Clicky

Low open rates?

Poor email deliverability is probably the cause

You can fix it — complete our checklist to land emails in your customers inbox every time — and reach 65-80% open rate (or higher)

Do it yourself or hire us

❝This is the cheatsheet that took me months to learn myself, all in one place, bravo.❞

Corey Breier Corey Breier, Cofounder Reciprocity Community Read Corey's Tweet

❝What bizdev reps at CRM platforms won't tell you about. The unbiased secrets behind getting into inboxes.❞

Danny Donahue Danny Donahue, Cofounder Spoke Technologies Danny's Linkedin

You'll only hear from us when we update our checklist, or to share an important piece of information that can help improve your deliverability and open rates. You can use this form multiple times, you'll only be subscribed once. Please enter a valid email address.

Authentication (5 tasks) 🔗

Properly configured email authentication is the first step to improving deliverability and open rates.

  • An SPF record defines which IP addresses are allowed to send email from your domain. Answer the questions to generate an SPF record.

    Now let's setup your SPF record by creating a TXT record for your domain. Below are general step-by-step instructions on how to add a TXT record. The process will be similar for most domain registrar companies and hosting providers with some small differences.

    1. Log into your Account
    2. Navigate to the Domains page
    3. You should see a list of all your domains; click on the domain
    4. Click on DNS or Edit DNS
    5. Then click on Host Records or Edit Host Records
    6. Now you will have the option to create a new record
    7. For the record Type select TXT
    8. For the Host/Name field enter the @ character or your domain (example.com), both are acceptable
    9. For the Content/Value field copy and paste the SPF record we generated for you
    10. For the TTL field leave it as-is to use the default value
    11. Click Save to complete your updates (allow up to 48 hours for your DNS changes to take full effect globally)

    Below is an example SPF record to guide you.

    If these instructions are not helpful, select instructions for some of the most popular domain registrars and hosting providers.

