We have always recommended that you use a highly targeted approach when using email as a web marketing tool. Thus, the importance of getting as many emails through to recipients mailboxes, and avoiding them ending up in the junk folder cannot be understated. Whilst historically, content filters, using key words and design features to identify likely spam emails, more recently the reputation of the sender (based on IP address of the mail server and the senders domain) alongside sender certification & authentication are being much more widely used in making decisions as to which messages to consign to the junk folder. In addition, many larger ISPs use list quality measured by things like bounce rate and recipient engagement metrics (are people actually engaging with messages from a given domain rather than simply deleting it) as an additional tool in their fight against spam. But what does this mean in the real world.
We have identified 3 key issues affect deliverability in the real world
- Your sending infrastructure (which mail server you use to send your marketing emails) is increasingly a key deliverability factor. Thus using a dedicated email marketing service (where mail servers are known to legitimately send bulk emails) rather than sending mailings via your ISPs general mail servers will improve deliverability.
- The quality of your list, ensuring that the list is continually cleansed to remove bounces, malformed emails etc is increasingly important. It is therefore vital that your emailing system easily & reliably records information like bounced or invalid email addresses, and that filters can be set to remove these addresses from mailings.
- It is VITAL (and a legal requirement) that you have a robust subscription management system, and that recipients who unsubscribe from your emails are permanently removed from your lists. However any good email marketing tool will have this functionality build in as standard.
Here are a couple of useful tools we have found
On an individual basis this is virtually impossible to assess whether emails actually get through to their intended destination, but in-box monitoring goes a long way to measuring the effectiveness of your campaign in this respect.
With in-box monitoring, we add email addresses supplied by the relevant providers to your list and monitor which of these are delivered to the in-box. We can then use this information to assess the proportion of your campaign that is actually delivered to recipients in-boxes. It can also be used to identify deliverability issues that were not picked up by spam testing. BSA regularly use inbox monitoring using a tool called mailmonitorapp on our campaigns, as well as checking emails against key spam filter rules prior to sending, and monitoring blacklists for delivery IPS and campaign domains. As a result we regularly achieve inbox delivery in excess of 90% and close to 100% on key B2B platforms like exchange and Office 365.
Screening a list for bad emails is also an important factor in e-mail deliverability. Whilst good systems will automatically screen out emails identified as bounced, it is also possible to screen lists for known bad emails. One good, and inexpensive tool for doing this is kickbox.io
This one is a little more technical, but I include it for you geeks out there who like to get technical! SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is a system that uses a DNS record to authenticate mailservers to send mail for a given domain. An SPF pass tells the receiving email that the sending server is allowed to send mail for the sending domain in the email and thus is less likely to be spam. Increasingly big mail handlers like gmail, exchange and Office 365 use this test to help confirm whether an email is legitimate. Testing the SPF is fairly straight forward, but you will need 2 pieces of information (The address you are sending the mail from, and the IP address of the sending server). Once you have these, head along to www.dnsstuff.com and plug them into the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) tool. If you get an SPF fail, you will need to speak to your email marketing provider to get this issue addressed, but doing so is usually pretty straight forward. The good news is that as spam filtering systems become more sophisticated, as long as you use a professional approach it may actually become easier and more acceptable to send legitimate marketing messages. If you would like to discuss how to improve the deliverability of your email campaigns please feel free to contact us, we are always happy to talk.