99 Ways to Improve Email Deliverability Problems

1. Scrub your list every 180 days. Remove people who have been inactive – meaning they haven’t engaged with your email (opened or clicked) or visited your website in the last 180 days.

2. 99? The brief said 99?

3. Suppress 30, 60 or 90-day inactives. It depends on your business. But because there are so many spam emails and company newsletters, the more stringent you are with who you email, the more your emails will be appreciated.

3. Are you sure it wasn’t a typo?

4. Do not send a re-engagement email that asks the reader to click to stay subscribed. If you’re about to scrub your list, send those inactive people the most compelling content or offer you have. If they don’t engage, that’s all the answer you need.

5. That’s ridiculous! Who asked for this topic anyway?

5. Clearly define your emails in subscribers’ preferences, so they can easily unsubscribe from content they don’t want.

6. OMG David?! The new SEO guy?

7. Make sure the types of emails you send look, sound, and feel familiar to the subscriber. For example, use the same header color and words for each type of email.

8. Well you can tell David I’m not doing 99.

9. Use Litmus to see if any of your emails are going to spam.

10. Because no one even has time to read that.

11. Send an education email as the first email in your series to help teach your contact how to move your emails from their email inbox’s promotions tab to their inbox.

12. Oh wow, that one was pretty insightful, huh.

13. Maybe I can do this.

14. Have a pre-send checklist that includes sending a proof to yourself and at least one other person. It’s hard to find your own mistakes. Spelling errors can get emails caught in spam.

15. What’s he paying me for this?

16. Do not send from no-reply.

17. He’s only paying me if it “performs well”? OK wise guy.

18. Instead send from hello@ or better yet a specific person.

19. Just send a whole email of unsubscribe links.

20. Follow GDPR and CCPA rules. Include your company’s mailing address and an unsubscribe link in every email.

99? The brief said 99? Get 99 ways to improve email deliverability in a flash. Click To Tweet

21. Actually no, don’t do that. I’m just mad at David, and taking it out on you.

22. Review the actual activity of individual subscribers (try doing this for 2 weeks – every single new subscriber) to better understand who from your audience is actually opening and engaging with your emails.

23. I wish I could tell more about who my audience is. Who’s reading this right now? A bunch of truly lucky bastards.

24. Test sending from a different email provider such as AWeber, Constant Contact, Mailchimp, or Get Response.

25. That’s something you can do in your free time – email deliverability testing. Doesn’t that sound like fun weekend “life goals” or “plans”.

26. Automate email drips based on the users’ actions taken, rather than sending broadcast emails to your whole list.

27. Whole List sounds like the Whole Foods of emails. Maybe Amazon will buy that idea.

28. Let subscribers know up front how many emails are in the drip, so they can understand where the story is going and stay engaged.

29. If I sell that to Amazon, I’ll probably never have to write a dumb post like this again.

30. Do not send a subscriber multiple emails in the same day. Set your automated emails to send on certain days of the week, so that if you have to send a blast email, you have a day reserved for it.

31. David will have to write his own stupid posts.

32. Don’t use $ or “upgrade” or “features” in your subject lines because they’re more likely to get flagged as spam.

33. I bet he couldn’t even do a top 10 list.

34. Don’t use too many ??? or !!! in your subject lines because they will get flagged as spam.

35. I can do those in my sleep.

36. Send on the right day of the week. Get Response found that the best day to send emails in order to get the highest open rate is on Tuesday. But check out Google Trends to see when people search most for the #1 topic your emails are about. That might help you better tailor your unique send time.

37. Top 10 Sheep to Help You Get a Better Night’s Sleep.

38. Send at the right time of day. Research shows that subscribers are most likely to read your email at either 10am, after they arrived at work, or at 1pm, when they’re catching up on emails after lunch.

39. See, that took me no time. I could do 99 more like that.

40. Don’t send any emails!

41. Just kidding, David.

42. Don’t send spammy emails.

43. You have to hand it to me, David. That one is legit.

44. Send a small batch of emails, before sending the whole blast (split your list up into about 4 segments).

45. Dave – do you mind if I call you Dave?

46. You can even stagger the send times for all 4 segments. For example, start at 1 AM and send to one more segment each hour, so that by the time everyone comes into their inbox in the morning, your email is there.

47. OK so, how do you even know what Google is thinking Dave?

48. Monitor your sender score reputation. Here’s a free tool to do it.

49. But where does it even say that?

50. Set up a complaint feedback loop so you can see why people getting your email are complaining about it.

51. I bet your “years of experience” are with your own website.

52. Implement a sender policy framework.

53. I bet you don’t even know what that is, Dave. Ha!

54. Once you’ve set your date and time – stick to it. Always send the same types of emails in the same slot.

55. Make sure the email address you’re sending from has been customized with a proper name, such as your company name, a related brand name, or a person’s first and last name.

