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DMA: ten ways to make sure your marketing emails get through

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How do you know your retail marketing emails are getting through to customers? The short answer, according to the DMA’s Deliverability White Paper Review, out this week, is that you don’t.

Just because a message has been accepted – and not bounced – by an internet service provider (ISP) doesn’t mean it’s got through to the customer’s inbox, says the white paper.

And, said Guy Shelton, Return Path’s VP for European operations,: “Most email broadcasting systems say a message is delivered if it doesn’t bounce. This is grossly misleading and can give marketers the impression that they’re achieving a deliverability of 95% or more. Yet Return Path’s research shows that one in five legitimate marketing emails are blocked. It doesn’t add up.”

The task of getting email there is made all the more difficult by the huge amount of spam now circulating. The DMA report cites the latest McAfee’s Quarterly Threat Report, suggesting there are some 130bn spam messages sent out daily.

According to the white paper’s authors Guy Hanson, of Database Group Interactive, and Simon Bowker, of eCircle: “The new deliverability challenge involves focused on the portion that is not delivered and then on ensuring that what has been delivered actually ends up in the inbox.”

Here’s the list of ten things that the DMA says will improve deliverability. See the DMA white paper for more details.

• Improve data collection: making sure that new members are positively ticking a box to opt in to a mailing list, double checking the email address and validating the email address by sending a message and asking to be on the trusted senders’ list.

• Implement authentication: with a mechanism to prove the email really has been sent by the sender it purports to be from.

• Monitor your sender reputation: through sites such as and

• Manage your IP addresses carefully: understand what practices are being used to send your emails.

• Practice good list hygiene: audit data and manage bounce backs.

• Use complaint feedback loops.

• Monitor blacklists

• Reduce spam complaints: by not oversending emails and making emails relevant.

• Conduct pre-broadcast testing: through email service providers or delivery specialists.

• Get certification: this means a sender can bypass spam filters. Certification programmes include Return Path Certification, from Return Path, and Certified Email by Goodmail Systems.

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