Best Practices in Email Deliverability


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For an email campaign to be successful, marketers must blend art and science to reach the right person at the right time, with the right offer. Much planning, analysis, and creative work go into creating a campaign that can motivate people to take that next step on the buyer’s journey. But no matter how compelling your email is, if it doesn’t reach the inbox – you’ve lost that opportunity. If you know the basics of deliverability, you’re better prepared to build emails that will actually reach your potential customers.

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Best Practices in Email Deliverability

  1. 1. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in Email  DeliverabilityHow  to  maximize  email  deliverability  for   greater  campaign  success Act-­On  Software ©  Copyright  2012  All  Rights  Reserved
  2. 2. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityTable  of  ContentsIntroduction:  Best  Practices  in  Email  Deliverability 1I.   List  and  Contact  Management 2II.   Spam  Filtering 6III.   Content  Filtering:  a  Deeper  Look 10IV.   Authentication 14V.   Reporting  and  Tracking 15VI.   Sending  Email 16VII.   Top  Ten  Delivery  Best  Practices 17Appendix  A:  Email  Delivery  Glossary 18Appendix  B:  CAN-­SPAM  Compliance  Guide 20Appendix  C:  Tips  to  Avoid  False  Positives 22 Deliverability  failures  remain  a  challenge  for  commercial  email  senders,   with  an  average  1  in  5  emails  never  reaching  the  inbox.   —Return  Path’s    “The  Global  Email  Deliverability  Benchmark  Report,”  1H  2011 Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved.
  3. 3. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityIntroduction:  Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityFor  an  email  campaign  to  be  successful,  marketers  must  blend  art  and  science  to  reach  the  right  person  at  the  right  time,  with  the  right  offer.  Much  planning,  analysis,  and  creative  work  go  into  creating  a  campaign  that  can  motivate  people  to  take  that  next  step  on  the  buyer’s  journey.  But  no  matter  how  compelling  your  email  is,  if  it  doesn’t  reach  the  inbox  –  you’ve  lost  that  opportunity.  If  you  know  the  basics  of  deliverability,  you’re  better  prepared  to  build  emails  that  will  actually  reach  your  potential  customers.    What  is  deliverability?Deliverability  is  simply  the  measure,  usually  expressed  as  a  percentage,  of  how  many  emails  actually  make  it  into  the  inbox.  Deliverability  is  affected  by  the  business  process  of  an  email  service  provider,  but  the  most  critical  factors  rest  with  the  sender.Who  should  read  this  paper?These  best  practices  are  intended  to  provide  the  marketer  who  is  directing,  managing,  or  creating  email  campaigns  with  practical  recommendations  to  improve  email  deliverability.  The  emphasis  is  on  useful  tactics,  not  technology.Best  practicesFurther  sections  of  this  paper  get  more  granular,  but  at  a  high  level,  these  are  the  key  best  practices:   1.   Send  only  to  prospects  who  want  and  expect  your  email   2.   Send  meaningful,  relevant  content  to  the  right  person,  at  the  right  time 3.   Practice  good  list  hygiene 4.   Comply  with  all  legal  requirementsassociations,  and/or  consider  joining  an  organization  such  as  the  American  Marketing  Association  (AMA),  Direct  Marketing  Association  (DMA),  Marketing  Automation  Institute  (MAI),  et  al.  The  Email  Experience  Council,  the  email  marketing  arm  of  the  DMA,  maintains  a  helpful  website:  https://www.emailexperience.orgThis  is  a  living  document.  If  you  have  best  practices  to  share  or  comments,  please  contact  us  at  support@act-­ Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 1
  4. 4. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  Deliverability I.   List  and  Contact  Management Your  email  delivery  results  improve  when  you  send  only  email  that  is  wanted  and   expected,  and  purge  old,  inactive  contacts.   For  practical  reasons,  sending  email  that  recipients  want  and  expect  dictates  that  bulk   email  should  be  opt-­in.  People  who  are  interested  in  your  offers  and  expecting  them  will   generally  engage  with  your  email  in  some  way,  enhancing  your  deliverability  rates.  Mailing   to  people  who  aren’t  expecting  your  email  increases  the  odds  that  your  email  will  be   deleted  or  ignored.  That  penalizes  your  delivery  rates.  Here’s  why: Webmail  providers  often  track  engagement Some  webmail  providers  track  how  engaged  subscribers  are   with  an  email  and  its  sender.  Positive  actions  tracked  may   ESPs  and     include  opening  a  message;;  adding  an  address  to  the  contact   Webmail  Providers   list;;  clicking  through  links;;  clicking  to  enable  images;;  and   An  email  service  provider   scrolling  through  the  message.  Negative  actions  may  include   (ESP)  sends,  receives,  and   reporting  the  email  as  spam;;  deleting  it;;  moving  it  to  the  junk   stores  email  for  end  users   folder;;  and  ignoring  it. or  organizations.  A  webmail   Webmail  providers  may  use  these  metrics  (and  more)  to   provider  furnishes  and   determine  whether  your  email  should  be  blocked,  delivered  to   administers  Internet  access  for   the  inbox,  or  delivered  to  the  junk  folder.  When  receivers  interact   end  users,  including  small  and   medium  businesses,  and  is   that  email  from  this  sender  is  generally  wanted,  and  should  be   almost  always  an  ESP  as  well. delivered.  Mail  that  receivers  ignore  or  delete  may  be  delivered   “Commercial”  ESPs  provide   to  the  junk  folder...or  not  at  all.  Some  webmail  providers  take   third-­party  email  marketing   abandoned  email  addresses  and  turn  them  into  spamtraps.   services. What  this  means  for  the  marketer  is:  A spamtrap is  an  email   If  you  have  too  many  unengaged  or  abandoned  addresses  on  address  used  to  lure  spam,  so   your  lists,  webmail  providers  may  mistake  your  email  for  spam  it  can  be  added  to  a  blacklist  or   and  block  it,  or  route  your  email  to  the  junk  folders,  or  throttle  other  blocking  mechanism. the  number  and/or  rate  of  emails  you  can  send.   In  an  ideal  world,  all  the  good  leads  would  subscribe  to  your  lists,  and  you’d  always  send   email  that  recipients  want.  If  a  recipient  stopped  wanting  email,  they  would  unsubscribe   and  stop  receiving  the  email.  Recipients  would  never  change  email  addresses,  or  if  they   did  they  would  notify  you  of  their  new  addresses. Alas,  the  real  world  is  messy,  and  addresses  of  even  engaged  recipients  can  go  bad.   Subscribers  don’t  always  remember  to  move  subscriptions  to  new  addresses.  People  lose   their  passwords  and  get  locked  out  of  their  email  accounts.  Recipients  ignore  email  they   don’t  want  instead  of  unsubscribing.  Employees  leave  jobs,  and  their  email  accounts  may   not  be  deleted.  Given  time,  even  a  good  list  will  develop  “list  fatigue.”   Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 2
