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By: Michael Beck, Marketing Consultant & Sr. Manager, Chicago Sun-Times

Every initiative needs a strong foundation, and Email marketing is a prime example. Getting into the inbox is the number one mission of any Email campaign—without it, your message and hard work will go unnoticed. Before you focus on graphics, before you think about switching to a responsive template, before you revise your messaging, make sure your Emails get seen.

There are three pillars of deliverability that you must manage, they are:

  1. IP & Sender Score—This is likely the most important factor in deliverability. Getting blacklisted guarantees your Email won’t see the light of day. Sometimes it’s not even your fault, one bad sender on a shared server and you can get sandboxed along with them. Always pick a reputable Email Service Provider. You’ll want to make sure you have the best practices locked down too. Setup your reverse DNS, DKIM, white-list with ISPs that offer the option. For that extra oomph, ReturnPath has some really strong reputation related offerings. There are some good resources to monitor your sending IP and help you setup your program for success, keep reading.
  2. Subject Line—Your subject line works double duty. It has to get you past the last layer of spam filtering, and get the recipient to open the message. If you’re good, it will do both really well. I’ve listed some resources below, but stick to common sense when it comes to spam triggering keywords, and use good marketing 101 basics—include a call to action, keep the message short and direct. As with everything in marketing, remember to test, test, test. Setup troll accounts to make sure your messages get to the inbox, then if you have the resources test various subject lines on small chunks of your list. Higher open rates mean higher relevancy, and that’s good for your reputation…see #3.
  3. Reputation—This one gets skimmed over a lot, because it’s a lot like Facebook “Likes,” without the counter. Keep your messages relevant and don’t get dinged as Spam from the inbox. Spamming an Email is a lot less work than a manual unsubscribe, and it’s the fastest way to get on the blacklist. Make sure to make a safe sender request at the top of every Email, and for maximum effect, go with a double opt-in registration. This is really a good barometer of your Email program’s value proposition. If your reputation metrics start to go in the wrong direction, you can bet that better content will help fix it.


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