Deliverability Dilemmas Solved: Why Your Emails Are Getting Blocked Despite Using Opt-In
Q: I use double opt-in as my permission level, which is considered to be the highest form of permission and best practice available. However, my confirmation messages get blocked. Why is this happening, and what can I do?
A: First off, bravo to you for taking this step to help clean up your deliverability and response issues. The benefits of double opt-in permission are higher quality addresses, lower complaint rates, no spam traps and low unknown users, as well as higher response rates and subscriber engagement. Despite those benefits, some marketers still have deliverability issues in their confirmation mail stream. If your confirmations are getting blocked, your lists aren’t growing. Here are five tips to help get your confirmations back in the inbox:
- Obtain permission. Subscribers still need to give explicit consent to receive your confirmation message, even if you’ve acquired them through organic methods. If they aren’t actively requesting the subscription, your potential subscribers will mark your confirmations as spam. I see this often with companies that have multiple brands trying to cross-promote sign-ups. This only works if you have a strong “home” brand and a clear connection between brands. Instead, focus your efforts on acquisition methods like search or advertising within your existing newsletters.
- Set great expectations. Inform your subscribers that they have one more step to make. Show them an example of what your email will look like, including the subject line and "From" address. Then tell them when they’ll receive it, especially if you’re not sending the confirmation in real time.
- Separate confirmations from your regular email. Accept the fact that you’re going to receive higher rates of complaints, spam traps and unknown users on your first mailing. Isolate potential risks by mailing from a dedicated IP address. Yes, it’s possible that IP can still get blocked, but ISPs and blacklists will be more forgiving if you let them know you’re using a double opt-in process.
- Suppress role accounts. Role accounts, which are listed in the RFC 2142 — the internet standard written specifically for email — are generally meant for groups of people like postmaster@ and webmaster@. They should never receive marketing or promotional mail. Always reject them at the point of sign-up and add them to your global suppression list. I'd even suggest going further and suppressing email addresses that contain words like “spam,” “trap” and “honeypot.”
- Monitor, monitor, monitor. Monitor your delivery using seed-based list delivery tools to determine if your confirmations are getting delivered to spam folders, then mediate if necessary. Monitor your IP addresses against blacklists to make sure they’re not getting listed. Monitor for suspicious activity like list poisoning, where large quantities of sign-ups come from one IP address. Block that IP from accessing your sign-up page. Never stop monitoring. This is the only proactive approach to solving deliverability problems on your confirmation mail stream.