The 21 quickest ways to improve email deliverability

Did you lose something important in your postal mail? Many of us do, once in a while. Small things like postcards, but they’re small things.

Many of us do, once in a while. Small things like postcards…

But imagine losing something more valuable and pricey like a mortgage payment, or even a rent check.

And no matter how much we complain about the post office, their delivery rates are astonishingly satisfying compared against email messages.

Just a few weeks ago, Return Path – the email verification service provider – released a shocking report that one is every six emails never makes it to the inbox.

That’s lot!

Just imagine: One is six of your online course went missing, or one in six customer-service emails.

Even if you’re super busy with other daily demands of your precious time, such as managing more content on your website, tracking sales, and even managing your social accounts, when one is six emails is NEVER delivered, then it’s high time you do something about it.

Simply cutting down that rate by 50% – from 1 in 6 to 1 in 12, for example – will give you an instant 10% lift for your entire email marketing campaign.

Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to boost deliverability rates as you’ve imagined.

And, even if your email deliverability rates are awesome, it’s never too laborious to maintain them.

Here are 21 easy methods for improving your email list’s deliverability rates, or maintaining the healthy deliverability rate that you’ve already got. (Make these simple tweaks now when you still have enough time to see the results before the holiday begins.)

1) Opt for double opt-in over single opt-in

What’s the difference between the double and single opt-in?

In the double opt-in (also knowns as “confirmed opt-in”), your website readers receive a confirmation email right after they’ve submitted their email address into your form and hit the “Submit” button.

Until they click a link in that confirmation email, they’re not a subscribed users yet.

So what’re the benefits of using double opt-in? Studies have shown that deliverability rates go up when double opt-in are used, as opposed to using of single opt-in.

The unsubscribe rates go down, while open and click-through rates go up through the roof, almost overnight.

In this way, double opt-in is better than single opt-in.

However, with one exception – you’ll get 20% fewer subscribers with the double opt-in.

But that shouldn’t worry you. The small loss often translates into huge rewards at the end.

So… always opt for double opt-in.

2. Clear hard bounce immediately after one bounce

What is a hard bounce? It’s an email that is sent to an email address that no longer exists or closed. The major email service providers such as Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail monitors these bounces, and if you keep sending too many hard bounces, they’ll start suppressing the delivery of all your emails.

So… remove hard bounces asap and keep your list fresh and updated.

There are email service providers who’ll make this task as easy as a walk in the park.

3. Remove soft bounces after too many attempts

What’s soft bounce, then? It’s an email that is sent to an email address that is full, or not available for a moment – due to an email server crash, for example.

Soft bounces are not scary as hard bounces, but it’s a great idea to remove them all from your contact list.

Clean them off your list right after 3-4 soft bounces.

4. Skip over-mailing

What “over-mailing” means for one marketer can be a normal everyday routine for another marketer.

But normally, if you’re sending emails more than once a day, you’re “over-mailing.”

And when you send multiple emails regularly, people tend to respond less. (Many clueless marketers sent multiple emails hoping they’d get as twice as many responses.)

That suppression in response rate can significantly reduce your overall deliverability, which brings us to the next critical point.

5. Remove contact addresses that haven’t opened or clicked for “a while”

How long “a while” can be? Usually speaking, it could be 6 months to a year.

The time frame you pick is all up to you, but you’ll have to draw the line somewhere.

If someone is not opening and clicking on your emails, the best thing to do is to remove them from your list, forever.

While it might hurt to lose another contact at first, but you’ll be happy with the better deliverability rate on the list who actually responds to your emails.

6. Don’t send “spam traps”

What’s a “spam traps?” It’s an email address hasn’t been used for a very long time by the owner, like 20 months, and has either been taken by the anti-spam organization or an ISP.

It’s called “spam trap” because any emails you send to it, you’ll be flagged as a spammer.

Mailers are reporting that their Send Score dropped by a whopping 20 points by sending just one email to a spam trap.

So, what’s the bottom line? It’s straight-forward. Sending mail to a spam trap can hurt your email marketing efforts.

The most common ways of getting a spam trap on your list are through purchased list. But there are other lesser common ways as well. Heck, even the most popular email marketers end up with spam traps now and then.

