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Follow Deliverability Best Practices

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Follow best practices to maintain a good IP reputation.
  • Troubleshoot deliverability issues.

Continuing Education

Deliverability is not just a Trailhead module that you complete and then forget about. It’s truly continuing education, because it requires continuous learning. You can have the best deliverability one month, and then—poof—something happens. Unfortunately, filtering happens. More than 300 spam-filtering companies exist with different filtering logic. It’s hard to keep up with these changes, but we have put together a list of best practices to help maintain good deliverability, stay out of spam folders, and maintain a favorable IP reputation. 

Best Practice
Ensure that all subscribers you send to have given permission.
All of the names on your subscriber lists must give explicit permission for you to send them email via the application.

Even if you have received permission, people often forget that they signed up for emails.

  • Rereview your opt-in process to ensure opt-ins are clear.
  • Possibly add language at the top of your emails stating how the subscriber opted in to receiving your email communications. A reminder can help increase results and reduce complaints.
Have an easy unsubscribe process.
Ensure the unsubscribe process is easy and hassle-free for the end user. It’s better for a user to unsubscribe than mark your email as spam.
  • Consider moving your unsubscribe link to the top of the email.
  • Review the unsubscribe process to make sure it is user-friendly.
Send to engaged subscribers.
Adapt your sending practices to ensure you only email subscribers who want to hear from you.

  • Run a reengagement campaign for unengaged users and then either opt-down or opt-out those unengaged subscribers.
Deal with bounce rates greater than 20%.
Proactively remove your bounced addresses before your next send. Though the application automatically holds undeliverable emails after the third bounce, a bounce rate over 20% can dramatically harm your deliverability and ISP reputation.
Be easy to identify.
Make sure your from names from email addresses and subject lines are easily recognizable.
  • Review both subject lines and from names, as these are often the first thing people look at when determining what mail to open and which to ignore or complain about.
  • Possibly include the name of your organization in the subject line.
Add address book instructions to your email.
Maximize the number of subscribers who add you to their address book and minimize the number of sends that end up in a bulk or spam folder by adding address book instructions to your email.
Practice good data hygiene.
Do you have names that you haven’t mailed to in 6 months? How about customers that haven’t opened an email or clicked a link in that same time period? If yes, it’s time to see if these old or inactive addresses bring you joy, or if you need to get rid of them. These customers cost money to mail, reduce your ROI, and are more likely to complain.
Manage frequency and content.
Are you sending your emails more often than you promised? Less often? Is the content different from what you promised? Remember that permission communications are to be anticipated, personal, and relevant. If your users don’t anticipate your email or your content, reevaluate why you are sending them email in the first place.

What Now?

So you now have a good understanding of all things deliverability, what do you do when you have an issue? Before reaching out to Salesforce Help, here are a few troubleshooting steps. 

Content Issues

Start by investigating if the content of your email is a problem versus your account or even your DNS settings. To determine whether your delivery issues are related to content, perform a neutral content test out of your Marketing Cloud account to a personal email account. If you don’t have one already, create a free account for testing purposes. 

The test email should be a brief paragraph of text, properly formatted in HTML with a header or footer. Don’t use your usual template, content, or logos. Basically, keep it simple with generic content. Send to your test email account, and if send is successfully delivered to the inbox, you might have a problem with email content. 

Now dig into your email content.

  • Segment the troubled email into parts. For example, send the first half and final half of your email to your personal account as two separate messages to identify which section reaches the inbox and which doesn’t.
  • If both sections of your content fail to reach the inbox, continue dividing the email into smaller pieces and resending.
  • Repeat this process with subsequently smaller sections of content until you can pinpoint exactly what content is driving the spam filtering issue.

Beware Links That Can Cause Phishing Filtering

When troubleshooting content issues, don’t forget to view URLs or images. Review your email in HTML format to ensure you aren’t wrapping a URL reference inside of a click tracking link. 

Better HTML
<a href=””></a>
<a href=””>Click here to visit our website</a>

In this example, one domain is referenced in the HREF tag (getcloudy), but another domain (cloudyhelp) is referenced in the text of the email message. This can be interpreted by spam filters as a phishing/spoofing message, which can cause a deliverability issue. We discourage the practice of writing out URL domains in the body of an email message as your message may be caught by various anti-phishing filters. If you must include a written URL as a link, try displaying it as an image instead of in text format.

Troubleshooting Gmail

For specific Gmail spam folder issues, you can directly contact Google via the form: Sender Contact Form. Google makes changes in some cases, but not all. Unfortunately, they do not provide details regarding which issues qualify and which do not. Don’t expect a response to your request, but if they agree with your request, they will adjust their spam filter settings. It can take up to 15 days to see improvement.


To troubleshoot a specific email, it is important to make a copy of the full email message sent, including headers. In Gmail, you can do this by selecting View Original Email.

100% Delivered

As you have learned, managing deliverability is an ongoing practice that you can’t check off your list. Embrace the task, create a weekly deliverability report, and be ready to take action as soon as you see something phishy (see what we did there?). Congratulations on completing your deliverability certification—a brand new badge is headed your way! 


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