Improve Your Emails Deliverability

By: Karen Fegarty

With SPAM accounting for over 50% of the email that is delivered to our inboxes many corporations and ISPs have implemented solutions to deal with this growing problem. SPAM filters, IP blocking, domain blocking, and legislation are in place, but often messages that are, in fact, wanted by the recipients, are filtered and not delivered. What do legitimate marketers need to do to ensure that their clients receive their messages? We have collected a number of rules that, if you employ, can greatly increase the number of emails that are delivered and opened by your customers or prospective customers.

1. When delivering to AOL email addresses you need to make sure your SMTP service's domain can be verified using a reverse DNS lookup. Check with your Webmaster or Host Provider. For more information on this topic check out:

2. America Online (AOL) has recently released the newest version of its product, AOL 9.0. To protect it's users from receiving SPAM, AOL has put some measures in place that will affect how your message is received by your AOL subscribers. All graphics will be blocked from being displayed in HTML emails; as well links will be deactivated for any new message sent to an AOL 9.0 inbox. When an email is received in AOL 9.0, users will have to click a link at the top of each message (Show Images & Enable Links) to view any graphics within your email. If this action is not taken, images and links will not be displayed or enabled.

This is the default setting for AOL 9.0; however, the email recipient does have the ability to add the sender's From Address into their address book, which AOL classifies as People I Know. Once this has been done, all emails received from this address in the future will automatically have images and links showing correctly.

Your recipients must add you to their address book as a sender they recognize and approve. You should add a line to the top of your email, which states something like this... 'Attention AOL 9.0 users - please add fromaddress@company.com to your address book so that you can see our entire message'.

3. Be aware of the current and proposed SPAM laws. 4. Ensure that each message contains an unsubscribe statement that links to a valid URL or a valid Mailto: link. However do not use the words 'to unsubscribe' as these are now getting filtered. Use something like 'to leave'.

5. Do not include .exe or attachments in your message.

6. Do not purchase lists.

7. Do not rent lists that are not double-opt-in.

8. Don't sell or rent out your own lists.

9. Always remove any unsubscribes immediately

10. Always remove any undeliverables immediately.

11. Remind people of their relationship with you. Tell them in the message the email address that they used when they subscribed.

12. Communicate with your recipients on a regular basis, but don't communicate with recipients too often. An email that is welcomed on a monthly basis may become unwelcome when sent more frequently.

13. Include a correct reply email address and telephone contact information in each email.

14. Avoid sending long text articles.

15. Do not send HTML messages without Text alternatives.

16. Avoid sending messages with a large number of hotlinks.

17. Do not use BCC distribution methods with over 10 names per email. Use a product like Broadc@st, which creates an individual message for each email.

18. If you are sending a newsletter place the word 'newsletter' and a date including month in the subject line. This reduces your SPAM score.

19. Watch your email lists, heavy B2C distribution to @aol.com, @hotmail.com. @msn.com etc may be flagged.

20. Avoid using words or phases that trigger spam filters. 21. Check out the common tests that filters like Outlook and SpamAssassin use to filter your emails and try to avoid the common issues. 22. Routinely check http://www.spamcop.net to see if you have been blacklisted unfairly. Send an email to have this rectified. To check their list enter: http://spamcop.net/bl.shtml?111.111.111.11 (where 111.111.111.11 is the IP address of your sending SMTP.)

23. Use services such as Assurance's Message Checker to pre-check your messages for common filtering flags and Assurance's Black-list Alert to keep on top of where you may be blacklisted.

24. Sending your delivery in small batches of 500 or less might avoid filtration.

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