  5. 5. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityThe  rules  of  engagementMaintaining  high  recipient  engagement  requires  active  contact  management.  Disinterested  or  inactive  receivers  often  don’t   An  Internet  Protocol  bother  to  unsubscribe  from  email  that  they  don’t  want  to  receive;;   address  (IP  address)  they  just  delete  or  ignore  it.  As  a  list  ages,  more  and  more  of  these   is  a  numerical  label  unengaged  users  accumulate  on  the  list,  degrading  delivery.   assigned  to  each  device   (e.g.,  computer,  printer,  One  best  practice  is  to  purge  unengaged  addresses  before  too   server)  participating  in  many  accumulate.  Determining  how  long  a  contact  should  stay  on   a  computer  network;;  it   serves  as  host  or  network  inactive  contacts,  requires  an  understanding  of  your  particular  market  and  demographics.  For  instance,  marketers  working  with   and  location  addressing.products  or  services  with  long  buying  cycles  will  have  different   Every  email  sent  comes  business  and  marketing  processes  than  marketers  working  with  short  buying  cycles.  All  marketers  need  to  be  cautious  about   IP  address.mailing  too  often,  no  matter  how  engaged  contacts  are.  What  to  purgeThe  overall  goal  of  purging  emails  is  to  remove  those  email  addresses  that  no  longer  deliver  to  potential  customers.  Sometimes  that  means  removing  addresses  abandoned  by  their  users;;  other  times  that  means  removing  addresses  belonging  to  users  who  are  no  longer  interested  in  your  products  or  services.  It’s  a  good  practice  to  remove  role-­based  email  addresses,  such  as  “”  or  “”You  can  use  metrics  to  identify  abandoned  or  unengaged  accounts,  based  on  available  data.  “Available  data”  on  a  known  prospect  might  include  email  activities  such  as  opens  and  clicks.  If  you’re  using  a  marketing  automation  system,  it  might  also  include  website  visits,  downloads,  and  webinar  attendance.How  to  purgeHow  a  sender  implements  purging  from  their  email  list  is  just  as  important  as  deciding  what  to  purge.  The  two  viable  options  for  purging  are: 1.   Simply  remove  any  addresses  that  meet  purging  criteria  (usually  time  and  activity)   from  all  future  mailings 2.   Send  a  re-­engagement  email  asking  users  to  take  an  action  to  stay  on  the  listRemoving  addresses  that  meet  purging  criteria  from  all  future  mailings  works  for  some  senders.  These  senders  typically  have  low  ROI  from  each  individual  address,  so  spending  the  money  and  time  to  send  a  re-­engagement  campaign  isn’t  cost  effective.   Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 3
  6. 6. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityWhen  to  purge  Many  delivery  experts  advise  purging  any  address  displaying  no  activity  for  an  arbitrary  time,  typically  12  months.  But  the  time  that’s  right  for  you  depends  on  the  buying  cycle  for  your  products  or  services.  Your  organization’s  sales  data  can  provide  a  trustworthy  guide  to  the  typical  engagement  period  for  buyers;;  let  that  dictate  the  right  time  to  implement  a  purge  campaign.  Depending  on  your  industry,  lists  containing  addresses  that  are  three  or  four  years  old  are  generally  prime  candidates  for  purging.  Standard  industry  metrics  indicate  that  up  to  30  percent  of  addresses  on  a  mailing  list  may  turn  over  in  just  one  year.  Most  of  these  addresses  are  not  unsubscribed  and  never  bounce;;  they’ll  just  register  as  not  engaged.problems  have  surfaced.  If  you  wait  until  your  email  is  blacklisted  or  delivered  to  the  junk  folder,  you  risk  having  to  make  much  more  aggressive  purging  decisions  than  marketers  who  proactively  manage  their  data.  delivered  to  the  junk  folder,  with  no  clear  indication  as  to  why.  Some  email  may  be  delayed  or  rejected.  These  minor  delivery  problems  signal  it’s  time  to  consider  implementing  a  list  hygiene  process.  Re-­engagementSending  a  re-­engagement  message  offers  a  chance  to  win  back  the  recipient.  A  re-­engagement  message  usually  alerts  a  recipient  that  their  subscription  is  expiring  due  to  lack  of  activity,  and  entices  the  user  to  opt  in  again  to  continue  receiving  the  email.  spamtraps  from  your  list.  Your  list  will  lose  some  numbers,  but  usually  the  people  lost  were  unengaged,  poor  prospects  anyway.  recipient  to  come  back.  This  can  have  a  better  response  rate  than  a  single  email.  In  a  B2B  environment,  sales  development  reps  may  call  inactive  recipients.  This  has  the  advantage  of  getting  direct  feedback  from  the  recipient  about  their  current  business  needs,  and  can  result  in  an  internal  referral  if  there  is  a  new  or  better  contact.If  a  subscriber  doesn’t  interact  with  the  re-­engagement  email  or  series  of  emails,  then  it’s  time  to  remove  their  address  from  future  sends.  This  doesn’t  necessarily  mean  that  the  subscriber  is  lost  to  you  forever.  If  you’re  using  an  integrated  marketing  automation  platform,  when  a  former  subscriber’s  interest  re-­ignites  and  they  visit  your  website,  you’ll  still  know  who  they  are.  You  can  send  that  purged  subscriber  an  email  to  make  a  special  offer  or  tell  them  what’s  new,  with  the  goal  of  signing  them  up  again.   Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 4
  7. 7. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityMaintaining  list  cleanliness  Purging  is  not  a  one-­time  event.  In  order  to  maintain  list  hygiene,  senders  should  have  an  ongoing  process  of  data  maintenance,  including  monthly  re-­engagement  campaigns.  An  initial  purge  may  be  large,  particularly  for  lists  that  have  a  lot  of  very  old  email  addresses  on  them;;  subsequent  purges  will  likely  be  limited  to  a  fraction  of  the  subscribers  acquired  in  a  single  month.  Passive  list  maintenance,  through  bounce  handling,  feedback  loop  management,  and  unsubscription  handling  also  helps  keep  a  list  clean. Best  practices  for  list  management   Mail  to  people  who  want  and  expect  your  email.  Contacts  who  opt  in  are  your  best   prospects Encourage  recipients  to  add  you  to  their  address  books;;  make  it  easy  to  do  so Have  a  clear  privacy  policy  for  subscribers   Build  lists,  don’t  buy  them Develop  online  forms  that  encourage  people  to  indicate  their  interests;;  use  this   data  to  create  targeted  subscription  lists   Make  it  easy  and  obvious  for  contacts  to  opt  out  (beyond  CAN-­SPAM   requirements) Honor  “unsubscribe”  requests  immediately Determine  an  optimal  mailing  time  and  frequency,  and  stick  to  it,  for  consistency Best  practices  for  list  cleaning  and  maintenance Clean  your  lists  on  a  regular  basis Understand  the  engagement  cycles  of  your  sales  process Identify  the  point  where  recipient  engagement  drops;;  segment  disengaged   subscribers  by  useful  criteria,  such  as  whether  they  ever  made  a  purchase Re-­engage  inactive  contacts  with  messaging  and  offers  targeted  to  their   specific  segment Purge  inactive,  unengaged  contacts  when  necessary Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 5
