Tags: Best Practices

Our customers often want to know how they can deliver email to enterprise recipients reliably. Usually when this question is asked, the customer has experienced some level of rejection, and has grown frustrated and confused as to why their great email is not reaching the inbox of their clients.

Here's the thing: Delivering email that people actually want to receive is usually not a problem. If you have a bona-fide, opt-in mailing list that you carefully assembled by getting people to willingly sign up, you will have few problems delivering email to that list. On the other hand, if you're trying to send content to a list who don't necessarily want what you're sending, you will have no end of problems in accomplishing that goal.

So, whether you want to send the mail yourself using your own server; or, if you prefer to use an SMTP relay service, the first thing to get right is your list. Here are a few guidelines that can you can follow to improve your chances of getting mail delivered:

1. Build your list ethically - Find a way to offer something that people want, and get their clear permission to receive email from you. This first step ensures that a) your list is full of valid email addresses (and not spam traps), and b) that recipients are less likely to click the spam button, which will ruin your reputation and get you blocked.

2. Use your list frequently - Once your list is built, make sure you send to it on a regular basis. And make sure the content is valuable to the recipients and relevant to what they signed up for initially. Keeping your list in front of the recipients on a regular basis makes it less likely that they won't know who you are, or how they signed up. We have all had the experience of clicking the spam button after receiving some promotional material from a company that we might have dimly remembered meeting at a trade show five years ago.

3. Be transparent - Always give your recipients a very clear and easy way to unsubscribe, and follow all the latest rules and standards that help receiving systems clearly identify who you are. Use DKIM and SPF religiously, and if you have your own IP addresses, be sure to set up clear reverse DNS entries as well as WHOIS records that make sense and have good abuse contact information. This helps the anti-spam guys like you all the more.

4. Handle complaints promptly - When you get an unsubscribe request, honor it immediately. When you receive an abuse complaint, respond to it within hours, and show that you're investigating what went wrong. Have the data to back up any claims that someone opted in.

5. Be part of the community - Contribute to the Messaging Malware Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group; this is the world's leading authority on anti-spam, and if you're sending large volumes of email, you need to be a part of the work that this group does to improve email for everyone. There is no equal worldwide in terms of influence and information.

Note: Originally submitted to Quora by MailChannels CEO Ken Simpson.

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