A Beginners Guide to ISP Inbox Delivery

We've discussed blacklisting, I wished to invest some time considering where in fact the rubber hits the road for email delivery: the ISP inbox.

Let's be clear about any of it for consumer facing campaigns you can find 4 major ISP's that manage the majority of consumer inboxes.

• MSN/Hotmail

• Yahoo Mail

• AIM Mail

• Gmail

What Does this Mean?
Basically unless each one of these mail platforms relays your message to the principal folder, your email campaign is not even close to optimized.

What Causes mail to be delivered to a bulk/spam Folder?
Most of these ISP's allow their users to report spam with a “report spam” button. The ISP uses this feedback to produce a profile for your mail. If users are reporting your mail as spam you will come across problems.

What Can I actually do to ensure I don't create ISP Spam complaints?
AOL recommends keeping spam complaints below 1-3 percent of traffic, according to volume. This figure is exclusive to AOL's user base; it's too generous when applied as a broad standard. Be at or below the range of just one complaint per 6,000 to 8,000 messages, or 0.013 percent.

Minimize Complaints

Minimizing complaints always starts with practices used to gather e-mail addresses. It must be obvious right now sending unsolicited e-mail only gets you in trouble. Mailing lists with the best complaint rates are either confirmed opt-in or properly managed single opt-in. When you have a good permission-based list but nonetheless find incoming complaints are higher compared to optimal rate or are rising, consider the following:

• Brand your subject lines. Mail systems with spam complaint buttons offer it at the inbox level. A recipient need and then scan subject lines and decide which messages not to delete immediately. An interest line such as for instance "Exciting offers for you, Bob!" will really be marked as spam. Consider using your company or newsletter name in brackets in the beginning of one's subject lines.

• Consider including unsubscribe instructions towards the top of one's e-mail, in addition to the footer. Some users use the "report spam" button as an unsubscribe method and won't scroll via an entire message to get that link.

• Include instructions for users to whitelist your domain. This prevents a user-based filter from mistaking your message for spam and either diverting it to the spam folder or prefixing "[SPAM]" to the subject of the message.

• Provide a choice update page. Disclose how your organization will make use of a subscriber's e-mail addresses, and how often. Allow subscribers to choose preferences on the opt-in form, and link from e-mail to a choice or profile update page.

• Avoid spammy looking content. Try not to use garish, bold fonts; large, red letters, and the like. Avoid images with poor compression quality. A clean, readable design isn't as apt to be mistaken for spam.

• Don't over e-mail. If recipients expect to receive a few informational e-mail messages every month from your company, don't suddenly start sending several each week.

• Don't send unexpected e-mail. If subscribers opted in to receive your "Trends & Tips" newsletter, don't send them your hard-sell e-commerce messages, unless they clearly requested them.

• Include opt-in information. If at all possible, increase your e-mail admin area information, such as the subscriber's e-mail address, date of opt-in, and how she potentially subscribed (product registration, white paper download form, sweepstakes entry, etc). With many subscribers receiving a large number of commercial e-mail messages daily, it's an easy task to forget becoming a member of your newsletter -- and then to file a complaint.

What Can I actually do to try my ISP deliverability?
We recommend you make use of a service like EmailReach. Their trial is free and let's you understand status in about 5 minutes.

Following these guidelines should enable you to avoid being bulk foldered by the main ISP's.

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