Campaign Standard - Managing deliverability

This document will introduce you to the concepts and best practices related to deliverability as well as the tools offered by Adobe Campaign Standard to optimize sending your deliveries.

Last update: 2019-02-08

Introduction

Deliverability or how to measure the success of your campaigns reaching your recipients' inbox without bouncing, or being marked as spam.

Adobe Campaign Deliverability is a paid service that comes available in different offers. Contact the deliverability or commercial service.

The deliverability rate depends on numerous factors, particularly:

  • Correct configuration of your instances
  • Your IP address reputation
  • Quality of the addresses targeted
  • Low complaints and hard bounce rates
  • Your message content
  • Message authentication (SPF, DKIM, DMARC)
  • Sender reputation
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Start off on the right foot

Maintaining your domain and IP address reputation is essential. Here is some advice for setting up a new platform:

  • Delegate a dedicated sub-domain to Adobe that's specific to email campaigns sent from Adobe
  • Import the invalid/inactive addresses into the quarantine table
  • Limit the delivery throughput
  • Progressively increase the delivery volumes
  • Send messages regularly
  • Monitor delivery reports closely
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Control your email content

To improve your email deliverability rate and make sure that your emails reach your recipients, the email must respect a certain number of rules:

  • Sender name and address: The address has to explicitly identify the sender. The domain has to be owned by and registered to the sender. The domain registry must not be privatized.
  • Subject: Avoid excessive capitalization and punctuation, and words that are frequently used by spammers ("Win", "Free", etc.).
  • Personalize your email: Personalizing the email increases the chances of your message being opened.
  • Images and text: Respect a decent text/image ratio (for example 60% text and 40% images).
  • Unsubscription link and landing page: The unsubscription link is essential. It must be visible and valid, and the form must be functional.
  • Use tools offered by Adobe Campaign to optimize the content of your email (delivery analysis, anti-spam analysis).
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Improve your reputation

To avoid exhausting your recipients, delete duplicate email addresses from your target. This step protects your sending reputation and ensures good quarantine management. Adobe Campaign offers the necessary tools to implement these recommendations and avoid the risk of being blacklisted by the ISP.

To avoid duplicates as much as possible, the following actions must be carried out:

  • Imports must be configured carefully
  • Pay attention when modifying email addresses
  • Pay attention during automatic imports
  • Profiles should be sorted into different folders

Quarantine management is presented in the detailed documentation.

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The importance of whitelists

The main internet service providers (ISPs) and Web mail providers manage whitelists from recognized email message senders. Adobe Campaign helps you with the process of getting certified on the best whitelists.

There are two types of whitelists:

  • Non-commercial whitelists
  • Commercial whitelists
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Apply technical recommendations

In addition, there are several techniques, configurations, and tools that you can use to improve your deliverability rate:

  • Configuration: Reverse DNS, MX rules, TLS
  • Authentication: SPF, DKIM, DMARC
  • Email optimization: feedback loop, List-Unsubscribe, SMTP header
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Monitor your deliverability

Use the tools offered by Adobe Campaign to monitor your platform's deliverability:

  • Email rendering
  • Delivery monitoring
  • Delivery failure alerting

You can also use the Delivery throughput report which gives you an overview of the entire platform's throughput for a given period.

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Having trouble?

Are you experiencing a deliverability problem? You may find the solution here...

  • Why do I always get the same error message for a particular ISP?
  • What is the difference between a blacklisted email and a quarantined email?
  • What do the different quarantine error reasons mean?
  • How do I unblacklist a profile?
  • How can I find out whether one of my IPs is blacklisted?
  • How do I unblacklist my IP(s)?
Read More

Any question? Visit our forum and ask the community.

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Copyright © Adobe 2019

What are the key points to check?

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What are the key points to check?

To optimize the deliverability of your Adobe Campaign emails, we recommend using the best practices listed below. Deliverability problems are generally linked to measures of protection against spam implemented by internet service providers and mail server administrators.

