Five ways you can make sure that your e-mail is delivered

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Marketers know how difficult it can be to execute a compelling e-mail message. They also don't want to see their hard work go to waste in the process of sending an e-mail and having it wind up in a junk folder. Here are five things you can do right now to create effective messages and get your e-mail delivered:

Avoid particular words and phrases
Some phrases to avoid include "Secrets," "Learn the secret," "Money-back guarantee," "Click here," "Response required," "Risk free," "Be amazed," and "Here is your new account information." Content filters, always alive and well, will definitely hold them against you in the process of deciding whether or not to deliver your e-mail. I recommend you use them sparingly. Better yet, don't use them at all. As a bonus, here are additional words that content filters tend to catch. Proceed with caution when using these words: abuse, absolutely, mailings, methods, offers, spam.

Check your reputation
Companies such as Return Path offer a free check to see if Internet service providers (ISPs) view your e-mail unfavorably. They can help you diagnose any potential problems and provide instruction on how to treat them.

Design your e-mail for deliverability
Do not design your e-mail as one big image. Break up the image into many smaller images. Make sure that at least 50% of your message includes text. Finally, keep your font sizes normal; make sure they don't go below 14 points.

Get rid of all dead, unresponsive e-mail addresses on your list
Internet service providers turn older, dormant e-mail addresses into spam traps. If e-mails get sent to these dormant addresses, ISPs will automatically consider you a spammer. Such ISPs as Microsoft's Hotmail and MSN service have adopted particularly hard lines with this practice. Take a look at your current e-mail list. Anyone who has not opened or responded to your e-mail within the last 12 months, definitely delete.

Identify yourself

Make sure spammers don't impersonate you. I recommend using the sender policy framework (SPF) to tell Internet service providers who you've authorized to send e-mail on your behalf. For example, the owner of yourcompany.com can designate various IP addresses, which have the authorization to send e-mail with the sender's e-mail address ending in yourcompany.com. The recipient of the e-mail can then check the SPF before receiving the body of the message.

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