As a marketing automation consultant, I spend a lot of time helping clients protect and improve their email deliverability. However, every now and again as a mental exercise, I wonder what I would do if I wanted to ruin my email deliverability as quickly as possible. Not only for the fun of it but also because sometimes the best way to tackle a problem is to think of its inverse. 

Here’s my list of the top ways you can tank your sender reputation and burn your deliverability to the ground. If you can think of other ways, add it below in the comments.

Purchase lists. Lots and lots of purchased lists.

Who doesn’t love a quick fix? And the quickest fix in email marketing has got to be purchased lists. Who wouldn’t love a file full of your target audience’s email addresses? However, if something sounds too good to be true, it often is too good to be true; and that definitely applies to a file full of emails whose provenance is unknown and where consent hasn’t been given. There’s no better way to get a high bounce rate or, even worse, SPAM complaints.

People not engaging in my emails? No problem.

In an ideal world, if someone no longer wants an email, they would unsubscribe. Or, if the unengaged contact doesn’t unsubscribe, the marketer would just stop mailing them. However, that’s not how things usually work. Because it’s scary, rather than stop emailing unengaged contacts, I’ll continue to send emails to them until one of three things will happen:

  1. A critical mass of unengaged people builds up. If enough people do that, ISPs will just start routing all your emails to the Bulk folder, where it will sit and not be seen by people who actually want your email.
  2. People get annoyed and hit the SPAM button, which is an even speedier way of getting bulked.  It only takes a compliant rate of 0.1-0.2%, one person out of every thousand subscribers, to start causing deliverability problems. 
  3. The email addresses churn and are harvested by the ISP as a SPAM trap. I keep mailing to those addresses and, BAM, I’m on a blacklist.

Not Monitor my Bounce Back Rates and Messages

Email marketers often obsess about the metrics: What’s my open rate, how many click-throughs, what’s my click-to-open? Good marketers will look at their bounce back rates, where keeping hard bounces below 2% and total bounce backs below 5% is the cardinal rule. Few, though, will monitor their bounce back messages or have a policy in place for dealing with soft bounces. I’ll just keep mailing soft bounces, which will count negatively against my sender reputation or, worse, get me on a blacklist if I have the bad luck to mail a recently harvested SPAM trap

Got a new Domain? Just Email From it Now.

I have to send email on behalf of a new brand, which will need a new domain. Facing a lot of pressure to get emails out of the door, rather than deal with the hassle of setting up DKIM and SPF, I’m tempted to just start sending email using my new domain. I’ll also just use my old bounceback domain for this, so that my sending domain and my bounceback domain do not match.

In my rush, I won’t bother doing an IP warming campaign for my new domain. I’ve already done one for my instance, which should be enough. I’ll just start sending my full volume now.

(Enter the sound of my emails bouncing so hard they leave cracks in the ceiling)

Clean up Database and are real, and there’s no way they could be honey-pot traps, right?

And those emails that have soft-bounced repeatedly in the last 3 months? They will probably become valid sometime, so I won’t filter them out of my next mailing.

Easy to join, really hard to leave

In the quest to gain ever more customers, I don’t want to add friction by requiring a double opt-in, which means people can put any old email, including fake addresses, in a form submission which increases my bounce rate.

Then, because I want to stop my subscribers from leaving, I’ll make my unsubscribe link hard to find.  Because of this, unengaged readers become more likely to hit the SPAM button and increase my compliant rate.

Get Your Free Huge Image Here.

To make my emails as successful as possible, I’ll be tempted to use a lot of promotional language — such as free, easy terms, compare rates, marketing, sale — in my subject line and body copy.

I also want to deliver a visually appealing email, so my image-to-text ratio will be heavily skewed towards images, even if it means my email file size is larger than over 100KB. Even if this doesn’t trigger a SPAM filter, some of my subscribers, especially my newer ones, may have images turned off by default, which makes for a bad experience.

In short, these are just a few things I can do to severely mess up my email deliverability over time. If you have your favorite method, add it in the comments section below.

If you need help with avoiding any of the above traps in your Eloqua or Responsys instance, feel free to contact us.

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