    Don't see your registrar or provider in the dropdown? Send us a message so we can add it to the list.
    1. Log in to your GoDaddy Domain Control Center
    2. Select your domain to access the Domain Settings page
    3. Under Additional Settings, select Manage DNS
    4. Select ADD below the table of your existing DNS records
    5. Choose TXT from the record options drop down menu
    6. For the Host field enter the @ character or your domain (example.com), both are accepted
    7. For the TTL field enter 1440
    8. For the TXT Value field paste the SPF record we generated for you
    9. Select Save to complete your updates (allow up to 48 hours for your DNS changes to take full effect globally)
    1. Sign in to your BlueHost account
    2. On the left side of your screen click Domains
    3. Next to the domain you're setting up, click the Manage down arrow and select DNS
    4. Scroll to the TXT (Text) section and click Add record
    5. For Host Record, enter @
    6. For TXT Value, paste the SPF record we generated for you
    7. For the TTL, leave the default value of 4 hours
    8. Click Save
    1. Sign in to your CloudFlare account
    2. Select the domain you wish to setup
    3. Click on the DNS tab
    4. Click on Add Record
    5. For Type select TXT
    6. For Name enter the @ character
    7. For TTL, leave it on Auto
    8. For the Content field paste the SPF record we generated for you
    9. Click Save
    10. Once saved, switch the Proxy Status to DNS only
    1. Log in to your account in the DigitalOcean DNS Panel
    2. Click on the domain you want to modify
    3. Click the Add Record button
    4. Select the TXT record type
    5. Type your subdomain or @ (to indicate your current domain name) in the first field
    6. Paste the SPF record we generated for you in the second field
    7. Click on the Create button to save all the modifications you did on the page
    1. Sign in to your eNom account
    2. In the header, under Domains, click My Domains
    3. On the My Domain page, select the domain name that you’re verifying
    4. In the Manage Domain drop-down list, choose Host Records
    5. On the Edit Host Records page, if there is not already a blank row, click the + new row button to add a new host record row.
    6. In the new row, set the Host Name field to the name of your subdomain (e.g. "mail" if your email address is [email protected]), or leave it blank if you do not use a subdomain
    7. Select TXT from the Record Type drop-down menu
    8. Paste the SPF record we generated for you in the Address field
    9. Click the save button
    1. Log in to your Account Manager
    2. Click Domains on the menu bar at the top of the page
    3. Click the Domain Name that you wish to manage. If you only have one domain, you will automatically be redirected to its management page
    4. Scroll down to the DNS Settings section and click the Hamburger Menu on the right, then select Add Record (or to update an existing record: hover your cursor over the TXT Record and click the Modify option that appears on its right)
    5. Select TXT Record from the drop-down menu, then click the Add button
    6. Enter the Sub Domain if necessary, followed by the Text Record in the corresponding fields
    7. Click Update
    1. Log in to your IONOS account
    2. For the desired domain, click on the gear symbol under Actions and select DNS
    3. Click Add Record and select TXT under Type
    4. In the Host name field, type the @ character
    5. In the Value field, paste the SPF record we generated for you
    6. Click Save, the TXT record has now been added
    1. Log in to your Namecheap account
    2. Choose Domain List on the left and click on the Manage button next to your domain
    3. Navigate to the Advanced DNS tab from the top menu and click on the Add new record button
    4. Select TXT Record for Type, paste the SPF record we generated for you into the Value field and for the Host field enter the @ character or your domain (example.com)
    5. Click on the Save all changes button. Normally, it takes 30 minutes for newly created host records to take effect.
    1. Log in to your DreamHost account
    2. On the left menu, click on the Manage Domains link
    3. Click on the DNS link below your desired domain
    4. For Name enter your subdomain or leave this field empty if you want the SPF to be applied to your main domain
    5. For Type select the TXT record type
    6. For Value paste the SPF record we generated for you
    7. Click on the Add Record Now! button
    1. Log in to your HostGator account
    2. On the Dashboard, click Launch cPanel
    3. Scroll down to the Domains section and click Advanced Zone Editor
    4. Open the instructions for the TXT record you want to add to your domain’s DNS records
    5. Under Add a Record, from the Type list, select TXT
    6. In the Name field, enter your domain name (which looks like mydomain.com)
    7. In the TTL field, enter 3600
    8. In the TXT Data field, paste the SPF record we generated for you
    9. Click Add Record. The new TXT record now appears in the Zone File Records table.
    1. Log in to your Hostinger account
    2. In the header, click on Domains
    3. Next to the domain click on Manage
    4. Scroll down to the Advanced section and click on DNS Zone Editor
    5. Chose which domain’s DNS Zone you wish to manage
    6. Right on top of DNS Zone Editor, you will see a section for adding a new record
    7. For the Type dropdown select TXT
    8. For the Name field enter the @ character
    9. For the Content or Value field paste the SPF record we generated for you
    10. Once you're done click on Add Record
    1. Log in to your HostMonster account
    2. Go to the Domains menu at the top and click the Zone Editor sub menu
    3. Select your domain name from the drop-down
    4. Scroll to Add DNS Record at the top of the Zone Editor
    5. For the Name field type your domain name (example.com)
    6. For the TTL field enter 14400
    7. For the Type dropdown select TXT
    8. For the TXT Value field paste the SPF record we generated for you
    9. Click Add Record
    1. Log in to your InMotion Account Management Portal
    2. Under your account name, click the cPanel button. You will then be redirected and automatically logged into cPanel
    3. Locate the Domains section of cPanel and click on the Zone Editor icon
    4. Find your domain in the list under the Domain heading. Under the Actions heading, click on the Manage link that corresponds with the domain you want to create the record for
    5. Click the +Add Record drop-down menu button and select the option for the record you would like to add, in this case it's TXT
    6. Notice the page now includes fields to enter the details for the new TXT record at the top of the list. Enter the details of the record into the appropriate fields.
    7. For the Type dropdown select TXT
    8. For the Name field type your domain name (example.com)
    9. For the TTL field enter 900
    10. For the Record field paste the SPF record we generated for you
    11. To save your new record, click the Add Record button
    1. Log in to your JustHost account
    2. Go to the Domains menu at the top and click the Zone Editor sub menu
    3. Select your domain name from the drop-down
    4. Scroll to Add DNS Record at the top of the Zone Editor
    5. For the Name field type your domain name (example.com)
    6. For the TTL field enter 14400
    7. For the Type dropdown select TXT
    8. For the TXT Value field paste the SPF record we generated for you
    9. Click Add Record
    1. Log in to your Network Solutions account
    2. From the Network Solutions Account Manager, under My Domain Names, click Edit DNS
    3. Click Change Where Domain Points
    4. Select Advanced DNS and click Continue
    5. Scroll down to Text (TXT Records) and click Edit TXT Records
    6. In the first open Host field, enter @
    7. In the TTL field, leave the default value of 7200 (seconds)
    8. For the TXT field paste the SPF record we generated for you
    9. Scroll down and click Continue
    10. Click Save Changes to confirm the TXT record
    1. Log in to your OVH Control Panel
    2. Select Domains in the services menu on the left-hand side
    3. click on the domain, then go to the DNS Zone
    4. To add an SPF record, you should add a new entry in the OVHcloud configuration (DNS zone) of your domain. To do this, click on Add an entry.
    5. In the window that opens, you will be offered several types of DNS record. From here, there are two ways of adding an SPF record. Manually or using the SPF Wizard.
    6. choose Manually sine you have already obtained the required information
    7. From the record types offered, click on TXT
    8. In the Value field, paste the SPF record we generated for you
    9. To complete this action, click on Next
    10. Check that the information you have entered is correct, then click Confirm
    1. Log in to your Siteground account
    2. Click the Services tab
    3. Click the Hosting child tab
    4. Under your domain’s hosting plan, click Manage
    5. On the Plan Details page, next to the domain you want to verify, click Manage
    6. On the Website Details page, next to your domain, click Site Tools
    7. In the left column, click Domain and then DNS Zone Editor
    8. Under Create New Record, click the TXT tab
    9. Leave the Name field empty
    10. In the TTL field, leave the default value of 1 hour
    11. In the Value field, paste the SPF record we generated for you
    12. Click Create
  • Email providers use DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) to detect forged sender addresses in email (email spoofing), a technique often used in phishing and email spam. Emails that fail authentication are more likely to arrive in the spam or junkmail folder. Follow instructions below to obtain your DKIM Key and add a DKIM record to your DNS records.

