There are many mysteries in the world: Why is the sky blue? Why does toast always fall butter-side down? Why do my perfectly good emails, sent to customers who have opted-in, sometimes get bounced instead of being delivered to the intended recipient?

I never have gotten satisfactory answers to the first two, but let me share a little bit about what I’ve learned in regards to the third question.

A lot of the answer has to do with how your emails are delivered to your customers.

Getting an email into a customer’s inbox is a lot like getting a meeting with a potential client. There are a few steps that you have to go through.

Building Security (or your customer’s ISP)

Before any email gets seen by its recipient, it gets ‘seen’ by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) that the recipient is using.

ISPs are not in the business of stopping people from getting their legitimate email, but they are in the business of protecting people from spam. As a result, they implement some general rules to keep out the riffraff.

There are a lot of ISPs and a lot of different things they look for to determine which emails are valid and which are not. So how do you put your best email foot forward?

  • Dress nicely – Craft your subject line carefully. Don’t use terms that have been closely associated with spammers in the past. Also, avoid using a single image or image-only email, or over using images all together.
  • Look in a mirror – Use the Spam Checker option in your email to see how your email looks to an automated spam filter.
  • Have your ID ready – These days email spoofing can be a real problem. If you use authentication, either Constant Contact Authentication or Self-Publishing for Authentication, you are not only making it clear that you are who you say you are but you are building up a good reputation for yourself.

Personal Secretary (your customer’s email client settings)

Depending on which email program your subscriber uses, there might just be one last hurtle.

Nearly every email program offers the ability to filter incoming emails. It’s like a personal secretary that can decide whether you get in the door or wait in the lobby.

Likewise, the security settings on an individual email client can be set any number of ways to place your email directly in the inbox, mark it as spam, or mark it as coming from a trusted sender. Obviously, the last is the best place to be.

What can you do to make getting through email client settings easier?

  • Become known to the secretary – Encouraging clients to add your email address to their “Safe Sender” lists is a great step. It neatly cuts out any doubt or room for question. The recipient is marking your emails to be shown in the door right away.
  • Bring your business card – Turn on the permission reminder for your email and use it to jog your contact’s memory as to both who you are and that they’ve signed up to receive your emails.
  • Did we mention dress nicely? – It bears repeating! The same things that will make an ISP wary of your email will make most default spam settings wary as well.
  • Be respectful – Your customer’s time and their stated preferences need to be honored. Don’t send them thirty emails a day when your business doesn’t require that. Make sure the emails that you do send are on topic for what they opted-in for when the signed up for your list.

Now it’s up to you

If you’ve gotten past those two steps, the next one is all up to you: Making sure your email is one your subscribers want to open and engage with.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out our webinar on Email Deliverability.

What other email marketing questions do you have? Ask them in the comments section below and we’ll provide answers in a future blog post!