  8. 8. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityII.   Spam  FilteringEmail  Marketing  Reports  suggests  that  deliverability  is  a  branding  issue,  and  asks:  “If  you  have  delivery  issues  and  land  in  the  spam  folder,  will  people  start  to  think  of  you  as  spam,  even  if  you’re  not?”from  unwanted  bulk  email.  They’re  also  useful  for  blocking  malicious  email,  including  virus  target  markets.  the  process.  While  there  is  overlap,  we  can  conceptually  divide  the  process  into  three  stages. Stage  1:  Should  this  email  be  accepted? Stage  2:  Where  should  this  email  be  delivered?  To  the  inbox  or  the  junk  folder? Stage  3:  How  should  this  email  be  displayed?  Stage  1:  Should  this  email  be  accepted?receiving  webmail  server.  The  receiving  server  must  decide  whether  to  accept  the  email  or  not.  At  this  point,  the  only  thing  the  receiving  server  knows  about  the  email  is  the  IP  reputation  of  that  address.Reputation  checkWhen  it  comes  to  IP  addresses,  past  performance  is  an  indication  of  future  results.  If  an  IP  address  consistently  delivers  good  email,  then  it  is  very  likely  this  new  email  is  good,  too.  If  an  IP  address  consistently  delivers  bad  email,  then  it  is  very  likely  the  new  email  is  bad,  using  IP  addresses  with  good  reputations.  Most  IPs  send  a  mix  of  good  and  bad  email;;  your  reputation  may  fall  somewhere  in  the  gray  area.  This  is  where  blacklist  (see  next  entry)  tagging  comes  in.  If  the  email  is  in  the  gray  area,  and  is  tagged  on  a  blacklist,  then  it  may  be  rejected.  If  the  email  is  in  the  gray  area  but  Most  webmail  providers  do  check  domain  reputation  during  this  stage  of  email  delivery.  They  look  at  domains  (,  URLs  (  and  email  addresses  (  in  the  email.  Domains  can  be  checked  against  internal  or  external  blacklists. Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 6
  9. 9. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityBlacklistsWebmail  providers  build  internal  blacklists  (sometimes  called  “blocklists”),  which  are  lists  of  IP  addresses  that  will  be  blocked  to  prevent  spam,  viruses,  or  phishing  emails  from  reaching  the  end  user.  Different  types  of  blacklists  identify  different  types  of  harmful  like  spamtrap  hits  or  complaints.  Some  list  domains  commonly  found  in  spam.  Some  list  Many  organizations  use  “external  blacklists.”  These  are  industrial-­strength  (and  often  expensive)  blacklists  compiled  by  third-­party  specialists.  Checking  an  IP  address  against  a  blacklist  is  a  simple  way  to  look  at  an  email,  but  the  action  taken  after  the  check  varies.  Email  servers  may  block  all  subsequent  email  from  blacklisted  IP  addresses,  or  simply  Botnet  checkMany  viruses  and  botnet  infections  masquerade   A  botnet  is  a  collection  of  compromised  as  servers,  but  have  characteristic  behaviors  or   computers  connected  to  the  Internet  (each   compromised  computer  is  known  as  a  email  servers.  The  receiving  server  checks  for   ‘bot’).  When  a  computer  is  compromised  these  characteristics.  If  the  sending  server  looks   by  an  attacker,  there  is  often  code  within  like  it  is  infected,  then  email  is  rejected.   the  malware  that  commands  it  to  become   part  of  a  botnet.Decision  and  action  Depending  on  the  answers  to  each  test  during  the  evaluation  phase,  the  receiving  email  server  will  make  one  of  three  decisions:  to  accept  the  email,  reject  the  email,  or  defer  delivery  for  some  period  of  time.  The  email  server  also  evaluates  its  own  current  state.  If  there  is  a  heavy  load  on  the  server,  more  email  may  be  deferred,  with  deferrals  completely  unrelated  to  any  spam  status  of  the  email.  The  feedback  that  the  sending  server  receives  will  be  one  of  three  states: We  accept  your  email We’d  like  you  to  wait  and  try  later We  don’t  want  this  emailEmail  that  passes  all  the  evaluation  checks  gets  accepted  into  the  receiving  email  server  and  is  passed  on  to  the  next  filtering  stage.  Email  that  fails  all  evaluation  checks  is  rejected.  Email  that  is  in  a  gray  area  can  be  tagged;;  accepted  and  passed  onto  further  filters;;  or  deferred  for  later.  DeferralsSome  deferrals  are  done  based  on  reputation  alone;;  others  are  based  on  server  overload;;  still  others  on  some  combination.  When  email  is  deferred,  the  receiving  server  can  collect  more  information  in  preparation  for  the  next  delivery  attempt.  Deferrals  do  not  automatically  mean  there  is  an  actual  problem  with  the  email.  Deferrals  over  long  periods  of  time  may  indicate  a  problem  with  the  sender’s  IP  reputation.   Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 7
  10. 10. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityStage  2:  Where  should  this  email  be  delivered?  To  the  inbox  or  the  bulk  folder?reputation  becomes  a  less  important  factor  in  these  decisions.  Content  evaluation A  soft  bounce  is  an  email  message   that  makes  it  to  the  recipient’s  mail  to  the  complex:  word  use,  misspellings,  the  ratio  of  text  to  images,  font  colors,  the  subject  line  and  actual  text  in  the   but  is  bounced  back  undelivered  before  message,  and  much  more,  including  the  hidden  structure   it  gets  to  the  recipient.  This  can  happen  of  an  email.   if  the  content  didn’t  pass  muster,  the   receiving  server  is  overloaded,  or  the   receiver’s  mailbox  is  full.  and  known  good  email,  and  determine  how  like  spam   A  hard  bounce  is  an  email  message  the  email  is.  Some  tests  look  for  distinctive  features  from   that  has  been  returned  to  the  sender  particular  pieces  of  software.  For  instance,  there  was  a   and  is  permanently  undeliverable.  piece  of  spamware  that  used  a  fake  time  zone  value  in  its   This  may  be  due  to  an  invalid  email  headers.  Email  with  that  value  was  always  spam.   address,  or  perhaps  the  email  Another  type  of  spamware  forged  an  MS  Outlook  string.   recipient’s  mail  server  has  blocked  Email  containing  this  string  was  always  spam.   your  sending  server.  Other  tests  look  for  features  that  are  in  both  spam  and  non-­spam  email.  A  lot  of  spam  advertises  diet  pills,  so  legitimate  email  mentioning  weight  loss  may  receive  a  positive  score  (indicating  spam)  due  to  the  word  “diet.”  Likewise,  email  that  mentions  loans  or  business  cards  or  Viagra  may  also  receive  a  score  simply  for  mentioning  things  often  mentioned  in  spam.  are  evaluated  based  on  the  reputation  of  the  domain,  and  sometimes  the  IP  address  the  domain  or  hostname  points  to.  Domains  and  URLs  have  their  own  reputations  separate  from  the  reputation  of  the  sending  IP  address.  Once  all  tests  have  been  run,  the  server  has  a  compiled  numerical  value  for  the  email.  This  value  is  compared  to  the  internal  standard  value  and  the  email  is  delivered  either  to  the  inbox  or  the  bulk  folder.  On  rare  occasions  the  email  server  may  determine  that  this  email  is  very  malicious,  and  throw  it  away  without  notifying  either  the  sender  or  the  receiver.  This  is  uncommon  and  should  not  happen  to  legitimate  mailers.  address  books,  so  the  ISP  delivers  all  email  from  that  address  to  this  user’s  inbox.  Users   Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 8