    Obtain your DKIM Key

    Your DKIM Key can be obtained through your hosting control panel. Locating it depends on the type of control panel used by your hosting provider. Select the control panel type below for instructions.

    1. Log in to cPanel
    2. Scroll down to the Email section
    3. Click on Email Deliverability
    4. Click on Manage next to your domain
    5. Scroll down to the DKIM section
    6. Locate the Name and Value fields with the 2 values you will need to create the DKIM record
    7. If your hosting provider controls DNS for your domain click Install the suggested record to have the DKIM record automatically added

    Example how to install DKIM in cPanel

    If you see the following warning message displayed: This system does not control DNS for this domain, you'll need to manually create the DKIM record with your domain registrar.

    This system does not control DNS for this domain in cPanel

    1. Log in to DirectAdmin
    2. Hover over the E-mail Manager tab
    3. Click on Email Accounts
    4. Click on the blue Enable DKIM button

    If your hosting provider controls DNS for your domain check if the DKIM record was successfully added to your DNS.

    1. Hover over the Account Manager tab
    2. Click on DNS Management
    3. You should see a TXT record with the following starting value v=DKIM1

    DNS Management with DirectAdmin

    If your hosting provider doesn't manage DNS for your domain, you will need to copy and paste the contents of the DKIM record and manually create a new DKIM record with your domain registrar.

    1. Log in to Plesk
    2. In the left menu click Websites & Domains
    3. Select your domain
    4. Click on the Mail tab
    5. Click on Mail Settings
    6. Scroll down and select Use DKIM spam protection system to sign outgoing email messages
    7. Click on Apply to save your changes

    Enable DKIM with Plesk

    If your hosting provider controls DNS for your domain, check if the DKIM record was successfully added to your DNS.

    1. In the left menu click Websites & Domains
    2. Select your domain
    3. Click on the Hosting & DNS tab
    4. Click on DNS Settings
    5. Scroll down until you locate the TXT record which starts with a value of v=DKIM1

    Plesk DKIM Record Example

    If your hosting provider doesn't manage DNS for your domain, you will need to copy and paste the contents of the DKIM record and manually create a new DKIM record with your domain registrar.

    Create your DKIM record

    Similar to SPF records, DKIM records are created by adding a TXT record to your DNS records. Since you now have experience adding a TXT record you should already know what to do. Below is an example DKIM record to guide you.

    Setup DKIM for Email Service Providers

    If you send email through an email marketing platform or email delivery provider; you need to setup DKIM records for them as well.

    Don't see your platform or provider in the dropdown? Send us a message so we can add it to the list.

    Once your DKIM records are setup, use our DKIM checker tool to verify if a DKIM record is present for your domain, or if CNAME records are present to authenticate sending email from your marketing platform or delivery provider.

  • DMARC records allow senders to indicate their emails are protected by SPF and/or DKIM, and give instruction if neither of those authentication methods passes. Please be sure you have SPF and DKIM records setup before using DMARC. Becoming DMARC compliant involves more than just adding a TXT record to your DNS records. It's a process that can take several weeks to months, depending on your sending volume, email marketing platform or email delivery provider who send email on your behalf.

