Email Deliverability Archives - Fundamental Marketing

Category Archives for "Email Deliverability"

Dec 20

Clone of Why should I not use a PTR mechanism in my SPF records

Email authentication can be quite confusing.  You SPF, DKIM, DMARC types records and then with those you have PTR mechanisms, A records, MX records, IPV4 and IPV6 records.  What does it all mean?

To the average Joe, it is code for I need to go run and tuck my head in the sand and hide from it all.  But, for those who care about email delivery, Inbox placement and getting eyes on emails it means a lot.  It means you need to learn it all or hire someone who knows what all of this means.

I am writing this today to help those of you who want to learn it.  Over the past few months, I have looked into well over 1000 domains and what I can tell you is that 91% of the domains I inspected are not configured properly for email authentication.  In easier terms, either their DMARC, DKIM or SPF records are wrong or non existent.

One of the recent trends I have been seeing is the use of a PTR mechanism inside of SPF records.  DNS pointer records (PTR) are essentially considered to be reverse DNS addresses.

PTR records are the opposite of  A records. Instead of resolving a domain name to an IP address, it resolves an IP address to a domain name.  What this means is if the sender is sending an email from IP address 2.8.1.2, the receiver will perform a PTR lookup of 2.8.1.2 to attempt to retrieve a hostname (domain name).  Lastly, if a hostname is discovered for IP address 2.8.1.2, then that hostname’s domain is compared to the domain that was originally used to lookup the SPF record.

This from of validation and lookup mechanism is slow and not as reliable as other mechanisms. Because of that, it should not be used as a validation method in SPF records per RFC 4408: https://mxtoolbox.com/problem/spf/spf-type-ptr-check.  MOST IMPORTANTLY: Some large receivers will skip the mechanism – or worse they'll skip the entire SPF record – because such mechanisms cannot be easily cached which then causes a SPF validation failure.

Other mechanisms for validation should be used instead, such as: "A", "MX", "iP4", "iP6", "include".

If you are using email to communicate with clients and prospects, proper validation is the key if you actually want your emails to have a chance at landing in the inbox.

Feb 20

Why should I not use a PTR mechanism in my SPF records

Email authentication can be quite confusing.  You SPF, DKIM, DMARC types records and then with those you have PTR mechanisms, A records, MX records, IPV4 and IPV6 records.  What does it all mean?

To the average Joe, it is code for I need to go run and tuck my head in the sand and hide from it all.  But, for those who care about email delivery, Inbox placement and getting eyes on emails it means a lot.  It means you need to learn it all or hire someone who knows what all of this means.

I am writing this today to help those of you who want to learn it.  Over the past few months, I have looked into well over 1000 domains and what I can tell you is that 91% of the domains I inspected are not configured properly for email authentication.  In easier terms, either their DMARC, DKIM or SPF records are wrong or non existent.

One of the recent trends I have been seeing is the use of a PTR mechanism inside of SPF records.  DNS pointer records (PTR) are essentially considered to be reverse DNS addresses.

PTR records are the opposite of  A records. Instead of resolving a domain name to an IP address, it resolves an IP address to a domain name.  What this means is if the sender is sending an email from IP address 2.8.1.2, the receiver will perform a PTR lookup of 2.8.1.2 to attempt to retrieve a hostname (domain name).  Lastly, if a hostname is discovered for IP address 2.8.1.2, then that hostname’s domain is compared to the domain that was originally used to lookup the SPF record.

This from of validation and lookup mechanism is slow and not as reliable as other mechanisms. Because of that, it should not be used as a validation method in SPF records per RFC 4408: https://mxtoolbox.com/problem/spf/spf-type-ptr-check.  MOST IMPORTANTLY: Some large receivers will skip the mechanism – or worse they'll skip the entire SPF record – because such mechanisms cannot be easily cached which then causes a SPF validation failure.

Other mechanisms for validation should be used instead, such as: "A", "MX", "iP4", "iP6", "include".

If you are using email to communicate with clients and prospects, proper validation is the key if you actually want your emails to have a chance at landing in the inbox.

Feb 04

Soft Email Bounces Explained

What is a Soft Email Bounce?  

Regardless of the email platform you are using (Keap, Infusionsoft by Keap, Ontraport, Hubspot Active Campaign etc) bouncing emails (an email that never actually got to your intended recipient) are an unavoidable part of the life of anyone using email to market their business.