Email deliverability refers to the set of characteristics that determine a message's ability to reach its destination, via a personal e-mail address, within a short time, and with the expected quality in terms of content and format. These characteristics fall into four main categories: data quality, message and content, sending infrastructure, and reputation. Together, they form the foundation of a successful email deliverability program.

The deliverability rate is the number of sent emails that were successfully delivered to its recipients.

Here is a list of the key points to check to ensure good deliverability.

Consult the Campaign Standard documentation

First, start by consulting the documentation on the deliverability tools provided with Campaign Standard:

An incorrect network configuration

Spammers try to conceal their real identity and as a consequence make their servers difficult to identify. A legitimate network configuration that does not try to hide the identity of the server is essential to sending emails in large volumes.

Sending to invalid addresses

Spammers often use address generators based on lists of frequent names and first names; in addition, they rarely process technical notifications sent back by mail servers. A high rate of invalid addresses is often interpreted as a sign of spam. Double opt-in mechanisms and effective handling of technical bounce messages make it possible to avoid this.

High complaint rate

ISPs usually have a prominent means of reporting a received message as spam. This makes it possible to identify unreliable sources. By rapidly honoring opt-out requests, making regular use of a given list, verifying consent through a double opt-in system, and implementing feedback loops, you can reduce complaint rates.

Sending to honeypot addresses

ISPs and other organizations (refer to http://www.projecthoneypot.org/) make use of mailboxes that do not correspond to physical persons but are created simply to trick spammers. These so-called "honey pot" addresses are published on the Web in order to be collected by spambots and thus catch illegitimate senders. The use of a double opt-in mechanism precludes this sort of address being added to a list. When using a third-party list, you must be sure of the methods employed by its maintainer.

Aggressive vocabulary and insistent use of images

To a lesser degree, the content of certain messages can lead certain filters to detect it as spam. The use of certain words, the use of exclamation points in the subject line and within the messages are read as tell-tale signs of spam. Spammers are also known to replace text with images to stop offending text from being analyzed automatically by anti-spam filters. In response to this, a message (in HTML format) with a high proportion of images, or images as attachments, may end up being blocked.

Irregular deliveries with irregular volume-sizes

Spammers make programmed deliveries to maintain their reputation over time. They sometimes need to adapt their marketing plan to meet the best practices imposed by the ISPs and so, after a peak in reputation (ramp-up), they configure regular deliveries.

Starting a new platform

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Starting a new platform

Starting to send emails on a new platform is a sensitive step because the platform does not have any history of use and no reputation (when the sending IPs have never been used for this purpose). ISPs are naturally suspicious of IP addresses that have never been used to send email and that suddenly start to send large volumes of email traffic. In effect, spammers generally use "unknown" IP addresses (that is to say addresses that have never been blacklisted) to send the largest possible number of messages before detection.

You cannot expect to reach operational speed in terms of output at the very start of the production phase. Furthermore, you should not attempt to send messages at this rate as it might lead the ISPs to block the sending addresses and to severely compromise the rest of the start-up phase.

Starting a platform often happens when using a list of addresses for the first time and which may not be fully qualified. If you send to invalid addresses or to honeypot addresses this will contribute to diminishing the reputation of the platform. If you have a list of invalid addresses, it is in your best interests to import it into the quarantine table (Administration > Channels > Quarantines > Addresses) before sending for the first times. If, all the same, you wish to requalify the invalid addresses, it is by far preferable to do this once the reputation of the platform is established and bit by bit in order to "dilute" the use of bad addresses over time.

To summarize the principles to be followed when starting up:

  • Importing invalid addresses into the quarantine table (if you have this information)
  • Limiting the throughput rate (technical setting: limiting the number of mtachilds)
  • Progressively increasing the volumes sent: Do not target the whole database from the very start, but rather add an extra fraction of the list each time you send; this should enable you to increase the volume at each step while reducing the overall rate of invalid addresses
  • Sending regularly: To a certain extent is better to send small shots regularly than large campaigns sporadically
  • Paying close attention to the delivery reports: high error indicators can mean a technical setting is badly configured.

