Deliverability Makeover

Dear Email Diva,

I run and its weekly enewsletter. Each week I've noticed that fewer people get the email in their inbox OR at all. I use Constant Contact to email out the newsletters and have used the same domain and sending email address since February 2006. The entire list is made up of people who registered on the site or via the forward link on the newsletters -- so they are high-converting and very interested in receiving the newsletters. What can be done to get the newsletters to everyone on the list and into their inboxes (not junk folders)?

Lindsay Mure

Dear Lindsay,

The Email Diva knew there was no simple answer to AdFemme's delivery problems, and has always wanted to present the before-and-after results from a deliverability audit. Jennifer Wilson at Return Path was happy to oblige, and agreed to give AdFemme its $2,500 Delivery Tune-up free of charge in exchange for sharing their results with us.



The bottom line: delivery across all seeds increased from 89.8% to 95.4% and bulked/missing decreased from 10.2% to 4.6%. One-hundred percent of their seeds now got into Yahoo and Gmail inboxes, whereas previous emails had ended up in the bulk folders.

How did they do it?

At the outset, Return Path seeded and monitored AdFemme's newsletter delivery to key U.S. and European ISPs and through major filtering programs, such as Spam Assassin, and popular corporate filters, such as IronPort.

At the same time, its delivery consultants came in to trouble-shoot common problems, working through a 50-point checklist. They found AdFemme wasn't using proper authentication and fixing it was as simple as checking a box provided within the ESP interface. This underscores two important points made by JF Sullivan of Habeas in this article: a) don't assume your ESP "has it handled," and b) many of the problems uncovered in an audit can be easily fixed.

The team also recommended that AdFemme encourage subscribers to put the newsletter on their personal white lists. Return Path knows individual users may have their security settings even higher than corporate settings, so encouraging them to add AdFemme's domain to safe lists is important. (Where and when do you encourage subscribers to add you to their safe lists? At opt-in, on the confirmation screen, in your welcome email and in every email thereafter. While only a small percentage will comply, it costs virtually nothing and yields a group of subscribers with dramatically improved delivery or image rendering.)

Return Path found that AdFemme's reputation was solid -- despite the fact that it mails from a shared IP address -- and praised Constant Contact's high standards. Return Path encouraged AdFemme to monitor its reputation, as its status can change over time.

How did feel about its makeover? Mure wrote, "Our experience working with ReturnPath to increase deliverability was awesome for three reasons. First, they helped us understand the delivery problems and what was required to fix them. Second, they worked with our team and our ESP to fix those problems. And last (but not least), they provided us with measurable results, online tools and ongoing customer service to ensure that our increased deliverability continues. Our readers are happy that they don't have to search our archives or their junk boxes, and our sponsors are happy to have more eyeballs view their ads."

For more details you can read the case study. And then you have to ask yourself: Isn't it worth about half the cost of one campaign to find out what you can do to get more emails delivered?

Good Luck!

The Email Diva

Send your questions or submit your email for critique to Melinda Krueger, the Email Diva, at All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would like your name or company name withheld.

Next story loading loading..