Brief Secrets of Email Marketing

As a member of a young startup eager to gain online traction, I’ve learned a few things from email marketing experts that you can learn no where else. Below is a summary of those learnings for fellow entrepreneurs.

Disclaimer: All views expressed here are independent. If I got something wrong (or I’m missing something), please let me know. I’m happy to learn more and rectify.

Avoiding Being Blacklisted

It’s easy to get blacklisted if your domain/IP/organization is new. You can set up blacklisting alerts for your domain using MXToolBox. Register your domain on ($10/year) to avoid most kinds of blacklisting.

What is a “Sender Score”?

Much like credit scores, your domain/IP has a certain score based on your email behavior. If you sent too many emails to too many unsubscribed people, your sender score goes down. If you register your domain with or do a few other things mentioned below, your Sender Score goes up. You can get your own sender score for free by clicking here.

Tip: Always ensure your sender score is higher than 90.

Get a dedicated IP address

When you launch your organization, you are likely to get a shared IP for your website/email hosting. Website/email hosting providers like Media Temple or BlueHost give you the option of buying a dedicated IP. This prevents your Sender Score from being affected by other domains (organizations) pointing to the same IP sending malicious emails.

Check and Recheck Your Recipient List

If you have a small list (a few thousand email addresses), check the list for…

  • Updated email addresses
  • Invalid email addresses (if someone changed jobs)
  • Spelling mistakes (if the email address was spelled wrong)
  • Previously bounced emails (delete email addresses that have bounced before)

Tip: Always deleted hard bounce emails. Soft bounce emails may be acceptable but follow-up manually (by Linkedin or a phone call) with the user to update the email address if you can.

Content is King

Email marketing experts go through painstaking efforts to make sure their content (subject line, header information, image sizes, and language) does not flag them as spam. Here are some details that require your attention:

  • Use standard ratios of images versus text. Do not send emails with only an image or with a huge image + one sentence. Take the time to compile a good email.
  • All images must be clickable.
  • Have “alt” text for all images i.e. if the image doesn’t load for any reason, there is some proper text that can replace it (not some gibberish or image name like Santa_claus_happytimes-v02.jpg).
  • Make sure that the headline is not an image. Make it text only.
  • Font size, family, and colors must be proportional and consistent (so that email servers know that you are not a Nigerian prince).

Pre to the Header

Always include “preheaders” to emails. This is the little grey text that shows up in your inbox before you click on the email to read it in full. If you get the language right, your email open rate can skyrocket.

Here’s a decent article on preheaders and a bunch of other things.

Want to get more technical?

Here are a few tools that will get you started:

  • Create an account on
  • Sign up for
  • Sign up on
  • Look up Pardot bounce codes to optimize your emails further

Special thanks to Emilie Dettamanti, Email Marketing Guru at Ring Central, for her mentorship.