Email Marketing Tips: How to Get Whitelisted By Your Readers

If an email gets sent to an inbox and lands in the junkbox, does it make a sound?

In order for your email newsletters to get delivered to the people who sign up for them, your sending IP address must be whitelisted. AOL is a notorious Internet Service Provider (ISP) for blacklisting companies that send email newsletters, so those in the B2C industry with many consumers that use an AOL address have likely already come across this problem.

Next week, we’re going to cover how to get companies like AOL to whitelist your address, but for today we’re starting with step #1: getting your users to whitelist you.

What it means to be whitelisted: Being whitelisted means that your users or the ISP that they’re using have deemed you a trustworthy sender. When whitelisted, you’re much less likely to get thrown in a user’s junk folder automatically. It’s impossible to be whitelisted by everyone on your list and every ISP that you’re delivering to, but it’s honorable to aim for that goal.

What it means to be blacklisted: Being blacklisted refers to the ISP that your readers are using (like AOL, Yahoo!, etc.). One person marking you as spam in their email inbox won’t get you blacklisted, but an abundance of spam complaints will. Once you are blacklisted, no one using that ISP will get your emails. This is very troublesome for B2C publishing companies because their users are more likely to use an AOL or Yahoo! account than B2B users.

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Here are our best tips on how to get whitelisted so that your emails can get delivered and your users will receive what they signed up for:

Ask them to add your email address to their address book right away: Don’t send an email asking them to whitelist you, use your subscription confirmation page instead. Why? Because they can’t whitelist you if you’re already blocked and they don’t get that introductory email. Stress to your users that it’s very important that they add your email address to their address book if they want to recieve what they’ve signed up for. Here is a bit of sample copy:

Dear [Name]

We don’t want you to miss out on any of the GardensDaily information and offers you requested to receive by email.

However, your email service provider may use filters that prevent you from receiving or properly viewing GardensDaily emails in your inbox.

To prevent this from happening in the future, please add to your address book. Visit for more detailed information on your specific email service provider.

Thanks for being a valued customer.

It’s important to give them the email address that they need to add, and it’s also important that you do this right away while you have their attention.

Put the unsubscribe link at the top: It might seem risky to put an unsubscribe link at the top of the email, but you need to make it easy for the user to get off your list if they don’t want to be on it. They’re going to choose the easiest way to unsubscribe, so you need to make it easy for them. Remember, many users still think that hitting the “junk” button will get them off your list when in fact it could get you blacklisted across their entire ISP instead.

Create a whitelisting page: Not everyone loves his or her email client as much as an email marketer does. Make sure you provide ample instructions for your users to whitelist you. Create a how-to page on your site that you can point users to. On the page, include instructions like this site does or like this site’s email whitelist instructions that explain how to add an email address to their address book. Remind them that if they don’t whitelist you, they might not get your emails.

Keep reminding them: It might seem redundant, but you should include a blurb at the top of every email that says something like “To ensure receipt of our emails, please add to your Address Book.”

Make it easy for them to change their email address: Sending emails to a dead email address won’t do you any delivery favors either, especially if it’s bouncing back. Provide a link at the bottom of every email that says something like “Change your email address” or “Update your email preferences”.

Follow all of these precautions and you’ll find that your blacklisting rank goes down and down. Since you can’t please every ISP, next week we’re going to talk about how to get off a blacklist once you’re already on it. Stay tuned!


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