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Today i’m going to show you how to increase your email deliverability rates so your prospects see your emails, open your emails, click your emails and ultimately take the action you want them to take.

I’m going to show you..

  1. the anatomy of an email that gets to the inbox
  2. a comparison of two top email marketing systems and how they stack up
  3. what you control to improve your results 

The first thing you need to understand about how to increase your email deliverability rates is that its not as simple as saying your emails are delivered or they aren’t. Each ISP (internet service provider) has its own rules, therefore the way your emails are received and displayed by that provider are different. There are also hundreds of different factors that ISPs use to filter the good emails from the junk emails and those are also different. If you are at all familiar with how a search engine algorithm works, email filtering is very similar in the way that the receiver of the email is in control of what they display to their users.

The good news is that much like search engines, there are 3 big players that control the majority of the email accounts and they have a responsibility to their users to make sure the emails they want get delivered to them. This also means we can isolate the majority of our testing to “the big 3”.

The big 3 are..

  • Gmail
  • Yahoo
  • Outlook (formerly Hotmail)

The other good news for you is the majority of the factors that are required to avoid email filters will be set in place by your email marketing software.

So now that you have an idea of the big picture lets take a look at the anatomy of an email that gets delivered.

#1 The anatomy of an email that gets to the inbox

The 4 main factors that determine if an email gets delivered are the following.

  • How the Email is Sent ( the email follows all the email rules set forth by each ISP )
  • Who the Email is Sent From ( the sender must be verified as a reputable sender by multiple 3rd party sources)
  • What the email contains ( the words that you use in your email )
  • The engagement your have with your email list ( how often the people on your email list open and click your emails )

The first two items contain way too many factors to list here, however your email marketing system should take care of these things for you.

To put that to the test i’m going to compare two top email marketing systems with real life data.

#2 How the Email is Sent

(ResponseMagic Vs. GetResponse Email Deliverability Test)

First i’m going to test long standing Email Marketing Systems under a series of tests to show you how much of an impact each element has on the number of people who open your emails.

To make this test fair I will be using the following controls

1. a real list of people that are on my email list ( you might have been one of them! )
2. a similar format but different content email so that the open and click rates don’t drop because people already read the first email sent.
3. the same sending email address
4. not using any images that might change the results.

The two emails will be sent to the exact same people from both Email Marketing Systems and we will review the results based on Unique Opens and Unique Clicks.

The reason I chose GetResponse is because i’ve been hearing from a lot of customers that GetResponse had really good email deliverability.

They even go as far as posting a testimonial claiming that a former aweber user’s business was saved by the email deliverability of GetResponse.

GetResponse Email Deliverability Test

Here is the first email test we did with GetResponse.


*note: if you are wondering ,the “Read more” button is just css (not an image) so it won’t sway our results.

GetResponse shocked us initially with what seemed to be really great open rates. (see below)



But we soon came to find out that that this was all an illusion. 

You see GetResponse plays some percentage trickery on you when they calculate their open rate.

Their default tab “summary” uses the totals of all “Non Unique” opens and clicks. When put into an improper percentage you are left with an inflated percentage.

Let me show you and example that illustrates my point a bit more.

I sent a test to my list and opened the emails a few times.


It is pretty clear to see that the percentage used by get response as their “Default” is a bogus percentage because there is no such thing as 150% open rate. 

Now that we are aware of that we now know to use the “unique tab” where they store the real results.

Here are the real results.


ResponseMagic Email Deliverability Test

Next we tested the ResponseMagic email marketing system with the same email with similar headline.


Here were the results from the ResponseMagic Email..

Response Magic Email Deliverability

Now lets compare the results..

GetResponse generated..

10.00% Open Rate
4.69% Click-through Rate
32 opens
15 clicks

ResponseMagic generated..

16.43% Open Rate
7.79% Click-through Rate
59 opens
28 clicks

So it looks like ResponseMagic was the winner when we tested the first category of how you send your email.
If you want to pick up a free copy of ResponseMagic you can click here.

One more thing to Note: is that the email address we were sending from was ” ryan@ryanhache.com ”

When you attempt to add a sending email address like “ryanhache@yahoo.com” for example, GetResponse gives you this nice message.


