Originally posted by Salsa Labs

by Brett Schenker , Senior Deliverability Manager, Salsa

I read a recent blog post by ReturnPath about the growing difficulty to get emails into inboxes as opposed to spam boxes, especially when it comes to Gmail. Their recent report shows that global deliverability was at a historic decline in the second half of 2011. ISPs are tightening requirements on reputation metrics and, with increased traffic from users who don’t follow best practices that causes a perfect storm of mediocrity. According to ReturnPath, 1 in 4 messages don’t get to inboxes.

The blog post had me thinking back on how I’ve stressed numerous times that email lists should be opted into. By looking at the lists uploaded into our system, I can tell you those warnings have gone unheeded by many. So, I decided to do some research of my own by looking at Gmail – and confirmed ReturnPath’s findings. Over the past few months emails winding up in spam boxes have increased. Not for all, but definitely some. Those individuals who had more emails winding up in spam boxes, according to my reporting, also had the shadier list growth. Lots of imports, lots of lists not organic. Is it any wonder folks are finding it more difficult to deliver email?

Monitoring content, unsubscribing people when they’ve requested it, these things aren’t good enough anymore. Complaints and the way individuals interact with your emails are even more important than the content.

If you experience more than 0.1% complaints in a 24 hour period, you’ll experience delivery issues. A “complaint” is someone who clicks that spam button instead of hitting delete. This is a number that too few organizations pay attention to and can be queried for in the Salsa system.

When you send an email, you need to look at the complaint results. You need to figure out the feedback from your audience. Are people clicking that complaint button? Are they unsubscribing? Are they user unknowns? And where did they come from? considers all of these things.

But it all starts with that opt-in. Lists shouldn’t be purchased, emails must be organic. But even then that’s not enough anymore. Are you making it clear that people are opted in to you email list when they take an action or give money? When someone signs up, are you taking advantage of triggers? Do you send them a welcome email soon after? When you get email addresses at an event or an offline action, do you follow up reminding them where you got their email address?

As election season ramps up, I fully expect email issues to rise. Everyone needs to look at their internal email practices are before being frustrated and blaming email service providers. Look at your own practices and habits and make sure those are better than good – that they are the best they can be.

Even a small amount of email not being delivered isn’t just lost contacting; it’s lost actions and lost money for you and your organization.

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