7 and a Half Easy Ways to Improve Your Email Deliverability

Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of emails asking for easy ways to improve your deliverability. While there’s no substitute for putting in the hard work to build and maintain your list (and it builds character!), there are a few quick, easy ways you can improve your deliverability in the short term while you work on also improving in the long term. Let’s take a look!


Make sure you review both your subject line and your email copy to minimize the use of keywords that often trigger spam filters. The key here is to continually look at your email copy with a particularly critical eye — if you wouldn’t open it, are your subscribers really going to? Returnpath also has a phenomenal list of spammy words that might just surprise you!

2. Don’t purchase lists

This one almost goes without saying, but don’t be a spammer and purchase lists. Not only does it go completely against our permission-based marketing policy, it’s also simply not a good investment. Consider how many other companies are buying these lists and how many emails prospects on those lists are getting inundated with. Your email simply won’t cut through all of the noise, and you’re just contributing to the global spam problem. Still not convinced? We’ve got a whole blog post explaining why you need to be a permission-based marketer!

3. Pay extremely close attention to your engagement levels

ISPs in particular have started keeping a close eye on engagement levels of your subscribers, and tying that to your sender reputation. Because of that, it’s extremely important to keep a close eye on your hotmail, msn, gmail, and comcast clients. Are your emails being ignored? Marked as spam? It’s important to be aware of precisely what is going on with your ISP clients.

3.5 Have a sunset policy in place

In that same vein, it’s good to have a solid policy in place for not sending to those users after a certain number of emails with no engagement. If prospects aren’t opening your email after email number ten, what makes you think email one hundred would be any different? If you aren’t 100% ready to give up on those unengaged prospects, consider at least removing them from your main sending lists. Then, you can put those inactive prospects into a small drip reconfirmation campaign before you’re completely ready to give up on them.

4. Set clear expectations

Whether it’s on your forms or in your opt-in email, be clear and honest about what prospects can expect to receive when they’re opting in to receive email from you. The more up front you can be about email frequency and the types of emails they can expect, the better!

5. Keep your volume consistent

There are two sides to this particular point: your IP reputation and inbox fatigue. Let’s start with IP reputation. When you first started with a marketing automation tool, remember how you had to warm up your IP address before you could send to your whole database? The same thing applies here: you need to slowly phase in any increases to your sending volume so servers don’t freak out.

Now let’s talk about inbox fatigue, which is when prospects suddenly start receiving a larger volume of emails from you than they originally expected. They’re probably going to get tired of receiving your emails, FAST, and are likely to complain of spam. It’s better to first let your prospects know you plan on increasing your mailings, then give them the option to opt out if they’d like to!

6. Implement authentication

Properly set up SPF and Domainkeys can only help improve your deliverability. With Pardot, emails are sent through our own infrastructure, so having the appropriate entries on your domain helps prove to receiving servers that our mail is legitimate. Talk to your IT team to get those entries set up!

7. Track your complaint feedback loop

I’m sure you’re keeping a close eye on your hard bounces, but be sure you’re also paying extremely close attention to your spam complaint reporting! If you’re seeing over 0.1% spam complaints (or 1 per 1 thousand), you’re going to need to take some kind of action to stop that from occurring. Try moving your unsubscribe link to the top of your email, so it’s easier for people to find. While that may sound counterintuitive, it’s significantly better for your reputation if people simply unsubscribe rather than report you as spam.

And there you have it — just a few simple steps and you’ll be on your way to improved deliverability in no time.

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