A Buyer's Guide to Email Deliverability

Updated: October 24, 2010

The list below is composed of technology and usability items that we believe are a base-line for achieving increased deliverablity rates from your email marketing campaigns.

  • IP Segmentation : Eliminating the techno-babble and simplifying this a bit... buyers should verify that a vendor is sending from more than one server. Why? If just one customer sends SPAM from that one server, every customer will be negatively affected, because in the eye of the blacklist-gods, you all look the same (because you share the same IP address). Most vendors provide groups of IP addresses that they routinely monitor and additionally segment high-volume or high-paying customers in certain groups. IP Segmentation and IP management by your vendor are the most important factor in email deliverability. If a vendor looks confused when you ask them about these concepts... run!
  • Auto-Authentication : Many email marketing vendors today offer a built-in method to "auto-authenticate" your email messages as they are sent from their systems. Authentication lets the receiving email server know that the email is coming from "LoopFuse", on behalf of "you". By doing this, your email appears less suspect to email spam filters, because the email headers are not altered as though the email originated from a different source (something that spammers normally do). This is a great way to increase email deliverability... some vendors automatically enforce this, and other leave it optional. Keep in mind, that how your email will "look" to a recipient will change, read more.
  • Opt-Out Enforcement : The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 makes it unlawful for an email sender to not include a mechanism for a recipient to unsubscribe from future mailings. Verify that your marketing automation vendor has some measures in place to force opt-out links or other means for recipients to unsubscribe.
  • SPAM and Abuse Policy : A missing or laissez-faire SPAM or email abuse policy is a signal of impending doom for your email marketing programs. If your marketing automation vendor does not enforce good email sending best practices, you can count the minutes until every email server the vendor has will be blacklisted and so will your email marketing programs.
  • Email Blacklist Monitoring : Vendors normally subscribe to third-party blacklist monitoring solutions which enable them to monitor which of their IP addresses have been blacklisted and quickly remove that IP address from the available group of sending IPs. It is difficult to verify whether a vendor is actively monitoring blacklists and taking appropriate steps, but in any event, the question should be put to the vendors.
  • Email Abuse Handling : Verify that your marketing automation vendor offers some method for recipients to report email abuse. Marketers may not want to be reported, but look at it this way... it is better that your vendors be alerted to a spam complaint than a blacklist be alerted. ;-) An email abuse page will typically consist of a short form, much like this one, where a recipient can go to file a report.
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