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How to structure and check emails to get better Inboxing

In this post I want to provide some useful information and links to some free tools to help improve your email delivery

Spam filters

All ISPs like Google and Yahoo employ complex algorithms to help combat spam, this is a major issue with over 50% of all emails being classed as spam so it’s no wonder it is getting harder and harder to get past these filters to get emails delivered.

There are many factors to consider, and we will discuss this in more detail but gone are the days when all you needed to do was to check the Image/text ration in your emails, blacklisted domains, spam keywords, Sender Reputation, Volume etc

Back in the day you could send lower volumes and get past the spam filters but now spam filters can detect spam even if you only send 10 emails per day so let’s dive in to provide some useful tips and tricks to get more of your emails delivered to the inbox

 Subject Line & Message Body

Subject Line

When you send an email, the main two parts that form your message are the Subject line and the Message Body.

Let’s look at how we can help to make sure both these parts pass the tests

Obviously don’t use classic spam words or phrases in your subject line or message body, if you want to check against the most flagged words HubSpot provide a great list here.

To test your subject line, you can use a great free tool called Sendcheckit

Please click here to access and register, its free

Here is an example of a bad subject line.

Example of a Bad Subject Line: “get free gifts NOW! CLICK HERE"

Results from sendcheckit

You get 15 seperate factors to consider to improve your subject line and this makes it very easy to to get a high score everytime

In this example

This Subject Line is bad simply because it contains some Bad & Spammy keywords like “Get”, “Free”, “gifts and  it contains bad characters like the exclamation mark “!” and the All-caps letters.

Example of a Good Subject Line:

 “Email Marketer? Want to Boost Conversions

Simple, Clean, and Perfect Subject Line to use.

Message body

Like Subject Lines, The Message Body also must not contain any spammy or bad keywords so use the list in HubSpot to check for any words that may get flagged.

Other factors to consider.

Text to image ratio:

Spam filters are suspicious of emails made up of mostly images, use a % split of 80/20

Adding Links

You don't want to add links more than 3 links in one email, you can find more information on this topic below

Personalization.

Insert personalization into your emails (person name or company).

Use emojis to boost open rates.

Use these best practices to get the best results

Sending Domains

After your message has been checked, the second most important factor is the domain name you use to send your emails.

The first thing to do is to check your domain has not been blacklisted for any reason and this is far more common that most people appreciate, and it really can happen to anyone

Click here to access the blacklist checker

To check your domain for any issues you can use another great free tool from MX Toolbox, simply add your domain and see the results from all of the major blacklisted websites

New Domains

If you buy a new domain it may be blacklisted automatically by SEM FRESH, this unfortunately is quite common, but the listing is removed automatically after 15 – 30 days

Cold email outreach

If you are sending cold emails it is highly recommended to use a different domain not linked to your primary business domain and this way, your main domain will be safe.

Adding links

Spam filters are very sensitive to links, so this is something to get right and take care when adding links.

The first thing to check is the domain you are linking to is not blacklisted and is safe, you can use MXToolbox to test the domain and to check the links are safe you can use.

To check for safe browsing use the link below

 Google Safe Browsing,

Affiliate Links

The biggest mistake most marketers make is adding affiliate links directly in your emails.

How to add affiliate links in our emails

Without doubt, the recommended method in affiliate marketing is to create a landing page and add your affiliate links to the landing page not your email and you will never have any possible delivery issues

If you do need to add affiliate links directly in your email this is the suggested method

Cloak Your URLs. (Masking Links)

URL Cloaking, or what we call Stealth Forwarding is a technique used to hide the target URL that you want to use to send the visitor to the affiliate sales page and mask it by another one that looks like a normal URL.

How this works?

We use an HTML frame on our web page to hide the main URL. or we can use HTML redirection.

L-ink.me is one of the best and cheapest URL shortening services that has the Iframe option. you can check it here and get a free account.

