4 Things That Hurt Your Email Deliverability (And How to Fix Them)

Email deliverability should be a top priority for every email marketer (and here’s why). After all, you can’t be successful at email marketing unless your emails are reaching your subscribers’ inboxes.

The best way to improve and maintain your email deliverability is by keeping a clean and healthy email list. List hygiene (as we like to call it) needs to be a frequent and consistent habit for every email marketer.

To help you get started, here are four “problem areas” to watch out for, as well as actions you can take to keep your email list squeaky clean:

Problem Area #1: Typos in the Email Address

One of the most common reasons why emails bounce is because of typos in the email addresses. This happens when a subscriber misspells the email domain name (e.g., @hatmail.com vs @hotmail.com), duplicates the domain (e.g., @gmail.com@gmail.com vs @gmail.com), or makes a typo in their own name.

The Fix

The easiest way to prevent email addresses with typos from showing up on your list is to use confirmed opt-in (aka double opt-in), which requires people to confirm their subscription before getting added to your list. If someone enters the wrong email address, there’s no way they’ll ever receive that confirmation email. This helps keep your list clean of undeliverable messages because no email addresses with typos will pass through to your list.

Let’s say you prefer not to use confirmed opt-in. Another option is to use an email validation service like BriteVerify, FreshAddress, DataValidation or Kickbox to verify which email addresses are legitimate and which ones aren’t. Simply import your email list, start the validation process, and remove the email addresses that aren’t valid.

You can also comb through the validation report to identify any misspelled email addresses, fix misspellings, and add correct email addresses to your list. To ensure that you’re 100 percent confident that your subscribers want to receive emails, you should use confirmed opt-in when importing those new email addresses.

Problem Area #2: Dead Email Domains

Another common reason for bounces? Dead email domains. Unless you use a reputable email marketing provider (like AWeber) that monitors dead and blocked domains and prevents them from being added to your list, you might have some in your subscriber list.

The Fix

I probably sound like a broken record, but using confirmed opt-in will ensure that only valid email addresses are being added. If you’d prefer not to use confirmed opt-in, email validation services (such as the ones mentioned earlier) would be the next best thing to identify dead email domains. Once you find them, you can delete them from your list.

Problem Area #3: Email Address Changes

Did you know 30 percent of your subscribers will change their email address every year? That means nearly a third of your subscribers will “go cold” on you.

It’s pretty difficult to predict when someone is no longer using an email address. So, what can you do to prevent this from happening to your email list?

The Fix

Your email analytics can be a good indicator of this. If you’re noticing that someone hasn’t opened your email is several months, it might mean they’ve changed email addresses. If that’s the case, you can either attempt to re-engage them or remove them from your list.

Some email validation services like FreshAddress are able to handle changes in email addresses. With a tool like FreshAddress, they’ll be able to identify bouncing and inactive email addresses and update them with active, engaged ones.

And of course, make sure you use confirmed opt-in when adding these new addresses to your list. You can’t assume they still want to receive your emails, so asking them to make sure will help them and you in the long run.

Problem Area #4: Transfers of Email Address Ownership

Have you ever moved into a new place and continued to receive mail for the old tenants? Well, that can happen with email addresses too.

Yahoo, for example, recycles old email addresses after 12 months of no activity, which means someone else can begin using that email address once that year is up. If you still have those email address on your list, the new owner will start receiving your emails, even though they never opted in to get your emails in the first place. When that happens, that person might flag your emails as spam, which can hurt your deliverability overall.

The Fix

If someone hasn’t opened your emails within the last three to six months, there’s a good chance they’re either no longer interested in your emails or they’ve abandoned that email address. That means it’s a good time to a) send a re-engagement email or b) say goodbye.

Cleaning Up Your Email List

Regular list hygiene is essential to maintaining a healthy email list and good deliverability. As you ensure you’re emailing the right people and removing inactive or incorrect addresses, you can expect to see better results from your email marketing.

