Email Whitelisting Best Practices for 2021

Rukham Khan

Rukham Khan

Published on

December 29, 2020

Email whitelisting means adding an email address to the list of approved senders. Email whitelisting enables your marketing emails to get past the filters set up by email clients for checking spam and suspicious emails. Also, email whitelisting increases the chances of an email landing in the priority inbox of the user than in the social, promotions, or updates tab.

If this is whitelisting, what is email blacklisting?

Blacklisting is the labeling of emails as spam or suspicious by email clients. Email service clients do this by maintaining a centralized repository of email addresses that should be considered spam. Previous feedback from users or by filtering done by the email client’s software could have identified these email addresses as spam or suspicious. Email blacklisting is used to ensure that users are protected from cybersecurity crimes and spam email interruptions.

So, it is pretty straightforward that email whitelisting is critical for your email marketing success. You should care for it if you want your meticulously created email marketing campaigns to reach the target audience.

These best practices can help with that:

Email whitelisting best practices to follow in 2021

1. Ask users to add you to your contacts

Most users hardly keep track of the newsletters they subscribe to. So, when they receive a newsletter from an unknown email address, their immediate reaction would be, “I didn’t sign up for another newsletter.”

The next thing that they would be tempted to:

  • Delete the message right away
  • Mark the mail as spam
  • Use the unsubscribe option

Of course, the last option is not so bad after all, since you still have room to win back the user’s interest. However, the first two actions will make all your effort futile.

The straight-forward to get whitelisted is to ask your users to add your email address to their contacts. Mails from saved contacts are by default whitelisted. Also, emails from contacts are rarely marked as spam or blacklisted.

Of course, when you are sending automated emails to thousands of users at the same time, writing a personalized note could be difficult.

There is a way out. You can include a phrase at the tail end of the email that requests your users to add your email address to their contacts.

Here is an example of how TEd does it right in its newsletters:

email screenshot

There are two benefits to doing this. First, the user will now be conscious of adding you to their contacts list. Second, the risk of being blacklisted is minimal. There are other things that you must do as well for whitelisting.

2. Offer compelling content/reason to whitelist you

Disqus conducted a study to unearth the reason why users subscribe to email newsletters. The study brought to light some obvious as well as unexpected answers.

More than 72% of users signed up for newsletters to learn more about a topic that interests them or to stay up-to-date with content from a specific website.

In other words, a wide majority of users are looking up to newsletters as a source of information that will expose them to new ideas or knowledge.

disqus poll

Source: Disqus

The noteworthy point is that newsletters may not help you sell immediately. What they help with is establishing your brand as an authority of topical content. Ultimately, when it comes to making a purchase, users tend to buy or refer to other brands that they consider are experts in that specific domain.

Now you might be wondering how serving useful content over newsletters is going to help. As human beings, we consume more of what helps us grow or solve problems. Newsletters can do both if they serve great content. When users are looking forward to emails from you, the chances of your emails being marked as spam, junk, or even deleted are slim. In other words, you will be whitelisted.

3. Tweak email bursts to match user preferences

Do you know why Netflix is such a roaring success? Netflix is successful because it prioritizes subscribers' needs. It got rid of the cookie-cutter content delivery model of cable TV. Netflix took personalization to a whole new level. If you and I are to compare our Netflix home page content suggestions, we would be entirely different content recommendations.

Such personalization at scale is what has enabled Netflix to become a roaring success across the globe. What can email newsletters learn from the Netflix success story?

Personalization is key to winning new subscribers and keeping them. It is also vital to ensure that users engage with the newsletter consistently. In fact, understanding your user preferences and crafting a marketing strategy to suit them is one of the key skills a digital marketing manager must-have.

For example, the classic gaming platform Soltiaired follows the newsletter strategy of sending a solitaire game of the day to their users. These solitaire game suggestions are personalized according to the user's past scores. The newsletter also suggests games that the user can try to win virtual trophies — which is essential gamification at work. These activities have helped boost their email engagement by 21%.

Emails that are tailor-made to user preferences like topics, frequency, and time zones get higher open rates, CTR, and engagement. They also reduce the number of unsubscribes, and spam labeling. They ultimately lead to getting your email address whitelisted.

4. Give them an option to unsubscribe

The option to unsubscribe might seem counterintuitive. However, sometimes you have to go the user’s way to finally bring them back to your way.

Giving an option to unsubscribe from the emails makes the user control. It lets them choose what kind of emails they would like to receive and what not.

Also, unsubscribes are not a bad thing. It is better to have a high-quality email list than focus on building quantity.

However, don’t let users unsubscribe with one step. Before confirming it, ask users why they unsubscribed. It can shed light on what needs to improve with the current email content strategy.

Of course, almost every business that sends emails confronts the challenge of unsubscribes. The team at Unscrambled Words was staring at a steadily climbing unsubscribe rate. Too frequent emails almost daily were identified to be the culprit. When they changed the frequency to thrice a week instead of daily, the unsubscribes and scam report rates fell drastically. Coincidentally, the open rate also improved considerably.

Reducing spam labeling and unsubscribes can go a long way in keeping yourself whitelisted in the eyes of an email client.

The Final Sign Off

Email whitelisting is critical to maximizing your email deliverability. If your email address is not whitelisted, all the meticulous planning you put into pushing out an email campaign will go to waste. Or you might get only a fraction of the RoI you ought to get from it.

Email whitelisting ensures that your email reaches the intended target audience without fail. It helps in forging a long-term relationship with your target audience and get closer to the business goals you have set for yourself.

Be informed that whitelisting works in different ways for different email clients. Gmail, Apple Mail, Outlook, Yahoo, Windows, all have different methods of whitelisting. Look at your user demographics. If you have users from diverse email clients, it is recommended to set up a knowledge base. The knowledge base can guide users on how to set up email whitelisting so that their emails do not land in the spam or junk folder.

Author Bio

Rukham Khan

Rukham is the Content Lead at Mailmunch. He believes trust should be the basis for all marketing communications.

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