Bouncing Email

High bounce rates (more than 2%) create negative impacts that you must be aware of:

  • Bad reputation. ISP's monitor and watch for addresses that continue to send messages to invalid users.  
  • Low Inbox placement.  ISP's monitor bounce rates for every campaign you send, and use that information to decide where to delivery your emails in the future (the inbox, promotions folder or junk folder).
  • Blacklisting. Frequently seen high bounce rates get the sender's IP address land on blacklists supported by ISPs and anti-spam organizations.
  • Account suspension. Email service providers (Keap, Infusionsoft by Keap, Ontraport, Active Campaign or Hubspot) have a strict policy as to how they internally handle bounce and complaint rates. They will suspend the user's account if the campaign sent by the user generates a complaint rate that is beyond the ESP's allowed limit.
  • Lost revenues. Email service providers charge you for each message you are sending or store within their systems. Invalid email addresses are increasing the cost of your email campaigns without any return on investment.  Furthermore, poor inbox placement will have a negative impact on your email marketing campaigns.

But what are these different types of bounces and what do they mean?  

Well luckily for all of us, bounces are not as mythical as Unicorns and they can be dealt with once you understand what they are and why they are occuring.

The first item to realize is that there are two types of email bounces, soft bounces and Hard Bounces.  A hard bounce occurs when the message has been permanently rejected.  A soft bounce means that the email address was valid and the email message reached the recipient’s mail server but was not accepted at this time.  

Hard Bounces

A hard bounce is an e-mail message that has been returned to the sender because the recipient's address is invalid. A hard bounce might occur because the domain name doesn't exist or because the recipient is unknown, the domain name does not exist or the recipients mail servers are completely blocking delivery.  Hard Bounces are automatically handled by most ESP's (like Keap or Infusionsoft by Keap).

Even though hard bounces are automatically handled once they occur, you want to be doing everything you can to minimize these hard bounces from occurring as they Will HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON YOUR INBOX PLACEMENT.  Good list hygiene practices (regularly cleaning your list with a third party tool and engagement tracking) is highly recommended to prevent these email toxins from staying in your list and hurting your deliverability.

Soft Bounces

When talking about soft bounces,  we are talking about is a temporary bounce.  A bounce that can be classified as temporary indicates that while the delivery of this current message was unsuccessful, you may be able to deliver another email to that address at a later date.   If an email gets a soft bounce on an email send, most email providers will attempt to deliver the email over the period of a few days (this is why an email may show bounced and opened). You should keep an eye on these addresses -- if you notice that the same ones are popping up over and over again, it's best to remove them.

Bounce Rates should be kept under 2%.  Any higher than that and you will likely see a negative impact on deliverability

To help you understand soft bounces better and what this all means, here is a list of the soft bounce types and their meaning:

  • Mailbox Full: The recipient's email box is too full. There is no room for the message. Most of the time this is related to improper maintenance, but it could mean that the recipient no longer actively uses the email account even though it still exists.
  • Message too Large: There is content in the message or attachments causing the message size to exceed the limits of the receiving server.
  • DNS Failure: The email cannot be delivered due to an issue with the receiving server. This is most likely an issue with the nameserver settings for your domain. Contact your domain administrator for assistance. The issue may be related to the SPF records.
  • General: The specific reason for the bounce has not been detected.
  • Auto Reply: This kind of soft bounce indicates the message has been delivered, but the recipient has an auto-reply enabled on their account. The bounce status will be removed as soon as the recipient opens the email.
  • Subscribe Request: These are recorded when an auto-reply is sent to your bounce capture email account ([email protected] or [email protected]) asking to be added to your list. They are a type of soft bounce since most people would not send a message to these accounts.
  • Mail Blocks: A mail block is recorded when the recipient's email server blocks an email message completely. It rejects it before it tries to deliver it to their inbox.
  • General: The recipient's email server is blocking messages sent through the Infusionsoft server.
  • Known Spammer: The recipient's email server is blocking messages from your email account based on an email history or reputation that indicates you've been sending SPAM.
  • Relay Denied: The recipient's email server is blocking messages sent through the Infusionsoft server. Setting up your SPF to include infusionmail.com will help you resolve this issue.
  • Spam Detected: The recipient's email server is blocking your email because the content looks like SPAM. Use the Infusionsoft Spam Score tool in the email template to check the email content and reduce the SPAM score below 5 (preferably zero.)
  • Attachment Detected: The recipient's email server is blocking the message because of the attachment. It may have identified the attachment as a possible virus source, the system may not allow attachments at all, or may block specific types of files (e.g. .exe). The size of the attachment may also be causing an issue. Make sure your attachment size is less than 10 MB.
  • Unsubscribe Request: These are recorded when an auto-reply request is sent to your bounce capture email account([email protected] or [email protected]) asking to be removed from your email list. A real person will reply to the email or click on the Unsubscribe Link.  These Unsubscribe Requests are the same as an ISP Spam complaint.
  • Undetermined: An undetermined status is assigned when Infusionsoft is not able to identify the cause of the bounce based on the feedback received from the receiving server.