  11. 11. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityStage  3:  How  should  this  email  be  displayed?In  this  stage,  the  webmail  provider  determines  whether  or  not  it  will  display  the  email  with  on  the  email  content,  the  result  of  any  authentication  test,  and  the  user’s  preferences.  Some  webmail  providers  display  authentication  results  to  the  end  user  in  the  email  client.  Senders  that  pass  authentication  get  a  green  check  mark  or  other  signal  that  the  email  is  box  or  no  comment  at  all.  The  business  inbox,  and  a  note  about  large  corporationsBusinesses  often  protect  inboxes  with  third-­party  systems  such  as  those  by  Symantec,  McAfee,  WebSense  and  others,  which  can  impede  delivery;;  it’s  estimated  that  only  80  percent  of  email  is  delivered  to  the  inbox  through  these  enterprise  systems.  Large  corporations  often  have  email  systems  that  rival  webmail  providers  in  recipient  size  and  complexity.  They  may  use  third-­party  blacklists,  and/or  other  third-­party  spam  appliances  or  software.  The  vendors  of  these  various  systems  sometimes  share  threat  information  Small-­  and  medium-­sized  businesses  sometimes  outsource  their  email  systems  to  commercial  webmail  providers  and  so  are  subject  to  that  provider’s  rules  and  restrictions.   Send  to  people  who  want  and  expect  your  email Use  a  consistent  “From”  address Make  sure  your  company  name  and  contact  information  is  obvious Craft  a  clear,  strong  subject  line  and  create  compelling,  concise  content Make  sure  links  point  to  valid  domain Have  a  high  ratio  of  text  to  images;;  avoid  image-­only  email Avoid  hard-­to-­read  color  combinations   Don’t  use  all  caps Minimize  or  avoid  Flash  and  JavaScript Make  the  opt-­out  process  easy  and  obvious Comply  with  all  CAN-­SPAM  requirements Identify  your  brand  in  the  subject  line Use  email  authentication  (see  page  14) Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 9
  12. 12. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityIII.   Content  Filtering:  a  Deeper  Lookemail  through  when  it  comes  from  a  “partially  good”  sender.  things;;  good  content  can  compensate  for  poor  structure,  or  vice  the  end  user.  Headers,  footers,  pre-­headers,  HTML  structure,  text  parts,  images,  and  domains  are  all  analyzed  as  part  of  the  content  screening,  and  compared  to  other  email,  poor  or  unknown  reputation.reputations  and  using  them  to  send  unwanted  email.  There  are  a  number  of  spammer  techniques  that  borrow  the  reputation  of  an  email  server  in  order  to  attempt  to  get  spam  without  hurting  the  authentic  email  coming  from  that  IP  address.  How  software  affects  content  analysisSome  of  the  distinctive  content  differences  between  wanted  and  unwanted  email  are  due  to  the  sender’s  use  of  written  language.  Some  of  the  differences  are  due  to  senders  of  unwanted  email  trying  to  hide  their  identity  or  their  content.  Many  of  them  are  due  to  the  different  quality  software  used  to  send  each  sort  of  email.  Mail  clients  used  by  individuals,  and  content  composition  software  used  by  high-­quality  ESPs,  tend  to  produce  well-­written  code,  complying  with  email  and  MIME  RFCs,  and  common  practices  for  email  composition.  The  software  used  by  spammers,  botnets,  viruses,  and  low-­quality  ESPs  tends  to  write  bad  code  that’s  noncompliant  with  the  RFCs.  (See  the  glossary  for  information  about  RFCs.)  not  cause  you  problems.   Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 10
  13. 13. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityHeader  analysisEmail  headers  record  the  technical  steps  of  email  delivery  as  part  of  the  email.  Most  email  clients  hide  the  email  headers  from  the  recipient  by  default.  Filters  and  email  the  headers  must  contain  in  order  to  be  valid  email.  The  standards  also  allow  for  some  optional  information  to  be  included  in  headers.  Some  spamware  puts  in  distinctive  headers,  thus  any  email  with  that  header  in  it  is    most  likely  spam.  Examples  of  this  include  a  header  with  a  fake  version  of  Microsoft  Outlook,  or  a  date  header  referencing  a  time  zone  that  does  not  exist.  Often  spamware  email  software.  Body  analysisThe  email  body  is  that  part  of  the  email  displayed  to  the  user;;  it  is  also  the  unseen  HTML  displayed  and  behind-­the-­scenes  data  and  metadata.HTML  structureHTML  structure  is  an  important  part  of  the  analysis.  Legitimate  senders  should  use  valid  and  correct  HTML  in  all  their  emails.  Spammers  have  long  used  fake  HTML  tags  in  an    the  HTML  standard.  Other  spammers  put  random  content  in  HTML  comments  as  a  way  Filters  also  look  at  the  pattern  of  HTML  and  the  layout  of  an  email  using  a  technique  certain  bits  of  software  or  certain  people.  Content  creators  are  consistent  in  how  they  Spelling  and  grammar  errorslook  at  the  type  and  number  of  misspelled  words.  Too  many  misspellings,  use  of  foreign   Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 11
  14. 14. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityDomains,  links  and  images Has  this  domain  ever  been  seen  in  email  before?   Has  email  with  this  domain  generated  complaints? Does  the  plain  text  part  of  the  link  match  the  domain  listed  in  the  <a  href>  tag?  (the   href Has  this  domain  been  listed  on  any  domain  based  blacklists? Have  we  blocked  this  domain  in  the  past?TBrand  your  emails  so  that  recipients  can  clearly  associate  the  email  with  your  brand,  general  guidelines: and  act  on  an  offer  without  having  to  load  images  in  the  email  client. downgrade  for  text  that’s  hard  to  read. Avoid  linking  to  or  mentioning  domains  or  URLs  you  don’t  control.  Just  mentioning   Use  a  consistent  “From”  address.  When  subscribers  add  you  to  their  contact  lists,  your   Identify  your  brand  in  the  subject  line.  Senders  have  a  few  seconds  to  grab  the   attention  of  the  recipient.  Branded  and  consistent  subject  lines  help  the  user  know   this  is  wanted  email  and  encourage  them  to  open  it.There  are  entire  classes  of  content  (Viagra,  loans,  diet  anything,  Rolex  watches)  that  are  so  heavily  spammed  that  any  email,  even  the  cleanest  opt-­in  email,  mentioning  those  products  is  treated  suspiciously.  Senders  with  products  that  could  trigger  suspicion  can  try  data  hygiene. Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 12