Editing email content

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Editing email content

Here is some additional information on editing email content. Don't forget to read the Message design best practices.

Sender address

Certain ISPs check the validity of the sender address (From) before accepting messages. A badly formed address may result in it being rejected by the receiving server. You must make sure a correct address is given at the instance level or in the most frequently-used scenarios. Contact your administrator. See Personalizing the sender name and address

Predictive subject line

When editing an email, you can try out different subject lines and get an estimation of its open rate before you send it. Consult the documentation for more details.

Send time optimization

To improve the success rate of your messages, you can manually define a sending time per recipient. Each profile will receive the message at the specified date and time, whenever possible.

Refer to the documentation for more information.

Opt-out link and form

By default, when the message is analyzed, a typology rule checks whether an opt-out link has been included and generates a warning if it is missing.

You must check that the opt-out link works correctly before each time you send. For example, when sending the proof, make sure the link is valid, that the form is on-line and that validating this changes the value of the No longer contact boxes are checked. You should make this check systematically because human error is always possible when entering the link or when changing the form.

If a problem is detected concerning unsubscription after the delivery is started, it is still possible to perform an unsubscription manually (using the mass-update function, for example) for those recipients who click the opt-out link even if they were not able to confirm their choice.

As a general rule, do not try to get in the way of recipients who want to opt-out by requiring them to fill out fields such as their email address or name, for example. The unsubscription landing page should have one validation button only. Requesting additional confirmation is not reliable: a user may have two email addresses redirected to the same box (for example: firstname.lastname@club.com and firstname.lastname@internet-club.com). If the profile is able to remember the first address only and wishes to unsubscribe via a message sent to the other one, the form will refuse this because the encrypted identifier and the email address entered will not match.

Anti-spam analysis

Adobe Campaign's message editor integrates an

Anti-spam analysis

which allows you to score emails to determine whether a message runs the risk of being considered as spam by the anti-spam tools used upon receipt. Refer to the documentation for more information.

In the message content editor, click Preview. A message warns you if the anti-spam checking has detected a high risk for this message. Click Anti-spam analysis to view details.

Checking the message responsiveness

You can check what your message is going to look like on different devices. Refer to the documentation for more information.

In the message content editor, click Preview and select a type of device in the top action bar.

Managing duplicates and quarantines

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Managing duplicates and quarantines

Below you will find details on duplicate and quarantine management.

Duplicates

Having duplicate email addresses can have multiple consequences:

  • The same message being sent more than once. Even if Campaign performs a deduplication procedure by default before sending, there is nothing to stop the same message being sent by different actions having the same content when a target is split.
  • Unsubscription requests not honored. If a recipient unsubscribes after receiving a message, their duplicate profile will still be eligible for future messages.

Besides this side-stepping of opt-in procedures, this situation will likely lead users to consider the messages as spam and to trigger a blacklisting procedure at the ISP.

You must be especially prudent when performing operations on the database:

  • Imports must be meticulously configured, in particular when choosing the reconciliation key.
  • Changed email addresses can also be a source of duplicates. In particular, two addresses with different domains may be routed to the same mailbox, for example in the case of a company that has changed name and has maintained the former domain for a certain period of time: joe.doe@amce-co.com and joe.doe@acme-rebranded.com.
  • Automatic imports, whether they be of lists or from other databases are elements to be taken into account when managing profiles. What happens when you delete or move a profile in another partition? It might be recreated in the initial partition by an automatic import, for example, when a purchase order is placed.

There are, all the same, cases in which duplicates between the different partitions are normal. For example, when sending for third-parties or different company entities, it is logical for the same person to be a recipient for different reasons. It is, however, rarely normal to find duplicates within the same partition.

Quarantines

Adobe Campaign manages a list of quarantined addresses. The recipients whose addresses are quarantined are excluded by default during the delivery analysis: they are not targeted. An email address can be quarantined for example when the inbox is full or if the address does not exist. In all cases, quarantining corresponds to the specific rules detailed below.

