More than 50% of all marketers believe deliverability is their biggest challenge, and rightfully so. But sometimes, it’s not what you send, but how you send it that keeps your messages out of your prospects’ in-boxes, said Deirdre Baird, president-CEO of delivery auditing and optimization company Pivotal Veracity. “Content is important, but there are a number of things related to infrastructure that can keep your message from getting through. Baird suggested running this list of technical mix-ups past your e-mail service provider or mail administrator.
Pitfall No. 1: You have reverse DNS set up wrong. When you send out an e-mail, it comes from your domain or your e-mail service provider’s domain. It also gets imprinted with its source IP address, a unique number that’s associated with a server. If the IP address doesn’t match the domain name—a process that’s often automatically done at the server level—it will probably be flagged as spam.
Pitfall No. 2: Some of your relays or proxies are open, or your Web forms aren’t secure. How can your Web site affect your e-mail marketing program? Easy. Spammers are constantly scouring the Internet for vulnerabilities. If your server is insecure or password-protected, you’re leaving yourself open for a serious problem. “If your relays and proxies aren’t closed or you’ve got insecure versions of Web pages up, spammers will find ways to use your mail server to send spam,” Baird said. “Most larger companies don’t have these problems, but smaller companies definitely might.”
Pitfall No. 3: You use an ESP that doesn’t offer dedicated IP addresses. Although this topic is one of the basics, marketers still make this mistake because they don’t think it will happen to them. If your e-mail is leaving the same server as another company’s e-mail, and they send out spam, you’re a spammer by IP association. “Your server should be dedicated to your mail and your mail only,” Baird said. “Enterprises and ISPs do IP-based blocking. They block everything from a specific e-mail address without looking at domain information. If you’re sending off a blocked IP address, everything you do will be for naught.”
Pitfall No. 4: You have a double opt-in policy but use the same IP address to send out confirmations. When registering for a white paper download or other offer, many people use a fake e-mail address to sign up. Here’s the problem: If you, the marketer, send out a confirmation to one of those addresses and it bounces, the domain you’re sending to might think you’re attacking their server. Likewise, if you send a confirmation to a good e-mail address but the person forgets what they signed up for, they may report your message as spam. In both cases, if you’re using the same IP address to send confirmations and your normal marketing communications, you may find yourself on a black list. Be smart. Use a separate IP address for sending confirmations, Baird said.
Pitfall No. 5: You send out e-mails without checking them against multiple e-mail clients. This is a no-brainer, especially because many ESPs and technology providers have tools so you can confirm that your message looks the same in Outlook as it does in Lotus Notes. “Rendering is an important thing,” Baird said. “If something looks like garbage, there’s a good chance that someone will either unsubscribe or assume they’re being spammed.”