Does your Deliverability have the "flu"?

Greg Robinson

The change of seasons is one of several reasons I enjoy living in the northeast. Being an avid skier and outdoorsman, I probably look forward to winter more than the average person. I like the crisp, cold days and newly fallen snow that (hopefully) blankets the ground. My wife and I bundle up our kids in all of their gear and bring them out to get fresh air with us as well.  Together we ski, snowshoe, pelt one another with snowballs and occasionally go sledding on one of the local hills. Along with the opportunities that winter provides, however, there are some downsides. One such downside is that winter is flu season.

Many people have already been affected by the flu this season, and if you haven’t been, you probably know someone who has. Possible flu symptoms include coughing, sneezing, sore throat, fever and a runny nose. Yuck.  Though it may not be possible to prevent the flu with absolute certainty, many people do take precautions to minimize their chances of being infected. As an email marketer, you should also consider the warning signs of the Deliverability Flu and the preventative measures you can take to avoid or minimize its impact.

Deliverability Flu Symptoms:

  • Lethargy (low opens/clicks)
  • High fever (poor sender reputation)
  • Sore throat and runny nose (hard bounces)
  • Aches and pains (high complaint rates)
  • Cough (unsubscribes)
  • Headache (blocks)

Deliverability Flu Prevention:

Vaccination – Implement Sender Authentication for your domain(s), an important first step for protection. SPF and DKIM are the most common types that should be implemented, as receivers are checking for them already. A new authentication type, DMARC, has been recently introduced. Authentication can’t prevent all delivery issues, but it is an important layer of protection for senders and receivers. Some senders make it a priority to configure Sender Authentication right away, while others drag their feet. It’s relatively quick and painless, and Informz is here to hold your hand during implementation if you need us to; so get yours today!

Reduce exposure – Avoid list sources that have potential to infect your list. Rented, borrowed, purchased and aged lists have higher chances of being infected with invalid and spam trap addresses. Associating your organically-grown list with these tainted list sources will increase your chances of infecting your good list with addresses that will hurt your deliverability. Adding addresses to your list without proper opt-in permission will also increase the likelihood of excessive spam complaint rates on your campaigns — one of the top reasons for blocked email. You wouldn’t go licking doorknobs at the doctor’s office during flu season (or any time of year, I hope!), so why would you expose your list to addresses that have a higher likelihood of being infectious?

Sanitize thoroughly and frequently – Informz assists in sanitizing your lists by converting addresses to the repeat bouncer status after multiple consecutive hard and/or soft bounces, which demonstrates that the address may do more harm than good if sent to anyone further. You can clean even more potentially infectious germs from your list by removing those addresses that show no recent opens or clicks on mailings received. The time frame for removing inactive addresses from your list will vary based on your organization’s needs, however I would recommend letting them go after 12 months of inactivity, at most. Starting a win-back campaign to resurrect some of these addresses may be beneficial, but you have to be okay with truly letting these addresses go if you see no response from your win-back campaign. Carrying old addresses on your list only increases your chance of becoming infected.

If you’ve recently contracted a bad case of the Deliverability Flu, contact your eMarketing Advisor or Informz today to discuss some possible remedies. The sooner you act, the sooner your deliverability will improve!

About the Author
Greg Robinson

As the Deliverability Manager at Informz, Greg Robinson oversees all client deliverability inquiries, maintains relationships with ISPs and anti-spam entities, and enforces anti-spam policy. Greg educates clients on best practices and strategy, working to correct existing and avoid future delivery issues to maximize deliverability rates.

  • Dawn Solis

    Question on unopened….I’ve heard lately that some of the ISPs are starting to push back on the number of emails sent and not opened. For example, if someone hasn’t opened the last 4-5 times, they should be removed from the list and filtered into a re-engagement campaign. Is this true?

  • Greg, I loved your article! It was smart and timely, with this flue season upon us… 🙂 Imitation is the best form of flattery, they say. So I hope you don’t mind that I referenced this post, and used a similar format, for my most recent blog post: 6 Signs Your Sales Process Has the Flu! The link is: I hope you like it!