Here are a few tips that will help you reduce your bounces and be in good standing with the email Gods.

  1.  Do not buy, rent or harvest email addresses.
  2.  Use a confirmed (double) opt-in process
  3.  Regularly clean your list 
  4.  Monitor Bounces by domain.
  5.  Remove emails that are repeatedly soft bouncing.
  6.  Test your emails for Spam Score before you send.
  7.  Setup proper email infrastructure (SPF, DKIM, DMARC)

Email bounces will happen, the key thing you must remember is how they impact your domain’s reputation>   A little bit of planning and prevention will go a long way towards protecting your domain’s reputation and help you to increase your odds of landing in the inbox of your subscribers.

Oct 29

Email Delivery Vs Email Deliverability: What’s The Difference?

There has been lots of talk about email deliverability as of late with talk of spam complaints, too many bounces and people not receiving emails which has had a negative impact on ROI from email marketing efforts.

In all of this talk of email deliverability, I am seeing a lot of fundamental terminology being misused or misunderstood.  With that being said, I want to dive into the most basic of concepts and terminology today and set the record straight as it pertains to "email delivery" and "email deliverability".

Though the two above terms are being used interchangeably, they have very different meanings.

Mail Being Delivered

Email Delivery vs. Email Deliverability

Let's first start as they say in sports with the X's and O's or "the basics".  What is the difference between email delivery and deliverability?  Here are some simple definitions:

  • Email Delivery: To be considered “delivered”, your email simply has to be accepted by the recipient’s server. Sounds easy, right? If you answer yes, you are unfortunately incorrect. Delivered doesn’t necessarily mean to the inbox. It just means it didn’t get rejected and completely blocked by the ISP.  The question, "was an email delivered" answer means: Can the email message be accepted by the ISP.
  • Email Deliverability:  Email Deliverability or "Inbox Placement", simply put, very simply refers to where your email message actually ends up after it was accepted by the ISP.  The options here are the inbox, the spam folder or the promotions folder.

Think of the journey of your email like this, after you send the email, it hits the first checkpoint with the ISP.  The Question that is answered here is "Will the ISP accept the email?"  If the message is accepted and delivered (email delivery), then it hits checkpoint 2.  At checkpoint 2, otherwise known as the spam filter, the ISP determines where inside of this mailbox your email should be placed.  The Inbox, the spam folder or the promotions folder. 

The journey of an email on it's way to the inbox

Let's now break this down a bit further so you can understand what is going on.  

How Does Email Delivery Work?

At its most basic level, email can be delivered or bounced.  A bounce is when the email does not arrive in the intended mailbox (their inbox, spam, or otherwise). Bounces can be a soft bounce, where the server will continue to try to deliver the message again or hard bounce when an email message is considered permanently undeliverable.  

So the question now is what can impact email delivery?  Here is a list of some items that can cause an email to bounce and not be delivered:

  1. Poor Email Infrastructure:  No SPF or DKIM record validation your emails
  2. Hard Bounce: The email address does not exist
  3. Soft Bounce:  The mailbox is full, the message is too large, or a mail block (Mail Blocks can be caused by the following: email reputation as a known spammer, SPF issues, The email is seen as spam by the spam filters, email attachments detected)

Now that we have a basic understanding of delivery, let's dive into email deliverability.

How Does Email Deliverability Work?

Email deliverability is also referred to as inbox placement.  Where in the inbox did the email land?

Email Deliverability is dependent on three things: Identification, Reputation, and Content.

