and this to see if anything looks suspicious.

11) Try to contact trouble ISPs directly. This page has a directory of the major ISPs’ rules and their “postmaster” help pages. It’s the postmaster pages that will be where you ultimately solve your deliverability problem if nothing else works.

12) Use a unique IP address to send all your emails from. The ip address does not just have to be unique: it has to be “warm”. “Warm” means it is used lightly and frequently – kind of like how a credit card is supposed to be used if you want to build up your credit rating. Sending regular, small blasts of emails is a good way to warm up an ip address.

13) Make sure you abide by CAN SPAM basic rules, like including an unsubscribe link in every email, and including your snail mail address in every email. Also make sure that readers can reply to every email they get from you. All those email messages from “no-reply” are red flags to ISPs.

14) Take a hard look at your inactive subscribers – the ones who have not either opened an email from you or clicked on a link in an email from you in over six months. Seriously consider purging the email addresses that have been inactive for more than a year. This has been shown to make a significant improvement in overall deliverability rates.

15) Find out your “unknown user” rate. This is similar to a hard bounce, but even more of a red flag. Some mailers have reported email deliverability problems when their unknown users were just .2% of their list. Having more than 5% is definitely going to get you in trouble.