Top 5 Ways to Get Your Email Messages Blocked

Hello all,

If you’ve been in this industry for more than a month you’ve probably figured out that email deliverability sucks. Plain and simple. What I mean by that is many of the major ISP’s out there have some pretty extensive spam-blocking filters and processes in place that prevent legitimate emarketers from getting their messages to the appropriate inboxes. I totally understand why they have these filters in place due to the massive amounts of email spam that is currently moving around the internet – and there’s really nothing we can do about that.

The problem is we need to get our messages delivered. Period.

So… why are our messages getting blocked before they even get to the recipient? Well, the first thing you need to understand is that there are so many variables in email marketing that it’s impossible to tell if our messages are even going to be delivered.Every ISP has their own set of filtering rules and their own set of greylisted and blacklisted IP address and URL’s, which makes it impossible to guarantee delivery to ‘any’ of them.

For example, Yahoo may have your IP blocked, but hotmail may not. But.. hotmail may not like the words used in your message, but it’s ok with gmail. But then again, gmail may block your email based on a domain that is in your message, yet it’s okay with aol.. etc. etc. etc.

There really is no ‘guaranteed delivery’ of email no matter what anyone tells you. It’s a big game and all we can do is try our best to comply with as many rules as possible based on past experience and what we know now. Things would be a LOT different if ALL email went through the same ISP with one set of rules – but we’re not that lucky. We have to guess most of the time.

There are lots of websites with information out there that will give you tips on how to get your emails delivered to your recipients’ inboxes. I was going to make the same sort of post here, but I thought we’d take it from the other side of the coin. What is the best way to get your emails BLOCKED by email servers? How do you NOT get your email delivered. If we look at things that way hopefully you can understand that it’s not always the same reason that email gets blocked. ie. It’s not always the delivery server’s fault that email isn’t getting delivered – in fact it’s usually NOT their fault. We all need to take responsibility, it’s way too easy to blame someone else and move on.

So let’s have a look at some of the main reasons your email isn’t getting received. By no means is this a complete list, as I said before there are just way too many variables in this equation to list here.

Also this is NOT a list of what will ‘certainly’ get your emails blocked. This is a list of conditions that ‘might‘ make it LESS LIKELY that your email will end up in the spam folder – or not even make it that far. In my experience in running mail servers, here is a top-5 list of things that might kill your email campaigns:

1. Import and blast to leads that haven’t double opted in.

This refers to importing and ‘blasting’ to a list of leads that you have purchased. Or..  leads that you have that have not ‘opted in’ or given you explicit permission to send them commercial email.

2. Have “spam trigger words” in your outgoing message/Have a misleading subject line.

This is one that people often forget about that can really affect your deliverability. Yes folks it could actually be your fault that your messages aren’t getting delivered. If your messages and/or subject lines are full of trigger-words or phrases, your message will get junked immediately.

3. Have a blocked URL in your message

Sometimes ISP’s will get spam complaints, enough to block your message if a certain domain or website is listed in the email (ie. your affiliate link). The only way around this one is to find a non-blocked URL redirector service where you can mask your URL’s.

4. Deliver through a blacklisted IP address (server)

This one is fairly obvious. If the IP address of the email server sending the email has been deemed ‘questionable’ by an ISP, they may not let any emails from that server get to their users.

5. Deliver messages too quickly to the same ISP

This one is a little more technical with regards to how the emails are delivered and is probably out of your control. Example: if you try to send hundreds of messages all at once, all at the same time, to one ISP, they may block your emails because that makes it look like a whole shwack of commercial email (probably unsolicited) is coming their way.

There are lots of other variables at play here. Email header information, server configuration, country of origin, the list goes on.

I suppose the best way to get around all this filtering stuff, in the simplest way, is follow these 3 rules:

1. Always build your list using double opt-in confirmation.

2. Clean your messages of any ‘spam words’ that the filters may catch.

3. Don’t be misleading in your subject lines or email messages.

As long as you are following those 3 rules you’re more likely to get your messages delivered and, more importantly, opened and read. If you’re sending bulk email, try not to get too frustrated with poor deliverability rates, concentrate on building a clean list and sending them emails that actually have value to the recipient.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

– Geoff

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