  1. Identification:  ISP's want to know it’s actually you that is sending an email.  Think of email authentication the same way you would a drivers license, or a passport.  When you go to the airport, the TSA checks your license or passport to ensure that you are the same person listed on the ticket.  Authentication of your emails works the same way, but instead of a passport or ID, the ISP's use frameworks such as SPF, DKIM or DMARC to validate that the server the email is being sent from matches the from address in the email field.
  2. Content:  Your emails have t be appropriate and relevant to your subscribers.  If your emails aren't appropriate or relevant, your email subscribers will either opt-out (if you're lucky), stop opening your emails (this has a negative impact on reputation) or in the worst case report you as spam.  Other items that can affect your deliverability from a content perspective are excessive use of exclamation points, subject lines, awkward formatting of your emails and the use of URL shorteners like bit.ly (yes URL shorteners are bad!!!!!!)  When writing your content you really need to put yourself in the shoes of your target customer and ask yourself, would I really open this or would this email be valuable and provide value to me.
  3. Reputation:  Sender reputation or sender score basically shows how trustworthy of a sender you are.  Every email you send has a positive or negative affect on your overall sender reputation.  Sender reputation looks at spam complaints, how often you hit spam traps, how many of your emails bounce, how many recipients unsubscribe, how many emails are opened, are emails replied to or forwarded, how many links are in emails, mailing to unknown emails (unsolicited email sending such as purchasing a list and mailing it) being blacklisted.  

How to improve email Delivery.

Delivery issues are typically related to one of two root causes.  First is a poor internal infrastructure.  Take the time to ensure your SPF, DKIM and DMARC records within your DNS settings are configured properly and tested.  If you do not have the technical expertise to do this, then hire a professional who specializes in email deliverabilityThe second issue is your list hygiene practices.  Good email addresses turn bad if they are not logged into or the domain is terminated.  By having good list hygiene in place you can minimize the number of bounces that occur that have a negative impact on your email delivery and sender reputation.  You should be cleaning your lists at a minimum of every quarter in order to keep bad email addresses out of your lists.  

How To Make It Into The Inbox.

Now that you know the difference between deliverability and delivery, here are tips on how to improve your deliverability and make it into the inbox.

  1.  Setup your email infrastructure properly: (see #1 above)
  2. Maintain a clean email list:  You need to keep a regular watch on the health and engagement of your email list.  Permission to market (when they opt-in) is great, but there is much more to it.  Keeping a clean list is made up of two key components, email hygiene and engagement.  As discussed above, run regular list scrubs (monthly if you can or at the minimum quarterly) to ensure you have a verified and clean list.  Poor engagement has a negative impact on your sender score and reputation.  Running monthly check on your email engagement will give you a birds eye view on what is going on and then give you the ability to run re-engagement campaigns to get them back before they forget who you are.
  3. Let them Unsubscribe:  When it comes to email deliverability, an unsubscribe is not a bad thing.  It is much better than the alternatives of them not opening your email, just deleting your email or marking the email as spam.  Let it be easy for them to unsubscribe, which means do not bury the required cans-pam opt out with a bunch of spacers at the end of your email.  If they can't find the unsubscribe button, then they will mark you as spam.
  4.   Keep your content relevant and personal:  The question you need to ask yourself before you hit that lovely send or publish button is, are you sending content that matters to the subscriber?  Make sure that you are sending personalized emails that will resonate with the subscriber, emails that provide value to the subscriber and emails that are engaging with the subscriber.  Relevancy matters.  Set expectations on what you will be sending and tick to those expectations.  Put your self on the receiving end of the emails and ask the question, is this engaging to me and relevant to the topic I requested information on?  By doing this, it will not only improve your engagement, but it will build better relationships with your contacts and result in better ROI on your email marketing efforts.

I hope this helps clear the air on the difference between email delivery vs email deliverability and gives you a few ways to improve both.  There is a lot that goes into getting emails delivered and into the inbox, but if you follow the tips below and get a solid foundation in place, you will see great improvements in your email marketing efforts.

If you have questions and want to take a deeper look at your email deliverability, comment below or feel free to schedule a time to go over your email infrastructure and practices.

Oct 09

7 things you need to do to ensure your Infusionsoft account is setup properly before you send another email

Do not send another email from your Infusionsoft account until you read this all the way through! (There is some free help available to you at the end of this post)

You may have a problem in your marketing that you are not aware of. That problem is with your email deliverability.

8 out of 10 clients I speak with have a problem in their systems or configuration that is having an adverse effect on their email deliverability. This problem results in a negative impact on revenues.

