A quick guide to email delivery & inbox placement (Pt. 1)

I’m often asked by customers how to ensure email delivery of their newsletters into the subscribers’ inbox.

I’m going to address this in two parts – this One – the role your Mailing List plays in delivery, and in Part Two I’ll take a look at the sign-up form and subscription process.

The quality of your list matters… a lot.

A major determining factor regarding inbox placement is not, as you may think, only about the quality of each email address on the list – it is also about the general health of your entire mailing list. Subscriber list quality is the biggest factor influencing deliverability over which the sender has complete control over.

Our customers that have the most success in opens on their email marketing have great lists and benefit from increased inbox placement and a much more engaged audience because they have followed best practices relating to the ways in which they have collected subscriber data. Remember, Garbage In = Garbage Out. Poor quality subscriber data in email campaigns almost certainly results in failure.

Monitoring and removing bounces enhances email delivery.

An essential part of list hygiene is monitoring bounces after a send. A bounced email, or a “bounce-back” is a general term when the system was not able to deliver the email to that subscriber. This can happen for a number of reasons; for example, ‘User Unknown’ (ie users cancel their subscriptions to the email provider, or addresses are spelled incorrectly), and there can be other reasons such as  mailbox full, or network problems. It is important to remove addresses that are invalid, rather than just keeping them on the mailing list and sending to them over and over again.  This is because a high bounce rate can damage your sender reputation.  Particularly damaging are bounces because the address has been identified as invalid.

The Newsweaver integrated bounce manager automatically managers bounces for you.

How you acquired your list will impact the general health of your mailing list.

List Acquisition Methods to avoid (and forbidden from the Newsweaver platform)

Email address harvesting/scraping

This is the process of collecting or scraping email addresses from webpages in order to send email without the explicit permission of the email address owner. This is SPAMMING and is not allowed on our network.

Appended Lists

List Appending Services attempt to complete fields of information for a person in the company’s database. So the email address may be missing, and the appending service will attempt to match the rest of the information in their database . My view of this is that the subscriber has not given their expressed permission for contact by other points than the one they provided. It is possible that you could receive negative ratings from them – or not open your emails and this can impact your send reputation.

Purchased Lists

These lists that are purchased outright by an organisation, often delivered on a CD or as an attachment by email to the purchaser. This is really to be avoided for a number of reasons. The list is always of questionable quality, and when you think about it, they email addresses are most likely fatigued – even the ones that were possibly valid at one time, have been turned off, or recycled as a spam trap by ISPs. The other hallmarks of a purchased list – a significant number of invalid records, are poorly maintained or all of the above.  These lists, when used, have lots of red flags the ISPs are looking for, and cause the sender to get blocked outright from future sends.

So what are good email address collection ideas? I’ll write about them in my next blog post.