Santa’s Naughty or Nice Deliverability Lists

Remember when your mom told you Santa would leave a lump of coal in your stocking because you sassed her just before Christmas?

Today, St. Nick still makes a list and checks it twice. Now, naughty email marketers go on a blacklist, and instead of coal they’ll get blocked email or response rates in the single digits.

Are you on the naughty or nice list? Take our pop quiz to see whether there’s a big lump of bitumen in your future:

  1. Did you set up your SPF (SenderID) records this year?
    1. Yep, my IT department set it up in early 2005.
    2. No, but it’s at the top of our to-do list right after our next campaign.
    3. Gnarly, dude! The only SPF I know about is the number on my suntan lotion.

  2. Have you updated your email message design and code to be preview-pane, blocked-image and filter friendly?
    1. We’re redoing it right now so people can get the goods even if images are blocked or they read our email in an itty-bitty preview pane.
    2. We finally dropped the single, large image format, but what is this image-blocking thing?
    3. Ugh, the guy who did our template is long gone, and nobody around here knows anything about HTML.

  3. Did you get your email program audited by an outside accreditation or reputation-management firm?
    1. Yep. It was a tough process, but we found lots of issues, corrected them, and have seen our delivery rates go up several percentage points already.
    2. No, but we switched email service providers this year, and it assessed our email practices pretty thoroughly.
    3. What for? E-mail is so cheap, we just keep resending until we get the response rate we need.

  4. Do you actively manage your deliverability rates across major ISPs?
    1. Yes, we set up an account with one of the major delivery monitoring firms and were able to resolve an issue we had with one of the big ISPs.
    2. We set up accounts with AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail and check the status of the messages when we send a proof.
    3. What’s delivery monitoring? Are you suggesting some of my emails don’t get delivered?

  5. Did you do anything to tighten up your permission management?
    1. Yes. We audited our site for all the places we collect opt-ins, especially demo and download requests, and converted them to double-opt-in.
    2. Yes, we got marketing and sales to stop sending newsletters to people who just requested a one-time white paper download. Next up, mopping up the trade show lists.
    3. What permission? We say right at the end of our terms and conditions that anybody who gives us her email address agrees to get email from us or anybody who rents our list.

  6. How do you manage the affiliates who email their own lists on your behalf?
    1. Affiliates have to meet our email-marketing guidelines, which include requiring opt-in, honoring opt-outs, and forwarding them to us in 10 days or less. We also subscribe to their mailing lists to track what they’re sending and how often. Anybody who violates the guidelines gets dropped.
    2. We try to keep up with what they’re doing. If somebody complains, we probably will drop that affiliate.
    3. We have too many to keep tabs on. Besides, those guys know the laws, right?

  7. Do you still load your site-registration or email opt-in form with prechecked boxes to collect more email addresses?
    1. No, we got rid of the prechecked box years ago.
    2. That whole affirmative consent thing has gotten our attention, so we convinced everybody but the e-commerce manager to uncheck the boxes.
    3. You guys are crazy, how else are we supposed to grow our list big time?

Scoring: Give yourself two points for every A answer and one point for each B answer. C answers are so off the beam, you don’t get any points for them.

10-14 points: You made the nice list! You might not be pitch-perfect on these deliverability best practices, but you’re doing well.

7-9 points: You could go either way. You’re doing a couple of things right but missing the boat completely on some key points. Better try harder in 2006.

0-6 points: Sorry, this is the naughty list. But at least you’re reading this ClickZ column. Still, you have a lot of work to do. Set down the eggnog, and pick out at least one problem to fix in 2006.

And remember: 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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