Although email deliverability (inbox placement) is a complex matter (content, subject lines, systems, ip addresses, engagement etc), there are several fundamental pieces you must make sure you have in place Inside of your Infusionsoft account before you send another email.

Here are the 7 things you need to do to ensure your Infusionsoft account is setup properly before you send another email.

  1. Configure DKIM within Infusionsoft
  2. Configure your DKIM within your DNS
  3. Setup your SPF records for Infusionsoft email and IP’s
  4. Setup your DMARC record
  5. Configure and run your Infusionsoft Automated List Management
  6. Identify and segment based on email engagement. (do not mail those that are not engaged)
  7. Clean and Scrub your list with an Email Hygiene Solution. (recommended a minimum of every 6 months)

After reading this list, you may be asking, what are all these and what does all this technical mumbojumbo mean?  Let me help you:

What is DKIM?

DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) is a complex email protocol that allows a sender's identity to be authenticated by the recipient to help combat email fraud. Also known as “digital signature,” this is a method for associating a domain name with an email message, allowing a person, role, or organization to claim some responsibility for the message. A digital signature gives recipients a reason to believe the email message was created by a known sender and was not altered in transit.

How does DKIM work?

A public key is used to create a DNS record. That same key is also used to digitally sign the header of emails that are sent. When the recipient's provider receives the email, they check the sender's DNS records and the sender's authenticity is validated by the matching key. The message can then be delivered to the recipient with confidence that the sender is who they claim to be.

Why is DKIM important?

DKIM affords the greatest assurance that the sender is who they say they are and gives email providers a way to track and hold senders accountable for the messages they're sending. As a result, deliverability of these messages is greater and inbox placement is improved.

What is SPF?

Sender Policy Framework is an email validation protocol designed to detect and block email spoofing by providing a mechanism to allow receiving mail exchangers to verify that incoming mail from a domain comes from an IP Address authorized by that domain's administrators.  This is configured in your websites DNS.

How does SPF work?

The receiving server extracts the domain's SPF record, and then checks if the source email server IP is approved to send emails for that domain. Receiving servers verify SPF by checking a specific TXT DNS entry in your domain, which includes a list of approved IP addresses. This is one of the key aspects of SPF.

Why is SPF important?

SPF records prevent sender address forgery by protecting the envelope sender address, allowing the domain administrator to specify which mail server are allowed to send mail from their domain. This anti-spam method however requires that you have a properly formatted SPF record and the receiving server has the ability to check if the message complies with this record

What is DMARC?

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance is an email-validation system designed to detect and prevent email spoofing.

How does DMARC work?

A DMARC policy allows a sender to indicate that their messages are protected by SPF and/or DKIM, and tells a receiver what to do if neither of those authentication methods passes – such as junk or reject the message. DMARC removes guesswork from the receiver’s handling of these failed messages, limiting or eliminating the user’s exposure to potentially fraudulent & harmful messages. DMARC also provides a way for the email receiver to report back to the sender about messages that pass and/or fail DMARC evaluation.

Why is DMARC important?

The main goal of DMARC is to detect and prevent email spoofing. For example, phishing scams that are designed to look like they’re coming from your bank or Amazon, prompting you to click on a link to reset your password or to give them your information(we have all received those at least once).

SPF and DKIM do a majority of the hard work here. By designating email systems that are permitted to send email for a domain, and by  signing messages to avoid header modification en-route.

But DMARC ties the two technologies together, providing a single interface for instructing remote mailers on the domains policies, and actions to take if and when those policies are not met. 

What is Automated List Management?

Infusionsoft Automated List Management is a tool inside Infusionsoft that gives you the ability to automate the engagement status of your individual contacts based on their engagement or lack of engagement with your email.

How does Automated List Management work?

Infusionsoft's automated list management allows you to configure two different thresholds of non-engagement within your marketing, Unengaged Marketable status and Unengaged Non-Marketable status.  These statuses are set by you and are determined by the last time a contact filled out a form, opened and email, clicked on a link or purchased through an Infusionsoft order form.  You have the ability to set the timeframe on both of these.

Why is Automated List Management important?

There are several reasons why Automated List Management in Infusionsoft is important. First, by managing your list based on engagement, you are practicing good list hygiene.  30% of email users change their emails every year which is why email addresses go bad. Removing these non engaged emails from your marketing will have a positive impact on your email deliverability and Inbox placement.  

