How to Get Subscribers to Whitelist You

Although emails from AWeber customers like you are already whitelisted on an ISP level through us, your emails may be filtered on an individual level.

Each subscriber has the opportunity to whitelist you within their own inbox. This can prevent confusing messages and keep inboxes from filtering you out.

So how do you get your readers to give you their stamp of approval? You ask, of course.

Ways to Ask

You can ask in two ways. Your choice depends on how long you want your request to be and if you have a site to host an instruction page on.

Ask Subscribers to Add You to Their Contacts or Safe Sender List

That way, each subscriber can take the appropriate action for their ISP.

This is quick to implement, and a simple message (like this one from Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment) indicates that the process will be easy.

thank you page request

Ask Subscribers to Whitelist You, and Offer Complete Instructions

Subscribers may appreciate a custom guide for their ISP. You can build your own or use a template from sites like CleanMyMailbox or EmailDeliveryJedi, then host it on your site.

This example makes it easy for subscribers to find custom instructions to whitelist and email address

This method offers flexibility: you could use a simple “whitelist us” link as Marketing Experiments does, or include a full paragraph on why you’re asking your readers to take this step.

Marketing Experiments provides a simple text link

If you need help putting together an instruction page, feel free to borrow from our examples.

Something to avoid: If you include an email address in your whitelisting request, make sure to disable the link. Otherwise, subscribers may assume that clicking the link will help them whitelist you, and be frustrated when that is not the case, like in this request from Steve Spangler Science.

Places to Ask

The places you make your request are going to depend on your preferences, your campaign history and your readers’ reactions. You may also want to put requests in place for both current readers and new subscribers.

  • The thank-you page.

    Alert your new subscribers before they ever get an email. If you’re using a custom thank-you page, not only can you make your request, you could even include the full set of instructions. Whitelisting you at this point ensures that readers will get every one of your messages.

  • The welcome email.

    Request an exchange: you promise to send your readers important updates, special deals and the best content you can provide. In return, you ask them to whitelist you. Make sure to point out how they benefit: they won’t accidentally miss out on those deals or updates.

  • A paragraph in a broadcast.

    Did some subscribers miss the whitelist request on your thank you page or welcome email? A polite request in a regular email might be the best way to reach them – especially if you include other interesting content in the broadcast.

  • An entire broadcast.

    This option requires careful consideration. On one hand, you can include instructions directly in the email without creating or linking to a separate page. On the other hand, such an email may annoy subscribers. Think about your readers. Are they likely to unsubscribe if they get a request instead of the content they are expecting?

  • The preheader.

    This keeps things subtle. Listing a simple link at the top of each email reaches current subscribers without bothering them with an announcement. It also keeps the option of whitelisting you available for those who overlooked or ignored previous requests.

Keep in mind, while whitelisting can help you reach the inbox, you won’t stay there long if subscribers don’t like what they get from you. So keep striving for the most relevant, useful content possible!

How Do You Ask?

Do you ask your readers to whitelist you? How do you go about doing so? We’d love to hear your results and ideas!

17 Comments

  1. Mark Brownlow

    2/10/2010 1:45 am

    Great advice and enjoyed the post. I would add that if you just use a simple "whitelist us" link in your preheader that you think carefully about the link wording.

    MarketingExperiments are probably OK because their audience is web savvy, but would a typical consumer know what "whitelist us" means?

  2. jim cockrum

    2/10/2010 2:50 am

    I made a related suggestion awhile back, but I’ll put it here as well since some time has passed.

    It would be awesome if the default aweber "thank you" page that subscribers see automatically included whitelist instructions.

    Even better:
    It wouldn’t be hard to pull the owners ‘from address’ from the account profile page and populate that on there as well right? This way the subscriber would have EXACT instructions at the point of sign up.

    If implemented wouldn’t this instantly improve everyone’s delivery rate?

  3. Diane

    2/10/2010 3:04 am

    hay, everyone, I want to add, this is one of the best sites I have visited, and I am new to marketing but learning how to set up a e-mail program plus learning other aspects of marketing has never been easier that Aweber, it is simple the directions are laid out clear that even a kid could learn, this site has help my frustration and has build my confidence in learning how to market on the internet, like I said I am a newbie, and I would refer this site to all the newbies who know nothing about e-mail and wants to learn this is the site

  4. Ricky Buchanan

    2/11/2010 5:39 am

    Even though ATMac is a technically oriented site my subscribers tend not to be very technically adept. I’ve adapted (updated and simplified) a version of the whitelist page from EmailDeliveryJedi and linked it to my "Thank you" page thus: http://atmac.org/subscribe/thank-you/

    It seems to work very well – thank you for the suggestion.

  5. Amanda Gagnon

    2/12/2010 12:19 pm

    Mark ~ That’s a great point. The Ramtha and ME examples are written for different audiences – always crucial to consider.
    Diane ~ Thank you, and we’re happy to help!
    Ricky ~ I like how you have two layers of explanation!

  6. Justin Premick

    2/12/2010 12:24 pm

    Jim,

    That’s an interesting idea for default pages – but a really customized and effective thank you page shouldn’t be a default one at all 😉 It should be a custom one that the marketer creates the content for him/herself.