If you are having problems reading that it says, “Please change this from field as it might cause serious deliverability problems.”

That is because Yahoo publishes a DMARC record, and for the lack of a better description, it tells the world how they send email. 

Other email providers use this to see if someone is using yahoo.com to spam their network. In the case of using an email address from the big 3 like yahoo it is important to send your email in a different way that isn’t going to get picked up by that DMARC record and tossed in the trash.

ResponseMagic has many users who use these free emails addresses and don’t want to create an email alias on their own domain name like ryan@ryanhache.com.

So ResponseMagic created dynamic sending based on the sending email address that automatically sends the email in the optimal way based on the sending email address.

They also have what is called hybrid-confirm opt in that allows you to confirm opt-in your contacts if you chose and get even better email delivery. ResponseMagic give you the best of both worlds allowing you to send using an exclusive confirm opt-in network for your confirm opt-in contacts but still email those who forget to confirm. To reduce possible un-engaged users on the email list you can easily “clean” your email list using a feature that moves all prospects that haven’t engaged yet with your emails. ( you’ll see why this comes in handy in a moment )
Learn more about hybrid-confirm opt-in here. 

Now other than choosing the right provider to send your emails lets talk about the part of Email Deliverability that you can Control.

#3 What part of Email Deliverability Can You Control?

Aside from picking a quality email sending service, ultimately your Email Deliverability comes down to  YOU.

I know you didn’t want to hear that, but sometimes the truth will set you free.

If you take anything from this article it is that now and in the future nothing is going to get you the responsive email list you want unless you take responsibility for it.

Your email list is full of real people and those real people have a real relationship with you. If you don’t treat it that way how do you expect them to?

I’m going to continue assuming you already to take full responsibility for your email list and the results that come from it, because you are reading this article.

Lets dive into what you can control in your email deliverability.

Email Content Filtering

Email content filtering is a process email providers use to the filter email messages based on the content that is in the email. Essentially they read in your email and see if it matches any of the rules they have set to determine if something is spam or junk, they move it or just flat out trash it.

In this section I am going to give you some steps you can take to avoid having your emails filtered by content filtering

Don’t link to a blocked domain

This means if you link to a url that is on a domain block list you are at risk for that email to be seen as spam.

The most respected and updated domain block list is the SpamHaus DBL.

Here is a link to show you how to check to see if you are on this DBL and how to remove yourself. 
Is a link or domain name you are sending in your emails listed on the SpamHaus Domain Block List (DBL)?

Don’t Send an email with a Blocked Domain in it.

This means somewhere in your emails html code there is a reference url to a domain name that is blocked.
The important thing to understand here is that it doesn’t have to be something you are linking to. This could be an image that you grabbed from the web to include in your eamil or a reference you make to a website in your email or just some code that is in your html that you copied into your email. If you are having problems with the open rates on a particular email it is important to check our your source code and rule out any URL references in your email that could be blocked.

Once you find them, either remove them or if you own the domain name follow the steps to get your domain name removed from the spamhaus dbl.

Don’t use words that might be in the email providers “spam words list”

This means if an email providers notices a lot of spam emails coming in with the words “make money online” or “viagra” they put them in their spam words list. Each time you use a spammy word it increases your spam score. The higher your spam score the more likely you are to trip the spam filtering threshold and land your email in the junk folder.

To battle this you can check your email using the ResponseMagic spam score feature that allows you to check for spam triggers before you send your email.


Don’t use large images with text on them

Back when email content filtering first came out, spammers used to use images so they could still use “spammy” words in their emails without getting a spam score increase. Since they email filters have gotten more intelligent and they can recognize images that have wording on them. This is why you should not use images with words on them, because even if your words are not spammy you will be viewed as a spammer. Some email marketing experts recommend not using images at all because of their effect on email deliverability.  I don’t think this plays as much of a factor as it once did. Even still, I personally still don’t use images. You can read more about that if you like in how to write auto responder emails the quick way 

Don’t use an ip address to avoid using a domain name

Another old trick is to avoid using domain names to avoid being domain based blocked. Spammers would use ip addresses that change in their links to avoid spam filters. This is not a good idea because email providers have already caught on to this and they just assume now that if  you are linking with an ip address that something fishy is up. A lot of scams that try to get your data used this trick which made email providers are even more serious about blocking this tactic.

