New year resolution 6 of 12 – get delivered!

9 minute read

You’ve taken the time to build your subscribers, you’ve deliberated over your content and you’ve tested and tested again. Delivery is one of those things you take for granted – but there’s still lots that can go wrong.

Don’t get branded as spam! Taking some simple steps to optimise your chance of a successful delivery should be your new year resolution 6 of 12.


Why all the fuss?

You hit send and off it goes into your subscriber’s inbox. Right? Sorry, but it’s not quite that simple. There are several filtering stages where your email can get held up or stopped, but don’t worry, there are lots of things which you can do to help avoid this.

Some email domains use external filtering services which flag and remove mail before it gets passed through to the actual recipient email domain. Mail blocked here won’t reach the inbox or even the junk folder. The domain administrator will know if this is set up on your internal mail system, and is likely to receive notifications when mail is filtered here.

When the mail reaches the recipient’s email domain it will be run through another spam filtering system as part of the domain. Getting spammed here will often send an error back to the sender as a bounce, and these often reference and contribute to external blacklisting sites. Mail blocked here also won’t reach the inbox or junk folder.

It’s also likely that your subscribers may have spam filtering settings set up in their own email client . Adding a recipient to the address book or white listing will usually prevent the filter from blocking emails from that sender in future. On the other hand it’s also possible for them to mark a sender as spam. This will automatically block all future emails from that sender. With larger email clients such as Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL, this information gets fed back to the main filters and affects the sender’s reputation overall. This is where the complaints data comes from within the Analyse section of

So what can you do to maximise your chances of getting delivered?

When email clients and spam filters look at your email to decide whether or not it is spam, it looks at various elements from the email copy through to the coded information in the message header.

Here are our top 10 tips:

1. When collecting data make sure people can choose whether or not they want to be contacted. Moreover make signing up to receive your marketing messages appealing. Show that you can offer email content that is of genuine value to the recipient. Monthly discount offers will prevent people signing up with old or unused email addresses just to get what you’re offering there and then.

2. Use a confirmed opt-in loop. Requiring your subscribers to click a link in an activation email sent to the address they’ve entered prevents you from collecting invalid data; only those who genuinely want to hear from you will be successfully added to your database.

3. Use a welcome email to contact people from the moment they sign up. Introducing yourself and keeping in contact establishes your relationship and intentions and holds interest with new subscribers before you send them your next campaign.

4. Managing your unsubscribes and bounces is important – that’s why we do the bulk of this for you. This helps to ensure you’re not contacting anyone who no longer wants to hear from you, or whose email address no longer exists. You should make it easy for subscribers to ensure they continue to hear from you if they change their job, name, contact preferences or email address.

5. Always use a valid ‘from’ address. Keeping your ‘from’ address consistent will help get your emails delivered over time. Fundamentally though, your emails will get spammed if the ‘from’ address doesn’t exist.

6. Pay attention to your subject line. Not only is this a key deciding factor in whether your recipients open or delete your emails, but it’s also key to getting your campaign to the recipient’s inbox. Make sure you avoid hot words, excessive punctuation and over-use of capitals when considering the subject for your campaign.

7. Similarly, pay attention to your body content. Words like ‘free’, ‘special offer’ etc., overuse of punctuation such as ‘!!!’ and enthusiastic text formatting can trigger spam filters, particularly when combined.

8. Review your links. If you have a large number of links, or links to websites with a poor reputation, this can bring your campaign to the attention of the filterers too.

9. Check your HTML quality. Spammers are lazy and spam tends to contain poor quality HTML. If yours isn’t up to scratch then this is an invitation to some spam filters to automatically send your campaign to junk.

10. Always include a plain text alternative. Spam emails tend not to have plain text versions, so if you take the time to set one on your campaign, it will stand a better chance of getting through.

To summarise.

Spam filters are increasingly sophisticated so it’s no longer a simple case of addressing one key item – you need to take a much more overall approach. If you have one (if you’re a user you have) use a dedicated spam checker to test the quality of your campaign. This will draw attention to any potential problems before you hit send. But remember as a general rule of thumb, if your emails look and feel like spam then they’ll probably look the same to others. Even if they get to the desired recipient they’ll see the same and reach for the delete button.


So, your new year resolution number 6 is to take a moment to get your delivery actions in shape.

A few simple steps will make sure that your emails have the best possible chance of successful delivery.

Here’s a summary of a few actions to take:

1. Review the delivery performance of your previous campaigns. If you’ve dipped below 97% you’ve probably got some repair work to do.
2. Look at the 10 key points above again. Are you doing all you can in each section?
3. Take a moment to read about delivery in more detail. You can find more information in our Knowledge Base or in our free PDF guide.
4. If you are concerned or would like advice – call us. Delivering emails is what we do, so we’ll be happy to guide you.

I’ll be back with new year resolution 7 of 12 soon. In the meantime if you have any questions regarding delivery, give us a call, we’ll be pleased to help.