Marketers are all too aware that the path to a client’s inbox is a treacherous one. Spam traps, blacklisting, blocking, bulking and IP reputation have likely affected your email campaign performance at some point. So here are some tips to navigate your way around the deliverability potholes you may face, keeping you firmly on track towards the clients’ inbox.

Master your IP reputation and avoid the traps

Whether you’re migrating your email programs to a new ESP or require an additional IP address to send from, there are some key deliverability considerations to avoid spikes in your bounce rates. Since ISPs track sender reputation predominantly by IP address, knowing how to achieve a high sender score and maintaining it is crucial to your email marketing performance. Let’s take a look at how it’s done.

When sending from a new IP, your objective is to achieve the best response rate possible in order for your reputation to grow. Advisers you email on a regular basis as opposed to prospects is a good place to start. Segment your list by how long it’s been since contacts opened or clicked on an email. During the first week of sending from your new IP, only send to those that have opened or clicked on an email more recently.

Following the initial warm up, send volume needs to be ramped up in gradual increments. If your sending volumes spike, you may run into ISP volume triggers.

Both blocking and blacklisting stem from poor IP reputation. By sending to a small, highly engaged list of advisers and gradually widening this until you reach full volume, ISP filters will be trained to accept you emails and deliverability traps will be avoided. (tweet this!)

Outsmart the ISP

So you’ve achieved a strong IP reputation and you’ve avoided being blocked, the recipients ISP has accepted your email. But just as it seems the hard work is over, you’re faced with the issue of bulking. Rather than the recipients ISP routing your email to the inbox, it triggers a spam filter and gets redirected to the junk folder. We look into how this can be avoided.

Start with the easy stuff

Despite the complex nature of spam filters, there are some well-known triggers that can be avoided by adhering to best practices. Microsoft Outlook, a common email client amongst financial advisers, identifies certain words and characters as spam, especially when used in subject lines. If you are promoting a fund competition, bear in mind that ‘win’ is considered a trigger word.

Clean and well-structured code makes a difference too. Avoid using hidden text and remove any redundant HTML tags. If you are sending HTML emails, be sure to include a text version. The recipient will then receive HTML or plain text depending on their ISP settings, and the spam filters will favour this. Lastly, don’t forget to include an opt-out and privacy policy in your email.

Keep your data clean

Speaking of clean code, keeping your data well maintained is just as important. To improve deliverability, it all starts with how you capture your data. If you are doing so through a form, validation rules need to be in place to ensure email addresses are accurately captured. It’s also worth looking at your existing data and checking for obvious mistakes.

Invalid email addresses should be picked up though by your ESP as a hard bounce. These bounces are permanent and reattempts to deliver could do damage to your sender reputation. Soft bounces are of a different nature however and approaching these with the right tact could have a significant impact on your deliverability.

The soft bounce approach      

Soft or transient delivery failures still have a chance of being accepted by the receiving domain at a later time. A temporarily unavailable server or a full recipient inbox are common reasons for soft bounces to occur. To protect your sender reputation and deliverability, contacts should be suppressed after a defined number of soft bounces. The key is to continually monitor and adjust.

At StoneShot, we can help keep your lists clean and reduce your bounce rate. We send emails to thousands of advisers every day and log the bounces that occur. These are then flagged so you can export and investigate from a distribution list before you hit send again. What’s more, we will automatically suppress contacts that soft bounce 5 consecutive times. Your lists will be maintained without lifting a finger.

To discuss our services or to find out more about deliverability, get in touch at