06 Nov 2018

Here’s the habit that can immediately improve your email delivery results

A+ ExamThe old joke goes “practice, practice, practice” is how you get to Carnegie Hall.

In email marketing, the road to success is “testing, testing, testing.”

There’s a lot on the line when you send out mailings — your lead generation success, your digital reputation, your reputation with customers — so it’s worth the extra effort to do it right.

That’s why conducting an email deliverability test before each mailing is a smart habit with a big payoff: improving the chance that your message lands in your customers’ inboxes.

So, what should you test for?

Before doing anything else, it’s good to know whether you’ve somehow wound up on one or more email blacklists, which are real-time databases of IP addresses known or suspected of spamming. If you’re on a list, your emails may get routed into recipient spam folders or not be sent at all. It’s like having your picture on the grocery store’s check-bouncing wall of shame.

There’s a lot of ways you can get blacklisted. Maybe you made small mistakes over and over in past mailings. Maybe your predecessor made a colossal blunder. Maybe someone is sending spam under your name. Maybe your system has a virus.

Some sites, including MXToolbox, Spamhaus, MultiRBL, WhatismyIPaddress, and Spamcop, can tell you if your domain’s been blacklisted, which lists you’re on, and maybe even what you did to deserve it. To rebuild your reputation, you’ll need to show each list you’re on that you’ve learned from your mistakes.

That could mean improving the security of your server. It could mean sending proof of a new anti-spam policy or the departure of the offending employee. Some lists let you remove your own name, along with a pledge that it won’t happen again. The criteria varies by the list and repeat offenders don’t get much mercy.

If you use validation mechanisms such as SPF, DKIM and DMARC — and you absolutely should be using them — double-check the code for errors. Even a tiny typo in the wrong spot can land you on a blacklist.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re sending email to real people and legitimate addresses. Doing your lead generation in clean, organic ways goes a long way toward having a legitimate list. But even with a carefully curated list, there’s always a chance that potential customers or sabotage-minded competitors will drop bogus addresses into your system.

Smart lists can help you filter out emails from false domains or from those outside your desired customer base. You should also eyeball your list for misspelled domains or other red flags. If you have names on your list you’re not sure about, a verification service like email checker can tell you whether a specific address is real.

The second phase of your testing process should examine the email’s content. Are your actions raising red flags for spam filters? Using spam trigger words in your subject lines and within the email are risky practices, but they’re not the only ones.

You may think using exclamation points, all caps, weird fonts, and bright colors will make your email stand out. Guess what? They also make it stand out to spam filters. Check your spelling and phrases throughout and try having someone read it aloud. A missing or misplaced word in the wrong spot might give recipients — and spam filters — the impression that it was written in an overseas fraud factory.

Finally, consider doing a small-scale email deliverability test before you send your message to your whole list. Like a chef who tastes the sauce before rushing it out to the Saturday night dinner service, you want to catch potential problems before a lot of people know about it.

Many marketers create a handful of email addresses on Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and other top providers for the sole purpose of tests. If an email succeeds in getting past their filters, it should get past most of them.

Some services, both free and paid, can also test your emails for deliverability. Mail-Tester, a paid model with a short free trial period, will scan your email and score it on a scale of 1–10.

Want a similar check with a ton of data in the results? Try paid service Send Forensics, which also examines whether the email’s language feels conversational. Postmark’s free Spamcheck service essentially runs your email through a common spam filter.

Doing an email deliverability test is like checking your teeth for spinach before a big date. It usually shows no problems, but it’s best to know for sure. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

We can make this real simple for you! With our 250ok capabilities, you can receive a report on almost all of these email deliverability tests. Reach out today and set up the diagnostic tools you need.