recover from deliverability mistakes

Deliverability Accidents (and How to Recover)

Amanda DeLuke

Things happen. You may have mistakenly sent to your entire mailing list or sent to the wrong audience, but there are ways you can recover. Keep Calm and Email On with these helpful tips to avoid future deliverability mishaps.

The Mistake

You accidentally sent an email to your entire database. Here are some things that are likely to happen:

  • Spam trap hits: email addresses used to catch spammers and can land you on a blacklist.
  • Complaints: recipients that have marked your email as spam or complained to their provider.
  • Unsubscribes: recipients that have removed themselves from your global mailing list.
  • Bounces: undelivered mail due to invalid recipients, temporary throttling, etc.
  • Blocks: undelivered mail due to being classified as spam.
  • Blacklisting: IPs/domains suspect of sending spam.
  • Decline in reputation: this is a score given to a sender based on their likeliness of being a spammer.

If you’ve made this mistake by sending to your entire list, do not send an apology email to your entire database again (if you can help it); it will only damage your reputation further by sending even more unwanted mail.

The Lesson

Send distributed mailings

This allows for wiggle room in case you need to cancel sending (due to the issue mentioned above), to make a quick change, or to change a bad URL. Not only that, but this will distribute the mail more slowly to each receiver, making your mailing less likely to look like spam.

Unsubscribe outdated subscribers

Allowing unengaged subscribers to sit in your database will only drag you down. Stagnant recipients should be unsubscribed from your database because they can result in future complaints. I’ve seen many cases where subscribers forgot they signed up because it was so long ago or because the content is no longer relevant to them (moved, changed jobs, graduated, etc.).

If they were still interested in your product and active through your social channels, they would probably sign up again.

My recommendation would be to unsubscribe recipients that have not opened a mailing within the last 90 days. Scan your list for hard bouncers and those who have repeatedly bounced and unsubscribe those recipients as well.

Be predictable

Keep your “Friendly From” name and “from” email address consistent with your message and audience, and send at the same frequency (and keep in mind that “too much mail” is a very common unsubscribe reason). Being unpredictable can set off red flags with receivers because mail that falls outside of a normal, consistent pattern can be misclassified as spam.

Get Permission

Take a close look at how subscribers get onto your list. Make sure everyone in your database has given you permission, either directly or by initiating some type of relationship with you. Subscriber complaints are your worst enemy. Make sure that you are sending only to those that express interest in receiving mail from you.

Be Honest

Be upfront and honest with your subscribers. Tell them why they are receiving mail from you, how they got on your list, and how they can easily unsubscribe. Give subscribers the freedom and power to easily control their preferences. It will make them happy and respect you as an organization.

Don’t worry! Forget your mistakes, but just don’t forget what they teach you.

For more information on how to recover from deliverability hiccups and their impact on your organization, check out our complimentary ebook, Deliverability’s Impact on Your Email Marketing ROI.

About the Author
Amanda DeLuke

As a Deliverability Specialist, Amanda helps with client sender reputation, abuse management, and internal deliverability process. When she is not busy at work, she enjoys playing the alto sax, mountain biking, and chasing after her identical twin boys.