Email Deliverability 2010: The 5 Building Blocks
Takeaway notes from AMA webinar. By Aliza Bornstein, copywriter, Melissa Data
What is the definition of deliverability?
Deliverability is the overall number of messages
that reach the Inbox and can be attributed to a
specific campaign or sender.*
Your integrated channel strategy dictates the
delivery result—a more targeted message will perform
better for you. You can manage deliverability
in-house or outsource it.
The deliverability rate is the percentage of
messages delivered (not bounced) relative to the
total number scheduled.* Deliverability is not a
guarantee of customer engagement or conversion; not
a guarantee to deliver mail—to any receiving domain;
not a guarantee of ROI. You have to be extremely
targeted in order to make those things occur in your
program at the end of the day.
The 5 Building Blocks of Email Deliverability and
Building Block #1: Email Identity
Every business that sends an email has an email
identity—a sending reputation—that they must earn.
Marketers must prove their identity by
authenticating their email.
Authenticating your messages will allow you to
effectively manage and optimize your sender
reputation. Proof of identity is achieved through
the following authentication protocols:
• SPF (sender policy framework; open)
• Sender ID (MS Domains: Msn.com; Hotmail live)
• DomainKeys (DK) DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM):
Yahoo! and AOL
Building Block #2: Internet Service Provider (ISP)
Free reputation management tools from ISPs allow
email marketers to proactively manage complaints
resulting in enhanced reputation at the ISP. Email
marketers should sign up for all available feedback
Building Block #3: Brand Reputation
Brand reputation is essential—it’s the basis of your
online reputation which every email sender has. And
let’s face it—you are what you send. Brand
reputation is the combination of who you are; what
you do; your partners; how you are perceived. You
have to prove your identity.
Proactive, ongoing management is required for brand
reputation. There is a full time management
obligation toward multichannel departments like
business policies and third-party content.
For example, you should register “cousin” domain
names. These are names that look or sound very
familiar to your name (godaddy vs gomommy). You can
also register names that may be used against you
(your company name + “sucks”). This way, you own the
bad and good content for very little money.
Building Block #4: Email Reputation
What makes or breaks your email reputation? Well, a
lot of things.
• Your sign-up process
All of these things have to line up together to be
proactively managed in order to maintain your email
• Your client expectation settings (communication
frequency/type of content)
• Your sending infrastructure (compliance with known
• Establishing your email volume (your email volume
ramp-up from the inception of your program)
Building Block #5: The Law
The United States operates under the CAN-SPAM law
which is focused on commercial messages, not
transactional content. If you’re sending out email
messages that have any type of commercial content in
them, then you have to follow CAN-SPAM.
The unsubscribe compliances for CAN-SPAM are:
• Visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism present
in all emails
• Opt-out requests honored within 10 business days
• Opt-out lists (suppression lists) are only used
for compliance purposes
In the US we operate in an opt-out world; whereas,
most other countries operate in an opt-in world. So,
if you’re a European marketer sending email to the
US, your permission pass is reversed. Bottom line:
Get permission before you mail.
The content compliances for CAN-SPAM are:
• Accurate “from” lines (including “friendly forms”)
The US hasn’t been very aggressive in the past about
pursuing spammers for content compliance, other than
a few lawsuits. However, with social media’s
emergence into the technology sector, more lawsuits
are being filed and won—a message that is resonating
• Relevant subject lines (relative to offer in body
content and not deceptive)
• Legitimate physical address for the publisher
• Adult content properly labeled
Sending behavior compliance for CAN-SPAM are:
• Open relays (a server that is not properly secure,
allowing third parties to send email)
Most developed countries have some form of
email/online legislation to which you must comply
• Harvested email addresses (addresses that are
taken from postings or content on Web sites or
through dictionary attacks)
• Forged email headers (the email appears to come
from a server other than the actual source)
Summary of Deliverability Best Practices
• Proactively manage your reputation
Remember, it’s never too late to authenticate!
• Monitor your delivery to the Inbox and spam
• Manage hard and soft bounces
• Acquire and remove names responsibly
• Obey the law
• Authenticate your email
---Source: American Marketing
Association webinar on Mar. 11, 2010. David Fowler
is the global director of deliverability, email
strategy, and privacy compliance for Lyris, Inc.
Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. All definitions with
a * are provided by Deliverability.com.
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