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Deliverability Matters: Tips to Avoid the Spam Folder

Email deliverability is absolutely crucial for any company. Whether it’s business dealings or marketing emails, ending up in the spam folder hurts your reputation. Not only will your recipients think twice about trusting your brand, but also it will hurt your IP and domain trustworthiness in a technical sense.

Building a solid relationship with your audience consists of several components, including content quality, design, and legitimacy. Still, there are underlying technicalities that go beyond the “marketing facade” of your communication. Let’s dive into this article for more insight.

Building Trust: Follow Basic Email Hygiene

A few years back, marketers would do anything to get more eyeballs on their content – from buying email lists to prompting urgency with catchy phrases in the subject line. Today, these tricks are frowned upon in the marketing community. More importantly, technology is getting more innovative, and emails from businesses that use these tactics end up in the spam folder.

Building trust and your company’s email list might take long, but every step is worth it. Here are a few ways you can improve its quality:

  • Ask permission to send emails and confirm it with a double opt-in 
  • Clear inactive subscribers and those that bounce regularly
  • Stay on top of your engagement metrics like open, read, click-through, share and unsubscribe rates
  • Never, ever send emails to the unsubscribed customers

Strengthening the Bond: Keep it Relevant

Let’s take the issue a step further. The next level of bonding with your customer is providing them with valuable content. If you’re respectful and genuine, you shouldn’t have a problem keeping your list engaged.

In addition to the relevance of the content, you need to tick a few checkboxes as well:

  • Avoid spam folder trigger words, phishing phrases, manipulating, and provoking unnecessary urgency or exaggeration (limited-time offer, satisfaction guaranteed, etc.)
  • Build a balanced email body without overusing images, colors, exclamation points, and CAPS LOCK
  • Use alt text on images to help the customer understand the message even without seeing the pictures
  • Swap attachments with action buttons that lead to landing pages on your website
  • Send plain text + HTML version of your email

Diving Deeper: Don’t Overlook the Technical Side

Some businesses do all the things we mentioned above and still, end up in the spam folder. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, putting some effort into the technical side of the issue will help.

Choose a Reliable Email Service Provider

No matter how large or small, any business needs to have an Email Service Provider (ESP). The service makes the company look more professional, increases credibility, and has customized digital storage options. They offer you increased security, virus and spam protection, and technical support.

In addition to primary email-related functionality, services like G Suite, Office 365, Amazon WorkMail, and the like offer other features, including:

  • Team management tools and calendar
  • Messengers, voice and video chats
  • Document collaboration, storage, and sharing
  • Third-party app integration
  • Mobile device management and a lot more

ESPs include your domain name in the email address, making your brand name recognizable and harder to replicate. Anyone can open an email in a free mailbox with a fake name, but forging an email with your domain name is more challenging for cybercriminals.

Follow Your IP Reputation

Reaching peak deliverability has to do with the reputation of your IP address. It’s the unique determinator of your device and is included in all the communications from the computer. Essentially, it’s the way other internet-connected devices recognize each other.

Various factors make the reputation, including spam complaints, email volumes sent, blacklists, and many others. All the best practices described above also influence the metric, but there are a couple more.

First of all, you need to warm up your IP address over time if you’re planning to send bulk emails. New addresses that send too many too soon get flagged by the ESPs, so making them used to the volume will let you avoid tarnishing your trustworthiness and keep your sender score.

Another way to keep the score in check is to ensure that marketing emails are separate from everyday dealings. A flopped marketing campaign will affect the day-to-day business email deliverability.

If your score is too low, the IP address might get blacklisted. Each ESP has a specific way to remove it, so you’ll have to search for detailed instructions. 

Test the Spam Score of Your Emails

Setting up email campaigns is time-consuming, and the bulk ending up in the spam folder will negatively impact the ROI of the whole company. So if there’s a slight chance that you can add a layer of confidence before the emails go out, you should take it.

Fortunately, some tools can provide you with at least some guarantee that your emails will appear in the inbox. Spam checkers compare the given piece of communication against strict spam filters and let you know how you can improve.

Setup Proper Authentication Records

It’s easier to choose the “good practices” path from the get-go than fix issues as they appear. Still, not many businesses realize that setting healthy email authentication practices is crucial unless. That’s unless they face a problem.

There are objective reasons why small businesses don’t pay attention to this point. Not only is it quite technical, but also you need to be extremely thorough, approaching each type of email communication as a separate case.

Below, we talk about the essential, generally accepted email authentication protocols.

 

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)

This is a public key encryption protocol, which ensures unaltered communication during transmission.

The public key needs to be present in the DNS records of the receiving server. The latter looks for a code encrypted in the header of the incoming email, and if it matches the record it has, the message can be decrypted. Otherwise, this authentication fails.

Changing DKIM public records at least once a year is crucial in your efforts to increase email deliverability. For a smooth transition, it’s common to use two selectors in the header. This way, no communication will get rejected if you change the key as the emails are in transit. Secure keys range from 1024 to 2048 bits. 

 

SPF (Sender Policy Framework)

This system determines all the IP addresses that are allowed to send emails from a given domain. Like the one above, it’s set in the DNS records. Essentially, the administrator (domain owner) publishes a rule according to which all the recipients need to evaluate their emails.

The receiving side’s server looks up the given rule and compares it to the IP addresses mentioned in the SPF record. The authentication happens if the “Envelope-From” domain is the same as the “From” domain.

SPF is a basic authentication form with its limitations, like the “too many lookups” issue, but it’s definitely worth setting up if you send marketing or business-related emails. Plus, our Easy SPF tool is there to repair and optimize your SPF records while automating the addition of new sending sources.

 

DMARC (Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance)

This standard uses the two frameworks we talked about earlier but improves on a few aspects, including:

  • Policy definition: This allows companies to fix their authentication issues over time, treating them on a case-by-case basis. The sender recommends how the failed emails from their domains need to be treated. A report-only policy is set in the DNS records at the first stage. Still, the administrators should reach the quarantine or reject policy as soon as possible for maximum deliverability.
  • Reporting: This feature allows the senders to get reports about the authentication quality from the receiving end.
  • Identity alignment: This is an additional layer on the SPF and DKIM domain alignment. Here, at least one of the authenticated domains needs to be the same as the one in the “From” header address.

While it takes time and effort, if DMARC is configured correctly, it can stop a significant kind of phishing attack – sending an email from an identical “From” address. The efficiency of this protocol is much higher than in the case of SPF and DKIM.

Implementing this protocol will help with deliverability as large mailboxes require a DMARC-compliant authentication. Implementing the technology will help the company reach client inboxes with no issue.

Final Thoughts

Ensuring deliverability is a crucial step for any business that chooses email as a communication method. While the content and trust-building might seem easy, the technical part is objectively challenging. This is why companies like EasyDMARC exist.

We’re here to help organizations set up a secure internal and external email environment, continuously monitor and improve their policies while improving trustworthiness among clients and partners.

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