Second, when the ISP's are deciding where to place your email, the inbox, promotions tab or spam filter, engagement within your emails is a major part of the algorithm. Poor engagement with your emails= Poor inbox placement.

What is Engagement Segmentation?

List segmentation refers to the process of dividing a email contact list into smaller “segments” according to certain shared characteristics.  When Looking at Engagement Segmentation, those characteristics in this case will be time since last engagement

How does Engagement Segmentation work?

Email segmentation is a way to group your email list into categories to send more targeted marketing emailsEmail segmentation also affects your sender reputation. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) evaluate how your recipients interact with your email when deciding where your mail will be placed.

*PRO TIP - you can use PlusThis or My Fusion Helper to identify the engagement levels of your database and tag them accordingly.  From there you can create automated campaigns to handle the unengaged portions of your list.  We also have several prebuilt campaigns designed to facilitate this.

Why is Engagement Segmentation important?

Poor engagement with your emails = Poor inbox placement. When the ISP's are deciding where to place your email, the inbox, promotions tab or spam filter, engagement within your emails is a major part of the algorithm.

Once you have identified they have not engaged, you have the opportunity to segment those contacts and reengage them, via different mediums.  Those could include retargeting ads via Facebook or utilizing a third Party SMTP email system to engage on a different set if IP addresses while still leveraging the overall power of Infusionsoft..

What is Email List Hygiene?

 Email hygiene is defined as the process of verifying or removing invalid email addresses from an email list. These accounts may be from people who switched jobs and closed their old company address, people who switched domains (ex: from aol.com to gmail.com), dead email accounts or people who unsubscribed.

How does Email Hygiene work?

An easy way to keep your emails clean is to use a third-party email verification service. Email verification services ensure that emails in your list are actually sendable before being sent.  Third part email hygiene tools will identify the following poisons within your database: Bouncing Emails, Spam Traps, Bots, Invalid Emails, Typos Domains, Role Accounts, Catch-all email addresses and Serial Complainers.  All of the above can have a negative impact on your Email Deliverability and Inbox Placement.

Being proactive like this goes along way in the success of your campaigns

As you can see, keeping your list clean is a minor annoyance where the good heavily outweighs the bad. Practicing proper email hygiene will separate your list from your competitors and keep your subscribers engaged and happy for a long time.

Why is Email Hygiene important?

Poor engagement with your emails = Poor inbox placement. When the ISP's are deciding where to place your email, the inbox, promotions tab or spam filter, engagement within your emails is a major part of the algorithm.

By being proactive with your list hygiene you will experience more consistent email deliverability,  have higher engagement with your emails, increase your Inbox Placement, create a better domain reputation and overall increase your conversion rates and ROI from your Email Marketing. 

Email deliverability is a complex beast to tackle, but these 7 items will give you a solid foundation within your Infusionsoft application to ensure you are doing what you can to increase your Inbox Placement and get more eyes on your emails. 

If you do not have a dedicated member on your team that can handle this or if you need help, Fundamental Marketing is here to support you! We are offering a free consultation to go over your system to ensure you are good to go when it comes to sending emails with Infusionsoft.  You can schedule your FREE Email Deliverability Consultation here.

Aug 21

The 3 E’s of email deliverability

The success of your email deliverability and marketing campaigns is based on a range of factors such as subject lines, offers, copy, etc.

But there’s one key thing everyone MUST PAY ATTENTION to before you even think about about hitting send on your next email campaign.

That thing is the hygiene or cleanliness of your email list.

Even if you built your list the right way (you didn't purchase a list, scrape the internet, get a list from a JV partner etc) if you are not practicing proper list hygiene, there is an extremely high chance that you could be considered a spammer in the eyes of the ISP's.

Here is why:

The Problems

1) Expired emails = Inactive subscribers - ISPs base complaint rates on active subscribers, not total subscribers.

If your list is loaded with emails that are inactive, you will never have a clear picture of what your true complaint rate is. While many marketers just look at total complaints over total list size ( you sent 25,000 emails and had 25 complaints), ISPs (internet service providers) are actually looking at total complaints over number of active email users.

Let's show an example. You have a email sending out to 5,000 contacts. Suppose your email to 5,000 addresses only makes it to 2000 inboxes and then generates 40 complaints. A marketer might think their complaint rate is only 1% (40 / 5,000). Unfortunately the ISP's will calculate a rate of 2.5% (40 / 2000) -- a rate that is will likely get you blocked by certain ISPs. The ISP's base it on emails delivered not the total sent!

