How to get your email delivered?

Improving deliverability, inbox placement and avoiding spam filters.

You've written a great email for your customers, now you need to make sure they actually receive it. This can be surprisingly difficult.

The good news is that you've made a great start by choosing Machine Labs. We use a whole range of technologies including Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM). This will get your email past the first line of spam filters.

It's important to understand that every email provider works slightly differently. So Microsoft (Hotmail, Live, etc) behaves slightly differently to Google or Yahoo. To make it even more tricky no email provider details exactly how their anti-spam systems work, otherwise spammers would know exactly how to bypass them.

There are four things that very important:

1. Spam Report Rates

This is simply the percentage of emails you send that are reported as spam. A recipient can report spam by clicking on a Spam button. This report then gets sent back to Machine Labs thru the Spam Feedback Loop.

If more than 0.1% of your customers report your email as spam then your account will be suspended. In other words, if you send 10,000 emails you should have fewer than 10 spam reports. To get great deliverability, you should have a much lower rate.

One of the ways we help you get fewer spam reports is by triggering the 'Unsubscribe' button in most email applications which encourages the recipient to unsubscribe rather than report you for spam.

2. Bounce Rates

A bounced email cannot be delivered and is bounced back to us (see What's an email bounce? for more details).

Sending emails campaigns with a large number of bounces is a signal to the email provider that you are a spammer. Our policy is that the maximum bounce rate we will allow is 1% but, again, a much lower rate will improve your reputation.

3. IP Address Reputation

An IP address is the unique address of the server that is used to send your email. As standard we use a range of shared IP addresses (see Should I have a Dedicated IP address?) and your email will be sent from the same address as other clients who have similar spam report and bounce rates.

4. Textual Analysis of the Email

All of the email service providers perform an analysis of the subject line and content of the emails. Content that is viewed as spammy is unlikely to make it into the inbox. Signs that an email is spam can include:

  • Excessive use of graphics with very little text.
  • Heavy! Use! Of! Exclamation! Points!
  • Excessive use of free or other sales-y language.

Textual analysis is done automatically by comparing spam email with regular email, so an easy way to spot the sort of language you should avoid is by looking in your own Spam folder and avoiding that type of language. In any case, overly spam-like language is unlikely to perform well.