Postmaster Best Practices – Tips for success
It’s relatively simple to understand that the primary intent of all email service providers such as AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail, is to make sure their customers are receiving emails they actually want, while sifting through and removing those they don’t. Each service has various rules that, if followed, can aid a marketer’s overall delivery results including increasing email deliveries and lowering the risk of email bouncing. ListMarketer Software provides you with the tools and support necessary to reach your best mailing potential, but understanding basic mailing practices first can make a big difference between being viewed as a spammer or someone trying to market a legitimate product or service to his/her target audience. Let’s take a closer look at the bigger email service providers and what they regard as best practices.
- As described in our last post, the constant observation of your metrics (unsubscribes, bounce codes, retries, etc.) is a crucial part of getting the most out of email marketing. Yahoo stresses monitoring hard and soft bounces (also described in last ListMarketer post!) so you may recognize increases in bounces as perhaps sending to inactive emails or consumers who are marking your messages as spam. Either of these will will hurt your reputation with Yahoo.
- Another pointer is one that ListMarketer also shares in your warm up process as our client, and that is to test your emails to see how they all look in various user environments such as Apple Mail or Microsoft Outlook. There can be invisible issues here and there while the email content may look great to you, it may look completely different to another user. So test, test, test!
- It’s important to become familiar with Yahoo’s bounce codes. If your messages are being blocked, Yahoo’s servers are returning them with a message so you can address the issue. An example of this is retrying messages that have already been hard bounced, and Yahoo comes back with, “retrying permanent errors increases the chances your mail will be deprioritized.”
- Gmail can be tricky as they have inbox categories for their users, and each user can decide which type of email goes where, (primary, social, promotions). Sending different types of email that will fall into these categories and doing it on a consistent basis will help build that trust and relationship with the ISP as well as your subscribers there.
- If your message is relevant and the subject line matches the content, it is likely your consumer will want to continue receiving your emails. However, in some cases Gmail’s spam filter will filter out messages that you obviously don’t want in that folder.
- Do your best to unsubscribe users whose accounts have a hard bounce in more than one list that you’ve sent.
- Setting recipient expectations is important to AOL, and one of their main suggestions in being a successful sender. They stress to confirm the opt-in process to your consumers once in a while, to weed out the fake email addresses, as a high number of invalid recipients will harm your reputation.
- AOL also recommends segregating your email transmitting IP Addresses according to function, as each IP you send from has a reputation to uphold! This is something ListMarketer helps with setting up, and it has been proven to improve delivery at AOL.
- Make your emails as personal as possible. In ListMarketer’s campaign template, we offer the option for the email to begin with the person’s name based off of the list of consumers you carry. This makes it more personal and if in the subject line, has been proven to improve “opens” and “clicks” as it is more customized toward your consumer.
- AOL has a blog specifically dedicated to updates about their delivery practices and various issues to focus on if you’re a sender. Check out postmaster-blog.aol.com.
- Hotmail’s first question to you as the sender is “are you sending email from new IPs?” Well if you’re a new customer with ListMarketer, then yes. It is very important to build up an IP reputation by slowly and surely introducing various IPs to Hotmail over the course of a few weeks to establish a secure relationship and allow future emails to send at their maximum capacity through ListMarketer.
- Hotmail also wants to know if you’re running anti-virus software. Many email deliverability issues seem to be related to anti-virus software on your firewall being enabled. Sometimes you may need to disable it and try sending a test message to Hotmail’s servers again.
- Hotmail also wants to help prevent legitimate marketers from being marked on their “unknown senders” list. They advise that you should join Return Path’s Sender Score Certified Email program, which is a third-party IP reputation service that essentially gives Hotmail the rundown of who is credible and who isn’t. Depending on the type of emails you’re sending and how personal they are, some consumers may tell Hotmail over and over again that you’re not welcome to send them mail anymore, and if so, you’ll be added to this “unknown” list – and trust us, you don’t want to be! Hotmail wants to create a strong and trustworthy bond with genuine senders, and they want you to send successfully, so focusing on what they consider obstacles of email marketing will pay off in the long run.