ISPs started caring about active users when they caught on to a loophole that spammers with poor email sending habits were exploiting. That then carried over to those with poor email hygiene practices and had dirty lists. In an attempt to work the system, spammers started to stuff their lists with inactive email addresses. They did this because inactive accounts don't click spam buttons, and therefore, the total spam complaints would stay artificially low. Pretty Sneaky!

2) Expired email addresses turn into unknown accounts.

When an ISP sees that you’re sending to a large number of unknown accounts (accounts that cannot be verified), once again, they will suspect that you are sending spam messages. If you hit unknown accounts at a rate higher that 5%, it is very likely they will send your emails directly to the spam folder or could just block you completely.

3) Expired email addresses turn into spam traps.

Since spammers tend to buy and steal lists, ISPs resort to yet another method to track them down: ISPs mark abandoned or dormant email addresses as spam traps. A dormant email is an account that was once real and used, but is no longer active. It hasn't been logged into or is full and cannot receive emails anymore. This means that, even if you acquired emails in a legitimate manner, the dormant addresses may have been converted into spam traps. Hitting even just one spam trap in an email send can cause deliverability problems with the ISP's.

The Solution: Email List Hygiene

The solution to all three problems listed above is to regularly clean up your email list by removing those addresses that are no longer engaged and run regular hygiene scrubs to ensure you are keeping bad contacts out of your list. Monthly list scrubs is best, but at a minimum you should clean your list once a quarter.

You can also identify unengaged contacts with metrics such as opens, clicks or engagement reports. Aside from all of the money you will save from sending less email, you will achieve higher deliverability, a good email reputation with the ISP gods, and increase your ROI from your marketing campaigns!

If you would like to schedule a free consultation to discuss your email deliverability, go to my calendar and select a time to talk.

Aug 15

Why is email deliverability so important?

Email marketing, and specifically email deliverability, affects the livelihood of almost every business today. Unfortunately, email deliverability is not always talked about or understood. Nor are the effects that poor deliverability has on a sales funnel and profits.

When it comes to increasing your sales, you have two primary choices.

  1. Increase your ad spend to drive more leads.  
  2. Increase conversions and close more sales


You may be saying to yourself... "I have a great funnel in place already, I can't improve it".  You may not be able to improve your funnel, but you can increase the number of eyes that get to see your emails by improving your email hygiene practices which impact deliverability.   A delivered email, one that lands in the inbox rather than the promotional folder in gmail or the spam folder, has a greater chance of being read.

Think of it this way, let’s say you had a new product for $197.  If you have a list of 4,000 and you get an open rate of 10% = 400 opens. 

Now, of the opened emails, 25% buy your offer = 100 new sales.  
$197 x 100 = $19,700 !!

What if you wanted to double that?  And, what if you have optimized your funnel as best you can.  You can spend money on ads and 2-3x your add spend to double your sales.  OR, you can get more emails in to the inbox to be opened.  You accomplish that with good email hygiene and email deliverability.

If you were to clean your list, practice good deliverability habits, and you removed the toxins in your list, your list might drive down to 3,500 but, a result is that you could increase your deliverability by 50%.  And, in doing so, present your emails to more people and, you can go from an open rate of 10% of 4,000 emails to 25% on 3,500 emails = 875 opens.  Assuming the same 25% of the opens buy your offer = 875 x 25% = 218 new sales.  An increase of 118 customers x $197 = an addition $23,246  

The ONLY thing you fixed was your deliverability and inbox placement.

You see, it is really simple, if your messages are not reaching your intended recipient then it doesn't matter how great of a funnel you have built, it just won't convert any higher than where it is currently.

Even if you spend money on ads, the list is toxic and will begin to impact the deliverability of the newly added contacts.  Therefore, clean your list, keep it clean, generate more sales, then start to grow your list, the clean way.

A consistent focus on email hygiene and marketing practices is vital if you are going to scale your business, increase conversion rates, and improve your ROI.

The point here is for you to start maximizing the opportunities that you already have rather than just continue to spend money on more leads who won’t get your emails. 

You do that by ensuring your emails actually make it to the inbox!

If you want to start learning more about email deliverability, download our free eBook The 5 Tips To Avoid The Spam Folder & Land In The Inbox!

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