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Ensuring your emails are delivered to the inbox and not the spam folder is a team effort. WordFly’s responsibility is to provide you with a high quality infrastructure that encourages ISPs to deliver your email. Your responsibility is to closely follow email marketing best practices to keep your sender reputation score high. Here’s a closer look at what we both need to do to achieve the best inbox deliverability.
1. IP address with rDNS configured.
All WordFly customers are assigned an IP address for sending emails and these IPs are configured with rDNS records. WordFly offers a shared IP or a dedicated IP option. ISPs like to see email from your domain coming from a common IP address. Spammers typically use an IP address until it gets blocked and then use another one to send their emails.
2. Publish a DKIM record for your sending domain.
All WordFly emails are signed with a DKIM record. This record acts as a signature on your emails and tells ISPs you are a trustworthy email sender.
3. SPF record on sending domain.
WordFly publishes an SPF record (Sender Policy Framework) for our sending domain. SPF authenticates the email’s return path / bounce address. SPF records authorize WordFly as a valid sender for your emails.
4. Feedback loops.
Feedback loops allow ISPs to send abuse complaints back to WordFly. The WordFly team will also enlist your IP in all available ISP feedback loops. If you sign with a custom DKIM, you’ll need to set up the Yahoo feedback loop on your own. Not all ISPs offer feedback loops. For example, AT&T, Spectrum Charter, and Integra do not offer them at this time. Gmail has a beta feedback loop program available which WordFly is participating in, but Gmail abuse complaints do not show up in email reporting.
5. ISP message handling and threshold throttling.
WordFly mail servers are configured to send to each ISP based on their posted sending limits. In addition, WordFly throttles delivery appropriately when ISPs send back messages that mail has been suspended. WordFly uses finely tuned bounce handling to prevent excessive mailings to bad addresses (hard bounces) or to addresses with mailbox full and other automated responses (soft bounces).
1. Create an IP warmup plan.
When you’re a new sender on WordFly, ISPs don’t recognize or trust you as a sender because you haven’t sent any email from your assigned IP address. Overtime, you’ll build a sender reputation as subscribers open and click your emails. It’s important to follow an IP warmup plan to gradually build your sender reputation with ISPs.
2. Get Permission (signup process).
3. Ask subscribers to add your from/reply-to name and address to their contacts.
Ask your subscribers during the signup process and in any welcome messages to add your from/reply-to name and address to their contacts (or safe senders list). ISPs have filters that look through email address books to determine whether incoming email should be placed in the inbox or diverted to spam. This is important when you first start sending to a subscriber, or if your from/reply-to name and address changes. It’s a simple step, but very important for delivery.
4. Use a recognizable from name and from/reply-to address.
Your from name and from/reply-to address are one of the first parts of the email a subscriber sees in the inbox. It’s a good idea to include your organization name in your from name, especially when you are sending from a specific team member like your General Manager or Director. Make sure that your from/reply-to address is a valid email in case a subscriber replies back to the email. Use a consistent and familiar from name and from/reply-to address to help subscribers recognize you in the inbox.
5. Remove unsubscribes, hard bounces and abuse complaints as soon as they are received.
List hygiene is extremely important for deliverability and IP/domain reputation. WordFly will ensure that any subscribers who click on the unsubscribe link are removed immediately from future list imports and from the list that was used to mail to them. Make sure your unsubscribe is clear in all emails.
WordFly removes hard bounces after one bounce, suppressing these addresses from all future mailings. It is best practice to remove these addresses immediately. Sending to hard bounces again can lead to IP blocks which require WordFly’s deliverability team to resolve directly with the ISP.
Abuse complaints should also be removed immediately. This is when a subscriber clicks on the spam button in your email. WordFly will also suppress these addresses from all future mailings.
6. Send relevant emails.
“Batch and Blast” is a thing of the past. Subscribers want email that is personalized for their enjoyment. ISPs want to see that your subscribers are clicking and opening your emails. Ask yourself some questions as you review your email program. Who is receiving your emails? Did they sign up for a specific type of email communication on your website? Think about what content your subscriber is looking to receive and work on meeting that goal. If a subscriber doesn’t find anything of interest in the email, they will probably elect to unsubscribe or (worse) mark it as spam.
7. Be mindful of content, especially links and images.
In the past some content in your email could land you in the spam folder easily. Phrases like “FREE” or using red text were frequently spam flags. Now word content isn't as much of an issue; instead, your links or using all-image emails may be seen as suspicious.
When it comes to links, you should always use the fully qualified URL for the redirect link. Spammers abuse URL shorteners to mask the malicious locations they are trying to send you to; as a result, ISPs heavily filter or block emails with shortened links. Never use shortened links such as bt.ly or any other shortener service in your marketing emails.
Make sure that any website links in your email match what you have it redirecting to. For example, if your website is https://www.wordfly.com/ you should match this exactly in the body of your email. If you don’t like placing the full link with HTTP protocol in the body of your email switch over to using a friendly text link for the body of the email (ex, Visit the WordFly website).
Additionally, make sure that all your links are either HTTP or HTTPS for consistency. Switching back and forth between these protocols may look suspicious to an ISP filter. Take away: Be safe and always use the right link.
8. Maintain consistent sending volumes.
Consistent sending is not only helpful for subscriber engagement, keeping your brand relevant in the inbox, it’s also how ISPs monitor your sending. ISPs need to see consistent sending volumes to determine your reputation. Determine what consistent volume means for your organization and then try to maintain that on a regular basis. Try sending more frequent updates and drive customers to your website for information.
9. Re-engage or remove inactive subscribers.
Plain and simple, engagement is extremely important now. If ISPs see that subscribers aren’t opening your emails, then they are more likely to send your emails to the spam folder. You can try conducting a reengagement campaign to see if these subscribers are still interested in your emails. Try offering discounts or just asking “Are you still interested in our emails?” Email marketing is a relationship. If your subscribers are still inactive after trying to re-engage, it is better to remove these addresses from your email list to maintain a good reputation.
10. Watch your Sender Score, https://www.senderscore.org/
Sender Score is primarily determined by the amount of abuse complaints you are receiving from subscribers. It also monitors any spam traps or blocklists your IP may have landed on. Return Path sponsors this free service. Sender Scores under 75 are problematic and may start to see blocks by Comcast and other ISPs.
11. Follow creative best practices.
12. Additional monitoring.
Some senders may want to look into additional domain and IP monitoring. A few organization offer these type of services but nothing guarantees a free pass to the inbox. All senders must follow email best practices.
Additional monitoring services include:
Help ISPs and subscribers make the best judgment by being on your best behavior as an email sender. Follow these best practices and it will go a long way in helping your emails reach the inbox.