L-ink.me Free URL shortener

L-ink.me Frame Option

Sending Score

Sending score is very important, and in short, you must ensure at least 9/10 – 10/10 as a sending score in Mail-tester.

Mailtester is our spam checker tool available directly in our app and provides an in depth report for each email campaign you are sending

Click the link to access the tester here


How to get the best sending score?

Mainly to get almost 10/10, you should take care of the following:

SPF (Sender Policy Framework)

DKIM ( DomainKeys Identified Mail )

DMARC

Reverse DNS (PTR)

You can get more detailed information on creating these records in our post here.

 Sending Reputation

This is a very important factor and it’s a major feature of our email marketing app,

You can only effect your own sending reputation if you are using an SMTP server with a dedicated IP and this is included with our specialist hosting solutions here

Sending Reputation is the Reputation of the sending IP address and it is critical that you warm up your IP especially when you are using a new IP

What is Warming Up IP?

When you add a new IP to your service the IP is new and has no reputation or track record so the ISPs have no data to check against

It is important to introduce the IP slowly so no flags raised and over time the reputation with start to improve

We suggest sending to subscribers that have opened your previous campaigns and start sending smaller amounts which can be doubled every 2 days until you reach your total sending requiements

Test Before You Send!

Now After you ensured your system is almost perfect, the best thing to do is to test it before you send any campaign, to see how it's performing.

How to Test Your Campaign?

It is important to see in real time how your emails are performing, and we use another great free tool from Gmass

Click here to access the tool


It helps you understand how your email will perform and you can send to 19 email accounts which can be imported in to Inboxingpro and used to send your test campaigns.

This really is a great free tool, and you should use it before every email you send

Conclusion

We have provided some insights and free tools to help you get the most of your email campaigns.

Whilst nothing is 100%, providing you follow these best practice recommendations you will see great results and providing you are using a dedicated IP you can build up a very strong sender reputation.

To get more information on our own dedicated IP SMTP service click here.

How to Guarantee more emails are Delivered to the Inbox


The single most important part of any email marketing campaign is to make sure your emails reach your intended audience.

We know a lot of marketers and major companies struggle with this so I have put this guide together to provide key points that require action which will help enormously with getting more emails delivered to the inbox by having a better sender reputation

If you are a bigger client and send a range of different emails like transactional, newsletters, updates, receipts etc and you use a dedicated server, set up separate IPs for each type of email you send

Set up your main domain name to send company transactional emails and set up variations to send other types of email, so set up your company domain name/news etc from separate IPs and this way Google and other IPs wont group all of your emails in the promotions tab

Use double opt-in

The old favourite but it is important and requires each new subscriber to confirm the email you send them to confirm they want to receive your emails

Whilst this will result in lower overall subscribers being added to your list compared to single opt-in, the overall quality and open rates will be far superior and removes the possibility of bots signing up which will cause you possible spam issues

Authentication

If you are an InboxingPro customer you know we create all of records to add to the DNS editor to validate your domains

If you are not an existing customer the following validation is critical to help with your sender reputation

Use SPF authentication

Also known as "Sender Policy Framework", this is an authentication protocol that states whether an IP is authorized or not to send emails for a domain.

Here are a few places with useful resources about SPF:

Unlock the Inbox - SPF Guide

busix

Here are some SPF Testing tools:

Unlock the Inbox - Mail Tester

Scott Kitterman's SPF Validator

Use DKIM Authentication

Also known as "DomainKeys Identified Mail", this is a protocol that allows other mail servers to verify whether the email you sent has been tampered with or not. Basically, it verifies whether the email received from a specific domain was indeed authorized by the owner of that domain.

Here are a few places with useful resources about DKIM:

Unlock the Inbox - DKIM Guide

The DKIM Project

Here's an easy wizard to help you create your DKIM Record

Unlock the Inbox - DKIM Wizard

Use DMARC authentication

This is a very important record and provides both the SPF and DKIL records and this is used by all the big ISPs

Shortcut for "Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance", this is an authentication method that prevents phishing attacks and reduces spam. It enforces a policy that tells the ISP what to do when it receives emails, apparently from your company, that fail either SPF or DKIM.

