To increase your email deliverability, you must first ensure that you are in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing enacted in 2003). The guidelines in this law merely serve as the lowest common denominator and therefore you should always ensure that despite workarounds or loopholes, your emails should never be abusive in any way or construed as spam by the recipient.
First, it is important to note that not all types of emails are covered by CAN-SPAM act. For example, transactional emails are not covered, including password resets, new account creation messages, and e-commerce order confirmations. Transactional emails are very important so that your recipients can complete the intended process and interaction with the application and/or receive confirmation messages. In short, users expect these type of messages. However, for marketing emails, it is important to instead obtain explicit opt-ins from from users. Note that, the penalty for violations can be up to $16,000/per email so think twice before blurring the lines.
In addition to the CAN-SPAM Act compliance guidelines, you should take some common sense and best practice steps to ensure that your emails do not end up in the Spam folder. First, let’s define spam. From an email sender perspective, spam email is any email message that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) filters into a spam folder instead of the recipient’s inbox. From the recipient’s perspective, spam is any unwanted and unsolicited email that finds its way to the recipient’s inbox. Here are tips and pointers to increase your deliverability and avoid the spam folder:
- Set up Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), Sender-ID, and domain keys. Surprisingly, this is the biggest offense; most businesses fail to configure this at all.
- Use an Email Delivery Service versus your host or your email client. Shared hosting and or hosting services, in general, may have IP Addresses that were used for spam and this will affect your deliverability.
- Ensure that you have express permission or explicit opt-in to email the recipient.
- Leverage permission marketing techniques. Taking this a step further, you may ask the recipient during subscription to be placed on their ‘whitelist’.
- Use spam checkers to test and check your emails before sending. Examples include Spam Assassin and isnotspam.com
- Avoid spam trigger words. These change and are the same words found in spam filters.
- If you are sending HTML emails, a good technique for avoiding spam filters is to include a text version of your email.
- Check and make sure you are not on any ‘blacklists’. If you are, follow up with the website that added you and remove yourself. Some free services that you can use are:
- Check Spam Database
- Lookup Email Blacklist
- Free Email Blacklist
- Do not send image only emails. At a minimum maintain a good text to image ratio.
- Take measures to increase your open rates on the emails you send. This can include behavioral aspects, sending your emails at the right time, non-misleading subject lines, using fitting subject lines, segment and target your list appropriately, honor ‘unsubscribes’ in a timely manner, and keep your list fresh.
- Avoid catch-all domain spam. These are common email addresses that spammers normally target and are likely to be blocked by filters and other applications.
- Role-based email addresses go to distribution lists which go to more than one person. It’s not likely that every person on the distribution list gave permission to receive your email and as a result, these emails tend to produce a large number of spam complaints. It is best to exclude marketing emails to role-based email addresses. To be proactive, include validation rules to your online registration pages and filters that prevent the distribution of emails to role-based email addresses. Below find a list of email addresses that you can add to validation and filters: info@, contact@, office@, admin@, sales@, team@, abuse@ e.t.c