According to a recent study by deliverability provider Return Path, commercial emailers who apply best practices get deliverability rates of 88 percent, compared to 56 percent for well-intentioned marketers who commit blunders when trying to get their email delivered at Internet service providers. Factors that caused big hits to deliverability, according to the study, included:
- Hitting a spam trap. Marketers who sent to even one spam trap—a defunct email address that ISPs use to identify spammers—saw their delivery rates plummet to 38 percent on average, versus 58 percent for senders with no spam trap hits.
- Getting on a blacklist. Those whose IP addresses were listed on one of the top 12 blacklists—lists of domains or IP addresses deemed to be sending spam—saw delivery rates fall to an average of 35 percent, versus 58 percent for senders not listed on any of the top blacklists.
- Sending to unknown users. Senders with “unknown-user” or invalid-address return rates of 10 percent or more got delivery rates of 44 percent, compared to 67 percent for those with unknown-user rates below 10 percent.
The art and science of email delivery is a complex web of interrelated factors. But if the number of your messages getting through suddenly dives, these are three key areas to examine immediately. You can minimize these problems by emailing regularly to avoid a build-up of unknown users, and removing them promptly from your list after every mailing. This also reduces chances of abandoned email addresses remaining on your list and being turned into spam traps. And while it can be notoriously difficult for senders going it alone to get off a blacklist, a good email service provider can monitor your IP and negotiate with significant blacklists on your behalf.
In the end, adherence to your own best practices forms the foundation for good email deliverability. But email marketers also need experts on the inside who constantly monitor the changes and go to bat for them when necessary. As Silverpop’s director of deliverability and ISP relationships (you can check out my bio) I keep my eye on that moving target and do everything I can to ensure that our clients get maximum deliverability.
Stay tuned for more posts from me on all aspects of email deliverability, including reputation, authentication, list hygiene, spam filters, blacklists, white lists and all the ins-and-outs of deliverability. Until next time, see you in the funny papers.