  15. 15. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  Deliverabilityand  evaluate  your  email  by  its  aggregate  score.  One  element  of  your  email  may  look  suspicious,  but  if  the  rest  of  it  is  good,  and  your  reputation  is  good,  it’s  likely  that  your  email  will  be  delivered. Best  practices  for  content  creation Short,  compelling  emails  are  more  deliverable  (and  tend  to  get  better  results) Don’t  use  “Dear”  as  a  salutation Don’t  use  “click  here”  or  “click  below”  to  offer  links  to  people.  Use  link  title,   color,  and  placement  to  signify  links The  phrase  “for  only”  followed  by  a  dollar  sign  is  a  sign  of  spam.  Mention   pricing  using  other  terms,  such  as  “reduced  to”  or  “Member  price”  or  a   phrase  you’ve  used  before  that  works,  or  simply  state  it Other  words  and  phrases  that  might  make  your  legitimate  email  look   spammy  include  “free”,  “bonus”,  “amazing”,  “buy  direct”,  “bargain”,  “no   investment”,  and  so  on Toll-­free  phone  numbers  may  get  your  email  tagged  as  spam  if  there  are   additional  suspicious  signs Use  ALT  text  for  your  images,  so  people  can  see  why  they  might  want  to   view  them Using  ALL  CAPS  is  a  spam  characteristic Use  exclamation  points  sparingly,  and  don’t  use  several  in  a  row!!!! Your  unsubscribe  link  should  be  conspicuous Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 13
  16. 16. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityIV.   Authentication  a  validation  of  identity.  Email  authentication  is  a  practice  that  tells  receiving  email  servers  that  an  email  actually  does  come  from  the  place  it  says  it  comes  from.  Senders  use  it  to  establish  and  underscore  their  authenticity,  which  aids  in  delivery.  It’s  a  very  good  thing  to  have.  Most  organizations  using  a  commercial  ESP  generally  use  the  ESP’s  authentication.  In  other  situations,  an  organization’s  IT  department  will  set  up  authentication.  For  solid  technical  data  about  authentication,  see  the  Internet  Engineering  Task  Force,  Here’s  a  quick  sketch  of  the  most  common  methods:   Sender  Policy  Framework  (SPF)  allows  administrators  to  specify  which  hosts  are   Domain  Name  System  (DNS).   Sender  ID  is  based  on  SPF,  but  has  additions,  such  as  verifying  the  header   addresses  that  indicate  the  sending  party.   DomainKeys  is  an  email  authentication  system  that  goes  a  step  further;;  it’s   designed  to  verify  the  DNS  domain  of  an  email  sender  and  the  message  integrity.   name  to  an  email  message,  thereby  allowing  a  person,  role,  or  organization  to   claim  some  responsibility  for  the  message.  The  association  is  set  up  by  means  of  a   digital  signature  which  can  be  validated  by  recipients.   The  Domain  Name  System  (DNS)  is  a  hierarchical  distributed  naming  system  for   computers,  services,  or  any  resource  connected  to  the  Internet  or  a  private  network. An  often-­used  analogy  to  explain  the  Domain  Name  System  is  that  it  serves   as  the  phone  book  for  the  Internet  by  translating  human-­friendly  computer   hostnames  into  IP  addresses.   Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 14
  17. 17. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityV.   Reporting  and  Tracking  If  you  know  what  your  average  results  are,  you’ll  quickly  know  if  something  is  going  wrong  with  delivery.Make  sure  your  email  creation  tool  (or  your  ESP)  has  reporting  capabilities,  and  use  them.  You  should  be  able  to  track  deliveries,  clicks,  responses,  non-­responders,  bounces,  and  actions  taken  on  any  external  links  that  are  in  an  email.  Reporting  is  the  key  to  understanding  and  improving  your  campaign  performance,  and  it  has  a  role  to  play  in  delivery  assurance  as  well.It’s  important  to  know  what  your  average  delivery,  bounce,  and  engagement  rates  are,  so  you’ll  see  anomalies  clearly  and  quickly.  The  rates  below  are  industry  averages;;  bear  in  mind  that  numbers  vary  widely  from  industry  to  industry,  and  that  various  ESPs  (and  marketers)  may  calculate  them  using  different  formulas.  Develop  and  use  your  own  benchmarks. B2B  email  newsletter  clickthrough  rates  generally  range  from  5%–15%.  Low  open   and  clickthrough  rates  may  indicate  that  your  content  isn’t  interesting,  or  you  aren’t   giving  people  obvious  links  or  good  reasons  to  click  them.   B2C  email  marketing  promotional  campaign  clickthrough  rates  generally  range  from   about  2%–to  12%.  Low  open  and  clickthrough  rates  may  indicate  that  your  list  or  offer   isn’t  good.   The  more  targeted  and  personalized  your  email  is,  the  higher  your  rates  will  be;;  in   B2B,  a  clickthrough  rate  of  10%–20%  is  good.Trigger  emails  (those  sent  as  an  automatic  response  to  an  action  a  prospect  takes,  such  as  a  website  visit)  also  have  high  open  and  clickthrough  rates.Consistently  low  rates  suggest  that  your  email  is  uninteresting  or  your  list  is  bad.  This  will  lead  to  higher  “delete”  rates,  which  will  affect  your  reputation  and  delivery.For  a  clean  and  healthy  list  and  “wanted”  content,  here  are  industry  averages: Typical  unsubscribe  rates  run  around  2%  or  less Bounce  rates  average  less  than  3% Spam  complaints  run  under  .1%A  “spam  complaint”  occurs  when  a  recipient  marks  your  email  as  spam,  not  when  a  deliverability,  but  spam  complaints  and  hard  bounces  do.Sudden  changesYour  ESP  may  be  able  to  provide  feedback  about  probable  or  actual  causes  from  webmail  providers,  and  should  share  that  information  with  you. Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 15
  18. 18. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityVI.   Sending  EmailDon’t  send  on  Tuesday  morning  just  because  you  read  that’s  the  best  time.Test  and  benchmark  your  own  mailing  schedule.The  basicsown  messaging,  plan  according  to  your  own  results,  and  set  your  own  benchmarks.  As  for  actually  sending  email,  be  aware  of  these  factors:   Clean  up  your  lists  before  sending.  If  a  list  has  a  lot  of  suppressions,  it  will  take   how  your  ESP  charges  you,  it  may  cost  more  as  well. Understand  that  the  sending  process  is  not  instantaneous.  Messages  go  through   processing  steps  prior  to  send,  including  personalization,  suppression,  and  some   system  level  checks.  These  quality  assurance  processes  add  to  the  total  message   send  time. take  less  time  to  process  and  launch. If  a  given  message  is  time  sensitive,  give  it  extra  time  and  schedule  it  to  start   earlier  than  you  normally  would.  For  example,  if  you  normally  schedule  the  launch   for  10  am,  schedule  for  9  am  instead. Spammers  send  frequently,  to  big  lists.  If  your  patterns  are  the  same,  make  sure  your   IP  address,  content,  and  list  are  squeaky  clean.   Preview  your  emails,  to  see  how  recipients  will  view  them  in  various  systems. Most  people’s  email  programs  display  HTML,  but  the  programs  of  some  government   agencies  and  corporations,  and  many  mobile  devices,  don’t  display  HTML,  so  it’s  still   best  to  include  a  plain  text  version.  The  text  should  be  close  to  the  HTML  (it  doesn’t   have  to  match  exactly),  to  avoid  looking  like  spam. Best  practices  for  sending  emails Clean  your  lists  before  sending Allow  enough  time Preview  and  test  emails   Test  and  benchmark  your  own  mailing  schedule Include  a  plain  text  version Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 16