Quarantine management is presented in the detailed documentation.

Whitelists

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Whitelists

An email whitelist is a list of email addresses or domain names from which an email blocking program will allow messages to be received.

There are two types of whitelists:

Non-commercial whitelists

To be accepted by these whitelists, the sender must pass a series of tests based on a technical verification (its email server must not be an open relay but should have a static IP) of the infrastructure or its activity (delivery frequency, volume, number of complaints).

If the sender does not follow one of these rules, it may be deleted from the whitelist. In its Adobe Campaign Email Deliverability package, Adobe Campaign offers an accompanying expert consulting service for the certification process for non-commercial whitelists.

Commercial whitelists

Commercial white lists are based on a system that allows the sender to bypass antispam filters altogether or be assigned incremental points as they enter the system. These paying whitelists (CPT or on an annual basis) are offered by systems such as Return Path Sender Score.

ISPs are free to use these services and the number of ISPs can vary depending on the whitelist. A sender can therefore be more confident when sending his messages by having a delivery guarantee. Certain whitelists also offer to open images and activate links.

Appearing in a whitelist is an undeniable asset for any email campaign. In its Adobe Campaign Email Deliverability package, Adobe Campaign offers a commercial whitelist certification service such as CSA and Return Path Sender Score.

Technical recommendations

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Technical recommendations

Here are a few definitions of the main technical terms.

Reverse DNS

Adobe Campaign checks whether a reverse DNS is given for an IP address and that this correctly points back to the IP.

MX rules

MX rules are used to control the speed at which the Campaign MTA (Message Transfer Agent) sends emails to each individual email domain or ISP (e.g. hotmail.com, comcast.net). These rules are typically based on limits published by the ISPs (e.g. do not include more than 20 messages per each SMTP connection).

TLS

TLS (Transport Layer Security) is an encryption protocol that can be used to secure the connection between two email servers and protect the content of an email from being read by anyone other than the intended recipients.

SPF

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is an email authentication standard that allows the owner of a domain to specify which email servers are allowed to send email on behalf of that domain. This standard uses the domain in the email's "Return-Path" header (also referred to as the "Envelope From" address).

DKIM

DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) authentication is a successor to SPF and uses public-key cryptography that allows the receiving email server to verify that a message was in fact sent by the person or entity it claims it was sent by, and whether or not the message content was altered in between the time it was originally sent (and DKIM "signed") and the time it was received. This standard typically uses the domain in the "From" or "Sender" header.

DMARC

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) is the most recent form of email authentication, and it relies on both SPF and DKIM authentication to determine whether an email passes or fails. DMARC is unique and powerful in two very important ways:

  • Conformance - it allows the sender to instruct the ISPs on what to do with any message that fails to authenticate (e.g. do not accept it).
  • Reporting – it provides the sender with a detailed report showing all messages that failed DMARC authentication, along with the "From" domain and IP address used for each. This allows a company to identify legitimate email that's failing authentication and needs some type of "fix" (e.g. adding IP addresses to their SPF record), as well as the sources and prevalence of phishing attempts on their email domains.

DMARC can leverage the reports generated by 250ok.

SMTP

SMTP (Simple mail transfer protocol) is an internet standard for e-mail transmission.

Dedicated IPs

Adobe provides a dedicated IP strategy for each customer with a ramp-up IP in order to build a reputation and optimize delivery performance.

Monitoring

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Monitoring

Below you will find details on the Delivery throughput report as well as the different monitoring tools offered by Adobe Campaign. Here are some additional guidelines on deliverability monitoring:

  • Regularly check the delivery throughput for the whole platform to verify whether it is consistent with the original set-up.
  • Check that retries are set up correctly (30 minutes for retry period and more than 20 retries) in delivery templates.
  • Regularly verify that the bounce mailbox is accessible and that the account is not about to expire.
  • Check each delivery throughput to make sure that it is consistent with the delivery content's validity (e.g. 'flash sales' should be delivered in minutes, not days).
  • When using waves, verify that each wave has enough time to finish before the next one is triggered.
  • Check that the number of errors and new quarantines are consistent with other deliveries.
  • Carefully consult the delivery logs in detail to check the kind of errors that are highlighted (grey or black-listing, DNS issues, anti-spam rules, etc…).

