Improving E-Mail Deliverability
According to the Direct Marketing Association White Paper E-Mail Deliverability Review, “Sender reputation is the single most important factor used to determine e-mail acceptance by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).” Many ISPs use external companies to provide sender reputation data. This means they can screen your e-mails against your reputation. You get a sender score based on a scale of 0- 100 (100 means you are brilliant but conversely Zero means…) For the likes of AOL McAfee and others a traffic light system of green, yellow, red, or good, neutral, poor defines you.
Some of the key metrics that are used include:
- Whether you e-mail over a wide broadcast window or in spikes. ISPs prefer the former.
- Whether you breach the spam complaint thresholds (typically 2 to 3 complaints for every 1000 processed e-mails).
- The level of bounce back activity that is generated. A high level of e-mail delivery failure will give you a poor reputation score and that’s why it’s so important to practise good list management. If you’re buying or renting email data from a third party, make sure they are Direct Marketing Association members and probe them on the quality of the data they are providing to you.
There are some simple things you can do to reduce your bounce back activity and spam complaints starting with:
1. You must practice good list hygiene. In practice this means having your data audited. So before your list is sent for the first time, get it screened to eliminate poor email addresses and ideally screened on an ongoing basis. What do we mean by poor e-mail addresses?
• An invalid structure such as no ‘@’ sign
• Common misspellings such as vergin instead of virgin/hotmial instead of hotmail
• duplicate e-mail addresses
• junk entries email@example.com
• foreign addresses that whilst being technically correct, are not relevant to the campaign
• continuing to include known bounce back records
2. You must manage your bounce backs in a systemised way. The Direct Marketing Association Best Practice Guidelines recommend using 2 to 3 hard bounce notifications as the recommended number before any action is taken.
3. Your data must be sourced from ethical providers. If you’re renting an email marketing list check they are providing up to date email addresses and ask where they sourced the addresses from.
4. You should use Complaint Feedback Loops so that you can retrieve the details of the recipients who complained with their ISP/webmail provider when they got your e-mail. These are the guys that have clicked on your spam button instead of your unsubscribe button.
5. Reduce your spam complaints. An obvious point for starters but by making your unsubscribe link more prominent than your spam link, you will reduce spam complaints. You have to take spam complaints seriously. If you have an unusually high complaint rate, your ISP will consider your e-mails as high risk and may block them. You can also use the feedback loops to remove people that have branded you as spam, but because this can take some time and only works for some ISPs, you should be more proactive. For example:
• Make your name prominent in the ‘from address’, ‘subject line’ and ‘preview pane’. It’s very easy for the recipient to delete your e-mail without opening it if your name is not highly visible.
• Use an active reply address that goes to a monitored inbox so people who reply asking to be removed can be heard
• Reduce your send frequency – too many emails can cause people to become frustrated