    DMARC compliance will prevent malicious actors from abusing your domain reputation which can in turn impact your deliverability. This is what a typical DMARC compliance process looks like:

    1. Add a DMARC record to your domain host records with a policy of p=none
    2. Collect data from DMARC reports using a monitoring service for several weeks or months depending on your organization
    3. Perform an audit and adjust your SPF & DKIM records if neccessary to bring your domain into alignment
    4. Collect more data from DMARC reports for several weeks or months depending on your organization
    5. Perform an audit, adjust your SPF & DKIM records if neccessary and enforce a stricter DMARC policy of p=quarantine
    6. Continue collecting data from DMARC reports for several weeks or months depending on your organization
    7. Perform a final audit, adjust your SPF & DKIM records if neccessary and enforce the strictest DMARC policy of p=reject
    8. Continue collecting DMARC reports and monitoring your sending habits

    The goal of becoming DMARC complaint is to eventually enforce a policy of p=reject. Setting a reject policy will ensure that all malicious email is stopped. The recipient of the intended malicious email will never become aware of the email in the first place, as it will never get sent to a spam or quarantine folder. Since it's completely blocked, emails are never delivered and end-users cannot be tricked into clicking on a malicious link or opening a dangerous attachment.

    The downside is if legitimate emails are failing authentication and emails get rejected, the receiver will never know they are not receiving the intended email. For organizations not actively using a reporting system to monitor authentication, it could take months to discover that legitimate email is not being delivered, potentially hurting marketing programs or other opportunities to engage with prospects, customers and partners. This is why it's important to take DMARC compliance step-by-step, use a monitoring service and incrementally enforce a stricter DMARC policy.

    Choose a DMARC monitoring service

    Before creating your DMARC record start by choosing a monitoring service to process reports and monitor DMARC compliance.

    Postmark Free or $10/month https://dmarc.postmarkapp.com/
    Dmarcian Free up to 2 domains or $24/m https://dmarcian.com/pricing/
    Dmarcly Basic plan $17.99/month https://dmarcly.com/pricing
    Powerdmarc Free or $8/month https://powerdmarc.com/power-dmarc-pricing-policy/
    Create your DMARC record

    Answer the questions below to generate a DMARC record for your domain.

    Start with a low percentage and increase gradually. This will allow you to slowly test stronger authentication policies without impacting legitimate emails. For exmple, you could start with 10%. That will instruct email providers to quarantine/reject a random 10% of emails and the remaining 90% of emails will not be impacted.
    If using a DMARC monitoring service they will provide a unique email address where aggregate DMARC reports will be sent for processing.
    Individual failure reports, or Forensic Reports, are copies of individual pieces of email that fail the DMARC check.
    Add your DMARC record

    Similar to SPF and DKIM, DMARC records are created by adding a TXT record to your DNS records. Since you now have experience adding a TXT record you should already know what to do. Below is an example DMARC record to guide you.

  • Having an SSL certificate installed on your domain enables you to send emails via a secure SSL/TLS connection. It encrypts and secures the connection between your mail server and the receiving mail server, and is an important key metric in establishing your sender score and reputation with email providers. If you don't have an SSL certificate, contact your hosting provider, or signup for the CloudFlare Free Plan which includes a free SSL certificate.
  • A reverse DNS lookup takes an IP address and attempts to locate a DNS pointer (PTR) record for that IP address. Email providers check if an email came from a valid server before bringing it onto their network and will reject emails from any server that does not return a valid PTR record. This is generally not something you need to worry about since your hosting provider or email marketing platform will manage this for you, but PTR records provide a level of security and verification and are an important component of email deliverability. Use our reverse DNS lookup tool to check if your IP address has a published PTR record.

    If the result of the reverse lookup reveals you don't have a PTR record, you'll have to create one yourself. If that is the case; use the tool below to generate a PTR record and add it to the DNS records managed with your hosting provider (PTR records need to be added at the IP address provider level which is usually your hosting provider).

    Finally, contact your hosting provider to setup the PTR record.

Infrastructure (8 tasks) 🔗

Set up the technical infrastructure to ensure the smooth delivery of emails to your customers inbox.

  • Email Marketing Platforms help their users send emails to their subscribers or sales prospects, and Email Delivery Providers help their users send transactional emails to their customers. Email Marketing Platforms can be subcategorized into Inbound and Outbound. It's important to use the correct tool as they cannot all be used for the same type of email, and could result in being banned if you misuse their services.

    Transactional
    Welcome message, sales receipt, comment notification or account verification
    Delivery Services
    Amazon SES, Postmark, Mailgun, Mailjet, SendGrid
    Inbound
    Newsletters or emails where users requested information (filled out a single or double opt-in form)
    Marketing Automation Software
    ActiveCampaign, Sendinblue, Hubspot, Mailchimp, ConvertKit, Campaign Monitor, Klaviyo, Drip, Bento
    Outbound
    Sales or unsolicited emails (cold emails)
    Sales Outreach Software
    Lemlist, Reply.io, Outreach.io, MailShake, SmartReach
  • If you're sending marketing emails choose a platform with ability to schedule batched emails. Depending on the number of contacts you have in your list, slowly drip out the emails over a duration of hours or days instead of sending them all at once, example from MailChimp below.

