Digital Marketing For Dummies
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Everything you know about digital marketing is moot if your emails aren’t reaching your subscribers’ inboxes. Did you know that 21 percent of emails worldwide never reach the desired recipients? A whole lot of work, effort, and brilliance are being wasted on emails that end up floating around in cyberspace.

How do you make sure that all your work isn’t wasted? It comes down to one simple thing: You have to prove that you aren’t a spammer and that you have no intention of being one.

Sadly, the Internet service providers responsible for determining whether you are sending spam consider bulk mailers to be guilty until proven innocent. They assume that emails are spam from the outset, and until you can show them that you don’t act like a spammer, your email deliverability will be affected.

There are some methods for improving deliverability. Most of these methods are very technical. If you’re a tech wizard, go forth and set up your infrastructure to ensure deliverability. If you need help with technical stuff, find a local tech person or call your email service provider, and get some systems in place to ensure that your emails reach the people you want to reach.

Monitoring your reputation

To ensure deliverability, you have to keep track of how you’re interacting with your list. Do the following things:
  • Monitor the complaint rates and the volume of complaints you're receiving. Your email service provider should provide reporting capabilities on the number and rate of complaints your emails are receiving.
  • Respond to complaints in a timely manner.
  • Make sure that you unsubscribe and stop sending email to anyone who unsubscribes. Your email service provider should provide a path to unsubscribe from every email and automatically remove those that unsubscribe from your email list.
  • Keep your message volume steady. Don’t send a million emails one month and then none for six months.
  • Check your blocklist status on the major blocklist sites including Spamhaus and Spamcop. These major blocklist sites are referenced by mailbox providers like Google's Gmail to help them determine whether your email should be delivered to the inbox. Each blocklist has its own process for removal from its blocklist; you can find this information on its website.

Proving subscriber engagement

The best way to assure the Internet service providers (ISPs) that you’re not a spammer is to prove that you engage your subscribers with every single email you send. If people are opening your emails, reading what you have to say, and then clicking relevant links, you aren’t a spammer.

Subscriber engagement rates are based on the following factors:

  • Your open rate: This rate isn’t the number of emails that are opened, but the percentage.
  • Your lateral scroll rate: This rate is how far recipients scroll down on your emails.
  • Your hard and soft bounce rate: A bad email address is considered to be a hard bounce. A soft bounce can happen for many reasons, including a full inbox or accidental flagging as spam.

If you continue to send emails to addresses that reject your mail, you look like a spammer.

Export your entire list, and send it to a company called BriteVerify. This company runs an analysis of your list and tells you which addresses are definitively good, which ones are questionable, and which are bad. If you expunge the questionable and bad emails from your list, you’re practicing good list hygiene and increasing deliverability.

  • Unsubscription and complaint rates: If you receive high numbers of unsubscriptions or complaints, examine your campaigns to see whether you’re doing something to upset subscribers.

Tools that ensure email deliverability

Several applications can help you ensure a high percentage of email deliverability. A few of our favorites are the following:
  • Mail Monitor: Mail Monitor breaks down delivery per IP address, message, and email service.
  • Return Path: If you have your own IP address, Return Path allows you to monitor your reputation and set up alerts. You get a baseline email deliverability score.
  • EmailReach: This service allows you to set up tracking on domain and IP blocklisting and scans these blocklists daily, notifying you if you've been added.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Ryan Deiss is founder and CEO of Idea Incubator and creator of Traffic & Conversion Summit. He has consulted with more than 200,000 businesses in 68 countries. Russ Henneberry is founder of, a free daily email newsletter about digital business. He has trained and certified thousands of professionals in SEO, social media marketing and content marketing through his coaching, courses, and stage presentations.

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