Delivery throughput

This report contains information on the delivery throughput of the entire platform for a given period to measure the speed at which the messages are delivered.

See documentation: Delivery throughput

You can configure the values displayed by changing the timescale.

Other reports are available, such a Delivery summary or Non-deliverables and bounces. See documentation: Dynamic reports

Monitoring your deliveries

The message dashboard gives you access to the delivery logs: Sending logs, Exclusion logs, Exclusion causes, Tracking logs and Tracked URLs. They show the detail of the sending, which target has been excluded and why, as well as the tracking information such as opens and clicks.

See documentation: Monitoring a delivery

Email rendering

Before sending your message, make sure that it will be displayed in an optimal way on a variety of web clients, web mails and devices.

To allow this, Adobe Campaign captures the rendering and makes it available in a dedicated report. This enables you to preview the sent message in the different contexts in which it may be received.

See documentation: Email rendering

Receiving alerts when failures happen

The Delivery alerting feature is an alert management system that enables a group of users to automatically receive notifications containing information on the execution of their deliveries.

See documentation: Receiving alerts when failures happen

Signal Spam

Signal Spam is a French service which offers anonymized feedback loop reporting for French ISPs (Orange, SFR).

This service allows you to follow the reputation of the French ISPs and track customers' activity evolution.

Signal Spam also provides direct complaints that end users log through a dedicated interface. Those complaints are then quarantined from the email address database.

250ok

250ok is a monitoring solution which provides IP, domain blacklisting and reputation indicators.

The information provided is real-time, which allows for a pro-active assistance. 250ok a complementary solution to the Adobe deliverability internal tools.

Troubleshooting

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Troubleshooting

Why do I always get the same error message for a particular ISP?

If you always get the same error message for an ISP, your email or IP may have been detected as faulty by the ISP. Carry out the following recommendations:

  • Check whether you receive a large percentage of failures linked to inexistent email addresses (User unknown failures).
  • Update your subscription forms to detect any errors in the domain names entered (for example: gmaul.com or yaho.com).
  • If you notice errors stating that your messages are declared as spam, or that your messages are constantly blocked, try excluding the recipients that have not opened or clicked in one of your messages in the last 12 months from the target.

If the problem persists, contact the commercial or deliverability services, or Adobe Campaign support.

What is the difference between a blacklisted email address and a quarantined email address?

The status Blacklisted is a result of a feedback loop (when a person reports a message as spam).

The status Quarantined is a result of a soft or hard bounce.

What do the different quarantine error reasons mean?

Here are 10 possible reasons: not defined, user unknown, invalid domain, blacklisted address, refused, error ignored, unreachable, account disabled, mailbox full, not connected.

See documentation: Understanding quarantine management

One of my recipients was blacklisted by mistake. How do I unblacklist them so that I can start sending them messages again?

  • Go to Administration > Channels > Quarantines > Addresses.
  • In the details of the corresponding record, set the value of the Status field to Valid.
  • Save the record.

How can I find out whether one of my IPs is blacklisted?

To check whether your IP address is blacklisted, you can use various web sites to verify it:

How do I unblacklist my IP(s)?

To check whether your IP address is blacklisted, you can use various web sites to verify it:

Generally, the result of the IP address check will return a list that contains details of the blacklist and also the name of the web site that blacklisted the IP address.

By clicking on the link, you can access the web site details.

Then, you can request that your web site be delisted from the web site that blacklisted the IP address.

The delisting process may vary depending on the web site. Some sites require you to create an account, while others just need you to provide the IP address.