    MailChimp Schedule Batch Delivery
  • Decide whether to use a shared or dedicated IP address. A shared IP is used by multiple senders while a dedicated IP is reserved just for you. If you send less than 50,000/month then a shared IP will be fine, though many lower volume senders switch to a dedicated IP address to control their reputation. If you send more than 50,000/month you should get a dedicated IP or several, depending on your sending volume. Most email marketing platforms and email delivery providers offer dedicated IP addresses for an additional monthly fee.
  • The reputation of the IP address, domain, and email address all play a role in getting emails into your customer's inbox rather than the spam folder. Or, in the case of Google, in the Promotions tab. Email providers know customers want and expect transactional emails, but it's not always easy for them to tell what's transactional and what's better classified as marketing emails.

    Using a separate email address, subdomain and IP address for each type of mail makes it much more likely that your important emails will get to your customers, and will prevent normal correspondance or transactional emails from being negatively impacted by marketing email campaigns that accidentally lead to a negative domain or IP reputation.

    Standard Emails [email protected] Your Server IP Address
    Transactional Emails [email protected] Delivery Provider IP Address
    Marketing Emails [email protected] Marketing Platform IP Address
  • How do you know when a recipient has marked your email as spam? What can you do about it? If you set up feedback loops, email providers will notify you when a recipient has marked one of your emails as spam. You'll need to set up separate feedback loops for all the email providers you send to. Below are links to signup to feedback loops for the most popular email providers.

    Postmaster Tools by Gmail https://www.gmail.com/postmaster/
    Microsoft Junk Mail Reporting Program
    (includes Outlook.com, Live.com, Msn.com & Hotmail.com)
    https://postmaster.live.com/snds/JMRP.aspx
    Yahoo Mail Complaint Feedback Loop https://io.help.yahoo.com/contact/
    List of other Feedback Loops https://glockapps.com/isp-feedback-loops/
  • Custom tracking domains are important if you use an email marketing platform to send emails. Instead of using your email marketing platform's domain to track actions (opens, link clicks & unsubscribers), custom tracking domains use your domain to track actions and isolate your reputation from other users who use the same provider.

    For example, if a spammer uses MailChimp, and the spammer's emails contain the default MailChimp tracking domain, and this causes the default tracking domain to be listed by a domain-based spam blacklist, and if your emails contain the same tracking domain, the deliverability of your emails could be affected.

    Creating a custom tracking domain involves adding a CNAME record to your DNS records. Most email marketing platforms will give you the ability to create a custom tracking domain and will provide step-by-step instructions.

    Mailshake Custom Tracking Domain

    And here's an example CNAME record for MailShake.

    Mailshake Custom Tracking Domain

  • Having these two role email accounts is good practice and a requirement by some email providers. They are used to receive abuse complaints so you should check them regularly and resolve all issues as soon as possible.

    Postmaster Email [email protected]
    Abuse Email [email protected]
  • Never use a free webmail address as your "From" address. For example, email addresses from Yahoo, AOL, Outlook/Hotmail or Gmail. Instead, use an email address registered at your organization's own domain. When an email is sent through an email marketing platform, receiving email providers view free webmail "From" addresses as more suspicious than those from custom domains, increasing the chance emails from those addresses will be rejected.

Reputation (3 tasks) 🔗

Email deliverability is closely connected to sender reputation. If your behavior is in accordance with the general rules and you have proper authentication and infrastructure, your sender reputation will be high and your deliverability will thrive.

  • Check your domain and IP address against known spam blacklists to see if you've been blacklisted. If you are; request to be delisted. If you're using an email delivery provider be sure to check the outbound sending IP addresses assigned to your account.

  • Talos Reputation Center generates a reputation score grouped into Good, Neutral and Poor. You should aim for an Email Reputation score of Neutral or Good.

    Barracuda Central maintains a history of IP addresses for both known spammers as well as senders with good email practices.

    Sender Score is a free email reputation evaluation service from Validity. It provides an indication of the trustworthiness of an email sender's IP address.

  • Warm up the sending IP addresses tied to your domain with the objective of building good IP & domain reputation with email providers. If you just migrated to a new email marketing platform, email delivery provider or you purchased a new dedicted IP address, you need to start with low volume and increase the sending rate gradually over time (some email marketing platforms offer automatic warmup services for an additional fee). Below is an example 12 week exponential warmup strategy to achieve a final send rate of 20,000 emails per hour. Combining this with scheduled batch delivery is how you achieve great deliverability and high open rates.

