The essential email deliverability checklist

Nothing hurts quite as much as realising a huge number of our beautifully crafted emails never even got in front of the recipient. Email deliverability rates are a sore subject with many email marketers, and when it all goes wrong it can be tricky to know what to do about it.

If you’re suffering low deliverability rates, or simply want to avoid having a problem in the future, here is the essential checklist. You can perform this quick check on each and every email to give your message the very best chance of ending up in front of your customer.

1. The subject line

The subject line does two things. Firstly, it is the first place those spam filters will be checking to see if your message is going to make it into the inbox or not. Secondly, it is the first thing the customer sees when they open their emails, and your best shot at getting your message read. With this in mind, check that your subject line:

  • Doesn’t make false claims
  • Has no or very few special characters
  • Does not say anything in capital letters, not even a couple of words
  • Doesn’t contain spammy words (click, win, free, profanity etc.)
  • Contains no excessive punctuation (!!!!)
  • Does not have FW or RE at the start of the line

2.  The senders name and email address

Email marketers find they get varying responses whether they use the name of a person in their company as the sender, or simply the company themselves. It’s worth testing how your audience react to the two sender ID’s. As well as this, make sure:

  • The sender is consistent
  • The sender is familiar / recognisable
  • The message is sent from a consistent IP address

3. The email itself

  • Avoids spammy words and phrases
  • Includes a clear link to unsubscribe
  • Doesn’t have attachments
  • Is not a huge file, less than 40KB is optimal
  • Doesn’t have huge numbers of links, 3 – 5 is the maximum
  • Is no more than 600 pixels wide
  • Doesn’t use Java, PHP, ActiveX, Dynamic HTML etc.
  • Doesn’t have embedded videos

4. Your mailing list

As well as making sure the message you are sending is suitably clean to pass the spam filters, you’ll need to make sure your marketing list is suitably clean too. Failing to keep your list up to date and free from deadwood runs the risk of acquiring spam trap email addresses, which is a quick way to get lots of your emails sent into junk. As a quick guide, check that:

  • You are using a double opt in process
  • You purge email addresses where the message is returned because the address or domain no longer exists (known as a hard bounce)
  • You also purge email addresses after several soft bounces
  • You remove email addresses which do not get opened for a long period of time
  • You are consistent in the frequency of sending your emails to them

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