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Email Marketing Guide - Delivery Optimization and Spam Trigger Circumvention (Part 1)
2017-12-18, 12:35 AM,
Quote:Following my previous post, a lot of people have sent messages requesting another post about ‘email delivery optimization’ and 'spam trigger circumvention'. 

I have decided to make this into a two part series Part 1 (this article) will focus on 'email delivery' and 'spam trigger circumvention' while Part 2 will be a tutorial on setting up your own Email Service Infrastructure using Amazon SES and Sendy. 

I have written this post to serve as a guide to shed some light on the subject and help email marketers reach their audience efficiently and land their emails directly in the inbox. 

First a little background:
When an email is sent, its delivery to its recipients depends mainly on two factors: ‘Sender Reputation’ and the actual ‘Email Content’.

Sender Reputation is associated to the sender’s domain name and to the IP address of the mail server. ISPs score senders by looking at a variety of factors but the most important are is the sender’s domain / IP spam history (soft bounce) and bounce rate(hard bounce). 

Soft Bounce refers to your domain/IPs ‘spam history’. Basically if emails sent from ‘yourdomain.com’ are marked as spam by their receivers your reputation score goes down. If receivers open your emails and don’t mark them as spam then your reputation score goes up. 

Hard Bounce refers to emails that are sent to inactive email addresses. This basically tells the ISPs that you are sending emails to addresses that do not even exist. If you are sending emails to addresses that do not exist your reputation score will go down.

When a reputation score falls below a certain point (due to too many Soft or Hard bounces), the domain and IP address get blacklisted and emails from those are no longer delivered.

Email Content, refers to the way that the emails being sent are composed. Spam filters have multiple triggers that attempt to identify (differentiate) a legitimate communication email from a promotional ‘spammy’ email. Some of these triggers are: Email subject line content, quantity of links in email, presence or absence of images, ratio of images to text and links to text etc…

Dependening on the way the email is composed and its contents, the spam filters are more or less likely to intercept an email.

To sum it up, there are two levels of spam detection: the first one is at the ISP level (internet service provider) which blocks emails based on sender reputation, and the second one is at the inbox level (spam filter) which removes emails from inbox and puts them in the spam folder, based on email content. So in order to improve email deliverability, we have to work on two levels: reputation and email content.

Techniques to improve Email Deliverability and avoid Spam Triggers 

A. Reputation

1. Use an ESP – Email Service Provider
Sending your emails via a trustworthy ESP will ensure that you are sending your emails via a mailserver with a good IP address reputation score. 
ESPs include:
  • For small emailing lists (0-5K subscribers) => MailChimp or Aweber
  • For larger setting up your own dedicated email service will be required. I personal recommend Amazon SES and Sendy (more on this in Part 2 Tutorial on Amazon SES and Sendy…). Dedicated email service infrastructures can handle far more volume in terms of subscribers and emails and they offer unequaled flexibility (compared to MailChimp, Awebber etc...) as they allow email marketers to do some emailing 'magic' such as forging and customizing email headers to improve deliverabilty.

2. Keep your email list clean
After every emailing campaign is done sending, check your stats in your Email Service Provider's (ESP) dashboard. This will enable you to view the delivery status and bounce notifications for your emails. Go through this and remove all email addresses that return a ‘Hard Bounce’ or Soft Bounce status from your list. This way you will avoid re-sending them emails in your next campaign and risk damaging your reputation score.

B. Email Content 
Spam filters are constantly trying to evaluate if a message is a legitimate communication or a promotional email. 

When you as person send an email to friend of yours (a legitimate conversation) what does that email look like? Does it have 10+ links? Does it use 5+ different fonts? Does it contain 10 + images? Does it contain words like ‘Free trial’, ‘Guaranteed’, or ‘Signup Now’?
The answer to all these questions is a resounding NO!

So in order to avoid spam content filters you have to tone down your email and make the content feel more as though it was a conversation between two users.

1. Use regular subject lines 
Use lower case subject lines. Do not use all caps or multiple excalamation points (!!!!!!) in your subject line and do not use emoticons / webdings. 

2. Personalize your emails
If you know your recipients First or last name, the use it in the first line of your email. Using a first line that says ’Hi Michael,’ indicates to spam filters that the sender knows the receiver on a personal level, this very simple tweak will greatly improve your email deliverability.

3. Always avoid promotional trigger words (words from the promotion / sales vernacular).
You must steer clear of using certain words such as: Free, Guarantee, Signup Now, Trial etc…
Basically if it sounds like words that someone trying to promote something would use, then don’t use them.

4. Use simple html, text, and images.
Don’t use any flash, gifs, videos, or javascript in your emails. Keep your emails simple stick to basic html, simple text and standard image formats (jpeg, or png).

5. Use a single font and color.
Pretty much self explanatory, use one font and one color. And use no more than 3 different text sizes (Big for Titles/Headers, Medium for subtitles /headers, and small for regular text)

6. Never put an embedded signup <form> in you email
These will get flagged immediately. Instead put a button / call to action in your email and link that to a landing page that contains the form you want users to fill out.

7. Do not include attachments in your emails

8. Correct spelling and grammar
This may seem kind of stupid but, spam filters have been known to use spelling / grammar correctness as a part of their spam detection algorithms. So proof-read your emails before blasting.

Pro tips:
1. Test your emails before sending them
There are various tools online that mimic spam filter behavior and test your emails for ‘spammyness’. It is always a good idea to test your emails before sending them.
I would recommend using Mail Tester for this purpose.

2. Verify that you (your domain / IP) have not been blacklisted
Use tools like MX Toolbox to verify that your domain / IP is not blacklisted. You can also set up a notification here to be alerted as soon if your domain / IP get blacklisted so won’t have to be constantly checking back here.

I hope this sheds some light on the art of email deliverability. This is by no means an exhaustive list of actions to guarantee deliverability (That list is endless), but this is in my opinion / experience a very good starting point. If you follow these rules you should have no problems reaching your audience.

That is it for Part 1 of the email marketing segment, Part 2 will focus on setting up a dedicated infrastructure for email marketing using Amazon SES and Sendy (Basically teaching you how to become your own Email Service Provider). I will also be sharing pointers on using Sendy to forge custom email headers to optimize deliverability. 

If you feel that there is anything missing from this list please share it in the comments so we can all benefit. 

If you have any questions / comments do not hesitate to comment or PM me. I'm glad to help anyway I can.

Part 2 "Advanced Emailing with Amazon SES and Sendy" will be coming soon hit the follow button to be notified when its out, t'ill then....

Good luck out there. Keep making that paper![/size]
2017-12-18, 12:35 AM,
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2017-12-18, 09:04 PM,
Good guide mate, Thank you very much, I will check it later on.
2017-12-20, 03:16 PM,
HQ guide from you buddy, I appreciate for sharing it.
2018-01-10, 09:19 AM,
have you finished part 2 yet?? very interested
2018-01-10, 06:36 PM,
Thank you for your guide, this is very helpful :)
2018-01-11, 07:28 PM,
Awesome share buddy, keep it up :)
2018-01-12, 08:01 PM,
Thank you for the HQ guide mate.
2018-01-13, 01:21 AM,
thank you for guide man :D
2018-01-13, 01:46 PM,
Nice share. Some valuable tips included.

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