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Be the Author of Email Delivery
Posted By Rebekah Henson On November 21, 2011 @ 9:11 am In Email Deliverability | 9 Comments
Email marketers are the authors of a very particular story: the story of their email’s deliverability . Your own story starts when you turn on your computer screen and open the message editor in your web browser. So begins your email’s quest for the inbox.
ISPs, spam filters and your subscribers themselves all stand between your email and the inbox. The decisions you make will determine whether your email prevails against its obstacles or meets its untimely demise in spam folder limbo.
To help you practice making the right decisions, we’re going to walk through a little exercise. Read the following passages, and at the end of each, make your choice and click to the related page to see where your email ends up!
Catchy. It’s gotta be catchy. Something your subscribers will instantly connect with, right? Like Bangarang Bob. Man, that’s catchy!
When your newest subscriber receives your message, she doesn’t recognize the sender name and treats it like some annoying spammer who thinks his alliteration is clever. She clicks the spam button, murdering your message and your reputation  without a second thought.
Your email’s quest – nearly successful – has met a violent end. Go back to page 1 to start again .
Hmmmmm… you think (or perhaps hum aloud if you’re thinking alone). That sounds like a good place to start. “Red Delicious Apples, Inc” “Red Delicious Emails” Now we’re on to something. You enter “Red Delicious Emails” into the text field.
Later, when your newest subscriber sees your message in her inbox, she recognizes “Red Delicious” in your sender name and instantly knows that it’s the information she requested from your site’s web form.
Your email has conquered its first delivery obstacle.
You recall finding a blog somewhere that unlocked the secret of subject lines. Something about being compelling  to entice subscribers to read your content.
You sip your coffee and stare contemplatively into your mug. Maybe the cream swirls in your coffee can help you divine the magic formula. Exclamation points are compelling. So are loud statements.
Wrong. Your email accidentally sets off its emergency flare in the dark, attracting the attention of spam filters  and several grues. It’s not eaten, but the spam filters are hot on its trail. The ISP locks your email in the spam folder for good.
Spam Filter Battle Action8
Tread carefully, because phrasing is everything. A wrong move might not tip off the spam filters, but could have subscribers blowing the spam whistle themselves. Every issued spam complaint hurts your reputation and can interrupt the deliverability quest of your future emails.
You crack your knuckles and dab a bead of sweat from your brow. It’s now or never. “Red Delicious Newsletter: Top 10 Orchards plus Tips for Baking with Apples.” This sounds like a good one. It summarizes your message and teases at valuable content your subscribers should want to read .
Things are looking good for successful completion of your email’s quest.
You’ve slain the subject line, securing safe passage for your email over the Mountain of Design Elements. How do you equip your email for the trip?
The filters pounce on your email and drag it away through the woods, locking it high up in a tower until a subscriber recognizes your sender name and rescues it, like a damsel in distress.
Balancing your images with text shows the spam filters that your email has nothing to hide, and the ISP calls off its hired bandits, allowing your email clear passage to the inbox.
After crossing the mountain safely, your HTML email meets a traveling adventurer who calls himself Plain Text. Plain Text suggests they form a party and combine their strengths to blaze through to the inbox together.
No one warned you that spam filter bandits are stronger on this side of the mountain. They see your HTML email traveling alone without a plain text companion and easily ambush it. They’re too strong for your email to fight off alone. Your email’s journey ends as it’s tossed in the spam folder.
Not all inboxes can accept HTML emails, so sending an additional plain text version allows the ISP to choose which format is most appropriate, allowing your message clear inbox passage. The powers of HTML and plain text combined  face the spam filter bandits head-on and conquer them, reaching the inbox successfully.
Do you investigate the issue or leave your subscribers alone?
Or they’ll get fed up and report your emails as spam. Some people aren’t interested enough in apples to read weekly offers and updates about them. Your reputation takes another hit. And you just ran out of healing potions. Your future delivery quests may end in defeat.
Your reengagement delegate asks some pointed questions like, “Are you still interested in receiving emails from Red Delicious Apples, Inc.?” and “Is there something we could do better?” He even presents an option to unsubscribe to the customers whose fruit preferences have changed.
Letting disengaged subscribers opt-out cleans up your list, and your emails now go only to the inboxes that really want them.
Turn to the epilogue for your campaign’s successful conclusion.
What choices will you make for your next email’s story?
ISP Summary Information  from Word To The Wise, with everything you need to know about sending to specific ISPs
Article printed from Email Marketing Tips: http://www.aweber.com/blog
URL to article: http://www.aweber.com/blog/email-deliverability/be-the-author-of-email-delivery.htm
URLs in this post:
 email’s deliverability: http://www.aweber.com/email-deliverability.htm
 turn to page 4: #page4
 turn to page 15: #page15
 and your reputation: http://www.returnpath.net/blog/intheknow/2011/06/study-marketers-must-repair-poor-reputations-to-reach-the-inbox
 Go back to page 1 to start again: #page1
 being compelling: http://www.aweber.com/blog/email-marketing/subject-line-urgency-3-ways.htm
 turn to page 27: #page27
 turn to page 8: #page8
 spam filters: http://blog.wordtothewise.com/2010/10/content-based-filters/
 want to read: http://www.socialemailmarketing.eu/2011/05/tips-for-crafting-creative-subject-lines
 turn to page 30: #page30
 turn to page 21: #page21
 outsmarting content filters: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9001482/Spam_once_again_on_the_rise
 If yes, turn to page 35: #page35
 turn to page 12: #page12
 HTML and plain text combined: http://www.aweber.com/blog/email-template-design/are-you-sending-html-without-plain-text-alternatives.htm
 turn to page 17: #page17
 turn to page 41: #page41
 reengaging: http://www.aweber.com/blog/guides/reactivation-campaign
 ISP Summary Information: http://wiki.wordtothewise.com/ISP_Summary_Information
 Field Guide to ISPs and Deliverability: http://www.returnpath.net/blog/intheknow/2011/06/a-marketers-field-guide-to-isps-and-deliverability
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