    Week 1 119 per hour
    Week 2 200 per hour
    Week 3 250 per hour
    Week 4 333 per hour
    Week 5 400 per hour
    Week 6 500 per hour
    Week 7 667 per hour
    Week 8 1,000 per hour
    Week 9 1,333 per hour
    Week 10 2,000 per hour
    Week 11 4,000 per hour
    Week 12 20,000 per hour

List Quality (4 tasks) 🔗

Use healthy list hygiene practices to keep your list clean and ensure your marketing emails are delivered and opened.

  • Sending emails to address that bounce will harm your sender score and reputation with email providers, which is why it's important to validate your contacts. If you acquired contacts through a double opt-in method you don't need to validate them as they have already been verified through the double opt-in confirmation process (double opt-in is when a user has to confirm their email address after filling out a form or subscribing to your newsletter). An email validation service will filter out fake, disposable, catch-all and spam trap email addresses. You can do a quick Google search for email list validation to find companies offering this service. Some email marketing platforms will do this for you automatically when you import your list, or offer this service for an additional fee.

  • Don't send marketing emails to role or general email addresses, instead send to personal or business email addresses of individuals.

    Sales Department [email protected]
    Chief Executive Officer [email protected]
    John Doe, CEO Company Email [email protected] ✔️
    John Doe Personal Email [email protected] ✔️
  • Spam traps are email addresses used by email providers and blocklist operators to identify senders who aren't following email best practices. There are two types of spam traps:

    Pristine These spam traps are email addresses that have never been valid and couldn't even opt into receiving email. They are available on public websites but hidden within the site's code. The purpose of pristine traps is to identify email marketers who use poor list building practices such as scraping sites for emails or purchasing contact lists.
    Recycled These spam traps were once valid email addresses but have since been repurposed by their provider. Someone could have used this address to opt in at one time, but the address has since been abandoned. Recycled spam traps might be on your sending list if: 1) Your list is more than one year old. 2) You don't email your list frequently or 3) There are mistyped or invalid addresses on your list.

    The impact of spam traps varies depending on the type. Hitting a pristine spam trap is more severe than hitting a recycled trap. If you've emailed a pristine spam trap, your domain or sending IP address could be immediately blocklisted. If you send email to recycled spam traps regularly, you could start to see your emails being routed to the junk folder. To avoid spam traps, regularly clean up your contact lists.

  • Too many bounced emails have the same effect as spam complaints: they hurt your reputation which affects email deliverability. If you send an email to a fake email address it will be returned with a hard-bounce message. If you remove fake and bounced email addresses when you clean your email list, the number and percentage of bounces will go down the next time you send. There are two types of bounced email: Hard and Soft. Hard bounces happen because the domain name doesn’t exist, the email address doesn’t exist or delivery is blocked by the email server. Most email marketing platforms will automatically clean hard-bounced email addresses from your list but they will keep soft-bounces. Soft-bounces usually happen because the recipient reached the maximum storage quota for their email account. It's worth noting that if soft bounces happen regularly, then they'll eventually become hard bounces.

Content Quality (15 tasks) 🔗

Sending high-quality content that follows best practices will increase sender reputation and boost deliverability.

  • The majority of email providers don't support every type of HTML content you see on the web. Web browsers are able to display scripts, animations, and complex navigation menus, while your typical email inbox isn't built to handle this type of content. If you're sending outbound email marketing campaigns (cold emails) we recommend creating very simple email content with links only. If you're sending inbound marketing campaigns (newsletters) you can get a little more creative, but don't use complex HTML.

    Safe to use Static or table-based layouts, HTML tables & nested tables, template width of 600px-800px or simple, inline CSS
    Do not use JavaScript, iframe, Flash, embedded audio, embedded video, forms or div layering
  • When including links to images or sites in your email body, only use secure HTTPS links. If you link to images or sites without secure links, emails could be considered insecure by email providers and blocked or sent to the junkmail folder.

    http://www.yourdomain.com Not secure
    https://www.yourdomain.com Secure ✔️
  • Signatures featuring your logo and links to social media is fine for regular correspondance but not for transactional email or marketing email campaigns. Keep it simple with a few lines inluding your name, position title, company and link to your website. You want to keep the number of links in your email body to a minimum. In order to comply with anti-spam laws, you'll also need to include a opt-out or unsubscribe link beneath your signature or at the bottom of your emails, as well as your physical or mailing address.

  • While it's common practice to include attachments in emails to people you communicate with on a regular basis, doing so in bulk will trigger spam filters. That's because actual spam emails typically contain harmful attachments. In turn, spam filters are designed to detect and remove emails with attachments. Attachments also increase the size of your email – making them longer to load. The information you need to include should be in the body of the email. To include additional material, use a secure link to another page rather than an attachment.
  • Never use spammy words in any portion of your emails. Below is a list of words in either your subject line or body that will trigger spam filters. If any of your emails require the usage of any of these terms (like when running a promotion), try to use synonyms. Spam filters have become much more sophisticated in recent years and using one or two phrases won’t hurt you so long as you use email marketing best practices and use spam trigger words within context.