56. Oh wow, really got on a roll there.

57. Check blacklists to ensure you’re not on them.

58. Like Santa’s naughty list, you don’t want to be on it. No one wants coal, Dave. Except you. Now that I think about it, you’re probably the type of guy who does.

59. Remove hard bounces from your email lists right away. Create a list to suppress with those addresses.

60. You probably also like prunes.

61. Once you reach 25,000 daily emails, you need to send on a dedicated IP address. 

62. What the heck man, no one likes prunes.

63. Use double-opt in to build your list. This has users complete two verifications, typically meaning the most engaged people go through the trouble.

64. Except for that one lady in the yogurt ads.

65. Try not to use FREE! in subject lines as it could get triggered as spam.

66. OK that was a little weak. I just don’t think I’m cut out for this type of list endurance.

67. Don’t purchase email lists.

68. Are

69. Rather than swap email lists with a partner, have them do a send on your behalf to their list.

70. We

71. Comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.

72. There

73. Suppress email addresses from blast sends, if they’re already getting automated emails.

74. Yet?

75. Only send follow up emails with the same (but slightly tweaked content) to people who didn’t already open the first one.

76. That last one was pretty good.

77. Only send follow up emails with new content, to people who interacted with the first one.

78. That’s right, I built on the same thought!

79. Stay consistent with the sender name you’ve selected. For example, don’t go back and forth between your name and your company name.

80. Bucket! Count it!

81. Data from Omnisend shows that 90% of marketers send 1-4 emails/month. That means your customer is probably already being hounded by marketing. So try sending no more than 4 emails per month.


83. Make sure your image files aren’t too heavy, try to stay under 500KB, and jpeg format at 640 x 480 pixels.

84. Actually send the email out to a feed seed accounts. Make these employee or friend accounts, ideally with a handful of different providers (Google, Outlook, AOL, etc), so you can see whether the email gets through and how.

85. Make sure your email subject lines are mobile optimized, by making them 50 characters or less.

86. Track your email analytics and look at them every 48 hours to adjust lists and future sends. Most email impact is dead after 24 hours, so you’ll have a good idea of performance by then.

87. Your images should be in RGB color values.

88. Because online, duh.

89. Use these email deliverability tools: ISNotSPAM and SendForensics.

90. Dammmmit. Just try them, Dave!

91. Use the WebAIM color contrast checker to ensure your design colors are accessible to everyone.

92. Yeah, I dug deep for that one bruh.

93. Left align copy, to ensure the format doesn’t show up funny across different screens. And because justified text is harder for people with dyslexia to read.

94. Oh! Risk free! Don’t use that in subject lines, as it can get triggered as spam.

95. Use alternative text (alt text) with images to allow assistive technology to describe them accurately. And to show good faith to email providers that your email contains what you say it does.

96.  Generic short links can be blacklisted and, if you use them, this will impact your email deliverability negatively.

97. Look how high I can count.

98. I wasn’t sure we’d make it. But dreams really do come true.

99. OK I’ve got 99 ways to improve email deliverability, and to be honest, a b*tch is one. It’s David.

Need to know even more about email deliverability?

How do you fix email deliverability?

1. Build your list with a double opt-in.
2. Suppress 60 day in-actives.
3. Send on a consistent day & time.
4. Format emails consistently.
5. Send from a non no-reply address.
6. Use a real sender’s name.
7. Make mobile-friendly designs.
8. Use a new email sender.

What affects email deliverability?

1. Sender reputation.
2. Server reputation.
3. Domain reputation.
4. Email engagement metrics such as bounce & spam complaint rates.

How do I increase Gmail deliverability?

1. Send fewer emails.
2. Suppress 30-day in-actives.
3. Send from a non no-reply address.
4. Use a real sender’s name.
5. Teach readers to move your emails out of the promotions tab.
6. Make mobile-friendly designs.

Want to learn more about email marketing for 2020?

Get the Email Marketing for Dummies book, and support this site.

Or read about what to do for GDRP, to see how it impacts your email marketing.

Many thanks for the inspiration from Eli Burnstein.

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By Megan Mitzel

I'm the wearer of overalls behind the marketing advice website Marketing Overalls. I'm also a senior marketing director with more than ten years of experience leading acquisition and lifecycle marketing at successful startups. Before that, I got a business degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. Before that, I owned a seashell shop. And that's the tea on me.