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Optimizing E-mail Deliverability: Five Smart Steps to the Inbox

June 5, 2008 By Dan Forootan
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E-mail deliverability issues are nothing new. If your e-mails are mistakenly labeled spam, bounced or returned as undeliverable, you can face serious consequences. If it includes time-sensitive account, billing or service information, you're in trouble. If you're a marketer, you're losing revenue with every undelivered message.

You need to earn the trust of Internet service providers, which provide quality service to their subscribers by devising standard protocols and policies regarding unsolicited bulk e-mail. Here are five ways keep communications running smoothly with ISPs, your subscribers and your customers.

1. Stay list smart. Is your list relevant? Only add recipients via responsible opt-in practices, and remove bounced accounts and unsubscribe requests immediately. Avoid severely outdated or purchased distribution lists, many of which include spamtrap or "honeypot" addresses -- addresses that are set up as traps to lure and catch spammers.

2. Keep the complaints down. Are your messages welcomed? Deliverability plummets every time a subscriber reports you to his ISP, and ISPs such as AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail make this extremely easy with one-click spam reporting features. Know how many complaints are coming in. Complaint processing can be automated, with e-mail marketing service providers removing complainers from your distribution lists and integrating this data into real-time reports. Identify your company in the "from" field, use a clear and relevant subject line, and distribute messages on a routine and predictable schedule.

3. Be a pro. Does your message represent your company well? Elevate your brand and professional reputation by sending well-designed, organized and relevant e-mail communications. Segment distribution lists and customize messages whenever possible. Make sure that domain names for landing pages have a public WHOIS record in the WHOIS database, which contains information on each registered domain name, including the registrant's contact information, the administrative and technical contacts, and the domain name servers. Make sure that domain names for landing pages also have a clearly linked privacy policy.

4. Get authentic. Take advantage of e-mail authentication technologies, such as Sender Policy Framework, which provides an open standard method for preventing address forgery.

5. Protect your reputation. What's your history? ISPs filter spam based on your company, domain name and private Internet protocol address reputation. The only way to build a solid reputation in these areas is by sending legitimate e-mails and following practices over time. Make sure that your e-mail service provider or e-mail servers are set up with private -- rather than shared -- IP addresses, so that your reputation rides only on your e-mail marketing practices. Then measure overall delivery with the reporting tools in your e-mail marketing software. If ISPs are blocking your blast communications despite your following best practices, contact them right away to resolve the matter and apply for whitelist status with them, which exempts IP addresses from certain spam filters in an effort to get e-mail messages delivered.

Dan Forootan is founder and president of Sacramento, Calif.-based EZ Publishing, a technology and Internet marketing services firm, and president and CEO of StreamSend, an e-mail marketing solutions provider, also located in Sacramento, Calif., that was created by EZ Publishing. Reach Dan at dforootan@ezpublishing.com


 

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