As all email marketers understand, deliverability continues to be one of the biggest challenges faced today. That being said, it is also the one area where marketers are still in control.

Email deliverability is a complex problem, but one that is easily manageable with the right level of knowledge and proper procedures in place. Marketers need to be provided with a clear overview about the main obstacles that prevent an email from reaching the intended inbox. By recent estimates nearly 21 percent of all permission-based sent emails suffer from ‘false-positives’ and never reach the targeted inbox. At the going rate, it is estimated that mistakenly blocked permission-based email will cost marketers $400 million by 2008.

When it comes to e-marketing, the success of an email campaign is determined by deliverability. Without high deliverability, performance cannot move beyond basics, which is to build customer relationships, grow robust opt-in lists, scale email programs and generate new revenue. Fundamentally, deliverability in email marketing is all about reputation. What is important is for marketers to identify the many reputation-based obstacles that their communication will face on the way to its destination. These obstacles can take the form of automated spam filters at the services provider or desktop level and then there is the ‘human’ filter where recipients feel that a message is not relevant enough to them and block sender communications or report an organisation to their ISP.

Most ISPs are empowering their users rather than relying simply on content to filter. Content can determine your reputation; therefore good content, targeted at a related audience, is relevant. In 2006, 40 percent of all emails sent throughout the world were considered spam. As a result, filters are stepping up their efforts to block this unwanted mail and many of your commercial emails may be inadvertently filtered as well; there are more emails being bounced today than ever before.

A recent Clickz email marketing report suggests that AOL and Gmail (Google) are relying 100 percent on reputation filtering. That is, they are making their filtering decisions based on how many recipients of an email campaign report your email as spam and abuse. If your ratio is high your email gets filtered; if your complaints are low then you get in. The ISPs are also allowing email senders and ESPs (Email Service Providers) to have access to the abuse reports. This gives the list owners the chance to remove the complainers as ‘Unsubs’ and subsequently keep the data as clean as possible. This in turn reduces the number of complaints and so achieves the highest possible delivery rates. By simply providing an ‘unsubscribe’ link you can also reduce any complaint rates.

Outsourcing to a leading ESP is the fastest growing trend in email marketing today. Outsourcing ensures an organisation will have the critical deliverability success component that is ‘email reputation’. Leading ESPs have positive relationships with ISPs and adhere to strict industry best practices to stay top of class. By providing customers with easy access to on-demand top tier solutions increases a marketer’s ability to send one-to-one relevant emails that recipients request and want.

To ensure lists remain healthy from the beginning, keep databases clean and simple with fresh and monthly updates. The list may get smaller, but when talking about email deliverability name quality reigns over name quantity every time. Happy recipients open their email translating into higher deliverability rates. Unhappy customers only boost complaints to ISPs.
Some of the powerful tools that can take the mystery out of achieving high-level email deliverability are:

Applying relevance by infusing credibility into the emails sent
A recent study of online behaviour revealed that 93 percent of internet users can tell the difference between a spam email and an opt-in email. Eighty-two percent won’t open a message from a sender they know if the information is not relevant.

Using the same product, brand or company name in the ‘from’ field and/or subject line
Recipients are putting more weight than ever before on who the email is from when choosing which emails to open. Using your product, brand or company name not only brands a company, but also offers credibility in your message, building loyalty and trust. If you keep changing your name, the next email will more than likely be filtered again.

Avoiding ‘spam’ language or special characters in the subject line
For example, words and phrases like ‘free’, ‘you win’, ‘time-limited’ and ‘guaranteed’.

Finally, one thing is for sure, every marketer who is sending out emails wants to make certain that the email is delivered, read and sought after. As John Gay so suitably said: “A lost good name is ne’er retrieved.”