Email Deliverability: Addressing the Elephant in the Room

It’s always better to land in the Inbox of your receiver than in their Spam.
I mean, who sends an email with the intention NOT to be read?

Whether you are a B2B company with a biweekly newsletter, an eCommerce shop that sends email campaigns three times a week or you are working in Sales and you are cold emailing every hour of the day, you want the maximum email deliverability.

Here’s how to make this happen.

5 Email Deliverability Factors

1. IP Reputation

Before I explain what IP Reputation is, I should first briefly explain what an IP address is. IP stands for Internet Protocol and it has the form of a numerical label, e.g. 174.119.1.2. An IP is a unique address that identifies the location of a device (routers, computers, servers, phones) on the internet.

According to their history, and a few other parameters, some IPs have a good reputation while some others don’t. Depending on said reputation, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), such as Gmail and Outlook decide whether to deliver your email will land on the Inbox of the receiver or will end up in their spam folder.

Here are some factors that affect IP Reputation:

  • IP age
  • IP history 
  • Domain reputation
  • Associated URL reputation
  • Previous or current association with malicious internet objects
  • Hosting location
  • Popularity

Your IP is a valuable asset and its reputation must be protected. The best thing you can do is monitor it. 

👉 Check your IP Reputation here

2. Blacklists

All IPs with a low reputation end up on the so-called blacklists. An email blacklist is a collection of domains and/ or IP addresses that have been marked as spammy.

There are three different kinds of blacklists:

  • Internet Service Providers blacklists, e.g. Gmail, Outlook.
  • IT departments / Security companies blacklists, e.g. Barracuda, McAfee
  • NPOs / Public blacklists, e.g. SURLB, Spamhaus
spamhaus dnsbl diagram
Source

So can your IP end up in one of these blacklists? Unfortunately, it can. Here are some of the most common reasons that such email blacklists can include your IP address:

  • Buying email lists.
  • Sending too many emails with mainstream ISPs like Gmail & Outlook.
  • Sending lots of emails to inactive addresses
  • Have many of your emails marked as spam by your receivers.

If you neglect some or most of the above, it’s likely that you will face trouble. On the other hand, you can be doing everything right and still find your IP on a blacklist. In any case, here’s what to do if your IP ends up on an email blacklist:

  1. Don’t panic. Just because you are on a blacklist doesn’t mean that it’s irreversible.
  2. Find out why this happened. Did you do anything that’s included in the bullets above?
  3. Request removal from the blacklist(s). Most vendors provide all info you need to know for that on their website.
  4. Make a practice of some methods for high email deliverability.

👉 Check if your domain/ IP is included in a Blacklist here

3. DKIM Record

DKIM is a form of email authentication that helps protect both email senders and recipients from spoofing and email phishing by assuring the authenticity of an email. In simple words, DKIM verifies that an email was actually sent and authorized by the owner of a certain domain.

In practice, DKIM adds an encryption key in the form of a digital signature at the header of your email. Here’s how a DKIM authentication technically works, according to SendGrind:

Imagine an email sent by sender@example.com.

  1. Before sending the message, the sending server signs the email using a private key.
  2. When the message is delivered, the receiving server obtains the DKIM record from the DNS records for example.com.
  3. The receiving server then uses the public key in the DKIM record to verify the message’s signature.
  4. If the DKIM check passes, the receiving server can be confident the message was sent by the address in the return-path and wasn’t altered in transit.
  5. If the DKIM check fails, the message is likely illegitimate and will be processed using the receiving server’s failure process.

 

dkim mail flow 5uJ0Uen.original
Source

At the end of the day, a DKIM signature helps you be more reputable, avoid spam filters, and bypass phising.

👉 Check your DKIM signature here

4. SPF Record

SPF, which means Sender Policy Framework is yet another email deliverability pillar you need to keep in mind.

In a few words, SPF allows email senders to define which IP addresses are allowed to send mail for a particular domain. An SPF record helps you protect your email domain against spoofing and phishing attacks.

👉 Check your SPF Records here

5. DMARC Record

DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance. 

The goal of DMARC Record is to reduce the amount of spam and fraud by making it much harder for malicious senders to disguise their identities. DMARC Record is built around both SPF and DKIM, the previous two factors. Therefore, before creating your DMARC record, you first need to have both SPF and DKIM in place.

Here’s what DMARC Record does it practice:

  1. It verifies that a sender’s email messages are protected by both SPF and DKIM.
  2. It tells the receiving mail server what to do if neither of those authentication methods passes.
  3. Lastly, it provides a way for the receiving server to report back to the sender about messages that pass and/or fail the DMARC evaluation.

 

👉 Check your DMAC Record here

Configuring Records for Your Email Platform

Now you know more about these email deliverability pillars but that’s not enough. You will also have to configure them on your email marketing platform.

If you are using some of the major email platforms out there, just follow the instructions each one of them provides. Here they are.

Active Campaign

👉 SPF, DKIM, and DMARC Authentication

Mailchimp

👉 Authentication and Delivery

Hubspot

👉 Connect your email sending domain (DKIM) / Add HubSpot to your SPF recordUse a DMARC policy with HubSpot

Sendgrid

👉 How to Set Up SPF and DKIM for SendGrid  / How to Implement DMARC

8 Things to Do for High Email Deliverability

In the Blacklists section (2), we saw some of the tactics you should stay away from if you don’t want to end up on an email black list. While you should refrain from these activities, at the same time you should be working at increasing your email deliverability.

Here are a few tactics to increase your email deliverability:

  1. Setup your DKIM, SPF, and DMARC records as shown above.
  2. Check your DKIM, SPF, and DMARC records every now and then.
  3. Write non-spammy subject lines. Avoid using exclamation points, all-CAPS, and spam trigger words.
  4. Use your brand name in the “From” line. E.g. Theo from GrowthRocks.
  5. Keep your email as short as possible.
  6. Segment your audience and send more emails only to those who read them
  7. Do email scrubbing once in a while.
  8. Always proofread your subject line and use spell check.

 

Bonus: Here’s everything you need to know regarding Embedded Videos in Emails.

Email Deliverability – Conclusion

Hopefully, you know by now all the things you need to do and all the things you need to avoid to maximize your email deliverability and avoid finding your IP or domain on an email blacklist respectively.

If you are looking for more email marketing tips, a thorough email deliverability check, or other email marketing services, don’t hesitate to contact us. I’d love to hear from you!

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