Four reasons your e-mails aren’t being delivered

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E-mail technology company Return Path this week unveiled its latest deliverability study. The good news is overall deliverability improved slightly (albeit only 1%) since the last study, six months ago. However, with more than one out of five e-mails still getting bumped to the spam folder—or even worse, not getting delivered at all—there’s still plenty of work to be done, said George Bilbrey, Return Path’s GM-delivery assurance solutions.

“While we know that b-to-c mailers are having more of a problem, deliverability is still a significant problem for b-to-b marketers, too.”

Bilbrey pointed to four major reasons that e-mails don’t get through, along with simple fixes.

1) Reason No.1: You’re sending too much mail. Bilbrey said the No. 1 reason e-mail doesn’t get through is that companies are labeled as spammers. Today, as more people use clean lists and double opt-ins, those spam complaints may be coming from your customers. E-mail is cheap and easy—all you do is queue up a message and press send—but if you do that too often, it can lead to a high spam report rate, even if someone has opted into your messaging. The best fix: Let subscribers decide how often they want to be contacted, and stay below that threshold.

2) Reason No.2: You haven’t checked your list lately. If you’re e-mail messages are met with “user unknown” responses, ISPs and corporations assume you’re just sending out tons of e-mail using different prefixes—the herald of a spammer. This happens for several reasons. Sometimes people use fake addresses to sign up for a downloadable or a one-time sign-in. They can also move or change their addresses. You can avoid this problem by requiring a double opt-in. Also consider using an alternate IP address to send out e-mails to new subscribers, Bilbrey said. “You’re lessening your exposure for your existing customers,” he said.

3) Reason No.3: Your infrastructure isn’t set up right. There are more than 40 things that can be misconfigured on a mail server. These mistakes can make it easy for spammers to highjack your server and sully your good name. Some mistakes can cause ISPs and corporate IT administrators to block your messages directly. Not sure your server is set up right? Seek outside help, Bilbrey said.

4) Reason No.4: Your content looks like spam. Most marketers are pretty savvy these days, but it still happens: Messages that use spamlike wording, images instead of text or a single link instead of many. “This is the easiest thing to check and change,” Bilbrey said. “The marketer has all the control here as long as they are creating targeted, relevant e-mails.”

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