    Spam Trigger Words
  • This is a common practice by spammers and is sure to trigger spam filters and land your emails in the junkmail folder. Write simple, easy to read subject lines in lowercase letters.

    Spammy subject line CELEBRATE MOTHERS DAY WITH FREE FLOWERS!
    Good subject line Joe, celebrate mothers day with these beautiful flowers
  • Personalization is vital to reach high open rates by including the recipients first name in the subject line. If recipients see emails are addressed to them personally, with a compelling subject line that's relevant to them, they're more likely to open and read your emails. Open rates are also an important engagement signal for email providers. If they see recipients opening and replying to your emails, they're more likley to send your emails directly to the inbox and increase your sender score and reputation.
  • If you send in bulk, email providers will expect you to include an opt-out or unsubscribe link. Otherwise, your emails can land in the spam folder and you can eventually be blacklisted. They're also important to avoid having your emails marked as spam as they give recipients the opportunity to opt-out of receiving your emails and ensures you're only sending to people who want to hear from you. Unsubscribe links are also required in order to comply with anti-spam laws which gives email recipients the right to unsubscribe.
  • If you don't know what base64 code is, you're probably not using it. If you are – stop! Spammers use base64 to hide email content from spam filters. Using base64 code will land your emails in the spam folder.
  • Spammers use shared domain url shorteners to hide the domain names they use for scams and viruses from spam filters. Because of this some email providers filter our emails containing URL shortners. As an alternative try using the original URL link to a website or file and linking it to text that describes exactly where it's taking the reader. This puts the link in the background HTML, which both looks better and can help with potential filtering problems.
  • Sending from a no-reply address comes across as uncaring to subscribers. It can also be frustrating if they need to reach you about something, and it may even be bad news for delivery rates in the long-term. The way a user engages with your email — including replying — can help determine where you end up in the inbox. If people respond to your email campaigns, via reply email, this is seen as a good signal and helps improve your reputation with some email providers.
  • To assist with subscriber trust, it's a good idea for your "From" name to be similar to your "From" email address. For example, if a subscriber receives an email from ABC Widgets Support, they would expect it to be linked with an email address similar to [email protected]
  • If you send both marketing and transactional emails, give recipients an idea of what you're sending them by fitting the "From" email address to the purpose. For example: [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected] This splitting of function also allows subscribers to manage your emails using their own client filters however they see fit. It also ensures that if they, for example, write a rule that deletes all emails from [email protected], they will still receive emails from [email protected] or [email protected] If you're worried about managing too many email addresses, you can use a different reply-to address when sending a campaign to redirect replies.
  • While it's good for deliverability reasons to use a "From" address that invites recipients to contact you, you may want responses to go to a different address. If you have a large subscriber list you could end up receiving tens of thousands of out-of-office emails that you'd prefer to go somewhere other than your main email address. Most email marketing platforms will give you the ability to set a different email address for replies when sending a campaign.

    From Name ABC Widgets
    From Email [email protected]
    Reply-to Email [email protected]
  • Using alt tags for images included in your emails is important for accessbility, user experience and getting your emails past the spam filter. They provide a textual alternative to your images, and a useful fallback for people who are blind, visually impaired or when your images cannot be displayed. Here's an example alt tag being used in an image.

Test, Test & Test Again!

You're almost done, it's time to test your emails.

First, test the quality or spammyness of your emails. Navigate to Mail-Tester.com and send an email to the address generated for you (the email body should contain the content you want to send your contacts). Then, wait a few seconds and check your score.

Your goal is to get a perfect (10/10) score. If you get less than a perfect score, go back and fix what's missing, then test again until you achieve a perfect (10/10) score.

Second, find out exactly where your emails will land. Navigate to GlockApps Inbox Email Tester and send an email to the address generated for you (again, the email body should contain the content you want to send your contacts). Then, wait a few seconds and click to see the results. GlockApps has a free plan which allows you to perform up to 3 tests per day.

Your goal is to get a Good score of 80/100 or more. If you get less than 80/100, go back and fix what's missing, then test again.

Maintain Your Reputation (4 tasks) 🔗

Now that you're properly setup and sending emails, maintain your good sender reputation to profit from high deliverability and open rates.

