15 Dos and Don'ts to Keep Your Email from Getting Blocked or BlacklistedGetting your email blocked or landing on an email blacklist has a direct impact on your email deliverability. Unfortunately, you don’t have to send spam to have your email blocked or be blacklisted.

A blacklist is created by independent spam organizations who put together a list of emails and IPs that have been previously seen sending spam. In fact, some ISPs (and other companies) even have their own internal blacklists. As a result, every email administrator has the ability to choose to block things that are on the blacklist and they can also block any other emails or IPs they think look spammy.

Here are 15 do’s and don’ts to avoid having your email blocked or blacklisted:

  1. Don’t buy email lists. Ever. The people on these lists are likely to mark your unsolicited emails as spam, and there’s a good chance that a spamtrap is included in the list. Sending email to a spamtrap will usually land you on a blacklist.
  2. Do use double opt-in to confirm email list subscribers. This helps ensure that subscribers are signing up with their own email addresses and that those email addresses are valid.
  3. Don’t repeatedly send the same or similar content. Every email you send should consist of unique content. Not only will this help keep you stay off of blacklists, but it will also keep your subscribers engaged.
  4. Don’t string readers along with vague content. Include a clearly written subject line and call to action.
  5. Don’t send attachments, it’s a sure way to get blocked. (Sending attachments may get your email blocked, but not blacklisted. The effect on deliverability may be the same, but the remedy is to simply not send attachments rather than working to get removed from a list).
  6. Do include information on how to unsubscribe in every email.
  7. Do watch your sending frequency. Send email regularly while being careful not to overwhelm readers.
    (we recommend at a bare minimum to send a message at least once every six months to keep your email list fresh. Unless you are a daily sender like Groupon, most email senders should avoid sending more than once or twice a week.)
  8. Do send email from a legitimate address that is checked by a real person. Email addresses with random letters and numbers trigger spam filters and can lead to your email being blocked.
  9. Do ask subscribers to add your email address to their contact list.
  10. Do practice good list hygiene. Regularly clean your email subscriber list to avoid repeatedly sending email to bad or non-existent email addresses.
  11. Don’t use punctuation (such as exclamation marks) or words that are often used by spammers. These include free, win, and opportunity.
  12. Don’t blind carbon copy (BCC) your list.
  13. Don’t use too many images. Strive for a healthy balance of images and text to avoid triggering spam filters.
  14. Don’t use all caps in your subject line – or any other part of your email. Instead, use bold, italics and underline to show emphasis.
  15. Do protect your email server from malware. An infected email server can be used as part of a botnet to send spam.
    (We once had a prospect come to us with severe deliverability problems not explained by their mailing practices. When we looked into it, we found that their web server had been infected and was sending out email spam. They’d had no idea. Once we cleaned that up, their deliverability improved a great deal.)

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