There are a number of different things delivery experts can do help senders improve their own delivery. Yes, I said it: senders are responsible for their delivery. ESPs, delivery consultants and deliverability experts can’t fix delivery for senders, they can only advise.
In my own work with clients, I usually start with making sure all the technical issues are correct. As almost all spam filtering is score based, and the minor scores given to things like broken authentication and header issues and formatting issues can make the difference between an email that lands in the inbox and one that doesn’t get delivered.
I don’t think I’m alone in this approach, as many of my clients come to me for help with their technical settings. In some cases, though, fixing the technical problems doesn’t fix the delivery issues. No matter how much my clients tweak their settings and attempt to avoid spamfilters by avoiding FREE!! in the subject line, or changing the background, they still can’t get mail in the inbox.
Why not? Because they’re sending mail that the recipients don’t really want, for whatever reason. There are so many ways a sender can collect an email address without actually collecting consent to send mail to that recipient. Many of the “list building” strategies mentioned by a number of experts involve getting a fig leaf of permission from recipients without actually having the recipient agree to receive mail.
Is there really any difference in permission between purchasing a list of “qualified leads” and automatically adding anyone who makes a purchase at a website to marketing lists? From the recipient’s perspective they’re still getting mail they don’t want, and all the technical perfection in the world can’t overcome the negative reputation associated with spamming.
The secret to inbox delivery: don’t send mail that looks like spam. That includes not sending mail to people who have not expressly consented to receive mail.