Email Deliverability

How to Add a User to Google Postmaster Tools

If you haven’t ready set up Google PostmasterTools we’d likely recommend it. Not only does it give you insight into your email performance at Gmail it will also help our team diagnose your deliverability problems. That said, here’s how to share access with our email deliverability consultants.

1) Login to and hover over the domain to share. A context menu pops up. Click on the “Manage Users” link:

2) Clicking on the big red “+” button in the bottom right and input “” in the popover and click NEXT:

3) That’s it!

Spam Traps and How to Avoid Them

If you send a lot of email, odds are you’ve hit a spam trap and consequently felt the sting of being blacklisted. If not it’s where email senders quite literally falls into a trap which often brings many negative consequences to a business or at the very least to their mailing reputation.

How does a spam trap get on your list?

Some spam traps are intentionally set to catch bad actors or irresponsible senders.

They end up on a list when a marketer buys a list.

Some spam traps are old email addresses that have gone inactive, and ISPs re-activate them to catch spammers or senders who don’t practice list hygiene.

Inactive domains can also get you in trouble, if you’re continuing to send emails to a domain that’s gone dead.

Some spam traps are the result of users quickly typing email addresses so they enter the wrong email for them, but it’s an email address associated with a spam trap.

Some users will enter a bogus email address to get something they want (but not enough to hand over their real email address). That bogus email address can be a spam trap.

If you want a more comprehensive list of spam trap classifications, check out Laura Atkins’ list of types of spam traps.

What happens when an email is sent to a spam trap?

It’s not only the sender who takes a hit when an email goes to a spam trap, potentially getting blacklisted by an ISP. So does the ESP used by that sender. And that in turn can affect the deliverability of all of the other clients of that ESP.

What can you do to protect yourself from spam traps?

You can proactively take steps to decrease the chance of sending email to a spam trap:

  • Make sure you are educated on deliverability best practices.
  • Practice regular list hygiene to identify and remove spam traps on a set schedule.
  • Segment out inactives and run re-activation campaigns, deleting any emails that don’t respond to that effort after a set period of time.
  • Use double opt-in to ensure you’re getting the correct email addresses from real life people.
  • If you’re getting a lot of bogus email addresses in reaction to an offer, suggest they not gate whatever the content is and offer it without asking for an email.

Hitting a spam trap is a serious offense, even if an unintended one. So take what steps you can to prevent it from happening.


The Truth About Email List Rental

If you’re unfamiliar or unimpressed with the practice of email list rental here’s the lowdown on the benefits and pitfalls, as well as the key differentiating factors between renting email lists other direct marketing tactics.

What Experience Has Taught Me

Legitimate email list rental opportunities have been tarnished by the practices of less-than-stellar providers…be they those who sell email addresses or outright thieves. In my 14 years in email marketing, I’ve worked with countless list providers. Some great. Some horrid. I now know what to look for, who to go to, who to avoid, and how a campaign will likely perform. But there are few guiding principles that will help all marketers, even those inexperienced at list marketing.

On a very high level, I’ve found that the best results for business-to-consumer marketers (i.e. marketers with a consumer-facing product or service) often lie in renting true subscriber lists. That is, opt-in email lists that are derived from a single source such as a publication, association, or non-competitive product/service. They are brands that the recipient knows and often values or respects.

The practice of selecting true subscriber lists is a great choice for business-to-business marketers too; however I have also found success in using well-maintained complied B2B lists (i.e. lists which are derived from multiple sources). B2B lists are a bit different. Marketers have far more latitude. More about that later.

Key Differentiators

  • The list owner (i.e. that company that built and rents the list) will transmit the marketer’s offer.
  • The marketer pays a fee for this service, usually on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis. Costs range from a few dollars per thousand to $550/CPM, depending on the volume of the campaign, the desired demographics, and source of the list.
  • Unlike direct mail or telemarketing, the marketer never sees the list.
  • Unlike inbound marketing, it’s all about producing a valuable offer, not content.
  • The email lists that a marketer chooses is often the most important factor, followed closely by the subject line, the offer, then the copy and design.