  19. 19. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityVII.   Top  Ten  Delivery  Best  Practices  –  How  Act-­On  helps 1.  Abide  by  all  CAN-­SPAM  rules  and   Act-­On  has  built-­in  CAN-­SPAM  defaults  that   guidance. help  you  comply  with  CAN-­SPAM.   2.  Maintain  your  lists  assiduously.  If  youre   Act-­On  helps  keep  your  lists  clean.  It  tracks   re-­sending  to  soft  and  hard  bounces,  your   and  removes  duplicates,  hard  bounces  and   IPs  reputation  will  suffer.  Dont  buy  or  use  a   list  scraped  off  the  Internet.   3.  Whenever  possible,  mail  to  opt-­in   Act-­On  helps  you  make  it  easy  for  people  to   subscribers.  Even  better:  use  confirmed   opt-­in.  Build  landing  pages  and  forms,  then   opt-­in,  in  which  subscribers  click  on  a   promote  those  links  across  advertising,  social   confirmation  email. media,  and  other  channels. Act-­On  lets  you  track  behavior  and  create   4.  Send  relevant  content  that  subscribers   list  segments,  so  you  can  target  the  right   will  care  about,  in  a  timeframe  that  adds   person  at  the  right  time  with  the  right   meaning. message. 5.  Dont  overload  an  email  with  images;;   Act-­Ons  spam  check  looks  at  text-­to-­image   heavy  imagery  is  a  spam  trademark. ratio,  content,  and  other  issues.   Act-­On  lets  you  build  emails  and  templates   with  stored  data;;  you  can  iterate  quickly,   6.  Use  a  consistent  "From"  header  address. while  maintaing  sender  and  branding   consistency.   Act-­Ons  email  tool  lets  you  build  HTML   7.  Use  clean  and  correct  HTML  formatting.   emails  with  proper  formatting  –  without   knowing  HTML. 8.  Use  trigger  marketing,  so  you  can  respond   Act-­On  allows  you  to  set  email  responses,   with  personalization,  for  prospect  actions   and  personalize  email. such  as  clicking  a  link,  submitting  a  form,  etc. Act-­On  reports  email  results  so  you  can   9.  Track  your  results. analyze  campaigns;;  the  data  also  attaches   10.  Consider  using  a  service  such  as  Litmus,   Litmus  is  easy  to  integrate  with  Act-­On,  and   which  lets  you  preview  your  email  on  30+   your  emails  can  be  tested  from  within  the   major  email  clients  and  mobile  devices.   Act-­On  interface. Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 17
  20. 20. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityAppendix  A:  Email  Delivery  GlossaryASCII  stands  for  the  “American  Standard  Code  for  Information  Interchange”  (pronunciation:  æski).  ASCII  is  a  character-­encoding  scheme  based  on  the  ordering  of  the  English  alphabet.  ASCII  codes  represent  text  in  computers,  communications  equipment,  and  other  devices  that  use  text.  Blacklist  (also  called  a  “blocklist”):  A  list  of  IP  addresses  that  an  ISP  blocks,  preventing  spam,  viruses,  and/or  phishing  emails  from  reaching  the  end  user.CAN-­SPAM  is  the  acronym  for  the  “Controlling  the  Assault  of  Non-­Solicited  Pornography  national  standards  for  the  sending  of  commercial  email  and  requires  the  Federal  Trade  Commission  (FTC)  to  enforce  its  provisions.  See  the  Appendix  for  a  listing  of  the  standards.  is  the  technique  whereby  email  is  blocked  or  allowed  based  on  analysis  of  its  structure  and  content,  rather  than  its  IP  address  or  other  criteria.  Domain:  In  general,  a  domain  name  represents  an  Internet  Protocol  (IP)  resource,  such  as  a  website,  a  server  computer  hosting  a  web  site,  a  personal  computer  used  to  access  the  Internet,  or  any  other  service  communicated  via  the  Internet.  Domain  names  serve  as  humanly-­memorable  names  for  Internet  participants,  such  as  computers,  networks,  websites,  and  services.  DKIMto  an  email  signature,  and  is  a  clear  indication  of  responsibility.ESP:  Email  service  providers  send,  receive,  and  store  email  for  end  users  or  organizations.  They  may  provide  the  service  to  the  general  public  (e.g.  Gmail,  AOL  Mail,  etc.)  or  to  businesses,  or  both.  An  ESP  may  be  a  division  of  a  larger  organization  whose  primary  function  is  not  email  (e.g.  Google  owns  Gmail).  An  Internet  Service  Provider  (ISP)  which  provides  Internet  access  to  end  users  (e.g.  Comcast)  is  almost  always  an  ESP.  Such  ESPs  generally  don’t  allow  sending  mass  email  through  their  servers.  The  other  major  type  of  email  service  provider,  a  commercial  ESP,  does  offer  email  marketing  services.  Feedback  loop  (FBL),  sometimes  called  a  complaint  feedback  loop,  is  a  form  of  feedback  in  which  an  ISP  forwards  complaints  originating  from  their  users  to  the  sender’s  organization.  HTML  (HyperText  Markup  Language)  is  the  main  markup  language  for  web  pages.  HTML  is  written  in  the  form  of  HTML  elements  consisting  of  tags,  enclosed  in  angle  brackets  (like  <html>),  within  the  web  page  content.  HTML  tags  most  commonly  come  in  pairs  like  <h1>  (an  opening  tag)  and  </h1>  (a  closing  tag).  HTML  email  is  the  use  of  a  subset  of  HTML  to  provide  formatting  and  semantic  markup  capabilities  in  email.IP  address:  An  Internet  Protocol  address  (IP  address)  is  a  numerical  label  assigned  to  each  device  (e.g.,  computer,  printer,  server)  participating  in  a  computer  network  that  uses  the  Internet  Protocol  for  communication.  An  IP  address  serves  two  principal  functions:  host   Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 18