7. Use your company or brand name as the “from” name.

In other words, don’t use free email accounts like Gmail or Hotmail to send your email messages.

Always use your company or brand name as the “from” name for better email deliverability.

It’s very important you do this. Just look at the image below. If you noticed, the “from” name is actually more noticeable than the email subject in some email clients.

8. Send emails from IP address that has a good “Sender Score”

If you’re not sure whether you’re doing this or not, simply contact your service provider.

9. Use email subject lines that are relevant to your message

Don’t deceive your readers. Don’t mention a sale or a coupon in your subject line and not offer it in the email message.

In short, don’t promise anything in your email subject line unless your email can back it up.

10. Avoid attachments

Don’t include attachments in your message and send it to your subscribers. Avoid attaching PDF and MS Word documents in your email, for examples. Rather, include a direct link to download in your message.

11. Skip vague coding languages

Avoid using HTML, PHP, JavaScript, ASP, ActiveX, and frames in your emails. Just keep your email simple and readable, alright?

12. Remove all spam words from your emails

Search Google for “spam word lists” and see if you can spot words in your email message that appears to be a spam. It’s little bit trickier than it sounds. If you removed each and every word from your email list that appears on the “spam word list,” then there won’t be any words to communicate.

For this, just use your common sense.

Tip: Remove words that sound anything like “FREE FREE FREE FREE” from your emails.

13. Avoid embedding videos

Using videos in emails may increase email engagement, unfortunately, it can also suppress deliverability.

If you still want to use a video, use an image that looks like a video, and place a link to a page that will automatically play the video for you.

And, if you do this properly, most subscribers won’t even notice any difference.

14. Never send an email that’s over 40KB

What? So you cannot send an email that’s over 40KB… ever?

No, silly! I’m just trying to make an important point here: keep a majority of your email size under 40KB file size limit.

This may mean you’ll have to cut down the size of images used in your email. I know it’s an extra work, but it generates a better result. Isn’t that what you want?

15. Utilize “Spam Screening Tool”

Almost every email clients have one of these tools installed on them, where you actually compose your emails.

But, if there’s none, no problem. Just visit or search Google for “free spam tools,” and run your email through their process.

It only takes less than 5 minutes.

For best deliverability rate, your email must never exceed the standard SpamAssassin spam score of 5.0. But if your email’s spam score is higher than 5, the tool will automatically let you know.

Cool eh? Glad you appreciate. And here’s another important point.

16. Send emails using a professional email service provider

For love of god, don’t send a bulk email to your contact list through your personal email account (Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo). And, do not ever use a WordPress plugin to manage your mailing list, too.

If you Google, you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands, of professional, reliable, and quality email service providers on the web, such as Aweber, MailChimp (best for beginners), and Constant Contact, among other well-known ones.

The best part is that they offer low-cost plans as well as free trials.

So… get one.

17. Avoid purchasing list

Purchased lists can destroy your business as it not only affect your email deliverability rates but also of those who uses the same email provider.

No wonder why reputable email service providers never allow their customers to use purchased lists.

18. Process unsubscribers instantly

There are few times when you’ll send emails to a list that have asked you to take off your list, even up to a few weeks, such as sending mass emails to political groups.

Don’t be that person, though.

Make sure you instantly unsubscribe people when they ask for it.

19. Choose an email service provider with a “very high SenderScore”

Ask your email provider if you’re not sure about this.

If they’re reputable, they’ll be more than happy to inform you about its SenderScore.

20. Use high-end anti-spam technology

Ask your email service provider if they use SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (Domain Name System validation). If they’re good, they probably do.

21. Be CANSPAM certified

Is your email service provider CANSPAM compliant? Ask again to ensure your ESP participates regularly in industry events like ESPC, feedback loop programs, EEC, and MAAWG, and is CANSPAM compliant.

The world won’t end if they aren’t active in all other initiatives, though.

What you’re doing here is looking for evidence that proves people sending your emails are fighting against spam, and have a great relationship working with the top ISPs and anti-spam organizations.

Just make sure to ask your ESP if they’re active in these things.