Want more help with your email deliverability? Download our free email deliverability guide.

12 Comments

  1. Christopher Alonso

    11/18/2015 8:35 pm

    Great content Mohammed. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Mohammed Ahmed

    11/19/2015 1:20 pm

    Christopher,

    I am glad that you like my post. Let me know if you have any specific questions about your mailing. I will be happy to help your mail goes to inbox.

  3. Steve Kehler

    11/21/2015 4:19 pm

    Excellent suggestions Mohammed! I’m gonna get right on to doing a little bit of list hygiene.

    I’m curious, what’s your opinion on “plug-ins” that offer list segregation within Aweber?

    Thanks! Steve

  4. List of Extreme Sports

    11/25/2015 8:05 pm

    Thanks for the fixes Mohammed. A little surprised to read that Yahoo recycles old email addresses so need to address that one.

  5. Peter Netz Lassen

    11/26/2015 6:14 am

    Nice fixes Mohammed!
    I rather have a few on my lists that are committed and love my emails than many with the risk of bounce, complaints and so. So cleaning up the lists from time to time is a part of my monthly routines.

    Thanks

    Peter

  6. Laura

    11/27/2015 9:48 pm

    Thank you for writing about this. For years I’ve wondered what to do with inactive emails in my list. Reading your tips gives me the confidence to clean them out!

  7. Nick

    11/30/2015 12:03 pm

    It’s amazing how many marketers are terrified to delete bouncing emails because it makes their list smaller, huh Mohammed. Be brave go for quality over quantity, especially if the bad is not making you money and damaging your business.

  8. Mohammed Ahmed

    12/1/2015 2:24 pm

    Hi Steve. Thanks for asking about plug-ins. I assume you’re talking about tools like AW Pro Tools that allow you to tag subscribers based on actions, move or copy subscribers based on actions, etc. These are great tools that allow you to get highly targeted with your emails, improving your engagement and ultimately your deliverability. As long as you’re not moving away from a permission-based approach (e.g., copying subscribers to another list that provides information/content they didn’t sign up for), you should be in good shape. I hope that helps answer your question. Do you have any plug-ins in mind?

  9. Mohammed Ahmed

    12/1/2015 2:27 pm

    Hello List of Extreme Sports,

    It is kind of old news now. They started back in 2013 to recycle addresses and you can get more info in here..

    https://developer.yahoo.com/blogs/ydn/reclaiming-yahoo–usernames-in-a-way-that%E2%80%99s-secure–require-recipient-valid-since-185133188.html

  10. Mohammed Ahmed

    12/1/2015 2:33 pm

    Peter,

    That is a good idea to mail only to your most engage list/subscribers. You can give some sort of offer to the subscribers who are not getting engaged for couple of times and if they don’t respond, then it is not a good idea to continue to mail them.

    Laura,

    I am glad that you like my blogpost. ISP’s/Mailbox provider look consistently on user engagement and if we continue to mail to these subscribers, then mail eventually get into spam folder. It is better to avoid after x number of attempts to mail them if they are not getting engaged.

    Nick,

    It is good to know that you like my blog. It was always a quality over quantity from ISP’s side but it is more evident these days and if subscribers are not engaged, then start routing mail to spam folder.

  11. Christian Karasiewicz

    12/8/2015 1:42 pm

    Great ideas Mohammed. Lots of great practical advice – which a lot of us overlook at times.

    I would also add to this list running a filter to remove users that have opted in but haven’t opened your emails in a year or more. This way you have a better idea of who is active on your list.

    While it’s great to have a large email list, if they’re not active they don’t do you any good.

    Nice job!

  12. Mohammed Ahmed

    12/8/2015 4:10 pm

    I am glad that you like my blog, Christian. You are right that a customer should look at user activity and if they are not opening mail from x number of months then it is not a good idea to keep on sending them mail. ISP’s also look at user engagement and if they are not opening that mail after x number of weeks, they route that mail into spam folder.