We recently reviewed what it takes to carve a successful path to the Inbox during the Holiday Season. And the truth is, the mailing practices discussed in our 2019 Guide to the Holiday Season hold true throughout the year. Building on positive reputation factors with strong engagement, while keeping negative reputation factors to a minimum, is critical to maintaining a healthy email program year round.
From day one, senders must put their best foot forward and remain as consistent as possible as their audience grows. Being seen as a reputable sender in the eyes of the ISPs and MBPs should be top priority. Here are Blueshift’s 5 steps to successful deliverability.
1. Proper authentication
The Blueshift implementation team is here to assist with proper authentication (SPF Records, DKIM & DMARC) and domain alignment, leading to email delivery acceptance. While SPF Records and DKIM may be old hat for some, DMARC, a newer authentication (reporting) protocol, is finding greater adoption these days and we believe that all senders should be publishing DMARC records. This will provide insights into all mail being sent on your behalf.
Once you have a handle on all mail sources, you can upgrade your DMARC policies to quarantine or reject mail that is not properly aligned. This is where you will see the true benefit of this authentication reporting protocol.
2. Strategic warm up and ramp
When introducing a new email program, our goal is to lay a solid foundation for future mailing, which builds a strong reputation overall as you warm up new IP addresses and ramp volume. Receivers like Gmail and Outlook want to see small volumes introduced early on, with gradual increases in volume, as mail from your new sending domains and IP addresses are also new to their filtering systems.
As you increase volume, you want to ensure that negative reputation factors are kept to a minimum. By mailing only to those recipients who have engaged within the last 30 days, you are showing the Receiving community that your audience is keen to interact with the mail you are sending.
3. Consistency in volumes and frequency
Once you’ve completed your warm up and volumes have ramped up to your daily average, it is important to recievers that there is consistency in the average volumes sent from your systems, as well as in the frequency with which you send mail. Sudden dips or spikes in volume are unexpected at the receiving level and may result in deferrals, spam folder placement or temporary blocks. Receivers may need to pause mail acceptance or deny incoming mail altogether, while mailing practices are observed.
We recommend ramping up volume over the course of a few days or more if you have an ad-hoc high volume send for any reason. This, in addition to maintaining a schedule that meets the expectations of your subscribers, will greatly contribute to a strong sending reputation.
4. Ongoing list hygiene efforts
As a sender, one of the most important things you will need to prove is that you know who you are mailing. This means keeping unknown user attempts (hard bounces) to a minimum, along with minimizing spam trap hits. In the eyes of the MBPs and ISPs, if you are keeping a clean list with solid opt-in policies, you should only be mailing to active and valid email addresses.
For most programs, email addresses that have not opened or clicked through an email within the last 12 months should be removed from future promotional mailings.
5. Healthy engagement
In today’s world, engagement weighs heavily on a sender’s reputation. It is well known that Gmail and Outlook pay close attention to the engagement levels your mail generates and may deliver mail to the spam folder frequently, based on lack of engagement. These mailbox providers, in addition to many others, want to see that their customers recognize your brand, want to receive your mail, and are interacting with your mailings.
Top positive engagement factors:
- Opening an email message
- Clicking through an email message
- Moving a message from the spam folder to the Inbox
- Replying to a message
- Forwarding a message
- Adding to Contacts or Starring a message
Top negative engagement factors:
- Ignoring an email message
- Marking as spam or registering a complaint
- Leaving an email message in the spam or junk folder
- Deleting an email message without reading
In the end, focusing on these key pillars will contribute greatly to a healthy, positive reputation with the Receiving community. As you begin mailing, it is best to keep the needs of your customers in mind, as well as the ISPs and MBPs. Remain consistent with your mailing practices, while maintaining strong engagement levels and a clean list and you will blaze a path to sustainable deliverability success. Can’t get enough of deliverability best practices? Reserve your spot for our February 19th webinar: Three Key Steps to Inbox Victory with Blueshift’s Kimberly Paxton.