Did you know on average approximately 7% of all emails end up in the spam folder? According to The 2020 Email Delivery Benchmark Study, only a little over 80% of all emails sent, actually reach the inbox. So while the email marketing channel yields one of the highest ROIs for marketers, there’s still an opportunity for us to increase our chances of getting into our subscriber’s inboxes. One way we can increase our deliverability rate is to keep your subscriber list as healthy as possible, by removing bad data, inactive subscribers, and confirming the email addresses you do have are valid. Keeping your subscriber list healthy will help boost your reputation and the ability to reach a higher percentage of your end-users inbox. We’ll walk through a few ways to manage your subscriber list later on in this post.

Email Deliverability in Pardot

If you’re on this blog, you’re likely a Pardot user or evaluating Pardot as your Marketing Automation platform. Pardot is a great platform to create and send your emails, but the platform itself can’t ensure deliverability on its own. Just because you hit the send button doesn’t guarantee 100% of the emails will actually hit the end-users inbox. There are some recommendations when creating emails and some tools out of the box (depending on your edition) that you can leverage to test your emails prior to sending. In this article, we’ll explore some best practices on enhancing email deliverability, out-of-the-box Pardot tools and techniques, and some other tools you may want to leverage when creating and testing your emails. The goal here is to provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to add to your email creation process to get you as close to 100% email deliverability as possible. In this article, we’ll walk through the following topics:

  1. Terminology
  2. Tools for Testing & Deliverability
  3. Best Practices for Creating a Pardot Email Template
  4. Pardot Configuration
  5. Managing Your Data

Tools, Tips, and Terms for Testing & Deliverability

Before we get started let’s define some email deliverability terms:

  • Deliverability: In its simplest form, deliverability is a measurement of whether your emails actually get into your subscribers’ inboxes.
  • Spam: Salesforce defines spam as the following: the simplest definition of spam is “unsolicited bulk email.” Unsolicited means that it’s sent without the recipient’s consent, and bulk means that it’s sent to many people at once. Pardot doesn’t allow spam, and every user must follow the Permission-Based Marketing policy.
    • Tool: If you’re having issues with Gmail specifically, there is a tool, by Google, to help you navigate deliverability. Try using Google Postmaster Tools to analyze your email performance, and help guide Gmail to deliver your emails successfully.
    • Tool: Similar to Google’s Postmaster Tools, Microsoft offers a service called Smart Network Data Services (SDNS) that provides insight into your sending IP’s reputation, how many Microsoft spam traps you may be delivered to, and your spam complaint rate.
    • Tip: Most spam filters allow you to whitelist a sender by adding their email address to their email address book. When subscribers add you to their address book, spam filters will allow your email to pass through.
  • Sender Score: Your Sender Score is like a credit score to gauge your creditworthiness but for email: It measures the health of your email program. Sender Score is a number between 0 and 100 identifying the quality of your sender reputation and details how mailbox providers view your IP address. This definition was taken right from Senderscore.org.
    • Tool: Do you know your sender score? Use SenderScore.org to test your score and understand how to improve it.
  • Blacklist: A blacklist is a collection of IP addresses that are believed to distribute spam; emails from these addresses are either blocked or routed to the recipient’s spam folder. Blacklists are identified by spam filters, which use set criteria to identify emails believed to be of a malicious or spammy nature. This definition is from bigcommerce.com.
    • Tool: If your email deliverability is really low you may want to check to see if you’ve been placed on a Blacklist? You can use this site to check: https://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx
  • Domain Reputation: The Domain Reputation is a score that the ISP (Internet Service Provider, assigned to your organization. the higher the score, the more likely the ISP will deliver the emails to the recipients on their network.
    • Tool: Check your domain reputation, with BarracudaCentral.
    • Tool: TrustedSource, provides information on your domain’s email and web reputations as well as affiliations, domain name system (DNS), and mail server information.

Best Practices for Creating a Pardot Email Template

The anatomy of the email template will be so critical in the deliverability rate. Below are some helpful reminders when creating your email templates.