Try to keep your email to one hyperlink

This has been talked about that having multiple different hyperlinks in your emails can lead to a decrease in deliverability, but I don’t think so. I put it in here anyway because I still think it is important to keep your emails to one hyperlink but for a different reason. The reason is that the more options you give someone the more likely they are to choose none. This is called the Von Restorff Effect and you can learn more about that in this post Testing the Von Restorff Effect.

Email Engagement / Sender Reputation

A relatively new form of email filtering is emerging with Gmail leading the charge. This form of email filtering doesn’t just look at the email itself but the relationship the sender has with the receiver and receivers. What I mean by this is that if we send an email to Mary, Paul and Bill. If Bill marks the email as spam he will continue to get your emails in spam. If Mary and Paul ignore your email completely multiple times Mary and Paul might start getting your email in the “promotions” tab. Heres where it gets interesting and debatable. If a high enough number of gmail users are marking your email as spam or ignoring your email completely gmail can and possibly is using that data to make filtering decisions for the other gmail users that use gmail services.

This basically means they have “crowd sourced” spam detection.

So with this big brother watching our every move what do we do?

Make a Valuable Connection with Your Email List

The future of email deliverability depends on the value we are offering in our newsletters and email lists. If we look at email as a broadcast only, push marketing platform we are going to be dead in the water. We need to start thinking about email marketing as a cultivation of relationships, an asset we nurture over time. It can’t be something to pillage with offers and use only to convert and hard sell.
Check out my post on the passive email marketing strategy that works.

Never use deceptive headlines

A common theme that got started in the internet marketing world was that if we can just get them to open the email that is half the battle. Well this is true but if it is at the cost of being deceptive it can hurt you. The biggest reason this can hurt you is because your email list isn’t just about the numbers. Remember being deceptive in any way damages the relationship with your email list. Do you really want to be deceptive for a few more opens? and Opens don’t necessary mean clicks. Also if email service providers can track opens and clicks they can track the difference between how many opened vs. how many clicked to detect possible deception. Deceptive headlines is something email providers take seriously because they associate it with scams and phishing. You do not want to be in that category.

Confirm Email Subscribers

Confirming your email subscribers ensures that the prospects that you are sending to want to receive your emails. It also makes sure that the owner of that email address if verified as having access to that email account. Although not everyone confirms the ones that do respond highly to your emails. This gives you a higher engagement score and higher server reputation. ResponseMagic uses a different approach to confirm opt-in that allows you to email that percentage of contacts that forget to confirm their email address. It uses a separate network of email servers to send to confirm opt-in subscribers to maintain the highest level of email deliverability to those contacts while also allowing for you to email the others that normally would be lost. Read more about hybrid confirm opt in here

Using hybrid confirm opt-in, you will notice that a percentage of email subscribers that didn’t confirm will never engage with your emails. This will eventually decrease your email deliverability if you don’t keep your email list clean by removing the subscribers who don’t engage with your emails.

Clean your email list

Cleaning your email list involves removing any prospects on your email list that have not engaged with your emails. When you are emailing prospects that haven’t confirmed their opt-in it is important to remove all subscribers that have not engaged with your emails. This is a proactive strategy that allows you to inflate your engagement score in the eyes of the email providers. If everyone you email has shown that they have engaged with your emails in the past, they are more likely to engage in the future.

You might wondering, why wouldn’t I just email everyone?

Well if you can remove the people who have never engaged with your emails in the past, the percentage of people who engage with your emails increases. This increase will give you better email deliverability as a sender increasing the engagement with the important people on your email list (the people who read your emails) .

ResponseMagic Makes it easy to clean your emails with one click from the email stats screen.

Clean Your Email List

If you enjoyed this article please take a moment to tweet or share this with someone you can help.

To your success,

Ryan Hache

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