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Email Deliverability best practices and Spam Considerations
Answer ID 2195 | Last Review Date 12/19/2018
What are Oracle B2C Service's Email Deliverability Best Practices?
Oracle B2C Service
As spam proliferates, non-delivery is a major aggravation for email service providers and marketers. For many organizations, running an effective email marketing campaign has become a highly complex affair. These departments struggle to make their messages stand out and also to find ways to pass their messages through the bulk mail trap of increasingly effective spam filters.
Even the most carefully designed and targeted mailing is subject to external hazards that can interfere with its delivery. Due to the vast amount of spam transmitted each day and the aggressive systems used by consumers to combat it, legitimate business emails are sometimes filtered without notice. Organizations that do not convey a good-faith intention to engage in ethical mail practices are at risk of being blacklisted by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and email-reputation management services. Even mail that is successfully delivered may be ignored by the recipient or reported as spam. Though most of these challenges stem from factors beyond the creation and delivery of mail, Oracle goes to great lengths to help you overcome them. Oracle vigorously protects the integrity of our hosted mail domains and aligns our services with the latest industry-accepted practices and technologies promoting the efficient delivery of email to consumers. However, as users of Oracle products, it is equally important that you follow certain guidelines to ensure you receive the best possible return on your marketing efforts. These best practices can help you achieve excellent delivery and conversion rates for mailings and surveys. They have been field-tested over millions of deliveries by some of the world’s largest companies using Oracle products. While best practices alone will not guarantee that your email will always be accepted, these suggestions will greatly improve the likelihood that your messages will be delivered to and viewed by your intended recipients.
To assist in the deliverability of messages Oracle B2C Service has published some Best Practices documentation on Email Deliverability. It is recommended that documentation be read in its entirety. Additionally, this answer also outlines further considerations and details below.
What is deliverability?
Deliverability is the degree to which an email message aligns with industry-accepted practices to ensure delivery to an intended recipient. It reflects your ability to communicate your message to your contacts with minimal interference. Emails with “low deliverability” are often blocked by ISPs and spam filters, whereas emails with “high deliverability” are more likely to result in optimal audience participation and conversion rates. Put simply, deliverability translates to increased efficiency and success. Three major factors influence the deliverability of your messages: your reputation, your audience, and your content.
Protecting your reputation:
Ultimately, your ability to deliver messages to your contacts is a direct reflection of your organization’s reputation as a responsible Internet citizen. Just as a credit limit depends on the borrower’s credit reputation, your ability to successfully send mass mailings depends on your reputation for adhering to industry best practices for email delivery. If you don’t follow those practices faithfully, you risk having your communications blocked across large swaths of the Internet. Therefore, as you spend time and money creating an effective mailing strategy, it is important to protect that investment by establishing a positive reputation with ISPs and content monitors.
Use a “warming” process for new IP addresses:
Leading ISPs and deliverability services closely monitor addresses sending mail to their servers, especially those they have not seen before. Volume and consistency are evaluated over 30-day periods, and reputations are established based on senders’ adherence to acceptable practices. When implementing a new dedicated IP address, it is critical that you use a warming process to start building a good reputation. Oracle B2C Service will assist with this warming process through configurations within the infrastructure when the dedicated IP is provisioned. However, depending on the audience size or frequency of mailings, users should consider implementing similar strategies through the application functionality.
A warming process consists of segmenting your high-volume mailings into smaller batches to ensure a moderate message load. For example, if you want to send your first mailing to a list of 200,000 contacts, you should segment the audience and send to 15-30,000 contacts at a time over a period of several days. It is also important that your initial mailings reflect industry standards for managing contacts and content. Done correctly, the warming process will indicate to all who are monitoring your activity that your intentions are honorable and that you do not intend to blast the Internet with spam. Establishing this level of trust is critical for ensuring the success of your bulk mailings.
Monitor ISP deliverability:
The deliverability policies of leading ISPs and email services change frequently. Closely monitor policy updates so you can react to changes appropriately. It is also useful to create a “seed list” of accounts with the major email providers (such as Gmail or Yahoo) to test the deliverability of your mailings. You can also work with a Oracle B2C Service referral partner to monitor delivery and rendering of the mail you send to those email providers.
Honoring your audience:
Organizations are often challenged to communicate effectively with prospects and customers through the unique medium of email, where the rules of the road vary greatly from more traditional forms of advertising. Fatigued by the volume and persistence of spam, today’s consumers have little patience for even legitimate business communications that don’t reflect their interests. Conversely, an organization that honors the time and interests of its customers and prospects can sustain interest and inspire loyalty for the duration of the relationship. The following strategies can help your organization develop sustained, trusting relationships with your contacts.
Avoid purchased mailing lists:
One common myth is that the larger your audience, the more likely your mailing is to be successful. In reality, the success of a mailing depends more on the quality of the contacts in your list than the quantity. Sending email indiscriminately to people who may have no interest in your product or service can do much more harm than good, landing you on blacklists and ruining your reputation. The quality of purchased lists cannot be easily verified and is often poor. Email address turnover is common and frequent. Services may claim that their lists are current and appropriate for your needs, but there is no practical way for you to confirm this. Some disreputable list providers obtain their email addresses by tricking consumers into thinking they have won valuable prizes, or by sending out web spiders (link-following scripts) to scour the Internet and harvest contact information found on web pages—behavior that hardly inspires trust and loyalty. To protect their customers from such tactics, ISPs often seed those lists with “spam trap” email addresses that don’t belong to anyone. If an email is received by a spam trap address, the ISP will regard the message as spam and blacklist or penalize the reputation of the sender. As you can see, the battle against spam is complex and the danger to marketers is clear. If you are not certain about how your contacts were obtained, you risk undermining your reputation among major ISPs across the Internet. Fortunately, the most successful strategy is also the most ethical: develop your list yourself. Obtain contact data from your company’s consumer touch points, such as advertisements, trade shows, web sites, message boards, trainings, conferences, and customer service requests. Encourage these contacts to share their interests with you through surveys or contact profile settings. Deliverability increases significantly when the contacts in your database are not only active but also keenly aware of you and interested in what you have to say.
Producing well-formed content:
Once you have navigated your message through the pitfalls of reputation management and spam filtering and into the inbox of a contact with whom you have carefully established a relationship, you are home free, right? Not quite. Most often, your message will be buried among several others of varying priority. Your contact may click on your email just briefly, evaluating its importance next to messages from family and friends, a daily horoscope, a newsletter, and perhaps even a few notes from other companies pitching products of their own. Clearly your work does not stop at getting your message into a friendly inbox—to be successful, your email must attract your contact’s attention. This can often be done by refining your message subject and details to be concise yet informative. Make sure it clearly states your purpose and any special conditions of your offer. If it isn’t clear who you are or what you want, your message can be easily passed over.
Lastly, it is wise to confirm that you content adheres to CAN-SPAM Compliance. This law sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages and gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them. For information about the CAN-SPAM Act, see the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.