  • Beware of URL Shorteners: Many spammers will use link shorteners, so many of these link shorteners are already getting caught in spam filters. Use the full URL so your email doesn’t get caught in the spam filter.
  • Try to leave interactive content on the landing page: Some interactive content like JavaScript, RSS Feeds, and forms can cause your email to get caught in the spam filter. For a higher chance of deliverability, place this type of content on the landing page.
  • Watch the image to text ratio: When you have too many images or your images are too large in comparison to the amount of text in the email, it can look spammy and get caught in a spam filter. Ensure your emails have more text, reduce the number and size of images, and include alt tags that describe the image. Sometimes not all images will load, so using alt tags, help the recipient understand what the image is supposed to be.
  • Be compliant: All emails should include your organization’s physical address and a way for the user to opt out. Sometimes, when this information is missing it can affect deliverability, so be sure to include this information.
  • Don’t use attachments: While Pardot, doesn’t allow you to attach files to emails, this is a best practice in general for email marketing. This is a good contributor for emails getting caught in spam filters, which is likely why Pardot doesn’t allow attachments. You can upload your files to Pardot, and include a link inside the email.
  • Avoid using spammy words: Did you know certain words and symbols raise a flag to spam filters? For instance, using exclamation points or the word free can cause an email to get caught in the spam filter. Here’s a great list of words not to use in your email to avoid the spam trap.
  • Spell check: Poor grammar and spelling errors are a spam trigger and can cause emails to get caught in a spam trap, so be sure to spell check and proofread your emails.
  • Run your email through an email testing tool that helps identify spammy elements.
    • If you have Pardot and are still using the Classic email builder you can use the Litmus tool. Once you’ve created your Pardot email template you’ll want to run it through a spam analysis. Depending on your Pardot edition, you may have access to the Litmus email testing tool. In the classic email builder navigate to the testing tab > then hit the ‘Render Test’ button. This native testing feature is great because it will help you understand elements of your email template that may get caught in the spam filter. From the wording, to design, to images, what might cause the email to get caught in spam. You’ll be able to see how the email will render with different email clients, the subject line, preview, and a spam analysis. Below is a sample spam analysis from one of our test emails.

If you don’t have access to this feature you can use external spam testing tools where you can upload your email template to the platform and it will provide you with a report that describes potentially spammy issues. There are a few you can try below:

Pardot Configuration

Make sure you’ve set up the appropriate email authentication when you set up email sending with Pardot. Here are some resources to make sure you’ve set up your account properly.

Managing Your Data

  • Your email addresses are only valuable if they’re valid. If your email addresses are invalid, you’ll get a significant number of bounces, which can hurt your sender score. So your data quality is going to be so important for deliverability. If you’re using Pardot, here are some great recommendations on increasing your email deliverability.
    • Follow Pardots Permission-based email policy. This essentially means that you’re not going to buy email addresses, and those who you are going to email have agreed to receive your emails.
    • Use a confirmed-opt in process for email addresses. This helps keep your data clean and ensures the user intended to enroll into your lists. When the user completes the form, an auto-responder is triggered and the user is added to an unconfirmed list, once the user clicks the link on the auto-responder to confirm their choice to be added to the list, they are removed from the unconfirmed list and added to the actual list. To learn how to set this up in more detail, Pardot explains how to create the confirmed opt-in process here.
    • Create suppression Lists for Inactive Prospects. Sometimes we have legacy data in our system, and those prospects have moved onto other companies or maybe their email is going to spam, either way, they’re no longer engaging with our content. You can create suppression lists based on the activity of a prospect. Here are a few examples of email suppression lists based on inactivity:
      • Inactive Prospects: You can use a dynamic list to identify prospects who have never been active.
      • Inactive Prospects after 1 Year: You can use a dynamic list to identify prospects who have not been active in the last 365 days.

Data Cleansing

        • How to clean your prospect mailable list? If you’re not really sure whether or not your data is clean, I’d recommend starting with a hygiene service like NeverBounce or Kickbox. You can run your list through this service, to help identify invalid email addresses. This will help to clean up the existing data.
        • Recycle Bin: As a reminder, you can place prospects in your recycle bin, and they won’t count against your mailable limit. So if they fill out a form, or engage with you, they’ll come out of the recycle bin and appear back in your prospect mailable count.
        • Cleansing Your Data

I hope these tips are helpful and help you to increase your deliverability rate. One last point is to always test those emails. Be sure to send it to yourself and even a colleague or two to test the emails and makes sure your links are working, images render properly, and the overall email is working as planned. And if you have any questions, feel free to reach out! 

Jennifer Contino

Jennifer Contino

Director of Marketing

Jen, our director of marketing comes to us with over a decade of marketing experience and nearly a decade within the Salesforce ecosystem. She’s known for her work with Pardot, creativity within the digital marketing space, and passion for marketing and the power of Pardot and Salesforce together.

About Roycon
We’re an Austin-based Salesforce Consulting Partner, with a passion and belief that the Salesforce platform’s capabilities can help businesses run more efficiently and effectively. Whether you are just getting started with Salesforce or looking to realize its full potential, Roycon specializes in Salesforce Implementations, Salesforce Ongoing Support, and Salesforce Integrations, and Development. We’re the certified partner to guide the way to increase Salesforce Adoption, make strategic decisions, and build your Salesforce Roadmap for success.