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Christopher Knight

Email Deliverability Checklist - 10 Point Tune Up From Lyris
By Christopher Knight

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Lyris Technologies, Inc. (Lyris is the platform that I currently use to manage all of my email lists) just released a new 10 point check list to help email marketers and ezine publishers to improve their deliverability. If you're a newbie ezine publisher, many of the tips in their report will most likely sound like tech-talk gibberish, but I assure you that every tip they deliver is worthy of your attention. Don't dismiss their checklist as not applying to you, but rather pass along this article and the link to their report to your staff techie to review.

I have a few comments or analysis on their deliverability research:

The #6 checklist tip is to keep track of email delivery rates by ISP. This is most likely a granularity that you're not used to tracking as most email publishers track the overall bounce or successful delivery rate without respect to which domains of which ISP are bouncing. Years ago AOL used to accept mail and dump it without delivering notification of the dump and without delivering it to the end recipient. They have stopped that practice, but other ISPs from time to time may not have the same integrity. My recommendation: If your list has more than 10,000 members, you have reached the point where it makes sense to track which ISP is causing bounces and which ISP should be causing some bounces but perhaps have not reported any in a few weeks or months (a red flag). The #8 checklist tip is to check for legibility in your email messages. I recall reading a study a few months ago from Lyris that noted that end recipients that received broken emails (poorly formatted HTML code) thought that the emails were possibly fraudulent or even part of a phishing scam. The complexity today is pretty high if you want to render an HTML email newsletter perfectly into every known email client (Lyris reports identifying 35 major ones). In fact, I'd argue that it's almost impossible to deliver an HTML email perfectly into every email client because of how each one and their associated anti-virus, anti-phising, and anti-spam schemes intercept or malform incoming emails.
Email Term Defined: "Email Client" refers to the software program your email list members use to read or send email with. I use the latest version of Eudora Pro. Most folks use Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express. Corporate users that don't use Outlook most likely use Lotus Notes (evil when it comes to rendering HTML emails).

Important tip: Never assume just because your HTML email looks good in your email client that it will look good in the greater majority of email clients in use by your members. Solution is to test the majors by yourself or hire a 3rd party to do it for you.
The #10 checklist tip is to respect the recipient. Read this quote and let it sink in deep: "A well-timed, well-crafted email is much more likely to accomplish your goals than a steady stream of opportunistic, impersonal, or out-of-context message." Six months ago I began doing a much higher volume of highly segmented mailings and not only has this produced a much higher response rate across the board, but my unsubscription levels or attrition rates are lower too. I am certain our business is delivering more value to our members vs. if we were to continue sending out mass emails to our entire permission-based lists. You may want to ask yourself this question: "How can we segment our lists to deliver higher relevancy content and offers for our members than we are today?"
To read the full Lyris report: "The Opt-In Email Marketer's Checklist For Inbox Deliverability"
(Thanks to David Libby (PR firm Lyris uses) for providing this checklist.)

This Ezine-Tip was submitted By Christopher Knight -- Email List Marketing Expert, author and entrepreneur. Get your weekly dose of Email newsletter publishing, marketing, promotion, management, email-etiquette, email usability and deliverability tips by joining the free Ezine-Tips newsletter:

Ezine-Tips for August 16, 2005

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