8 Email Deliverability Checks to Make Before You Hit Send

Deliverability Doctors email checklist

You invest a lot of time, resources, and money building successful email campaigns in order to meet specific business goals. But what if your emails end up in your customers’ spam folder? What if you are getting blocked by an ISP or filtered out for some other reasons? This is not typically something that a sender expects to occur but the increase in advanced spam filtering systems implemented by the ISPs definitely makes your job much more difficult.

In today’s Blueshift Deliverability Doctors blog, we’re providing eight key deliverability actions that you should review before setting up your email program and launching your email campaign.


1. Review Your Email Infrastructure

First, set up a solid infrastructure for sending marketing emails with proper authentication and security including SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. Additionally, make your email TLS encrypted to build trust with your subscribers as well as the mailbox providers.

If you’re a high-volume sender, always try to designate your sending from a dedicated set of IPs and sending subdomains. It’s highly recommended to streamline all email communication using a dedicated sending domain for each content stream. For example: separate your transactional and promotional mailings using different subdomains.

It is always better to use a live mailbox as the ‘Reply to’ address rather than just ‘No reply’. This makes for a better user experience and can mitigate some subscriber complaints.

The Blueshift Deliverability team works directly with the sender to set up a strong email infrastructure.


2. Register Your IP and Domains With All Available Postmaster Tools

Two of the major ISPs, Gmail and Microsoft, offer free platforms for businesses  to stay on top of monitoring reputation and other useful metrics.

Using Google Postmaster Tools, the sender can view their IP and domain reputation, along with other data such as user complaint rates, delivery errors, authentication errors, encryption errors, and feedback loops. The metrics seen on Google Postmaster Tools is specific to just gmail.com and does not take into account any other inboxes associated or hosted by Google. Learn more about Gmail postmaster. 

To know how your IPs are performing in terms of sender reputation at Microsoft domains, you’ll need to use Microsoft SNDS – a postmaster service from Microsoft for the sender. Apart from just reputation you’ll also get to know about IPs filtering status, spam rate, spam trap hits, and the spam trap hit window for each IP, etc. Microsoft SNDS differs from Google Postmaster Tools in that it does take all associated public Microsoft inboxes into consideration (hotmail.com, outlook.com, msn.com, live.com, etc.). 

Learn more about Microsoft SNDS. Also, check out our blog that provides eight email deliverability strategies to fix Microsoft domain difficulties


3. Review Your Email Content

While the above two strategies address the foundational groundwork that may not be visible to your subscribers, this third strategy is the stuff that your subscribers will interact with.

  1. Focus on a mobile-first approach while working with your email template. This is recommended due to the steady trend of mobile users.
  2. Do not let your email content have a weight of more than 102kb as ISPs such as Gmail may clip your content if this limit is exceeded.
  3. Consider having an unsubscribe option on the top of your email and always include the list-unsubscribe header.
  4. Keep a consistent and relevant design for your brand.
  5. Keep your content, pre-header, and subject line consistent.
  6. Avoid using any third-party URL shorteners as this can raise flags for ISP filters.
  7. Maintain a healthy image-to-text ratio with no more than 40% images and a minimum of 60% text.


4. Build a Solid Habit For Segmentation

Segmentation is one of the most important practices for improving deliverability. It’s always recommended to create specific targets based on subscriber interest and what your brand offers to them. Your content should align with your subscribers’ interests. Just because you have an engaged audience doesn’t mean marketing outside of expectations will yield success.


5. Double Opt-in Is Always Recommended

Subscriber quality is much more important than quantity. Double opt-in subscribers generally give you better deliverability metrics with lower unsubscribe rates and higher clickthrough rate. If an extra step is creating too much hassle for a subscriber, then they likely were not a good fit to become part of your mailable database.


6. Get and Set Customer Expectations

Introduce a preference center to gather more details on your subscribers’ interests and strictly follow that. These direct insights are invaluable and key to nurturing an audience and setting expectations. Also, optimize your welcome journey emails so your new audience gets to know about your brand from the get-go and what they can expect from you as a sender.


7. Have a One-Step Unsubscribe Mechanism

The unsubscribe process is one of the most crucial steps from a deliverability stand point. It is imperative to set up a very simple and straightforward unsubscribe mechanism. Allowing a subscriber to remove interest quickly creates the opportunity for a clean break with the potential of re-interest later on. However, overcomplicating this with additional steps often leads a user to complaining, which does more to damage sender reputation. 


8. Keep an Eye On Your Active and Inactive Base

Create a segment for your active and inactive audience for monitoring purposes. This way you’ll be able to know what your subscribers are doing with your brand and campaign. Always try to send your campaigns only to those who are interested in your brand to avoid falling into additional deliverability problems. To overcome spam-traps issues this is really important to monitor your inactive base.


Pankaj Kumar is senior deliverability analyst at Blueshift.