Sending an E-mail / Newsletter to Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo!
Using Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo! to read e-mails is very common today. Also people that have other e-mail addresses, for example business e-mail addresses at companies or private e-mail addresses that are maintained by Internet service providers, use sometimes these web-based e-mail clients to read their e-mails. One reason is that people do not want to leave their "real" e-mail address until they trust a company. But after that they trust the company they can leave their real e-mail address, for example when they order a product. So you should not consider email addresses from Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo! less seriously because behind these e-mail addresses there may be potential customers. However, you have to take in consideration that these e-mail addresses are not monitored in same degree as "real" e-mail address, so you can not expect same open rate with these types of e-mail addresses.
If you send newsletters regularly you have probably contacts that have email addresses from Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo! in your mailing lists. In this article we will give you some tips on how to design a newsletter, and other types of e-mail, so they will look good in Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo!. We will also give you tips on how to make sure that the e-mails arrive to your recipient's inbox. These web-based email systems often have tough anti-spam filters, so there are some things you should consider to reduce the risk of your newsletters get caught by the filters by mistake.
1. The background color of the newsletter
Use primarily white or light background color for your newsletter. If you use dark or black background color the color outside the letter's outer frame will still be white, and this will not look so good. But if you really want to use dark or black background, there are some tricks you can do with your newsletter to make it look good anyway. You can read more about using dark background here.
2. Do not use very advanced design for your newsletter
Do not use very sophisticated design for your newsletter. If you use style sheets, use only basic ones. Especially Gmail can sometimes have problems to render newsletters in a correct way if too advanced style sheets are used. Especially positioning of objects tend to give Gmail, and other web based email clients, problems.
3. It must be easy for your recipients to unsubscribe
If you send out newsletters you must always include instructions that tell the recipients how to unsubscribe if they no longer want to receive newsletters from you. The information must be easy accessible, otherwise there might be a risk that the receiver will report your e-mail as spam. To report an e-mail as spam the user only needs to click on a button or a link in the web client's user interface and the e-mail will automatically be moved to the junk folder, and next newsletters will probably end up there also. This is convenient for the recipient, but not so good for you because all such actions are registered by the e-mail system and if there are too many such classifications, it will affect the delivery to also those who want to receive your newsletter in Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo!. So if the receiver wants to unsubscribe, he/she must easily find in the newsletter how to do.
4. Use List-Unsubscribe in the e-mail header
If your newsletter program or service supports it, you should ensure that the List-Unsubscribe field is added to the e-mail header. If this field is inserted in the email header, together with an Internet address to an unsubscribe form or an e-mail address for unsubscribe, the recipient can unsubscribe directly in your email client by clicking on a link that appears above the newsletter. The link contains often a descriptive text, such as "unsubscribe", which means that few will miss seeing this which in turn reduces the risk that the recipient reports the newsletter as a junk mail.
5. Take care of email addresses that bounce
If you get e-mail bounces from Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo! you should remove these email addresses from your mailing lists quite soon. This is because the anti-spam filters that these e-mail system uses are counting the e-mail bounces and if they are too many, in proportion to the number of newsletters sent out, they will classify you as a spam provider and your following e-mails will always be moved to the junk folder. Or, if things go really bad, they do not arrive at all and are deleted automatically at arrival.
It is not necessary to remove an email address after only one bounce, but you must count them so there will not be too many of them from a single e-mail address. If is also important to distinguish between hard and soft bounces; the tolerance of soft bounces are usually higher. Email addresses that give hard bounces should be removed rather quickly, usually after 3 bounces.
The reason why the number of bounces is important is that the spam senders seldom takes care of bounces, they just keep sending e-mails to same e-mail addresses regardless of there are bounces or not. The e-mail system discovers this and if the bounce rate is to high the e-mail system will response to this in some way.
6. Always use the same email address as the sender
Always use the same email address as the sender. This is because Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! remembers your previous e-mail delivery and the better the history of this e-mail address is, the more easily will your newsletter arrive to the receivers' inbox in the future.
7. Try using the same IP address if possible
Using the same IP address (IP number) for the e-mail delivery also provides advantages. In addition to remember your e-mail address, Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! will also remember your IP address. If the mailing occurs from different IP addresses every time it may be perceived as suspect. Using the same IP addresses gives a more serious impression.
8. If you send different types of e-mail, you can use a different email address as a sender
There are contexts where it may be advantageous to use a different email address as a sender. For example if you send both newsletters and important e-mails to your contacts you should use different email addresses as the sender of these e-mails. If you would get many unsubscribe requests or junk mail classifications of your newsletter, for example, by chance, if will not affect the delivery of your important e-mails. If possible, you should also use another IP address for the important emails. If the emails are generated automatically, for example via a support or payment system on the Internet, the emails will usually have a different IP address.
9. Try to make the recipients add your email address to their mail client's "white list"
If the recipient adds your sender e-mail address to their e-mail client's "white list", for example to their list of contacts, your newsletter will arrive easier to their inbox. Another benefit that you will have is that pictures in the newsletter are shown automatically and hyperlinks in the newsletter are clickable immediately. So if you have a good relationship with your contacts you can ask them to add your email address to their contact list (or similar list).
10. Test your newsletter in Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo!
If you have many contacts with e-mail addresses at Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo! it is recommended to create such accounts for yourself and see how your newsletter looks in them. You should also test with different web browsers because the result may also be affected by the web browser that is used to view the newsletter. Most important is to test with Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, because these are the most used web browsers today.
If your newsletter ends up in the junk folder you can try to change some of the content and test again. If your e-mail address and IP number are brand new in this context you have to expect that the e-mail system will be more strict when judging your newsletter, and it can very easy end up in the junk folder. But over time, if you build a good reputation, your newsletter will arrive to the receivers' inbox in an increasing extent.
11. Always include a link to a web version of the newsletter
It is a good idea to place a link that opens a web version of your newsletter in the top of your e-mail newsletter. If there are any problems with the e-mail version of the newsletter the receiver can click on the link to read the web version. If the user really want to read the newsletter he/she will very likely click on the link. If you don't have a link and the e-mail newsletter is distorted in some way it will very likely remain unread.
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|Article written by: Mika Larramo||Swedish|