The Ultimate Email Deliverability Checklist

Email deliverability is about as exciting as plumbing, and for the same reasons. When it’s working, you ignore it. When it’s not, you freak out.

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Email deliverability is also like plumbing because you kinda do want to know the nuts and bolts of how it works, but any time you get an explanation, about 2 minutes in you start wondering… about something else… like lunch.

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And yet – indoor plumbing probably beats even the Internet (gasp!) in terms of Stuff We Really, Really Need. Email deliverability definitely makes the Stuff We Really, Really Need list for marketing. If your emails don’t get delivered, all your efforts are down the drain.

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We want you to enjoy optimal deliverability rates, and are proud that GetResponse has some of the best deliverability rates in the industry. But while you’ve got a great platform already, there are some things you can do to further maximize your deliverability rates. Check everything off this list, and you’ll stay out of hot water.

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The Email Subject Line

  1. Is not deceptive.
  2. Has a limited amount of special characters, or none.
  3. Is not using ALL CAPS, even for a couple of words.
  4. Is not using any words that might trigger a spam filter.
  5. Is not using excessive punctuation!!!
  6. Is not using “RE:” or “FW:” at the beginning of the subject line.

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The Email From Name and Address

  1. Is consistent.
  2. Is recognizable.
  3. Is not deceptive.
  4. Is from a consistent IP address (check – we’ve got that covered) with a “Very High” SenderScore (Check – see below).

The Email Message

  1. Does not have any known spam trigger words.
  2. Includes an unsubscribe link (consider putting one both at the top and in the footer of your emails).
  3. Has limited links. Aim for 3-5 links – no more.
  4. Has no attachments.
  5. Does not rely on embedded videos – you can use a linked image to prompt readers to see your videos.
  6. Has an HTML design of no more than 600 pixels wide.
  7. Is small – aim for 40 KB or less.
  8. Does not use Javascript, Java, frames, PHP, ActiveX, ASP, Dynamic HTML or “cache busters”.
  9. Has passed Spam Assassin’s SpamScore Check with a score of less than 5.0. You can do this easily in your GetResponse account, in the final step before you schedule a newly created email message.

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Your Email Service Provider

  1. Has a SenderScore that’s ranked as “Very High”. (Check – ours is very, very high). SenderScore is calculated for each message, so you’re looking for an average here.
  2. Has relationships with the Compliance Departments of major mailbox providers like Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and Hotmail. (Check for this, too.)
  3. Does not allow the use of purchases email lists. (Check)
  4. Closely monitors all of its accounts to ensure all emails meet basic anti-spam standards. (Check)
  5. Participates in major ISP industry initiatives to prevent spam, like MAAWG, EEC and ESPC. (Check again!)
  6. Processes unsubscribes immediately. (Check!)
  7. Is CanSPAM compliant. (Checkaroo!)
  8. Authenticates messages using SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (Domain Name System validation). (Check!)
  9. Participates in ISP feedback loop programs (FBLs). This basically means any time a message is marked spam, the ISP (aka Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL and others) will tell your email service provider know. Your email servicer provider will then automatically unsubscribe the complainer. (Check)
  10. Uses world-class tools like Return Path and Port 25 to further ensure deliverability. (Checkola, baby.)

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Your Email List

  1. Was built via confirmed opt-in or double opt-in (two names for the same thing), not single opt-in.
  2. Purges email addresses after one hard bounce (a hard bounce is when the email was sent, but the email address no longer exists or the domain no longer exists).
  3. Purges email addresses after a few soft bounces. A soft bounce is when the email doesn’t get delivered. After a few days of attempted deliveries, the message is marked as a soft bounce. This can be for a number of reasons, like the server was unavailable, the inbox was full, or those wacky solar flares were sending the email to the wrong galaxy – again! (Check this – we’ve got you covered… for this galaxy, at least).
  4. Purges email addresses if the subscriber has not opened or clicked on an email within a certain amount of time. Typically, this “certain amount of time” is six months, but some very smart people in email marketing are adamant for you to not cull email addresses until they’ve been inactive for nine months or more. Ultimately, this is your call.
  5. Is not mailed too frequently. How much is “too frequently” depends on what’s normal for your list. Sending one email a day on Black Friday weekend probably won’t get you in trouble. Sending six emails in one day for a product launch… might. It won’t kill your deliverability rates over night, but you might see some drop-off until your mailings resume a more normal schedule.
  • tiffanynectafy

    Thanks for this checklist! Sometimes, something like having a “deceptive” subject line isn’t necessarily intentional, so just having a reminder to think about that is extremely helpful.