Deliverability myths

Myth 1

I’m blocked/have a poor reputation/have bad delivery on my IP address and domain. It’s easier to just switch IPs and domains to get back into the inbox.

​WHY THIS IS FANTASY: This is Chronic Nomad Syndrome (CNS). Email providers and receivers decide where to deliver your mail based off of your sending reputation, which includes things like your complaint rate, unknown user rate, volume, spam traps and sending permanence. Sending permanence, the length of time you’ve been sending regularly from your IP address and domain is the important factor here. IPs with no sending reputation will typically have worse deliverability and throughput than IP addresses with poor delivery. Email receivers will typically block and rate limit volume from new IP addresses because statistically speaking, IPs addresses that are new to sending mail are more likely belonging to spammers. Not to mention that all of your bad rep issues and sending practices will just follow you to your new IP domain. At that point, it’s only a matter of time before your deliverability gets even worse.

THE PLAIN TRUTH: It’s better to address and fix the reasons for your poor reputation than switching to a new IP address or domain. Avoid CNS – Chronic Nomad Syndrome!

Myth 2

Certain words like “free” and symbols like the exclamation point (!) should be avoided because they trigger spam filters.​

WHY THIS IS FANTASY: Not really. Most spam filtering systems are based on reputation today and therefore, content play a very small role in that filtering decision.

THE PLAIN TRUTH: If you have a good reputation, more often than not your reputation will override any content filter, but that doesn’t mean it’s never a factor. If you’re sending our third party content or templates used by others, your content might have a bad reputation assigned to it as it could be associated with other senders’ bad reputation. So yes, your content can have a bad reputation but the fact is that it isn’t necessarily due to the content itself.

Myth 3

It’s my ESPs job to fix my deliverability.

WHY THIS IS FANTASY: Mostly not true. Sure, any other ESP (Email Service Provider) might be causing some delivery issues because the infrastructure isn’t set up properly or maybe placed your IP on a shared IP that has poor delivery, but this is usually the exception and not the rule. You, the sender, are positively absolutely in charge of your own email deliverability and reputation. Your reputation is determined by the quality of your lists (meaning low unknown users and no spam traps), complaints, message quality, and subscriber engagement, all which the sender controls and not the ESP.

THE PLAIN TRUTH: Unless you address the root cause of your poor reputation, no ESP can get you delivered to the inbox.

Myth 4

I have a low complaint rate therefore my mail should be delivered to the inbox.

WHY THIS IS FANTASY: Complaints are calculated based on your inbox delivery for most email receivers. So, if your mail is getting delivered to the spam folder, you’ll have a low complaint rate. If you’re getting sent to junk, it’s the “Not Spam” rate you need to be concerned with. Some filters and email receivers even go a step further and only count complaints from active, trusted subscribers, meaning that all those inactive email addresses on your file who never complain won’t be counted in the denominator, and that means your complaint rate is probably much higher at the email receivers and filters than you think it is.

THE PLAIN TRUTH: Complaints are a key factor, but not the only factor when determining inbox deliverability. As the email deliverability landscape becomes more complex, you’ll need to get a better handle on the metrics that affect your inbox placement rates. And because they differ by ISP, you’ll need access to the metrics that matter most so you can optimize accordingly.

Myth 5

Authenticating with SPF and DKIM will give me achieve high deliverability rates.

WHY THIS IS FANTASY: Authentication has no explicit deliverability benefits. Email authentication rather ensures a valid identity to help prevent your domain from being phished and spoofed. Email receivers do not and will not place your emails in the inbox just because you are authenticating. They can however assign an underlying reputation to your authentication records, much like how you have a driving record associated with your driver’s license.

THE PLAIN TRUTH: There are some implicit benefits of authenticating though. Some webmail providers, like Hotmail and Yahoo, will add a trusted sender icon next to authenticated emails which can bolster subscriber trust in your emails, which should cause them to open the email over just deleting without opening. We also did some analysis on complaint rates for authenticated vs. non-authenticated domains and found a 2% increase in complaint rates for failed and non-authenticated domains. Obviously, subscriber perception and trust is very important when it comes to authenticating. In addition to that, Yahoo requires you sign your emails with DKIM in order to receive feedback loop complaints. And as you know, receiving and processing complaints is a best practice in aiding to lower your complaint rates.

Myth 6

It’s important to have relationships with the ISPs so I can call them when I’m blocked to let my mail through.

WHY THIS IS FANTASY: There is no bat phone to the ISP because ISP filtering is all automated. Therefore, you cannot call in a favor and slide you email through.

THE PLAIN TRUTH: If you go over their acceptable reputation metrics, you should expect to be throttled, banished to the spam folder, or blocked. No amount of calling or finagling will change that. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be blocked forever though. Look at the causes and fix them. Then wait for your changes to take effect, and your deliverability should automatically correct itself. In some cases, manual intervention might be required, but that too is done through automated means via a web site or email address. Contact support for guidance and support.

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