Gabija from MailerLite

Gabija9 min readTips and resourcesJanuary 24, 2019

How you can improve your own email deliverability (Part 1 of 2)

How you can improve your own email deliverability (Part 1 of 2)

We all want the same thing – emails delivered to the right inbox every time. With a few tweaks to your email practices, you’ll be set up for optimal deliverability.

While deliverability can seem complex because of all the variables that affect whether your emails land in the inbox, there are a few simple things that you can do to improve your own deliverability dramatically.

This two-part series covers all the ways you can optimize deliverability.

PART ONE: How to ensure your emails are deliverable.

PART TWO: How to maintain subscribers that want to hear from you.

You work super hard to develop your email strategy, craft your messaging and create campaigns. All of that effort only pays off if your emails are properly delivered to your subscribers.

So, how do you make sure your emails are deliverable?

Let’s start with four proven ways to set up your emails for maximum deliverability:

  1. Avoid creating emails that look like spam.
  2. Get personal with a recognizable sender address.
  3. Authenticate your email domain. (Don’t worry, it’s not scary.)
  4. Send emails that add value to your subscribers’ lives.

We know you’re not a spammer. You know you’re not a spammer. But unfortunately, there are spam filters that are not sophisticated enough to distinguish quality emails from spammers.

Email providers like Gmail and Outlook do everything in their power to protect their users from spam. One way they try to detect spam is to scan every email for certain words, phrases, and styles that are commonly used by spammers.

Unfortunately, these spam filters will also flag your perfectly legit email just because you unknowingly used an email practice associated with spam.

By avoiding these red flags, you will have a much easier time reaching the inbox.

What are the spam filters looking for?

Are you using links in your email?

Double check that you only link to quality sites, especially if you work with affiliates. Also, spammers like to hide their devious links by using shortened URLs like bit.ly links, so avoid those when possible.

Are you using ‘spammy’ words in your subject line and content?

Spam filters look for certain words and phrases that are too ‘salesy’. Here’s a comprehensive list of spam-triggered words.

Are you checking your grammar?

Spammers are famous for having lots of typos and other language mistakes. Check for misspellings and nonsensical words before you hit send.

Are you using a lot of exclamation points or ALL CAPS?

It’s okay to get excited about your email by using one exclamation point, but spammers love to use several exclamation points or ALL CAPS to entice people. Spam filters are looking for this type of excessive formatting.

Are you writing in red font?

Different colored fonts are a great way to emphasize a word or phrase visually, but unfortunately, spammers have made the color ‘red’ a red flag. Instead of red, try using another color that matches your brand.

Are you using images correctly?

Spam filters see images as empty spaces, so never create your newsletter as one big image. When you use images, fill the empty spaces with ALT text and a short image description.

Are you personalizing content?

The difference between you and a spammer is that you know your subscriber. You can show spam filters that your subscribers are waiting for your newsletters by adding personalization tags such as your subscriber’s {$name}.

Spam filters are getting smarter, but there is still a lot of work to be done until they understand the context of words and formatting. In the meantime, ask yourself the above questions and make changes if necessary.


A common misconception about your open rates is that it’s all about the subject line. The truth is that opens are more connected to the sender’s name.

When the recipient sees a familiar name or brand that they like, they will open it regardless of the subject line. Think about the emails you receive from your best friend. The subject line can be blank and you’ll open it.

Spam filters are trying to figure out if you really know your subscribers. By using your real name or a consistent brand name in all your emails, your open rates will improve, spam complaints will decrease, and the email providers will send your emails to the inbox.

improve email deliverability - personalize sender email address

In addition to a recognizable sender name, use a real email address that people can reply to if they want. Email addresses with real names and a verified domain, such as name@yourdomain.com, tend to have better deliverability.

Finally, avoid using domains like @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, etc. for your campaigns. Ironically, they are usually blocked by Gmail or Yahoo themselves.

To make your life easier, you can set up a default sender email address in MailerLite. This setting will add the same address every time you create a new newsletter. Here are the instructions to set a default sender.


In the same way you show someone your ID card to prove you are who you say you are, domain authentication is a way to let the email providers (Gmail, Outlook, etc.) know that it’s you sending emails from your address.

The process to authenticate your domain is not super technical, but it requires that you know where you bought or registered your domain address (your URL). These are companies like GoDaddy, Domain.com and WordPress.

Once you know where your domain is registered, you’ll need to provide them with two important pieces of information that you can get from your MailerLite account:

  1. Sender Policy Framework (SPF) - Gives your email marketing tool (MailerLite) permission to send newsletters on your behalf and confirms that you are the owner of the domain’s email address.
  2. Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) - Ensures that the content in your newsletters was not changed during the sending process.

Here is a quick video tutorial on where to find these two items (SPF and DKIM) within MailerLite so you can provide them to your domain company.

If you have not authenticated your domain, you should make it a priority. Spammers will often attempt an “email spoof”, where they take control of your domain to send unauthorized emails. This would damage your sender reputation and hurt deliverability.

The good news is that you only need to authenticate your domain once, and you are all set to send emails from your address with a verified domain.

If you have any trouble, here are several more resources to help you authenticate your domain using MailerLite.

MORE HELPFUL DOMAIN AUTHENTICATION GUIDES

How to authenticate my domain

How to authenticate my domain with Wix

How to authenticate my domain with GoDaddy


Finally, one of the best ways to improve deliverability is to continue sending emails that your subscribers love.

Up until now, we’ve focused on trying to appease the email providers, but at the end of the day, optimal deliverability is all about subscriber satisfaction.

The protective measures that email providers implement are meant to protect the end-user. The happier your subscribers, the more email providers will love you.

improving email deliverability - happy email subscriber

How do email providers know that you are making your subscribers happy?

Email providers track how your subscribers interact with your newsletters to decide if you are making them happy. These interactions are both positive and negative and depend on your subscribers’ actions.

Positive actions from your subscribers include:

  • Opening your newsletters
  • Moving newsletters from and to different folders or sections, for example, from Promotions to Primary tab
  • Adding your (sender) email address to their address book
  • Replying to your newsletters
  • Forwarding your newsletters
  • Saving newsletters from the spam folder, by marking them as “not spam”

Work on improving these metrics by encouraging your readers to reply or share some of your emails, save your sender address in their address book or move your newsletter out of the spam folder if it happens to be there.  

Negative actions from your subscribers include:

  • Not opening your newsletters at all
  • Deleting your newsletters before opening
  • Marking your newsletters as spam

While there are only a few negative metrics, they do outweigh the positive ones. So how do you prevent these negative actions?

Follow through on your original promise. Your subscribers signed up for a reason. Keep delivering the value you offered them at the get-go and continue to nurture the relationship.


Coming in Part Two: How to fix your subscriber list for better deliverability

If you are offering high-value content to your subscribers and still experiencing poor deliverability, you might have too many subscribers on your list that are no longer interested yet failed to unsubscribe.

You have to keep your subscriber list healthy.

The second part of this article will cover everything you need to know about maintaining active subscribers while saying goodbye to those who no longer engage. Check out PART TWO.


What changes have you already made to your emails that improved deliverability? Please let us know in the comments below.

Gabija Trimbel

Hi, I’m Gabija, a deliverability manager at MailerLite. I spend my days making sure that your emails are delivered. Email deliverability is a complex and fascinating aspect of email marketing that constantly keeps me on my toes. To be honest, sometimes I wish I had an easier job like a rocket scientist or ninja master.