After discussing blacklisting, I’d want to take a look at where email delivery actually takes place: the ISP mailbox.

Let’s be clear: for consumer-facing marketing, the majority of customer inboxes are managed by four large ISPs.

• MSN/Hotmail

• Yahoo Mail

• AIM Mail

• Gmail

What Does It Imply?
Your email campaign is not optimal unless each of these mail platforms sends your message to the principal folder.

Why is mail routed to a bulk/spam folder?
All of these ISPs provide their users with a “report spam” option to report spam. This information is used by the ISP to generate a profile for your email. If recipients report your email as spam, you will encounter complications.

What measures can I take to prevent ISP spam complaints?
AOL suggests limiting spam complaints below 1-3% of traffic, based on volume. This number is exclusive to AOL’s user base; as a general norm, it is too generous. Be at or below 0.013 percent, or one complaint per 6,000 to 8,000 communications.

Reduce Complaints

Complaint reduction always begins with the collection of email addresses. It should be clear by now that sending unsolicited email only leads to difficulties. The mailing lists with the lowest complaint rates are either confirmed opt-in or single opt-in lists that are adequately handled. Consider the following if you have a robust permission-based list but still receive complaints at a rate that exceeds the recommended rate or is increasing:

• Customize your topic lines Inbox-level spam complaint buttons are offered by email systems featuring spam complaint buttons. A recipient need simply read subject lines to determine which mails to keep and which to quickly trash. Subject lines such as “Exciting deals for you, Bob!” are certain to be flagged as spam. Consider include your firm or publication’s name in brackets at the beginning of your subject lines.

• Consider putting instructions for unsubscribing in the email’s header, in addition to the bottom. Some people use the “report spam” button as a mechanism for unsubscribing and will not navigate through a whole message to locate the link.

• Provide users with information for whitelisting your domain. This prevents a user-based filter from interpreting your message for spam and redirecting it to the spam folder or prefixing the subject line with “[SPAM]”

• Provide a preference update page. Disclose how and how frequently your organization will utilize subscriber e-mail addresses. Permit subscribers to pick preferences on the opt-in form, and provide a link from the email to a preferences or profile change page.

Avoid content that appears spammy. Avoid the use of gaudy, strong typefaces; huge, red letters, etc. Avoid photos with low quality compression. A design that is clear and easy to understand is less likely to be misconstrued for spam.

• Don’t over e-mail. If users anticipate to get a few informative e-mails from your organization each month, you shouldn’t send two or three each week.

• Do not send unwelcome email. If subscribers have elected to receive your “Trends & Tips” newsletter, do not send them hard-sell e-commerce communications unless they have specifically requested them.

• Include opt-in details. If feasible, provide information such as the subscriber’s email address, date of opt-in, and how she may have subscribed in your email administration area (product registration, white paper download form, sweepstakes entry, etc). Due to the fact that many members get dozens of commercial e-mails everyday, it is simple for them to forget they signed up for your newsletter and then submit a complaint.

How can I test the deliverability of my ISP?
We suggest that you utilize a service such as EmailReach. The trial is free and will inform you of your eligibility within five minutes.
http://www.emailreach.com/default.aspx

Following these instructions should prevent you from being placed in the bulk folders of the major ISPs.

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