Email standard 'Best Practices'

Email marketing serves as a primary component of customer acquisition programs for companies across all industries. Whether you’re new to email marketing or consider yourself an expert, you likely want the same: to send the best email marketing campaigns.

Being responsible for maintaining the day-to-day details of your company’s email marketing program, you may feel like there are so many elements to keep track of to get your email program just right.

To help, we’ve compiled our top tips to empower and inspire you to create your best email marketing campaigns yet.

Address acquisition: Make sure it is Confirmed Opt In (COI). If the recipient did not request the email, the rest of the list management processes are irrelevant. Closed Loop Confirmed Opt In is the full technical term for the best opt-in subscription practice around. But whether you call it Confirmed, Verified, Double or any other adjective it still means the same thing: "Hey you! Subscriber! Is this really you who signed up for this list? Unless you respond, we won't send you more mail." The subscriber's response completes the loop and confirms their desire to start receiving that bulk email stream.

Truth in advertising: The policies and nature of the email program should be stated at the point of subscription. Appropriate expectations should be set and delivered: how often, what kind, what topics and content, etc. Information about the subscription should not be hidden on remote pages, behind hyperlinks, or buried in jargon, legalese, and obfuscation.

Appropriate Identification: The company should be properly and clearly identified in the message itself and in Internet records such as Whois. Properly registered domains with working mail and web addresses should be used; every domain in use should identify the company and lead to a website that identifies that company. Hiding behind ever-changing mazes of nonsense domains is not a best practice and violates block listing entities.

  • Anonymized Whois records should be avoided. Legitimate companies have no need to hide their identities.
  • Proper email authentication via the use of SPF records and DKIM signatures should always be used. Domain and IP reputations affect each other!
  • Mail server IPs should be identified with proper rDNS (PTR) and mail servers should identify themselves with a proper 'HELO/EHLO' value.

An online identity should be as solid as a brick-and-mortar business!

Proper rDNS (PTR) submission: Whenever sending electronic mail and whenever opening Port 25, always submit a proper rDNS entry. A proper rDNS entry includes:

- An IP associated to the Black Rock Hosting account
- A Forward (A) records for a domain or sub-domain must already exist
- The Domain and Sub-domains must be owned by the entity submitting the entry

Maintenance: Mailing lists need to be kept current. Unsubscribe requests and user-unknown bounces should be removed promptly, without delay. The list should be mailed at regular intervals. Stagnant lists provoke high complaint rates when they are reactivated, even from truly Confirmed Opt In (COI) addresses. Addresses are constantly abandoned or re-used. For most commercial lists, a good rule of thumb is to mail at least once per week and remove any address with three sequential bounces, or that provoke sequential bounces for more than two weeks concurrently.

Feedback Loops: Many ISPs offer feedback loops (wherein a spam complaint is redacted, converted to Abuse Reporting Format (ARF) and sent back to the originating sender). These complaints should be used both to remove any complainants from the marketing program, and as a "canary" that warns of problems with the marketing program. They are an extremely useful and valuable source of information and are offered free of charge.

Bounce processing: The recipient's server bounces communicate a lot of valuable information that should be reviewed regularly. Errors that indicate backoff or cessation need to be respected. SMTP "5xy" codes mean "Do not try again". SMTP "4xy" codes - also known as temp fails - mean "try again later" and can be issued for many reasons, ranging from "too many complaints generated by the incoming IP", a sudden decrease in domain reputation, all the way to "not enough resources to handle the incoming load at this time". All standards-compliant servers will automatically retry such deferred deliveries at increasing time intervals. Generally, retries cease and the message is considered undeliverable after 5 days. The interval before pruning a deferred address from a list is usually longer and takes more bounces than a hard "5xy" rejection, but eventually such addresses should also be retired.

Unsubscribes: Unsubscribe requests must be honored promptly. The unsubscribe process must work via e-mail and many laws also require a web link and a postal address to be included in the message body. If a subscriber wants to be removed, that request should be honored regardless of the method of submitting that request.

Check list of Best emailing Practices
1) Don't purchase contact lists.

  • This is backed by General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

2) Avoid using 'No-Reply' in the sender's email address

  • This follows CAN-SPAM legislation

3) Stick to fewer than three typefaces.

4) Include an email signature.

5) Clean your mailing list regularly.

  • This is vital to best emailing practices

6) Keep the main message and call-to-action above the fold.

7) Personalize the email greeting.

8) A/B test different subject lines and calls to action.

  • Group A will receive one subject line, Group B a different subject line. See where you get the highest open rate

9) Put your logo in the upper left hand side of the email.

10) Use incentives to increase open rates.

11) Allow recipients to subscribe to your newsletter

  • For when your current subscribers pass your message along to friends! 

12) Write compelling (but concise) subject lines

  • Use only 30 - 50 characters, including spaces, and limit special characters

13) Use auto-responders for opt-ins

  • Sending a confirmation to your newest opt-ins 1, 5, and 10 days after opt-in

14) Closely tie emails to landing pages.


For further and more detailed reading on email best practices, please visit this site: 

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