    You also have to consider that some marketers may not want that whitelisting information on a default thank you page. They may feel it detracts from the message on the rest of the page (confirming your email address, activating your subscription, etc.). So while it might improve delivery to those people who confirm, if it reduces the confirm rate, is it a net gain? I’m not sure there’s a clear-cut answer.

    Changing default pages (for the better) is a tricky thing. I’ll share your thoughts with our design and development teams here, but I’m not sure whether or not that’s a change we would implement.

  7. Chris Lang

    2/14/2010 10:01 am

    Hey Justin thanks for the link to my whitelist generator at Email Delivery Jedi.

    After taking a look at my buddies generator at Clean My Mail Box I have to say that he as fallen woefully behind on what is going on today.

    So I want to ask anyone here if I have left any major filters out at the link Justin supplied.

    One thing I suggest you do use on any whitelist page is both McAffe, Syamntec and especially Trend Micro instructions. Sure webmail is very prolific these days but the big three all come bundled with various forms of Windows from XP on up. McAffe is still on a few million machines.

    And Trend Micro is THE most prevalent as it is the lowest priced and the 4th most often sold piece of Windows software in the world. Don’t leave these 3 out.

    Also if you Justin, or anyone reading this post has any suggestions how I can make my whitelist generator better, please, just let me know. – Chris Lang 480-381-0597

  8. Louisa Chan

    2/16/2010 10:02 am

    Hi There,

    It is certainly worth going through each list and requesting for white listing.

    Question:
    Does this method “Ask Subscribers to Add You to Their Contacts or Safe Sender List” produce the same level of “whitelisting” as “Asking Subscribers to Whitelist You”?

    Thanks

  9. Suzanne

    2/16/2010 1:30 pm

    Thank you for a great article. In future, if the messages are in text rather than an image, we could have simply copied them and pasted onto a text pad in preparation for the email, making it even easier than writing it ourselves.

  10. Ricky Buchanan

    2/20/2010 4:37 am

    @Amanda: although I run a technical site my readers are very low on tech skills. I was worried if I put it all on one page then I’d completely overwhelm the easily-scared-by-geek-speak ones. That’s also why I took the less commonly used mail programs out of the secondary page so it was shorter and simpler, although from what Chris wrote I should perhaps put those three back in!

    @Chris: I contacted the AOL people and signed up for an AOL webmail account and they said that for web and desktop AOL clients both, in the default configuration replying to an email will automatically whitelist the address. In the desktop client (not sure about webmail) you can change a preference so it doesn’t, but in my case knowing my own audience, I figured anybody advanced enough to be changing the default preferences could figure it out themselves.

  11. Amanda Gagnon

    2/22/2010 1:05 pm

    Louisa ~ Yes, the white list is the same as the safe sender list or the safe contact list. With both methods, subscribers are indicating that you have permission to email them.

    Ricky ~ That’s a great example of knowing your audience and making things easy for them.

  12. Chris Lang

    2/27/2010 5:23 pm

    @Louisa Chan, Does this method ?Ask Subscribers to Add You to Their Contacts or Safe Sender List? produce the same level of ?whitelisting? as ?Asking Subscribers to Whitelist You??

    I would guess that “Adding to contacts…” would do better than whitelisting. I use a mix of the two. But I wish I could say I split tested that.

    I would bet a split test using AWeber’s app would answer your question though!

    That is why in the Whitelisting Generator I created each email application uses the exact language for the particular app. That way it applies to each app that your user could be using.

    Web email uses “Contacts” allot. Many email filters use Whitelisting. Hotmail uses “Safe sender”…

    If just one more sale is made because that person is able to understand how to use their own email filiter I would say that would be worth the time.

    That is why I support ever major filter, and that is why they are listed and then hyperlinked within the page.

    Remember that there are millions and millions and millions more that use Trend Micro filtering apps than there are Gmail users (35 million).

    So why would you list Gmail instructions and not list Trend Micro, Symantec and McAffee instructions?

  13. Whitelisting: Why it's important and what you can do about it

    3/1/2010 10:09 am

    […] There are several opportunities, especially at the start of an email relationship, to push subscribers to whitelist. This includes on the sign-up form and thank you page, in the welcome message, in the preheader and so on. For tips and advice on how to get subscribers to whitelist through these traditional means, please see this post. […]

  14. What Your House Can Teach You About Email Marketing

    6/22/2010 8:55 am

    […] Get WhitelistedAsk subscribers to add your email address to their address books. While emails sent from AWeber customers already whitelisted on an ISP level, it’s important to reduce the likelihood of your mail being filtered to a junk folder on an individual level. […]

  15. A Beginner's Guide to Successful Email Marketing

    10/11/2010 11:23 am

    […] AWeber […]

  16. Josh

    8/26/2011 6:21 am

    Cool, thanks for this list :) Although it does annoy me that so many marketers broadcast views like this without ever considering how it would be fulfiled.

  17. FSP

    1/17/2012 5:11 am

    There’s no ‘secret’ to getting a subscriber/isp/esp/whomever to whitelist you. It’s not smoke and mirrors. Simply send them a succession of emails that they will be interested in, open, read and click.

    If they’re not opening, reading and clicking then ask yourself why. Don’t just assume that by changing your email strategy, they’re more likely to buy from you…give them what they want and they will open.