  21. 21. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityISP:  An  Internet  Service  Provider,  which  provides  Internet  access  to  end  users.Metadata  is  “data  about  data,”  i.e.,  data  that  describes  what  content  is  or  does,  how  it  should  be  displayed,  etc.MIME  (Multipurpose  Internet  Mail  Extensions)  is  an  Internet  standard  that  extends  the  format  of  email  to  support  text  in  character  sets  other  than  ASCII;;  non-­text  attachments;;  message  bodies  with  multiple  parts;;  header  information  in  non-­ASCII  character  sets.Opt-­in  emaila  link  or  reply  before  being  accepted  onto  a  list,  that  is  a  “double  opt-­in.”Reputation,  associated  with  your  IP  address  and/or  domain.  Since  all  email  must  originate  from  an  IP  address,  IP  reputation  reveals  whether  a  certain  IP  address  is  responsible  for  sending  spam,  or  is  associated  with  malware  of  any  kind.RFC:  “Request  for  comment.”  The  RFC  series  is  the  publication  vehicle  for  technical  standards  vetted  and  accepted  by  the  Internet  engineering  community.”SFP  (Sender  Policy  Framework)  is  an  email  validation  system  designed  to  prevent  email  Spam  is  any  bulk  email  sent  for  commercial  purposes  without  permission  from  the  receiver.  Spamtrap:  an  email  address  used  to  lure  spam,  in  order  to  add  it  to  a  blacklist  or  otherwise  identify  it  to  a  blocking  mechanism.Subscriber:  A  person  who  opts  into  your  email  list  is  said  to  be  a  “subscriber.”Supression:  Preventing  some  portion  of  a  list  from  being  sent.URI:as  locators  (URLs),  as  names  (URNs),  or  as  both.  Warming  up:   This  phrase  is  used  to  describe  the  process  of  gaining  trust  with  the  ISPs  when  your  IP  sending  identity  is  new  to  them,  such  as  when  your  transfer  from  one  ESP  to  another.  The  ISPs  will  perceive  you  as  an  unknown,  unproven  sender,  and  should  be  “warmed  up”  with  small  batches  of  emails  to  highly  engaged  subscribers.Whitelist:  A  whitelist  is  a  list  of  email  addresses,  domains,  and/or  IP  addresses  deemed  to  be  trustworthy,  and  so  will  always  be  allowed.  Whitelists  can  be  created  by  ISPs,  ESPs,  email  clients,  and  end  users.  A  whitelist  is  termed  “exclusive”  when  set  so  that  only  email  from  those  on  the  whitelist  will  get  through.  This  setting,  when  used,  is  generally  set  by  end  users,  not  ISPs  or  ESPs. Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 19
  22. 22. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityAppendix  B:  CAN-­SPAM  Compliance  GuideIt  seems  obvious  that  mail  should  only  be  sent  in  compliance  with  laws,  but  it’s  always  important  to  mention.  In  the  US,  the  law  covering  email  marketing  is  The  CAN-­SPAM  (Controlling  the  Assault  of  Non-­Solicited  Pornography  And  Marketing)  Act.  This  law  says  that  all  email  must  meet  a  number  of  criteria: 1.   The  sender  must  provide  accurate  routing  information  about  the  emails.   2.   The  advertising  emails  must  be  clearly  labeled  as  such.   3.   Recipients  must  be  allowed  to  opt-­out  of  emails.  Opt-­out  mechanisms  must   be  electronic  and  require  only  the  recipient’s  email  address  and  their  choice  to   opt-­out.  Companies  may  not  require  passwords  or  other  information  in  order  to   process  the  opt-­out.   4.   All  emails  must  contain  the  physical  address  of  the  sender.  Note  that  CAN-­SPAM  does  not  require  that  senders  have  permission  to  send  mail;;  permission  is  not  a  requirement  under  US  law.  In  other  countries,  however,  senders  must  have  permission  to  send  marketing  and  commercial  email.  In  some  cases,  permission  cannot  be  shared  or  sold;;  thus  even  purchasing  opt-­in  lists  is  illegal.  Sending  mail  without  permission  to  recipients  in  jurisdictions  with  opt-­in  rules  such  as  Europe  or  Canada  may  open  up  the  sender  to  legal  liability.  Some  senders  have  attempted  to  bypass  this  by  segmenting  lists  by  country.  But  segmentation  assumes  that  the  companies  selling  lists  are  correctly  compiling  the  data.  Obtaining  recipient  permission  before  sending  protects  the  sender  from  inadvertently  violating  opt-­in  laws.  mail  message  the  primary  purpose  of  which  is  the  commercial  advertisement  or  promotion  of  a  commercial  product  or  service,”  including  email  that  promotes  content  on  commercial  websites.  Each  separate  email  in  violation  of  the  CAN-­SPAM  Act  is  subject  to  penalties  of  up  to  $16,000.  Here’s  a  rundown  of  CAN-­SPAM’s  main  requirements: 1.   Don’t  use  false  or  misleading  header  information.  Your  “From,”  “To,”  “Reply-­ To,”  and  routing  information  –  including  the  originating  domain  name  and  email   address  –  must  be  accurate  and  identify  the  person  or  business  who  initiated  the   message. 2.   Don’t  use  deceptive  subject  lines. content  of  the  message. 3.   Identify  the  message  as  an  ad.  The  law  gives  you  a  lot  of  leeway  in  how  to  do   this,  but  you  must  disclose  clearly  and  conspicuously  that  your  message  is  an   advertisement. Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 20
  23. 23. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  Deliverability 4.   Tell  recipients  where  you’re  located.  Your  message  must  include  your  valid   box  you’ve  registered  with  the  U.S.  Postal  Service,  or  a  private  mailbox  you’ve   registered  with  a  commercial  mail  receiving  agency  established  under  Postal   Service  regulations. 5.   Tell  recipients  how  to  opt  out  of  receiving  future  email  from  you.  Your   message  must  include  a  clear  and  conspicuous  explanation  of  how  the  recipient   can  opt  out  of  getting  email  from  you  in  the  future.  Craft  the  notice  in  a  way  that’s   easy  for  an  ordinary  person  to  recognize,  read,  and  understand.  Creative  use  of   type  size,  color,  and  location  can  improve  clarity.  Give  a  return  email  address  or   another  easy  Internet-­based  way  to  allow  people  to  communicate  their  choice   to  you.  You  may  create  a  menu  to  allow  a  recipient  to  opt  out  of  certain  types  of   messages,  but  you  must  include  the  option  to  stop  all  commercial  messages  from   6.   Honor  opt-­out  requests  promptly.  Any  opt-­out  mechanism  you  offer  must  be   able  to  process  opt-­out  requests  for  at  least  30  days  after  you  send  your  message.   You  must  honor  a  recipient’s  opt-­out  request  within  10  business  days.  You  can’t   charge  a  fee,  require  the  recipient  to  give  you  any  personally  identifying  information   beyond  an  email  address,  or  make  the  recipient  take  any  step  other  than  sending   a  reply  email  or  visiting  a  single  page  on  an  Internet  website  as  a  condition  for   honoring  an  opt-­out  request.  Once  people  have  told  you  they  don’t  want  to  receive   more  messages  from  you,  you  can’t  sell  or  transfer  their  email  addresses,  even  in   the  form  of  a  mailing  list.  The  only  exception  is  that  you  may  transfer  the  addresses   to  a  company  you’ve  hired  to  help  you  comply  with  the  CAN-­SPAM  Act. 7.   Monitor  what  others  are  doing  on  your  behalf.  The  law  makes  clear  that  even  if   you  hire  another  company  to  handle  your  email  marketing,  you  can’t  contract  away   your  legal  responsibility  to  comply  with  the  law.  Both  the  company  whose  product  is   promoted  in  the  message  and  the  company  that  actually  sends  the  message  may   be  held  legally  responsible.   Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 21