Here are a few places with useful resources about DMARC

Unlock the Inbox - DMARC Guide

The DMARC Project

We create the SPF and DKIM records automatically in our autoresponder  app and provide video tutorials to add the records to the DNS editor

Use a reputable DNS Provider

Mail delivery depends a lot on being able to retrieve records from DNS.

ISP's also check the reputation of your nameservers. Here are a few DNS Providers:

DYN Managed DNS - Provides a lot of tools and options to secure your DNS Properly.

Cloudflare - Provides DNS Management and a suite of optimization tools.

DNS from large registrars should be fine, although we have seen slowness in some registrars applying DNS changes.

Use a reputable CDN for static content

Also known as "Content Delivery Network", it caches versions of your content around the world.

There are four main reasons to use a CDN:

To provide faster load times for images included in the emails you send.

ISP Providers won't block them since they are known and reputable.

You will also benefit from DDOS protection which keeps your website online even if it`s attacked.

You will benefit by default from an advanced firewall that can help mitigate some of the classic attacks looking to exploit your website.

CDN Providers:

Cloudflare

Microsoft Azure CDN

Amazon CloudFront

DNS Example

A Record (1.2.3.4) > "Points To" > PTR Record > "Points to" > Hostname (example.com) (Forward)

Hostname (example.com) > "Points To" > PTR Record > "Points to" > A Record (1.2.3.4) (Reverse)

ISP Providers won't block content from CDNs since they are known and reputable.

Use PTR records (Reverse DNS Lookups) for your sending IPs

This is mandatory. Most ISPs require FCrDNS (Forward Confirmed Reverse DNS). It sounds complicated, but it's really not.

Here are a few resources on FCrDNS:

Unlock the Inbox - PTR Records.

SPFBL - Introduction to FCrDNS

Here are a few places to test FCrDNS at:

Unlock the Inbox - Mail Tester

Junk Email Filter FCrDNS Test

Warming up your IPs

If you have set up a new IP and domain name it is important to slowly introduce this to the ISPs

Warming up IPs is important

Don’t send too many emails at once. If your sending platform supports it and Inboxingpro.com does, use limits per hour or per day for each of the IPs per domain. If you send too many mails at the beginning, you can get bounces and/or deferrals.

Here are some limits, per provider, that you should follow in the first 30 days

Yahoo: 200 emails/day/IP (for at least 5 days), then you can double every day.

Gmail: 200 emails/day/IP (for at least 5 days), then you can double every day.

Hotmail: 200 emails/day/IP (for at least 5 days), then you can double every day.

AOL: 200 emails/day/IP (for at least 5 days), then you can double every day.

Cloudmark (all domains): 50 emails/day/IP

Time Warner: 100 emails/hour/IP

Cox: 100 emails per connection per IP, up to 5 IPs

You should always visit the postmaster website of the domains you are trying to send to in bulk. A lot of times you'll find the sending limits published within their bulk sender guidelines.

We have published a post here to set up 4 of the main ISPs postmaster tools

Warming up your IP can also be beneficial if you find your delivery declining or you may have changed hosting etc

Several other examples on how to warm up your IPs:

Start a new warm up for the existing IP.

Send only to subscribers who have opened at least one of your emails in the past 30 days.

Limit your starting volume to 3,000 subscribers.

Keep sending to those subscribers only, for the first 3 days, before increasing the volume.

Increase the volume by 1,500 subscribers with opens in the last 30 days. Your new total volume should be 4,500 subscribers.

Keep sending to the new volume of 4,500 for two more days.

Follow this strategy to increase the volume every two or three days by 50% of the actual volume.

After 10 days, you can start increasing the volume by doubling it.

