How to Get Emails Delivered to Inbox
Have you ever wondered why some marketing emails arrive straight to the Inbox while others end up in the junk or spam folder? The key factor that determines whether your email is filtered as spam or goes to your subscriber’s inbox is your sender and IP reputation. Though there are other factors, but they are less important.
Sender reputation is directly tied with the IP address you are sending your email campaigns from. Internet Service Providers determine the sender’s IP address reputation evaluating various factors related to email marketing activity coming from a particular sender. Then they use their own algorithm to calculate your reputation score and decide if your emails will be delivered to the inbox, spam folder or simply rejected based on your sender score.
The reputation score will vary from ISP to ISP, so you need to know about all the factors that ISPs take into account when calculating the sender score.
The sender/IP reputation does not appear instantly. It’s built over time. So, simply acquiring a new IP address for sending emails from it is not the solution for getting emails delivered to the Inbox. Email marketers are often curious how it can be that emails sent from a brand new IP address end up in the spam or junk folder. Their logic is simple: “This is a brand new IP address. It can’t have a bad reputation. Then why are all my emails sent to the junk folder?”
In fact, ISPs are suspicious about a brand new IP address that has no history of email activity, because they don’t know anything about that IP address. It’s like a bank uses credit scores. If you have no payment history or credit score, a bank is more likely to refuse to give you credit. If you have a good credit history, a bank is more likely to extend your credit or give you a new one.
That’s why it’s important that you take time to build a good sender and IP reputation and maintain it over time.
Now let’s look at the factors used to determine your sender and IP reputation:
1. Bounce and Spam Trap Email Addresses
A high percentage of hard bounces and/or spam trap hits is the first sign for the ISPs that your list is either old, or purchased, or scrapped, or simply not cleaned. A quality email list is one of the key factors that ensure the delivery of your emails to the recipient’s Inbox.
With that said, email list validation is extremely important because it prevents you from sending to invalid and undeliverable email addresses, protects your sender and IP reputation and plays an important role in deliverability.
2. Spam Complaints
What percentage of recipients complain that they’re receiving spam from you? This factor is still about list quality. A high number of spam complaints makes the ISPs think that your list is not opt-in. This definitely plays against your sender and IP reputation.
And if you are sending through an email service provider, they will even ban or suspend your account for a high complaint rate and you will have to switch to another ESP, or get a self-managed email marketing system. So, building a confirmed opt-in email list is as important as validating your list.
3. Volume of Emails
If you used to send 10,000 emails weekly and one day you start sending to 100,000, you are likely to get your email messages being rejected or filtered to the spam folder pretty quickly. A sudden increase of emails allows the ISPs to think that you got email recipients unnaturally, i.e. purchased or scraped email addresses, and they start to trust you less.
There are global blacklists maintained by anti-spam organizations that many ISPs use to see if your IP address is negatively listed for sending spam, sending to spam trap email accounts or receiving many complaints from recipients. If your sending IP is blacklisted, it negatively affects your sender and IP reputation.
5. Sender Authentication
When you are using a 3rd party email sender, you do not need to worry about setting up your sender authentication records because all these things are managed by the 3rd party.
If you are sending email campaigns using an in-house email system, you have to manage the technical part yourself and ensure that the DNS is setup correctly for your sending domain and the IP address is validated to allow you to send from it. The main authentication records that need to be correctly configured are: SPF, Domain Keys (DKIM), and Reverse DNS. Sender authentication is critical for delivering your emails without any problems.
6. Email Content
Although the content of your email is not as much important as the above factors, it also adds to your sender reputation score and ISPs take it into account when determining whether accept and deliver your email to the Inbox or spam folder or reject it right now.
To be on the safe side and ensure a good email campaign performance, it is a good idea to test your Inbox delivery prior to sending the email to your subscribers’ list.
To recap, here is what you should do to deliver your emails to the Inbox:
- validate your email list;
- send to confirmed optin email subscribers;
- periodically suppress inactive or disengaged subscribers from your mailing list;
- remove addresses that bounce consistently;
- honor unsubscribe requests as soon as possible;
- have your domain and IP configured properly in DNS;
- don’t send spammy looking emails.
Following these basic rules is a must for any responsible email marketer.
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