Deliverability Reminders: Troubleshooting Inbox Placement
We wanted to just revisit some common questions that we get asked about frequently (and it's a good refresher for seasoned marketers).
So... for the next several weeks, we're going to address a different question each week to keep the snippets short, simple and actionable for you! If you have any questions you'd like to see answered, please submit them and we'll be happy to add them in to the list!
Q6. Troubleshooting Inbox Placement
The first thing we need to look at it when it comes to inbox placement is your overall email program. If, in fact, you do discover that you’re starting to see a problem with inboxing, chances are, it’s time for an overhaul with your email program.
There are a few potential issues at hand…
1. Reputation - you’ve established a poor reputation over time for one reason or another (i.e. complaints, lack of engagement, general content that looks like other content users report as spam, etc.).
2. Content - your message content is causing your emails to go to spam. This could be anything from overall content (yes, the ISPs scan the millions of messages that come in and look for patterns in the messages. If yours looks like other spammy mail, then your messages my find themselves in the junk folder) to domains in the email message to the verbiage in your footer.
3. Header info - any domains, links, email addresses in your message headers could also cause problems when it comes to getting to the inbox.
So, if you suspect a problem with inbox placement, here are several steps that you can take to start troubleshooting. You should get the message to go through before moving on to the next step. This may involve quite a bit of tweaking and testing, depending on the step (for instance, content-related issues can take a good bit of time to solve).
NOTE: List quality and list hygiene WILL play a role in your inbox placement, so if you have not done a re-engagement campaign and removed inactives, then this would be the first place to start…
The following are the steps we recommend when troubleshooting inbox placement. Again, do not move on to a step until you have successfully completed the one before.
1. Check your reputation. If your reputation scores are below 85, then you'll want to make sure that your complaints are less than .01%, bounces/unknown addresses less than 3% (preferably closer to 1%), no spam trap hits. These are all reputation issues that need to be addressed first and foremost.
NOTE: Not all ISPs pay attention to the "score". However the score is a symptom of these other factors, which need to be addressed.
2. Check any domains that you're using in your messages, from address, etc. against URL blacklists such as http://uribl.com, for example. If any of these domains are on blacklists, remove them from your messages (redirects will not always fix this, by the way). Also test different from and reply to email addresses and domains in your testing. You may have damaged the reputation of your sending domain, from domain or reply to domain.
3. Send a "test" from your email system. If that goes to the spam folder, you may have damaged your IP reputation and will need to take steps to fix that first. This can be from the admin area of your application or when creating a new message without any content in it.
4. Create a seed list with accounts at Gmail.com, Outlook.com, Yahoo.com and AOL.com.
5. Send a "communication" type message to yourself and send to your primary email address and then each of the seed addresses. (For example, a message that you would send to a business associate or family member). Make sure there is actual content in the message and not just "test" as that will often automatically send the message to the spam folder.
NOTE: Check this message for a spam score and make sure that it's at zero before sending. (You want to eliminate as many variables as possible)
This should NOT be a marketing email, but something you’d send over to a family member or friend that has ZERO marketing content at all.
6. Next, send a typical message in plain text only to your seed addresses. Make sure that the spam score is zero.
NOTE: You may need to try several variations of the message to get it to inbox. If this is the case, your content is most likely the problem and you will want to work on your message content.
7. Once you have received the text message in your inbox, test with the HTML version of your message. If that goes to spam, then you may have a problem with your HTML formatting. Services like EmailOnAcid.com can help you identify the problems with HTML formatting and how to correct it. Continue to edit the formatting until it inboxes.
TIP: Once you have an HTML email that inboxes, consider creating a template and using that each time you send a message so that you can eliminate the HTML variable.
Other Things to Test:
Different from addresses and different from domains (Preferably those that have SPF setup properly). We've actually seen a unique email address in the from address cause messages to go the spam folder (in other words, firstname.lastname@example.org when to spam, but email@example.com did not!).
Q7. How Often Should I Email My List
For over a decade Heather Seitz used email marketing to build successful companies and had to solve the biggest barrier to consistent profitability: deliverability. Today she is the Co-Founder and CEO of Email Delivered.
To know more on troubleshooting inbox placement, visit http://www.emaildelivered.com/category/inbox-placement/. Remember to sign up for the FREE Email Delivered Pulse newsletter for articles, tips, and recommended resources for email marketers
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