Feedback Loops (FBL)

Register to all FBLs

Also known as complaint feedback loop, it is a service offered by some ISPs that report back complaints (when a subscriber hits the spam or junk button in their inbox) to the sender. It's provided to aid senders in keeping a clean list and preventing the subscriber from getting unwanted mail.

Feedback loops are provided by some ISPs to aid senders in keeping a clean list and preventing the subscriber from getting unwanted mail

Gmail has a feedback loop that is only available for ESPs who are MAAWG members and are approved by Google as good senders.

To be sure that your email doesn’t end up in a recipient’s spam folder, maintain your sending reputation:

Keep an eye on your email deliverability.

Look at subscriber engagement and try to keep your complaints rate within 0.2%.

Monitor delivery errors.

Clear your mailing list from bad and invalid addresses regularly.

Your sending reputation is always in your control, so take advantage of postmaster features, analyse the data, and watch your score grow.

Email Blacklists

Make sure your domain/IPs are not on any blacklists before you send

Many companies use the same blacklist providers, so being listed on a single blacklist can affect your delivery to many different ISPs.

There are a few different types of blacklists

Public - These blacklists are published so any ISP can use them. They are the easiest ones to monitor using automated tools.

Private - These are paid blacklists - The only way to actively monitor these is to use inbox testing tools to check your delivery.

Internal - These are maintained by the ISPs directly. They can be monitored with inbox testing tools, as well.

Some ISPs use multiple blacklists, so it's very important to monitor all aspects of your sending using the different tools available.

Here are our favourite tools for checking if your domain/IP is on a public blacklist:

multirbl.valli.org - The fastest and easiest to use

mxtoolbox

Whitelisting Services

Whitelist your IPs after 90 days of sending

The reason you have to wait 90 days, is that some whitelisting services require to see your sending history.

Whitelisting your IPs provides many different benefits at different ISPs:

Increased inbox rates

Increased Sending Volumes

Less restrictive spam filtering

Free whitelisting services

Yahoo

AOL

United

DNS WL - Helps with places that use Spam Assassin.

Paid whitelisting services

Return-Path - This is one of the best whitelist programs.

CSA (Certified Senders Alliance) - Based out of the EU.

Email List Quality / Sender Score

Try to avoid buying and renting an email list, even if it’s from a reputable provider. ESPs have ways of detecting if a list is bought or rented and they can/will reject it when you will try to import it into their mailing platforms. No email validation company can help you here and the reason has nothing to do with the validity of the email recipients.

Try to get an open rate of at least 15% and a click-through of at least 1%.

We also recommend removing all non-opener emails after 6 months. These emails are probably valid, but not in use.

A lot of domains use Sender Score as a determining factor to allow emails from your IPs. If your Sender Score is less than 90 you should take action to improve it.

Monitor Your Sender Score

Domains use Sender Score to determine whether or not to allow emails from certain IPs. If your Sender Score is < 90 you should take action to improve it. You can monitor you Sender Score: Here

General good housekeeping tips

Content

Use the recipient's name in the subject line and in the header of the html (e.g.: "Dear John"). Make sure you check for spam words and domains in the HTML. (for example, if you use a domain in any of the links in the html that is present in a DBL (Domain Blacklist), your email might bounce). Inbox Test every campaign you're going to send and make adjustments where needed.

Remove inactive emails

We recommend removing non-opening emails or non-clicking emails after 180 days. A lot of ISP algorithms are based on user engagement. The more non-openers and non-clickers, the worse the statistic gets and the worse your inbox rate becomes. After six months, you can also retry sending to these email addresses to see if the recipients open or click.

Use a Reply-To header that is valid

We all receive emails from noreply@, but it's actually better to have a functional Reply-To that's monitored and customers enquiries are responded to. The more engagement between you and your customers, the better your deliverability.

Send 1 email per connection

You should only send emails to 1 person. You've seen those emails where you have a large number of "CC" or "TO" recipients. This is a huge spam flag. When sending out bulk emails, ensure each email is addressed to a single person and not multiple contacts at once.