  • Monitor your bounce rate closely and keep it below 5% to maintain your good sender reputation with email providers, and ensure your emails consistently land in your customers inbox.
  • Monitor your spam complaint rate closely and keep it below 0.1%. A spam complaint rate is the number of people who reported email as spam out of the total number of messages you have sent. The industry acceptable standard spam complaint rate is anything less than 0.1%, or 1 complaint for every 1,000 sent messages. Anything above this level is considered high.
  • Most email providers only store reputation data for 30 days, so you should not go 30 days or more without sending on any given IP address. If you do, you'll need to warm it up again, so make sure to be consistent with your sending rate.
  • If some of your contacts haven't opened any of your emails after several months — it most likely means they've lost interest, or your emails are no longer relevant to their immediate needs. Purge these subscribers from your list to maintain high open rates and healthy sender reputation with email providers. Removing inactive subscibers means you're sending to fewer people but they're more likely to open your emails and engage with your campaigns, which will have a positive impact on your deliverability.

Toolkit

Use our tools to fix poor deliverability and optimize open rates.

SPF Generator

SPF specifies which servers and domains are authorized to send email on behalf of your organization.

Generate SPF
DMARC Generator

DMARC instructs receiving servers what to do with emails from your organization that don't pass SPF or DKIM.

Generate DMARC
DKIM Checker

Check if a DKIM record is present for your domain, or if CNAME records are present to authenticate sending email from your marketing platform or delivery provider.

Check DKIM
Reverse DNS Lookup

Perform a reverse DNS lookup to check if your IP address has a properly configured PTR record and generate a PTR record if needed.

IN PROGRESS
TLD Spam Score

Check top-level domain (TLD) spam score with Spamhaus (.com, .net, .org, .io, .app, .ai, etc).

Check TLD
Talos Intelligence

Check domain and IP address reputation with Talos Intelligence Reputation Center.

Check Reputation
Warmup Calculator

Calculate the sending rate to warm up your domain and IP address.

COMING SOON
Mobile Device Previewer

Preview how your sender name, subject line and intro text will appear on various mobile devices.

COMING SOON

Get Technical Help

Need help with the checklist? Join our Discord and get answers to your questions!

Reviews

We love to hear from you ❤️

❝If you want to send a lot of emails to strangers to sell your business without getting blocked, this is the way to do it. Took me months to learn how to do this effectively, while here are all the things you need to know in one place!❞

❝Hans did excellent, his assistance was very clear and prompt, his communication and availability was always perfect, and he resolved all our issues. Would definitely hire again, extremely satisfied with all aspects of our interaction.❞

❝Hans is a true professional. I had an overseas "expert" totally ruin my system. I needed Hans to fix it. Hans was great. He knew exactly what the overseas guy was supposed to know--and so much more. What's more, Hans followed up to make sure the issue was fixed.❞

❝What bizdev reps at CRM platforms won't tell you about. The unbiased secrets behind getting into inboxes.❞

Danny Donahue Danny Donahue, Cofounder Spoke Technologies Danny's Linkedin

Services

For those who need help or don't want to DIY

Consultation

Guidance to maximize deliverability & open rates
and profit from your email campaigns

$200
One-time fee, in USD
  • 2 x 30min Zoom meetings
  • List of recommendations
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Answers to your questions
  • 14-days priority chat support

Authentication Setup

We setup your domain authentication
to land in the inbox & protect your reputation

$150
One-time fee per domain or subdomain, in USD
  • Create & setup SPF, DKIM & DMARC
  • Setup DKIM for email service providers
  • Check reverse DNS & SSL
  • Setup DMARC monitoring
  • Perform email spam test

Infrastructure Setup

We setup your authentication & infrastructure
for cold outreach or newsletter campaigns

$750
One-time fee per setup, in USD
  • 30min intro Zoom meeting (optional)
  • Create & setup SPF, DKIM & DMARC
  • Check reverse DNS & SSL
  • Create and setup email accounts with ESP
  • Plan and setup warmup process
  • Validate email addresses (extra costs apply)
  • Perform email spam & inbox placement tests
  • Create, configure & schedule 1st campaign
  • 30-days priority chat support

Deliverability Manager

For small or medium sized businesses
and large organizations

TBD $
Monthly subscription or contract
  • Dedicated deliverability manager
  • Authentication & infrastructure setup
  • Priority email, phone & chat support
  • DMARC report analysis & alignment
  • DMARC compliance & management
  • IP & domain reputation management
  • Monitor sender score & reputation
  • Anti-spam regulation compliance
  • Resolve critical deliverability issues

Sales Policy: All sales are final and non-refundable unless work on your project has not begun — in which case you're eligible for a full refund. If we've already begun work on your project — only a partial refund will be granted based on the amount of time completed on your project. If you want to cancel or are unhappy with our service please get in touch with us, we're reasonable people and we'll work with you to come to resolution.

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