Email marketing best practices

Boost Email Deliverability to the Recipient’s Inbox

When it comes to email deliverability, we used to talk about big issues: opt-in email list and list hygiene, ISP whitelisting, sender authentication (SPF, Reverse DNS Lookup, and DomainKeys), and email newsletter design. These factors play a very important role in the email delivery process and are worth our attention.

However, there is one more simple yet effective tactic – get added to the recipient’s contact list or address book. It seems obvious but often times it’s overlooked by email marketers.

When people add someone’s email address to their address books or contact lists, they are letting know their ISPs that they want to receive emails from that person. ISPs rely on those personal contact lists when sorting incoming emails and deciding whether to deliver the emails, reject, or move them to the spam folder of the recipient. To protect their users from unwanted messages, ISPs will deliver only those emails their users want to receive in the first place.

With all that said a request to add your email to the subscriber’s address book should be an integral part of your opt-in and email marketing process. It should begin on your subscription confirmation page and continue through all the initial stage of your email marketing campaign.

Here are a couple of tips that will help you get added to your subscribers’ address books or contact lists:

  • Post an “add-to-address-book” request on your “Confirmation required” or “Thank you” page.Don’t wait until the subscriber confirms his subscription. They may not do this if your confirmation email is lost among other spam messages in the recipient’s trash folder. Emphasize your request and be sure to tell your subscribers that a confirmation or welcome message is on the way to them in order they don’t forget to check their mailboxes.Even better, if you can provide whitelisting instructions for different email clients directly on your confirmation or “thank you” page. This will make the whitelisting procedure quicker and easier. If you have the “add-to-address-book” instructions on some other page on your web site, don’t forget to link to that page from your “thank you” page.

  • Include a whitelisting request into your confirmation and welcome messages. Putting the “add-to-address-book” request on the “Thank you” page is a good practice but it’s not enough. Your confirmation email and welcome message should also contain this request. You can place your request in the top line of your confirmation and welcome email where it will catch your new subscriber’s attention.

  • Include the request into your regular email newsletter. You can keep including the “add-to-address-book” request in the top line of the first three or four regular email newsletters that you send to new subscribers. In subsequent emails you can place a whitelisting request in your Email Admin centre or simply in the email footer if you don’t include the Email Admin section into your newsletter.

  • Send a separate email with the “add-to-address-book” request if you change your program.If you change the email service or ISP and your email address also changes, you must warn your subscribers about this change. Just send a separate email to them telling that your email address has changed and asking them to add your new email to their address books or contact lists.By the way, a good way to wake up your inactive subscribers is by contacting them regarding some technical or administrative issues like email address change, subscriber’s surveys, or feedback addresses.

There is one more important thing to keep in mind. Has it ever happen to you to receive confirmation or welcome emails from a “noreply” email address? As to me, I am not feeling at ease when I see a noreply@domain.com email in the From field. I think it’s a kind of neglect towards the recipient no matter how politely the request not to reply to this email address is phrased. People may want to contact you with their comments, help requests, complaints or whatever and may automatically hit the “Reply” button on your email. And moreover, they may habitually add your “noreply” email address to their contact lists. So, better if you avoid using a “noreply” email address during your subscription and welcome phase and send those first emails to your subscribers from your regular email address that you will be using to send them your regular newsletters.

The whitelisting request is a normal email marketing practice and one of the things that differ good email marketers from spammers. Go to your spam folder and look spam emails through. Did you find many emails asking you to add their sender email to your address book? I guess not, if any. Spammers don’t usually request their email address to be whitelisted. It’s not their cup of tea. So, if you want to reinforce your legitimacy and confidence with your subscribers, include your whitelisting request and watch your email deliverability improve.

Good news is that now you have a tool that can be of a great help for you to organize your signup process. With this free Confirmed Opt-In Manager plugin you can place a signup form on your web site. What is nice about it is that all the settings – confirmation email, welcome email, confirmation page and “thank you” page – are pre-configured. The confirmation page and “thank you” page already include the “add-to-address-book” request and instructions. You can edit those pages as well as email messages as you want to fit your marketing needs better. This way you will organically build your list of opt-in subscribers whom you can then send your email marketing newsletters. Using this email marketing system you can send emails to your verified list of subscribers collected by the Confirmed Opt-In Manager plugin without exporting them from your WordPress database.

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Comments (8)

  • Avatar

    Angela

    That is a great suggestion; one I had never even thought of. I always do the “spam check” think and hope and pray that all my emails will go into the inbox and not the spam folder. But I hadn’t thought of adding a “add to adresss book” option to my messages or my opt in.

  • Avatar

    marco

    I think the “add to address book” is a great idea, but at the same time I don’t think it will be so easy to push people to do that. Ideally an automated process with a one click button operation should do the trick, but again too many different email clients etc. etc.
    Anyway it is a starting point :)

  • Avatar

    Ian

    Are you sure that adding to an address book will notify the ISP involved?

    As far as I understand it, if you’re using a client email tool (say, Outlook for example) adding an address to your contact list will indeed stop mail going to your junk folder if and when it arrives. However, it does nothing to help the delivery of mail that has been blocked by your ISP because it is deemed junk or unsuitable, which is what SPF and Domainkeys tries to help with.

    If the recipient is using web mail then, yes, I would agree that the ISP then has access to that information and can act on it accordingly if they wish to.

  • Avatar

    Linda

    I just received an email from a company with a “no reply” email address – and I will admit I was taken aback. I wanted to email them with a question and I had to go back to the original website and find the contact form. I agree, the “no reply” email address is not good business.

    Thanks for the free double optin list manager. Very helpful!

  • Avatar

    Rob

    Thanks Julia, the “add to address book” tip is a quality one. To be honest, I have been struggling to consistently build by email list for longer than I’m willing to admit. And whenever I start to see some progress the continual unsubscribers bring me back down again. I’ll give this a go though, on paper it sounds like it’ll work. But Julia, if it doesn’t then I blame you 😉

  • Avatar

    Vikram

    Some tips from marketing point of view, here are couple of more from tech point of view –

    1. If you are not using aweber or emailaces or any such program and looking to use your own server to send mails, make sure your MX record settings are right. It has happened to me once when one of my MX record setting was wrong and the mails were not getting delivered and I never realized its due to MX settings.

    2. Yahoo mail most likely will be sending your mails to spam folder. so check your server headers and settings. For tech savy guys, start from here http://postfix.state-of-mind.de/patrick.koetter/smtpauth/smtp_auth_mailservers.html (NO, this is NOT my site)

  • Avatar

    Peter@Zakelijke Lening

    I’ve had some nasty experiences with SPAM in the past, once because of bad software and once because of an incorrect verification process. The one you’re advising is probably best. It’s a little more hassle for someone to opt-in twice, but it makes sure they get your e-mail… which is the reason they’ve signed up in the first place.

  • Avatar

    Medical Assistant Jobs

    The whitelisting request is a normal email marketing practice and one of the things that differ good email marketers from spammers. Go to your spam folder and look spam emails through. Did you find many emails asking you to add their sender email to your address book? I guess not, if any. Spammers don’t usually request their email address to be whitelisted.

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