Even emailers with the best intentions get junked, blocked, or filtered on sight. How can you get out of your deliverability funk? If you want to get back on your feet and do email right, follow this five-step strategy.
1. Establish a Delivery Benchmark
Using a delivery-tracking service, such as Habeas’ MailTrack, Lyris’s EmailAdvisor, Pivotal Veracity, or Return Path, run a test from your platform to gauge the extent of your delivery problems. In the worst-case scenario, the reports will show your domains or IP addresses, or both, blocked at major ISPs. They’ll also show up on prominent blacklists, which ISPs consult to decide whether you’re a spammer.
2. Identify Where Your Subscriptions Come From
More often than not, you were blocked because you used poor practices to collect subscriptions. Your best course is to clean up your subscription practices first, then deal with the technical issues. That way, you reduce the chance you’ll get blocked again.
Two more permission-clarifying actions:
3. Examine List Hygiene
Does your unsubscribe link appear in every commercial email you send? Does it function correctly?
Also, ensure any database uploads or updates don’t accidentally reintroduce unsubscribed names onto your list. Finally, review the way your list software handles bounces. Make sure it removes invalid or unsubscribed addresses correctly and doesn’t load them back in.
4. Review Your Content
Verify these factors:
5. Fix Your IP Addresses
Once you have the benchmarking from tracking your delivery problems, contact the various ISPs and blacklist owners to understand their criteria for listing suspected senders and what you must do to have your listing removed.
Be warned: Some list owners and ISP representatives may not respond to your delisting requests. If this happens, you might have to change your IP address, especially if the block affects a significant list segment.
Do this as a last resort, however. Unless you’ve addressed all the factors that caused you to be blocked in the first place, whatever you gain by changing IPs will be short lived. In fact, if you switch IPs without attending to the problem’s root causes, you might harm your sender reputation and get branded as a hardcore spammer. That could spell the end of your whole email-marketing enterprise.
Until next time, keep on deliverin’.
Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.
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As director of ISP relations and delivery, Kirill Popov creates and enforces strict usage and anti-spam policies, maintains ISP and community relations, and oversees all abuse and policy investigations and inquiries for EmailLabs clients. Kirill works with clients on best practices, content, design, and list hygiene to minimize potential delivery issues. He's a registered member of the SpamCon foundation and representsEmailLabs on AIM's Council for Responsible E-Mail.
Loren McDonald is vice president of marketing at e-mail marketing automation company EmailLabs, overseeing corporate marketing activities and client consulting services. He has 20 years experience in marketing, consulting and strategic planning. Earlier, Loren was founder and president of Intevation, an e-marketing services firm specializing in e-mail and SEM. He's held executive marketing positions at companies including USWeb/CKS (marchFIRST), NetStruxr, and Arthur Andersen.