Enable outgoing TLS connections

Mail servers are supposed to be opportunistic in nature and what that means is they all prefer to use the most secure protocol when accepting mail - TLS 1.2, TLS 1.1, TLS 1.0, NO TLS in that order. Some mail servers will refuse all non-TLS transmissions, so in order to achieve maximum deliverability, you should always enable TLS when sending email.

Ensure that your abuse/complaint rates remain low

Once you sign up to the FBLs (Feedback Loops), as discussed earlier in this document, you need to actively remove those subscribers from your mailing list when you receive the alerts, in order to keep your abuse/complaint rate low. When these metrics get too high, they will affect your deliverability.

Do not use private WHOIS for your domains

All registered domains are required to have accurate information by ICANN. Hiding behind private WHOIS can hurt your domain reputation and, in some cases, it is even illegal (CAN-SPAM Act).

Have a functional and complete privacy policy on your website

When asking for ISPs to whitelist your IPs/Domain, they do look for your privacy statement and verify it.

Remain consistent in your sending behaviour

Send your newsletters, promotional, marketing materials on the same day, every week/month. Being consistent proves you have a real business and keeps your IPs warm.

Do not segment emails per destination ISP

Separating your e-mails based on destination, unless under special circumstances, has a detrimental effect. Some domains will use SenderScore for reputation lookups, but those IPs will never get their sender score increased because they don't report back to Return-Path.

Do not send affiliate email marketing

Most ISPs blacklist the subject lines and content for this type of email. Remember, everyone is sending the same affiliate promotion. ISPs have AI that learn subject links and content, and your IPs will get blacklisted or are going to be limited to only being able to send to the spam folder. Normally, ISPs will accept and won’t complain if you add an advertisement to your normal newsletter.

Laws and Compliance

Honour all unsubscribe requests

Whether it's through an automatic unsubscribe link or manually requested, honour it. The sooner you honour it, the better. Never wait more than 10 days to do so, this is a requirement of the CAN-SPAM law.

Set up an email box monitor

You can define conditions so that while InboxingPro processes the emails found in the account, it will take certain actions if it finds certain content. For example, you can tell it to unsubscribe subscribers from the email list in case it finds the phrase “unsubscribe me”.

This feature is really useful when people reply to your email campaigns and tell you to unsubscribe them for example. This way you will spare valuable time since the process can be automated.

Comply with the law: CASL for CA, CAN-SPAM for US, DPEC for EU and other local anti-spam laws

When you're in compliance with the law, everything becomes much easier to whitelist

When you're in compliance with the law, everything becomes much easier to whitelist and managing your reputation will be free of obstacles.

Here are the links to some of the major e-mail laws:

Can-Spam Act (US)

CASL (CA).

DPEC (EU)

MX Records

Your domain has to have valid MX records

Although the RFC states that if the MX record is missing, one should use the A record as the mail server. We noticed that many ISPs don't follow the standard and they check the validity of your MX Record before allowing email from your domain. If you're looking for a good mail service provider (ISP) for your domain, we recommend using G-Suite from Google.



Hosting options for email marketers


Choosing a hosting package can be quite a complicated task and the 1 thing you should never base this decision on is price alone

In this post I will explain the basic options available and give the pros and cons for each and then I will provide details of our brand-new hosting package which has been designed by us specifically for our InboxingPro autoresponder customers

Basic shared hosting

This is what most marketers start out with because it is very cheap and does the job of hosting a few websites

Shared hosting allows you to rent space on a shared hosting server along with hundreds if not thousands of other customers, every server has a maximum capacity to store data and send emails, you can find a lot of offers that claim to offer unlimited everything for a few dollars per month, in reality you will get a few customers taking the majority of the space which means the service is slow and sluggish but the biggest issue for email marketers is you cannot add your own domain name to the DNS to help validate the records and in most cases the shared IP is always blacklisted so shared hosting is not recommended for anything but storing data and websites that don’t attract much traffic

VPS Hosting

VPS Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting is a cross between Shared & Dedicated. A physical server, called the parent, runs several VPS instances, which are granted a strict portion of the parent server’s hardware resources.

