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Tips for Improving Your Site's Mass Mailing Delivery Reliability

Well, for the last two weeks,  I've been working very hard on improving the delivery reliability of all the emails I send from my site  The problem when having a very high number of users (>7000), is that sending 1 daily email can get out of hands very fast. 

Almost from the start of my site, many mailing services (like Hotmail) started to consider my emails as SPAM.  At first, I didn't care much, since I was sending a very low number of emails and many messages got through the users' mailbox.

But recently, I saw a decline in my user's activity.  I first thought that the summer period was the main reason, but in the last few weeks, the activity level didn't get back to a normal state.  The reason is now that most of my emails get to the Junk folder of my users.

I was looking for a solution.  Here are some tips that I implemented myself and that are already doing a difference.

Tip: The most basic fact: in EVERY email you send, make sure you include specific instructions on how to unsubscribe from your mailing. 

My experience: The truth is, I didn't consider this seriously from the start, and to unsubscribe, I asked the user to login in their account and edit their profile.  This was an error, as this was way to much complex.  KISS (Keep It Simple & Stupid).

Solution: Include a 1-click unsubscribe link in all emails you send.

Tip: Make sure you have an SPF.

My experience: I took way too long before considering adding a SPF in my domain's DNS entry.  The day I added mine, emails got through most anti-spam filters.

Solution: Today's mail server checks the validity of your IP.  Make sure you create one. See Microsoft Sender ID Framework SPF Record Wizard.

Tip: Keep your mailing list clean.

My experience: again, I didn't consider cleaning my mailing list until a few weeks ago.  This was an error, as most anti-spam filters will consider you a spammer if you send too many emails to un-existing mailboxes.  Since I started cleaning my mailing list, I can already see a difference.

Solution: Read, read and read some more the error codes you receive from your SMTP emailing software.  Reply codes like 450 and 550 should be taken care of quickly.

Tip: Read more about the most used providers.

My experience: In my case, Hotmail's users are almost 50% of my mailing.  So I got interested are to know what makes them consider my emails as spam.  As it turns out, they give quite a few tools to help you to improve your mailing list.  See my previous post on the topic.  I also have many Yahoo users, so I started approaching Yahoo to see how I can improve my delivery.

Solution: There's no secret here: visit the providers' sites and follow their good-behaviour recommendations.

Conclusion: Doing legitimate bulk mailing is not an easy task.  These tips are a first step in the good direction.