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12 days of email deliverability (what Spamhaus says) 


Inbox Hackers, it’s roughly 12 days before Christmas Pickup Truck on WhatsApp . Fitting time to unwrap our 12 days of email deliverability that will keep your emails from being stuffed in a spam stocking. That’s 3 holiday analogies if you’re counting at home.

Look, I suffered through Spamhaus’ ebook on deliverability so you won’t have to. So grab some warm cookies and cold milk. Put your stocking feet up with care and soak up this intel meant to improve your inboxing efforts. Because inboxing is getting harder according to Spamhaus and Yahoo experts on a recent webinar.

By the way. The gentleman at Spamhaus wants mailers to know his company doesn’t hate you. Little insecure, that guy. Anyway, I believe him. Why? Because they lay out exact steps to avoid being blocked like a lowly spammer. 

Now, watch as we sift through those deliverability steps and break down some of the 8.3 million email industry acronyms. 

Email Authentication

Don’t fret, I have some easy email acronyms that most marketers are familiar with. But first, we’ll highlight keys to the foundation of solid email deliverability. Before you send a single email campaign…

  • DKIM – DomainKeys Identified Mail
  • SPF – Sender Policy Framework
  • DMARC – Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance

How tricky is the technical setup? Since the spelled-out version of the last one has two commas, better let your IT team or IT freelancer handle the initial settings. 

Coming up, I’ve listed tools to check those settings. But first…

Easy Acronyms to Follow

  • ESP – email service provider. The site or SaaS you use to create and send your marketing emails. Aweber, MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, on and on.
  • ISP – internet service provider. They make life livable but can send your beautifully designed emails into spam folders if you smell like a spammer. 
  • MBP – mail box provider. Microsoft, AOL, Gmail, Yahoo (aka MAGY), and the vast pee-wee league of providers below them. 2 acronyms / one bullet point!

And a quick tip from my Spamhaus literature → emails should be sent to carefully targeted subscribers. More sales happen that way. Need proof?

No matter how many Omaha Steak emails you send to a Vegan Yoga Guru, that dude’s not biting. 

Get more bites when your subscribers are actively reading other emails – Inbox Mailers gives you that power. Schedule a demo now

inbox mailers demo

Email Acronym Rulebooks (vast and nasty)

If you think your faithful Inbox Hacking editor read through all the spam rulebooks, you’ve misplaced your faith. 

That would have taken / ruined the rest of my life. Bottom line on all the rulebooks listed below? Act right. WWASDAD – What would a spammer do?, and don’t.

Best known regulations below:

  1. CAN-SPAM – USA 
  2. CASL – Canada
  3. GDPR – Europe (super complex according to Spamhaus Pickup Truck on WhatsApp )
  4. CCPA – Specific to California, because they’re special (5th largest economy on Earth, so I guess they are)

I won’t bother listing the full names of those regulations. 

Just learn this – GAL – (get a lawyer) if you have questions about extremely complex legal requirements spread across some 77 countries. Spamhaus’ advice, not mine.

*More advice from the ebook: IP reputation is still important but less so with endless IP addresses available, which scammers churn and burn.

Action Acronyms

WHOIS – bottom line on this domain setting is “keep it simple.” Ensure settings are correct initially. And no anonymous settings.

TLS – transport layer security. This encrypts the transmission phase of an email send.

PII – personally identifiable information. Data you gather that links to a person. Lots of mad-dog lawyers make a living going after mailers who can’t show proof of subscriber consent records. 

Scammers and spammers usually avoid courts, fines, and justice. It’s decent mailers, who make honest mistakes, who have to pay up.

COI – confirmed opt-in. Could be the most valuable action you take, making subscribers confirm they want your emails. Also known as a double opt-in (DOI). Best advice → don’t send marketing emails just because someone filled out a form. Ask them to confirm they mean it!

Tools to Check Authentication Settings

These tools can do the technical checking for you. If they report an issue, run Pickup Truck on WhatsApp , don’t walk, to grab the geekiest person in your building and get to fixing the issues.

#1) Kitterman SPF tool

#2) DKIM Core Key checker

#3) DMARC validation

Also this post will help with your sender reputation.

*Key tip. If you think “not opting out” is the same as opting in→ wrong, wrong, wrong. Spamhaus’ words, not mine – ok, the last 2 “wrongs” were mine.

As a matter of fact, once you have all your technical settings on point, if you follow the step-by-step process of legit opt-ins, your email deliverability woes diminish greatly. Quick breakdown below…

Proper Opt-In Procedure

email deliverability

Please don’t try shortcuts no matter how tempting:

  1. Someone fills out a form giving you their email address
  2. You automatically email them a link to confirm they want to subscribe
  3. That email lands in their inbox or spam folder (sign-up form should alert them to this!)
  4. Two options → reader doesn’t click the link – so you never email them again
  5. Or they click the link to confirm they want future emails – then you can begin safely sending marketing emails to them without trashing your reputation

And to go next-level, smart email marketers will offer a preference center. A page where subscribers can choose which of your emails they wish to receive, should you deliver Pickup Truck on WhatsApp multiple newsletters, for example. 

Blocklists Affecting Email Deliverability

Quick note on blocklists. 

