Consistency Is Key for Email Delivery

How a publisher made one change that increased their delivery rates from 65% to 98% in days

If your email provider is not giving you a delivery report, and you are not registered with a service like Delivery Monitor, we seriously recommend that you pay attention.

A publisher friend of ours has been testing subject line delivery rates for the past few months. They followed our advice back in December to see how they might benefit from some of the suggested methods for increasing open rates and deliverability.

After subscribing to Delivery Monitor, they were finally able to take the blindfold off and see how their email newsletters were being delivered:

  • 65% were delivered with no issues
  • 20% got pushed into bulk
  • 15% turned up missing

This is not ideal; but don’t be surprised if your email delivery report looks similar if you haven’t been keeping track.

In the last two months, they tried a series of tests:

  • When linking externally, they moved it further down the post
  • They eliminated any taboo words from the subject line
  • They eliminated any taboo words from the content
  • They added taboo words to the subject line (to see the difference)

They also kept in mind best-practice tips from programs like Spam Assassin who locate and assign spam ratings to the following triggers:

  • The subject line is all capital letters
  • The message date is 12 to 24 hours before the receive date
  • The domain in the sender line doesn’t match the domain in the “received” line in the headers
  • The subject contains “As Seen”
  • The subject starts with “Free”
  • The message has bad MIME encoding in the header
  • The message is 90 percent to 100 percent HTML
  • The HTML font size is large
  • The message mentions Oprah Winfrey with an exclamation mark
  • “Remove” appears in a URL (e.g., www.xyz.com/remove) or email address (e.g., mailto:remove@xyz.com)

How they raised their delivery rate from 65% to 98%

After following all of the precautionary measures that they were encouraged to take by spam software, this publisher simply did not see much improvement. After all, how often did they quote Oprah or yell at their audience by typing IN ALL CAPS?

Finally, they decided that they would consistently start their email subject line with the name of their newsletter and follow it with the subject line, like this: “Publisher Daily: This Subject Line is Awesome” (not their real name, or subject line). This route is a best practice, but many publishers aren’t too keen on the idea of pushing their subject line too far back with a max visibility rate of 55 characters in any given preview pane.

They jumped to 90% within days just by adding their newsletter name to the subject line. Now they’re up to 98% and that extra 2% is in bulk. There has never been an email in the missing folder. The explanation is that spam software encourages consistency. They were already sending their emails out around the same time every day, so this was the next step.

As a bonus, this best practice was intended for increasing open rates, not delivery rates, but now they’ve discovered that’s it’s fun to multitask.

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