BTB Crowd Hears Tips to Improve E-Mail Delivery

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ORLANDO, FL -- E-mails that bounce back from ISPs are one of online marketers' biggest headaches, said Regina Brady, president of Reggie Brady Marketing Solutions, while addressing the DMA's Direct Marketing to Business conference yesterday.

"Deliverability is causing some of the decline we're seeing in click-through rates," she said. "Nearly 20 percent of e-mail does not reach ISP inboxes."

Brady offered attendees several ideas to improve deliverability.

"Make sure you clean up your bounces," she said. "If you have a hard bounce, change that right away. Look at your soft bounces and retire them after three to four campaigns."

Marketers' e-mails are less likely to be blocked when sent in smaller groups. Instead of sending a blast to an entire customer list of 500,000, send it in smaller batches of 35 packets.

Another tip was to avoid practices that land a company on ISPs' blacklists. When ISPs blacklist senders, they look at the volume of e-mail sent from that address and how many e-mails get bounced from that company. ISPs also have private blacklists of companies that garner a high number of user complaints. America Online, for example, has a complaint threshold of only 0.2 percent.

Marketers also should watch words that may be picked up by content filters in the subject lines of their e-mails. Though words that lead to blocking vary by filters, using "free" several times or several exclamation marks could get the e-mail bounced back.

To see whether an e-mail will get through, Brady suggested testing the e-mail first at a variety of Web sites that offer the service, including SpamAssassin's Web site and

Since ISPs also block e-mails not sent from the domain name they purport to be sent from, Brady suggested that marketers register their IP address at

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting


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