  24. 24. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  DeliverabilityAppendix  C:  Tips  to  Avoid  False  PositivesCourtesy  of  Apache  SpamAssassin™    and  The  Apache  Software  Foundation.    Apache  SpamAssassin  is  a  trademark  of  The  Apache  Software  Foundation.  Used  with  permission.  No  endorsement  by  The  Apache  Software  Foundation  is  implied  by  the  use  of  these  marks. 1.   you  try  to  hide  your  source  and  destination  you’ll  look  like  spam  too.  Likewise,   spammers  often  try  to  track  their  spam  and  gauge  its  effectiveness  through   tracking  headers  they  add  to  emails.  If  you  add  unnecessary  headers  to  your   emails,  this  can  make  them  look  like  spam.   2.   sure  that  if  someone  checks  on  the  domain  of  your  From  address  and  Reply-­To   address  that  these  addresses  are  valid,  and  the  machine  that  would  receive  any   3.   Tip:  Use  email  composition  and  mailing  tools  that  work  correctly.  Well   Emails  with  missing  mime  sections,  invalid  or  missing  message-­ids,  invalid  or   missing  date  headers,  subject  or  other  headers  with  unescaped  unicode,  etc.,   are  frequently  signs  of  spam.   4.   Tip:  Don’t  include  a  disclaimer  that  your  email  isn’t  spam.  Don’t  claim  compliance   with  some  legal  criteria,  especially  one  which  is  not  actually  law  in  your  country.   Only  spam  needs  to  claim  compliance—non-­spam  is  supposed  to  already  be  in   compliance.   5.   If  your  email  is  covered  by  anti-­spam  laws,  do  make  sure  you  are  in  actual   compliance.  Skirting  the  edge  of  compliance  is  a  frequent  spam  trick,  and  is   6.   Tip:  Use  normal  conversational  language,  be  sure  not  to  use  excessive  spacing   and  or  capitalization  on  your  subject.   7.   Tip:  Be  open  and  honest  and  plain  in  your  emails.  If  you  try  to  hide  things,  or   treated  like  a  spammer.  The  statistics  for  use  of  these  various  techniques  show   that  it  occurs  far  more  frequently  in  spam  mail  than  non-­spam,  and  the  rules   8.   Do  not  use  “cute”  spellings,  Don’t  S.P.A.C.E  out  your  words,  don’t  put  str@nge   |etters  0r  characters  into  your  emails.         Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 22
  25. 25. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  Deliverability9.   Tip:  If  you’re  using  HTML  emails,  use  high  quality  HTML.  Don’t  use  tools  which   generate  horrendous  HTML  (example:  MS  Word).  They  often  leave  signs  behind  (like   empty  tags,  eg:  <B></B>)  which  are  generally  found  in  spam.  Make  sure  your  HTML   is  valid  (run  it  through  a  decent  validator).  Unbalanced  tags  and  invalid  tags  will   default  titles  generated  by  HTML  tools  are  often  used  as  spamsign.  10.  Tip:  If  you’re  using  HTML  emails,  do  not  use  invisible  text  within  those  emails.   Make  sure  your  text  colors  and  sizes  are  distinct  enough  and  large  enough  to  read.  11.  Tip:  If  you’re  using  HTML  emails,  do  not  use  invisible  web-­bugs  to  track  your   emails.  If  you  must  track  your  emails  and  whether  they’re  read,  use  visible  graphics   as  part  of  your  email,  not  invisible  graphics.  12.  Tip:  If  you’re  using  HTML  emails,  include  a  text  part  in  the  email  as  well,  for  recipients   (and  anti-­spam  checkers),  and  keep  that  text  as  close  to  the  HTML  copy  as  possible.   The  closer  they’re  related,  the  less  likely  your  email  will  be  seen  as  spam.  13.  Very  important:  Don’t  insult  your  recipients  by  telling  them  to  get  a  different   email  client  so  they  can  view  your  email.  People  use  the  email  client  they  want,   and  if  they’re  not  using  Outlook  Express  or  some  other  basic,  dumb,  free,  and   automatically  installed  client,  chances  are  they’re  doing  so  intentionally.  If  you  want   them  to  view  your  HTML,  give  them  a  web  link  they  can  follow  in  their  web  browser.   (Give  them  this  in  addition  to  the  non-­HTML  text.)  14.  Tip:  OK  -­-­  one  suggestion  which  actually  does  relate  to  SpamAssassin  rules;;  don’t   include  gratuitous  references  to  spam  subjects.  Don’t  talk  about  Rolex  watches,   sexually  oriented  activities  or  drugs,  or  debt  treatment,  unless  those  topics  directly   relate  to  your  email.  And  if  they  do,  limit  your  email  to  one  topic  at  a  time.  An  email   which  mentions  Rolex  watches,  Viagra,  porn,  and  debt  all  in  one  email  will  very  15.  Tip:  Don’t  use  ‘bulk-­mailing’  tools  used  by  spammers  (i.e.,  advertised  in  spam).   These  are  overwhelmingly  used  to  send  spam,  so  SpamAssassin  blocks  mail  sent   by  those  tools  as  soon  as  possible.  In  particular,  if  the  product’s  feature  list  includes   ‘stealth  sending’  or  similar,  that’s  a  danger  sign.  16.  Tip:  Be  careful  where  you  advertise,  and  be  careful  which  advertisements  you   carry.  If  you  advertise  with  companies  that  send  out  spam,  your  domains  will  be  17.  Tip:  Be  careful  which  domains/companies  you  allow  to  advertise  in  your  emails  (if  any).   the  other  hand,  don’t  advertise  your  domains  with  spammers  -­-­  having  your  domain   Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 23
  26. 26. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  Deliverability18.  Tip:  Be  visible  and  public  in  your  domain  and  hosting  registrations.  If  people   who  check  for  you  to  see  whether  you  might  be  a  spammer,  or  to  complain/ask   annotations,  that  strongly  suggests  you  are  a  spammer,  hiding  from  an  outraged   public.  If  you  are  open  about  who  you  are  in  your  registration  emails,  you’ll  get   some  complains  and  some  queries.  Answer  those  honestly  and  fully,  and  you   should  stay  out  of  blacklists.  19.  Make  sure  you  have  active  and  monitored  abuse  <at>  and  postmaster  <at>   addresses.  Register  them  with  20.  Tip:  Make  sure  your  privacy  policy,  including  enforcement,  and  including  query   contact  information,  is  easily  found  and  clearly  stated  on  your  web  site.  It’s  good   look  for  that  information.  SpamAssassin  is  a  project  of  the  Apache  Software  Foundation,a  decentralized  community  of  developers.  The  software  they  produce  is  distributed  under  the  terms  of  the  Apache  License  and  is  therefore  free  and  open  source  software  (FOSS). Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 24
  27. 27. Act-­On  Best  Practices  for  Email  Delivery Best  Practices  in  Email  Deliverability About  Act-­On  SoftwareAct-­On  Software’s  Integrated  Marketing  SaaS  Platform  is  rapidly  becoming  the  foundation  for  successful  marketing  departments  in  organizations  of  all  sizes.    Act-­On’s  highly  intuitive  user  interface,  Instant-­On™  database,  and  complete  online  marketing  tool  set,  have  enabled  the  accelerated  adoption  of  marketing  automation  technologies  by  smaller  marketing  teams  without  dedicated  database  maintenance,  process  analysis  and  IT  support.    Act-­On  Software  is  located  in  Portland,  Oregon,  and  is  backed  by  Trinity  Ventures,  US  Venture  Partners,  and  Voyager  Capital. Contact  us: (877)  530.1555 Copyright  2012  ©  Act-­On  Software.  All  rights  reserved. 25