These instances are rented out and operate as independent servers from one another, so it’s essentially renting part of a dedicated server.

These plans range in prices and offer easy affordable scaling and better performance or security than a shared hosting website.

You also normally get a dedicated IP and for an additional fee you can also get a cPanel license to access the DNS editor to add the records to verify the sending domain has a good reputation

Dedicated Server Hosting

The dedicated server is the top tier of web hosting, Dedicated Servers are just what the name implies, a server dedicated to you.

All the hardware that makes up the server is under your control. Dedicated servers often share network access with neighbouring dedicated servers in a data centre, but they share no hardware and each one is dedicated to its own customer.

 These plans tend to be the most expensive but give you the best performance, security, and flexibility.

As you can see each of these hosting products work in different ways. This means each will have its own strengths and weaknesses over the others.

So, let us compare Shared Hosting vs VPS vs Dedicated by a few different metrics to see how we obtained this tier structure.

Performance

Performance matters. If you want to keep your customers happy, you need to provide them with top-notch performance. A survey conducted by Kissmetrics discovered that nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds.

Furthermore, 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with website performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again and around 44% of them would tell a friend if they had a poor experience shopping online. The bottom line here?

It takes only a second of difference from slow page loads to lose out many potential or even perpetual sales.

Poor Performance – Traditional Shared Hosting

These plans generally include very limited resources as they are granted only a fraction of the available system hardware. They can find themselves robbed of resources by other sites on the same server monopolizing them. The Shared Hosting tier is good for low traffic and static websites.

Good Performance – VPS Hosting

VPS plans are limited by the available hardware assigned to the plan. There is a performance tax on the hardware when running in a visualized setup. However, this tax has become smaller and smaller over time allow more comparable performance levels to Dedicated Servers.

Great Performance – Dedicated Server Hosting

Direct access to the hardware provides the best possible performance configurations with a dedicated server.

Conclusion

Clearly the option to get the best email delivery is using a dedicated server, this includes the all important dedicated IP which is essential to guarantee delivery to the inbox

The downside is the cost with entry level systems starting around $50 per month

We are constantly asked about hosting and back in 2019 we decided to create a specialist hosting division clearly aimed at the small to medium sized email marketer looking to get the best email delivery without breaking the bank

InboxingProHOST 

We know getting emails delivered is dependent on 2 key requirements

Dedicated IP

To get any sort of delivery success, you must send bulk email from a dedicated IP, this is critical to the success of any campaign and is the only way you can control your own reputation and sender score

Domain Reputation

All the major ISPs like Google and Yahoo check the sending domain reputation of every email sender and unless the domain has been validated and verified, emails will end up in the spam folder

We have built this into our autoresponder app and the domain records required are automatically created and are simply copied and pasted into the DNS editor of the server

Our new service takes advantage of the low cost of storing websites using a shared server and adds the critical dedicated IP and full cPanel access so our customers can add the records and send from their own IP

This provides the best of both worlds; you save on the website hosting and get guaranteed email delivery sending from a dedicated IP and we have taken the service to the next level with advanced features added as standard

We provide Cloudflare protection and lightning fast site load speeds using lite speed cache and SSD Storage

We also include a premium domain name and SSL certificate to get you off to the best start

This service continues to grow from strength to strength, we provide a choice of plans based on your situation so you never need to pay for services you don’t need or use and upgrading is quick and easy when you are ready

You can get started from just $7.95 per month including a dedicated IP, guaranteed email sending allowance and super-fast web hosting including a full cPanel control panel

If you want to check out the hosting plans in more detail, please click the link below

Please click here to get the details

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