Last week we launched a two-part discussion on email deliverability best practices, presented in a “Do’s” and “Don’ts” format. Part One was dedicated to the Dont’s, and we presented an array of techniques that we would recommend avoiding. This week we will cover a list of best practices that we think you should be applying in order to improve your inbox rates, click-through rates, and sender reputation, while minimizing unsubscribes and spam complaints.

Do…

  • Include a ‘Friendly From’ label along with your ‘From’ address. For example “Jim’s Online Hardware” <email@jimshardware.com>. Messages from unknown/unrecognized senders are more likely to be reported as spam.
  • Use your company’s domain in your ‘From’ address, and authenticate your messages (SPF/DKIM/DMARC) with your company’s domain as well. This will make your messages more recognizable to Spam filters and your recipients, give your messages legitimacy, and greatly reduce the chance that they will be seen as a phishing attempt.
  • Include your physical mailing address and phone number in every message.
  • Provide an unsubscribe link within every message that’s relatively easy for your recipients to find. This could help to reduce Spam complaints, and is required by most Spam laws. The unsubscribe link must be active within at least 60 days of sending the email.

NOTE: Failure to include an unsubscribe link and/or honor unsubscribe requests within 10 business days is a violation of CAN-SPAM, CASL and other Spam laws.

  • Use opt-in/permission-based marketing techniques to avoid sending to unknown/invalid addresses, and getting excessive spam complaints and unsubscribes. If you feel like you must rent or purchase addresses, be sure to use a legitimate and reputable source, and have the list cleaned by a list hygiene service to remove invalid/undeliverable addresses, spam trap addresses, throw-away addresses, etc.
  • Keep your message size under 100kb, especially for recipients who read messages on a mobile device. That’s not a hard and fast size limit, just a reasonable target to shoot for.
  • Use the same/similar text in both the HTML and Text versions of your messages. Spam filters look for this.
  • Ensure that the design of your email templates clearly identifies your brand and/or website. Prominently display your logo/brand and/or company name, and use your website’s color scheme so that your recipients immediately recognize who they’re from.
  • Use a ‘Friendly From’ label, ‘From’ address, and subject line that clearly and immediately identify you as the sender. This will help improve your open, read, and click-through rates, and reduce spam complaints and unsubscribes.

NOTE: Failure to clearly identify the sender of a message is a violation of CAN-SPAM, CASL and other Spam laws.

  • Ensure that all the images in your message have alternative (alt) text in the image <img> tag so that something descriptive is displayed in their place when they’re not rendered.
  • Use inline styles as much as possible, e.g. <td style=”font-size: 18px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; color: #333333;” >Welcome!</td>. Some email clients, like Gmail, will strip the <head>, <body> and <style> tags from your messages. Using inline styles ensures that the styling in your messages is displayed as you intend in these clients.

Implementing these tips is not only critical in terms of getting your messages through Spam filters, but it will organically help improve your relationship with your recipients, as well. Google, as we know, does a fantastic job of improving their algorithms to match what their users expect and want to see. By implementing our “Do’s” and avoiding our “Dont’s” you will be more in line with Spam filter requirements and provide content that shows your recipients that you are conscious of their preferences and their user experience. As a result, key metrics like your inbox rates, click-throughs and opens are bound to improve.