Deliverability is the name of the game with email. This is true for not only email marketing campaigns but also your day-to-day business and personal correspondence. Taking the time to improve email deliverability assures that your messages make it to the recipient’s in-box and that your name and email address can’t be spoofed by unscrupulous spammers.
There’s a few non-technical things you can keep in mind for each message that will boost deliverability. These include:
- Avoiding using ALL CAPS in the subject line
- Avoiding subject line trigger phrases and words that are likely to appear spammy, such as “work from home” or “free”. Check out some other lists of trigger phrases here and here (there’s quite a few!)
- Use your real name email address and “From” header. Using role-based email addresses like “info@” or “sales@” can be enough to get you to junk status.
- Watch out for misspellings and poor grammar. You probably have noticed that most spam messages are riddled with both.
- When creating email marketing messages, don’t use all images. Make sure most of the message is text or HTML.
- Don’t use crummy free email services like AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo. Gmail is the king of email for good reason…it’s better.
On the more technical side, there’s a few things to establish with your sending domain name that will not only prevent spoofing, but also create a nearly fool-proof way to land in the in-box. The following tips involve establishing some level of domain name level verification with your email providers, including your email host (G Suite, Office 365, etc) and email marketing service (MailChimp or AWeber, for example):
1. SPF (Sender Policy Framework): Basically, this is a simple text record stored at your domain name registrar (or DNS host) that lists all the places where it’s OK to send messages for that domain. The following example SPF record says it’s OK to send messages from G Suite, Freshdesk, Zoho Invoicing and Mailchimp. So, all the messages from those servers are OK. The messages won’t go through if the sending server isn’t listed there.
v=spf1 mx include:_spf.google.com include:email.freshdesk.com include:zohobooks.com include:servers.mcsv.net ~all
This looks daunting to set up – but each mail provider or app you’re sending from will provide specifics with the formatting. Update: Here’s an article about SPF and resources to learn more (Mailbird).
2. DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail): This very long string of random text is supplied by your email hosting provider, and added (like SPF), as a TXT entry on your domain’s DNS record. The long “key” acts like a signature of sorts and adds more security and verification to your outgoing messages. Learn more about DKIM here.
3. DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance): DMARC takes domain email security up a level by allowing senders to publish policies that allow receiving servers to evaluate your message validity on a pass/fail basis. Basically, you as the sender tell the recipient’s server what criteria to use when evaluating your messages.
While I recommend using both SPF and DKIM with your sending domain name, DMARC is a bit tricky and if not done correctly, you can end up with your messages stuck in quarantine. For business, I use both SPF and DKIM. My personal domain uses all three, as I don’t have a need to use my personal mail domain with outside apps which can complicate the use of DMARC. Learn more about DMARC here.
Deploying these mail security measures can quickly improve your inbox delivery while preventing mail spoofing.