To close out the week, I’m pleased to bring you a guest post by Chris Lang. Chris provides some great reasons to give your customers detailed instructions for setting up an email whitelist after they’ve signed up for your mailing list (and then Chris even gives you a tool to generate the instructions!)

Email Whitelisting, the best way to increase your email delivery rate!

eROI, in a recent survey of 523 e-mail marketers found that many email lists are using a Thank You Page after the opt-in, but not taking complete advantage of this area.

eROI also found that only 29% of email marketers reiterate the benefits of subscribing, 11% define the email frequency, 11% offer a promotion or coupon, a mere 20% display whitelist instructions and 8% offer additional subscription options.

That is four out of five sites not offering any whitelist instructions to their subscribers. Talk about a missed opportunity.

Email whitelisting allows your subscribers to add your email address to a list of sites NOT to be filtered. It just doesn’t just give it priority, it sometimes avoids the filters altogether!

In Hotmail, email whitelisting adds the sender to the “Safe senders” list. At Yahoo! email whitelisting assures the email appears in the inbox rather than the Bulk folder. At AOL, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo email whitelisting enables HTML, clickable links and HTML graphics. Without whitelisting your HTML emails appear with just placeholders and text emails appear with the links disabled.

The bad news is that you could spend all day, researching, writing, formatting and proofreading a set of whitelist instructions for your site.

The good news is that there is a email whitelist generator that will do all this for you. It now includes the top 10 ISPs, Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird, Blackberries, SpamCop (yes SpamCop has a whitelist) who is now heavily used by Microsoft and ReturnPath, McAffee and Norton and all the popular client side spam filters.

It’s really easy to use, just fill in four fields, click the button and there is your HTML page, ready to be uploaded to your site. No information is recorded, it only creates a web landing page for you.

How do I use this you ask?

Let’s start with what happens when your new subscriber opts into your email newsletter by filling out your form.

A welcome email, or double opt in link is sent to their email inbox. It is very likely that it can end up in the spam folder due to overzealous spam filters at ISPs. Right at the top of the generated instructions this possibility is addressed and the subscriber is asked to check the spam folder and mark it as “Not Spam.”

That is the right thing to do. This usually moves it to the Inbox and sets some priority for your newsletter to get to the Inbox everytime.

This also means that upon subscribing you must display your whitelist instructions as the landing page displayed as soon as the form is submitted.

It is also best to provide some form of irresistible incentive on this landing page. Push your new subscriber to not only whitelist you, but confirm their subscription if you use double opt in.

The second place to use your whitelist instructions is in every email, prominently displayed at the top. Say “To make sure you continue to receive this publication please add us to your address book” and link to the whitelist instructions.

It seems to work best if you use “add to address book” rather than “whitelist us” as that confuses non techies easily.

Using some basic common sense, putting yourself in your new subscriber’s shoes and offering some helpful whitelist instructions will definitely raise your delivery rates, your double opt in rate and continued readership!

This article was written by Chris Lang, an email delivery professional and consultant.

Do you want to learn more about how to avoid spam filters, deliver more email and not end up in the spam folder? Drop what you are doing and click this link: How to avoid filters and Get it to the Inbox!

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