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Email Deliverability

This is one of the sexiest topics a marketeer can work on. Just kidding.

But it is important. If you are doing any kind of mass email deliverability will become an issue sooner or later. In simple terms there are 4 points where an email can be blocked.

  1. The mail server itself can be blacklisted, at the ISP level all traffic can be denied for a specific IP address (these are named by numeric codes that look like this 123.23.54.12).
  2. Mail can be filtered and rejected through a spam filtering service before it hits an organizations mail server. The company I work for uses Postini which captures a lot of spam, but sometimes cages some of the ham too.
  3. There’s a pinch point at the corporate mail server. Your IS department may set up your mail system to reject everything from a specific IP address.
  4. The end user may set up filters to move your incoming mail to the trash, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Worse yet, they might mark you as spam causing you to be locked out further up the chain next time.

So, what do you do? The first thing to do is make sure you are managing expectations. Keep in mind that a good campaign will have around a 25% open rate and a 10% click through, so you are talking about 3 per 100 sent on a good day.

It’s very easy to test deliverability if your email system uses HTML messages to track opens. Keep in mind that if one person at a corporate location gets a message you can reasonably assume that you are it least getting past the first 3.

Resist the urge to mail yourself. This will work well in the beginning but as soon as you start having problems you are going to be the person trying to get yourself off a blacklist. Vendors that have hundreds of customers using their email services have established relationships with the ISPs that you don’t.

And for the love of God, if you are going to mail yourself, don’t use the same server as your regular corporate mail. There’s no faster path to the unemployment line than tanking email for your whole company because of a spam complaint.