One of the most common assumptions that we encounter from prospects and new clients is that part of our service involves guaranteeing your email messages delivery to your recipients inbox. To be crystal clear, we cannot and do not guarantee that your message will be delivered to your recipients inbox! Oh and by the way, neither can any other Email Service Provider (ESP) or Marketing Automation firm.
Why not, you ask?
Because. It's not how email and spam prevention works. Gone are the days of internet service providers offering "white-listing" services for their preferred senders that guarantees entry to the inbox. If you want to make it into your subscribers inbox, you need to earn that admission. To earn that admission you will need to strictly follow best practices for permission-based email marketing. The good news is that our platform provides you with all the technical tools you need to implement best practices.
It's all about reputation... not "whitelists"
Spam is a problem. It's annoying for people and its annoying for ISP's. But, how do ISP's know what's SPAM and what isn't? Well, the simple answer is that sometimes they don't. The old way of doing things was to scan an incoming email message and based on the content, make a determination if its potentially SPAM or not. This was a problematic and often unreliable approach and of course SPAMMERS found a way to work around it.
The latest and greatest approach to SPAM detection and prevention is known as Sender Reputation. Sender domains and IP blocks are now tracked and rated (sorta like a credit score) based on the type of email they send and how well they adhere to best practices as an email marketer. If you have a GOOD Sender Reputation, the chances are equally good that your message will be accepted for delivery and perhaps avoid the fate of a spam folder.
The leading provider of Sender Reputation tracking and reporting is Return Path with their Sender Score product. Almost every mainstream ISP works with Return Path and communicates a senders history with their network, including Emails sent to their inboxes, number of attempts to delivery to bad/invalid email addresses, how many spam complaints get generated and more. All of these data points will be used to calculate a senders score.
Now, some ISP's have gotten even more intelligent with their email placement and acceptance by tracking their customers interactions with senders. Gmail for example, tracks opens and engagement that their mailbox holders have with a senders email and can leverage that historical data when determining where to place the senders message (inbox, promotion or spam!). So, what does this mean? It means if you create good content and send it to people that actually want your email (i.e. drive engagement) then the better your deliverability will be.
Example: This email message is being signed by inbox25.com with Domainkeys and its leveraging our domain sending reputation.
In a shared sending environment, you will not be able to do much to impact an IP reputation. But, its important to implement sender authentication on any domain that you send email from, as that will allow you to build your sender reputation based on the domain that you send email from. Authentication can be easily added to your sending domains using our Email Verification Manager.
What types of authentication should you use?
Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is a simple email-validation system designed to detect email spoofing by providing a mechanism to allow receiving mail exchangers to check that incoming mail from a domain comes from a host authorized by that domain's administrators. The list of authorized sending hosts for a domain is published in the Domain Name System (DNS) records for that domain in the form of a specially formatted TXT record. Email spam and phishing often use forged "from" addresses, so publishing and checking SPF records can be considered anti-spam techniques.
Sender ID tries to improve on a principal deficiency in SPF: that SPF does not verify the header addresses that indicates the sending party. Such header addresses are typically displayed to the user and are used to reply to emails. Indeed such header addresses can be different from the address that SPF tries to verify; that is, SPF verifies only the "MAIL FROM" address, also called the envelope sender. Sender ID operates off of the same SPF record contained in your domains DNS zone. When you add an SPF record, you're also adding in Sender ID authentication.
DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is an email authentication method designed to detect email spoofing by providing a mechanism to allow receiving mail exchangers to check that incoming mail from a domain is authorized by that domain's administrators. In technical terms, DKIM is a technique to authorize a domain to associate its name to an email message through cryptographic authentication.
Verification is carried out using the signer's public key published in the DNS. A valid signature guarantees that some parts of the email (possibly including attachments) have not been modified since the signature was affixed. Usually, DKIM signatures are not visible to end-users, and are affixed or verified by the infrastructure rather than message's authors and recipients. In that respect, DKIM differs from end-to-end digital signatures.
Authentication and sending reputation When you add authentication information to your domain, an added benefit is that many ISPs use authentication to track sending reputation. With authentication handled by your domain, reputation with the receiving ISPs is influenced by your domain and the emails sent on behalf of your domain. This means you maintain control over the emails that affect deliverability for your domain. A positive reputation for your domain builds trust and improves deliverability, affecting whether your emails are caught by spam filters and how quickly the receiving servers will accept mail from your domain.
Deliverability Best Practices
Collect your data through opt-in methods only (Your Responsibility)
That means that your recipients specifically grant you permission to send them emails. If you don't have permission, then you're not going to last long on our platform and you're going to quickly destroy your chances of delivering messages to the inbox. That means don't buy, rent or trade email lists and then use them with inBOX25. Not only is it a major violation of our AUP, but your email delivery is going to be garbage.
Make sure your email message is spam-filter friendly (Your Responsibility, but we can help...)
Some words, phrases and formatting styles are synonymous with SPAM and no matter how well intentioned you might be, you should avoid using them in your message. Now, its hard to predict what words and phrases can be problematic.
Invalid Email Addresses have to go
Maintaining a clean subscriber list is key to successful delivery. ISPs will track the number of invalid email addresses that you attempt to deliver your message to and if the ratio is high (say more than .5 - 1.0% of your total sent), then its going to hurt your sender reputation.
Our platform will automatically remove hard bounce / invalid email addresses from your subscriber list. So, we'll have you covered going forward. But, you have a huge responsibility to ensure any new data you upload to your account is clean. You must also NEVER convert a subscriber(s) status from 'Bounced' to 'Active' unless you've confirmed the address is now valid.
We also keep track of soft bounces / temporary delivery failures and after a certain number of unsuccessful delivery attempts, we'll automatically remove the email address from an active status.
Large corporations and financial institutions are constant victims of forgeries and phishing scams. In order to protect their reputation and prove their emails are "authentic," they use authentication technology in their email campaigns. Some ISPs are beginning to filter incoming email based on authentication. inBOX25 customers can add authentication for their email domains using our Email Verification Manager and by adding records to their DNS zone. If you're not technically savvy with DNS that's OK. You can opt for our simple authentication and we'll automatically include full authentication using our own sending domain for every message you send. We support all the major authentication standards: DKIM, SenderID, Domain Keys, and SPF.
Minimize Spam Complaints
Spam complaints happen to everyone, but they need to be kept in check. We're registered with all the major ISPs to receive alerts whenever your recipients report your campaigns as junk or spam. These alerts that we receive are part of what's called feedback loops. When that happens, we instantly unsubscribe those members from your list in order to keep you (and inBOX25) from being blocked in the future. We're on feedback loops with AOL, Hotmail, Comcast, Yahoo, USA.net, Cox, Earthlink and more.
Honor opt-out requests immediately
This is a no brainer. If someone wants to unsubscribe, they better not receive another email message from you. Our platform offers single-click unsubscribe and an integrated suppression list to ensure that subscribers that have opted out in the past, never reappear on an active subscriber list.
How your subscribers respond to your message really matters and ISP's are beginning to track this data. Are your subscribers regularly opening your email and clicking your links? If they’re engaging with your message, then your reputation and deliverability will improve. If they’re not engaging and are deleting, marking as spam, or unsubscribing then your reputation will drop and affect your overall deliverability.