I’ve said it before. Spamhaus is the Big Boss in this arena. Other blocklists, like SPEWS, which is an unfortunate acronym, are somewhat worthless – Spamhaus’ words…

“For example, a listing on the Spamhaus Blocklist (SBL) has enormous reach, whereas you can happily ignore a listing by SPEWS.” 

Never ignore being blocklisted on a smaller organization’s list though. Take action before your domain or IP is added to more lists.

Bounce Codes & the Most Dangerous Acronym

Bounces ravage email deliverability (BRED). Sure, that would look great on a t-shirt, but focus. We’ve got codes instead of acronyms for soft and hard bounces. If either spikes, take quick action.

Just for reference, soft bounces are temporary issues typically and will have error codes such as: 421 / 450 / 451 /452

Hard bounce code examples: 512 / 550 / 551 / 552 / 553

Hard bounces amount to poor email list hygiene. Fake addresses or emails no longer in use. Worst case though?

email deliverability spam trap

You’re sipping on DP or LP with a spam trap on your list. Database Poison. List Poison. You pick.

A spam trap can crush your credibility as a mailer. Rendering the rest of your list pretty useless since you can get blocklisted. A spam trap is a sting operation. An easy way to catch real spammers.

And when you add a spam trap by accident, ISPs and blocklists can’t help but see you as a dirty spammer. Or a miscreant. Spamhaus’ word, not mine, but I like it.

Email Deliverability Wrap Up

Now, no need to set up a Go Fund Me page. I’m just fine after reading every word of Spamhaus’ guide (IV clinic helped). 

Hopefully, you have a better idea about best practices and tricky terms you run across with email deliverability.

Be on alert for problems that pop up with settings and notices from blocklists. But all the spam-fighting organizations make the path to deliverability and inboxing clear… 

  • Send emails people want
  • Make unsubscribing easy 
  • Have a top-notch opt-in process 
email deliverability

My 3 action steps for you:

  • Use the three tools above to check your authentications
  • Review your opt-in process
  • Check your list for spam traps

You’ve got 12 days of deliverability before you – then it’s time to open presents.

The Knowledge Base 

Knowledge isn’t power without motivation so → see how tough airline attendants are. 

The best use of email automation during the holidays? A thank you message + deal combo (see the other 9 automation ideas).

Move Twitter followers to your email list with these 9 tips (perfect if your list lacks bots & jerks😡).

Selling group activity tickets to people aged 18-41? See how this group splits the cost on P2P payment apps.

Can you get a decent email service for $8 a month? Send in Blue’s cheap list.

Self  Help 

It’s that time of year, folks. Time for shadowy figures to ensure Tom Brady makes the playoffs. 

But also, less sunlight leads to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Cold and dark can get you down.

How do people live up North🥶? Anyway, people you know might need a check-in this winter.

Doctors can treat SAD btw. Sometimes the culprit is lowered levels of vitamin D.

(Plus, a recent study showed vitamin D purportedly protects against cognitive decline and dementia)

*Shout-out to Inbox Hacking Subscribers → Lindsey @ JoinPrequel (Life Lessons) & Rado @ Tylko (Funiture Phenoms)

Facts & Stats  

  • Hardest MAGY inbox to land in of the Big-4? Microsoft, 80% inboxing rate (validity webinar)
  • 50% of readers hate seeing this in email signatures→ Awards sender has won
  • 21% of email readers dislike exclamation marks in messages

*Pre Inbox Mailers Quote Circa 2009… “Bad timing. I got 14 emails from Circuit City the same day my delete button broke. So I did the only reasonable thing. Took my HP laptop out back and set it on fire. Mitchell “Pyro” Mahoney

Are perfectly timed emails possible? Yes. Demo Inbox Mailers to see how it works.

Marketing Musings

What is “Frequency Illusion?”

You know. But may have never heard what shrinks call it.

It’s when you notice the same thing over and over. Pickup Truck on WhatsApp  

Like a red Ford truck if you’re in the market for a red Ford truck.

Or you start seeing ads for surfboards and think Siri and Google are spying on you. 

They are. But those ads are more noticeable because your brain is on alert to look for them – because you became interested in surfboards. Your interest happened first.

Keep the Frequency Illusion in mind for your next email. 

So your readers’ brains are on the lookout for your offers. 

Today’s Hack

Drained and running out of ideas for your next email campaign? Well, being alive for another full year has worn me out too. But I’m glad to remain, half man, half frazzle. 

Since I’ve got more keyboard stamina left than you, I’ve got a quick example of how to repurpose older content for your next email. It’s easy, even if your batteries are low.

So, I wrote a few emails for a voice over artist last year. We started one email with a tidbit about his childhood love of catchy advertisement jingles. Real story, real personable. Do you know how many emails I could write based solely on that topic → catchy jingles?

All I would do is break down that original tidbit. Example starting points:

  1. Jingles you love to hate
  2. The psychology of jingles and why they work
  3. Old tv shows that don’t hold up today
  4. Ask subscribers what childhood memory nudged them to their career
  5. Top-5 radio jingles I could enhance with a booming voice
  6. How you know when you’ve found your dream job
  7. Stop making these mistakes in your video ads (copy & visuals!)

Your turn. Break down any piece of older content you have. Turn it into a fresh email. All you’re looking for is a starting point. Now get on with it🐇.

📝Please click on the survey below. If you do, the pups shown below get extra treats. 

email marketing survey