The Upside for Marketers

For many marketers email list rental is a consistent means of growing their own subscriber lists, packing their pipelines and of course making direct sales.  Here are a few benefits.

  • Value of association (“Hey, look at us, we’re friends with the list owner!”)
  • Low cost of acquisition (compared to other direct channels)
  • It’s quick (test results and make adjustments in days, not weeks)
  • Better deliverability (Compared to purchased email lists)
  • It’s compliant (think CAN-SPAM act)

The Upside for List Owners

List owners come in many flavors such as retailers, wholesalers, event producers, associations, as well as traditional publishers and bloggers. All of which can find considerable value in email list rental too, albeit of a different sort.

  • Revenue ($1-2 per subscriber, per year is a good rule of thumb)
  • Control  (what they’ll mail, how often they’ll mail those 3rd-party offers, and who they’ll work with)
  • Easy (no sales, marketing, billing – if you work with a professional list management company).
  • Hygiene (weed out hard bounces more frequently, which helps their overall email deliverability rates)

Case in Point

Going beyond selecting the right lists, wise marketers are no longer taking the “BUY MY STUFF” approach. Instead email list rental campaigns are getting more creative, take a look at this campaign from Surfline and Rip Curl. It’s a great example of how the publisher (Surfline) provides their subscribers with direct access to exclusive offers all while reaping additional revenue from the marketer (Rip Curl) in the process.

The Future of Email List Rental

Email deliverability will continue to be a challenge for marketers who use  purchased email lists. In fact, “challenge” is probably too light of a description. And that’s a good thing because it frees up inboxs for more relevant email communications. Besides improved deliverability, legitimate email list rental provides marketers with the opportunity to earn new customers at a fair price, all while respecting the mindshare of the subscribers. But be wary, the list rental universe is often a dodgy one. Marketers and list owners alike should look first to companies that specialize in email lists that originate (and are mailed) from respectable and identifiable sources.

Still have questions? Need a recommendation? Email me at

– Scott Hardigree | Indiemark | @indiescott

Are you passionate about email marketing?


We’ve recently launched two NEW blogs that you may find of particular interest; both are dedicated to email marketing yet each is very different. Take a look…

EMAIL CRITIC ( Blog | RSS ) is a no holds barred blog, was created to spotlight brilliantly executed email campaigns and berate the brainless and uninformed (from design to delivery). If you’re into improving the performance of your email marketing efforts, please stay in the loop. Fan us on Facebook!

EMAIL APPEND SOURCE (Blog | RSS feed) is the place to find top-level articles, reviews and links to help you start or improve your email append projects. We want this blog to be the most comprehensive, unbiased resources on the web.

If you’re passionate about email marketing, we’re looking for guest bloggers, case studies, best practices, white papers, strategies, and fellow smart-ass commentators. Please email me with your submissions and feedback or simply visit the blogs.

Email Append Blog Wants You!

If you’re passionate about email append (no matter which side of the fence you sit), wants your content to help them to be the largest unbiased repository of email append information available today.

They’re looking for guest bloggers, case studies, best practices, white papers, strategies, and more. A great opportunity for email append professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Interested? Visit and contribute, you will be credited for all contributions, including links back to your profile or website.


Putting a Value on Email Design and Optimization

As email marketing continues to grow in both breadth and depth, I’ve observed that there is still surprising void in the supplier marketplace, those organizations that both create and improve the performance of the email message, or creative, itself.

In direct mail there are countless copy writers and designers who are charged with beating controls. In the online space there are companies that focus solely on improving the performance of corresponding landing pages. Even in email marketing there are many fine organizations that provide high-level optimization intelligence solutions.

Why then are there are few firms that provide comprehensive solutions that are specific to email marketing creative; companies that provide the strategy and creative and testing, from beauty to brains. Companies that create messages that are on brand, highly deliverable, and optimized.

This void cannot be due to a lack of need–so is it the perceived value of the offering? Does the perceived value keep away many would-be solution providers?

Please give your opinion to this LinkedIn Poll (