Email Deliverability is crucial to achieve consumer Internet virality

In the side
conversations at the founders brunches, it seems that all people can talk about
is invite deliverable.   The most
important subset of invite deliverable is email deliverable.   Many B2C companies go viral by convincing
current users to upload their address books and email their friends.   You can do all the viral tuning you want,
but if your emails are going to someone's spam filter, they ain't gonna see
your genius.   And that's a shame.


So what to

1. check if
you are on any blacklists.   Three sites
I like are:


2.  make sure you can be accepted by carriers by
setting up SPF, Sender ID, and DomainKeys/DKIM.   To get more information on these, check out:

Email Authentication


Then follow
these steps:

– check your current configuration:

– set up SPF/Sender ID:

– set up DomainKeys/DKIM:



3. Monitor
your emails and make sure you unsubscribe anyone that hits the spam key.   Some good services to sign up for are:


– Spamcop:



4. Set up
feedback loop (FBL)

– MSN/Hotmail:

– AOL:



5. Get
whitelisted/remove yourself from blacklists


Microsoft: set up FBL:


– Gmail: none 

Earthlink: email or

Bellsouth: email or email




AT&T: email,, or check
and email email

Road Runner:



6. Monitor
your email deliverability:

            – DeliveryMonitor:


7. Pay for
professional whitelisting (not recommended for startups on a tight budget
unless email deliverability is truly your lifeblood):




8. Ask your
users to add your company’s email address to their address book and to
whitelist you


9.) Other

Zone File: make sure this is accurate and doesn’t
have errors (check with your sys admin)

Privacy policy:
There should be a link from all sites to a privacy policy

– web: Ensure
that unsubscribe links are placed on all the homepages of sites the domains of
which are used as senders for bulk email

Unsubscribe links – email: Ensure unsubscribe links are
placed in all emails to make them CANSPAM compliant

Civic Address: Ensure your business civic address
is placed at the bottom of all mailings to make them CANSPAM compliant.

Unsubscribe Headers: see:

X-headers: Precedence list / Precedence bulk
– consider implementing these.


10. And
read one of the best blogs on this topic:





thanks to my office mate, Vivek Sodera, for his help on putting this together)



7 thoughts on “Email Deliverability is crucial to achieve consumer Internet virality

  1. Ted Rheingold

    Thanks for the props.
    I wish I could say by assiduously following all the best practices and hiring the right firms (some listed above) the email delivery woes are behind us, but we spend more time on it than ever simply trying to not get it any worse than it was two years ago.
    A good note to an start-up or investors is that while much technology is far cheaper these days or even free, email delivery is much more expensive. Unless someone is an bulk email delivery genius, I would fight any geeky or tight-wad hopes of handling email delivery in-house, and pay people to help early and often.
    Once you start scaling to 10k emails a day (which is very easy to do in some services) you’ll be battling for optimal delivery rates every day onwards.

  2. Anne P. Mitchell, Esq.

    Hi Auren!
    A great compilation (although I do wish you’d listed our email deliverability service, in addition to the one that I founded and then left! 🙂 ).
    And Delivery Monitor, which is a partner, *rocks*.
    But you omitted a few *very* important elements which can impact your deliverability, including:
    – Content of your email
    – Frequency at which you send your email
    – User expectations and email reality name a few.
    Each of these things – even just using the wrong words in your email – can cause your deliverability to take a hit!
    Kind regards,

  3. Grant

    Thanks Auren… This is certainly a problem many of us have and you have done a superb summary… came in quite handy for us today 🙂


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