6 Simple Steps To Improving e-mail Deliverability

October 21, 2008

If you are a internet marketer who uses his or her own server with a mailing software like interspire or auto response plus, you may have noted that over the past few years the number of open rates for your mailing must have drastically reduced.

I have been using a self hosted email system to send mail to all my clients. The main reason for this was that I always felt that double optin broke the marketing flow. Hosted email solutions like aweber or constantcontact to name a few force you to use double optins.

I mean, say a person buys one of my software and I want to add him to my optin list, using a double optin would mean me sending him a confirmation mail and then expect him to click that link and then get the unlock key.

This in my opinion would piss off most people, which then got me thinking “Hey these guys are using a mail software just like mine, and i’m not sending any mail about viagra or penis enlargement, so why would their deliverability be better than mine?”

After a little research and implementation of these steps on own mail server, ive almost doubled my open rates and my mail almost never ends up in the bulk folder at yahoo, gmail etc

Things you need to do

1) Ask your host to enable reverse DNS on your box

2) Set up SPF( sender policy framework) records on your server:
This is one of the ways that hosts check if the mail is indeed sent from the server it claims to be sent from. If you are running cpanel then you can do this yourself without your hosts help. Here is an article on how to do that.

3) Set up DomainKeys: Domain keys is a public/private key system that was started by Yahoo and is now used both by Yahoo as well as Gmail to check if the mail was indeed sent from the domain it claims to be sent from.
This is one of the next most important thing to do after setting up your reverse DNS.
For a quick tutorial on how to set up domain keys visit this site

4) Senderid: This is a system that’s followed by microsoft, but if you have the 3 steps I outlined earlier, your mail should sail through

5) Every few mailings check if your servers IP is in any DNS based blacklists using a tool like mxtoolbox and if it is then mail the admins at those sites and explain your situation to them. Most are always ready to help out.

6) Getting included in email deliverability services: Sites like suretymail, habeas, goodmail and senderscore aer third party accreditation sites that work closely with ISP’s and ensure that your mail gets delivered. When you sign up at these sites, your servers IP is included in their database, and the ISP’s check these databases, and if they find your IP in there then your mail gets delivered. This of these as opposites of blacklists 😉

But note that these services arent all that cheap. For example goodmail charges per 1000 mail sent, and others like suretymail though only charge $10 per month, charge you $500 as setup charges.

So in conclusion, if you follow the first 5 of the 6 simple steps I’ve talked about, your mail will land up in your prospects inbox for sure 🙂

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }


Thanks for that informative article Satya. Just figured out what that little envelope in each mail in yahoo mail, that says “domain keys verified” when you mouse over the icon means 🙂


Alex Newell

I’ve always wanted to use software like autoresponse plus but been put off by the whole spam accusation picture. You’ve removed just about all of the reasons for using a hosted solution Satya – I’m interested in knowing tho’ if you follow point 6 in your list above.

Thanks for really useful info.




Great tips! I stopped using my own mail host to deliver because of the problems you outlined. I will give it another shot using your tips.



@alex > I use 1,2,3 & 5. #6 is mostly of use for people who don’t want to go through the hassle of options 1 to 5 😉



Great info! I’m going to try 1-5 and maybe 6 if i need. Thanks


Peter Drew

Hey Satya..

great post mate..

wasn’t aware of the others at the bottom of the list..





Steve Hetrick

Don’t forget server white-listing. The steps listed above will help but it still may not be enough.

Each major ISP has a series of steps and a procedure you need to initiate to facilitate delivery directly to the subscriber’s in-box and not the bulk-mail folder. It’s important to note that many ISPs will usually not white-list you if you are sending email from a shared server. Even the host managing the server will have a difficult time getting the server white-listed if shared accounts are involved. Most of our email marketing customers eventually come to the realization that in order to send email as reliably as possible, they need to do so from a dedicated server that has implemented all the steps Satya has listed. Then the final step is to form a relationship with the major ISPs by using each of their white-listing procedures.

There is also the issue of email metering rates per hour. ISPs tend to throttle incoming email above a certain quantity. The days of blasting many thousands of email out instantly are over. Email needs to be metered to trickle out over time.



Nick The Geek

Hi Satya

Great article. Bookmarked and filed for future use.

Another cheap tip you can also do to help get your emails through is to get a brand new dedicated IP address for the domain that is sending your email.

Normally costs a few extra bucks a month and worth every penny.



Nick 🙂



You’ve removed just about all of the reasons for using a hosted solution Satya – I’m interested in knowing tho’ if you follow point 6 in your list above.

Thanks for really useful info.




A great post thank you.

I did try self hosting email but using an SMTP relaying service.

Not long after I started sending my mails I was contacted by the SMTP service stating I was spamming. Even though I had to implement the double optin as per their terms of use.

I’ve since given up on that for now and using getresponse but with this info may be I’ll revisit it in future

Thank you


PS: “sorry if my message looks strange but my return/ enter key doesnt seem to work here”


jp | REI Tips

Great post – only one thing…you said, “Hosted email solutions like aweber or constantcontact to name a few force you to use double optins.”

I use Aweber and double opt-in is strictly optional. I can turn it off or on for any new sublist I setup.

Thanks again for an informative post though.



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