Have you noticed your Hotmail open rates decreasing recently? Microsoft is making it difficult for marketers to reach the inbox and will continue to get even more strict in their fight against spam.

In this blog post we’ll outline the types of mechanisms Microsoft uses to place your mail into the inbox or spam folder. Take these steps to increase your chance of better inbox placement everytime you send out your campaigns to Hotmail, and other Microsoft related email services such as Outlook.com, Live and MSN.

Why is Hotmail Rejecting Your Emails?

Once you’ve clicked the “Send Email Campaign” button, your email goes through a rigorous process to make it to the Hotmail inbox… and it might not get that far!
Microsoft uses a spam and anti-phishing filter, which tests each of the emails going through the Hotmail system. Based on the sender reputation, it then decides if the email goes to the inbox. Next to that the actual receiver may classify your email as junk or delete it without opening. If so, Hotmail will then continue to send your emails to the junk folder.
But there’s a whole host of factors that Hotmail also looks at to decide how reputable your email is.
Follow the steps below to ensure all your email marketing efforts are not wasted through bad delivery.

7 Tips to Increase Your Hotmail Email Deliverability

  1. Authenticate your email
    Email authentication is a technological verification of the origin of an email message and is one of the many ways the industry is resolving the challenge of spam. Authenticating your emails is important to secure a positive reputation and earn an ISP’s trust in your brand, with more chance an ISP will actually deliver your email. Without email authentication, you will never get great email delivery, plus it is good to protect yourself against spoofing. The three most important email authentication protocols are:

    • SPF – Sender Policy Framework: You achieve authentication by having IP addresses published in your DNS.
    • DKIM – Domainkeys Identified Mail: This assigns a digital signature to a domain to allow it to associate its name with an email message. Verification is achieved using a signer’s public key as published in DNS.
    • DMARC – Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance: SPF and DKIM must exist for DMARC to work. DMARC is a powerful tool that offers an added layer for authentication. It directs a receiving server on how to handle emails that fail SPF and DKIM validation.

     
    Want to know about DMARC Authentication? Read al about it DMARC – What it is and why it matters.

  2. Data quality and double opt-in
    Quit sending to bad email addresses. Hard bounces are having a negative effect on your reputation therefore it’s important to remove them from your email list once they happen. If you keep sending to non-deliverable email addresses you are considered a spammer. The best way to deal with this is to make sure bad data doesn’t end up in your email list to begin with.

    We can’t stress enough how important it is to use a double opt-in subscription form for your email sign ups. When you develop a double opt-in process, it guarantees that your email subscribers are truly interested in the content you send out and want to be on your list. This essentially means they are a more engaged audience, and are far more likely to open and interact with your emails.

  3. Easy ways to unsubscribe
    We understand, it can be hard to let go. But there’s nothing more frustrating than scrolling through an email looking for that unsubscribe button. If this process is not clear it might lead your subscribers to reach for the ‘Spam Complaint’ button.

    Hotmail applauds you for being sincere and pacing the unsubscribe button in an obvious place. We recommend implementing a list unsubscribe header, to prevent spam complaints.

  4. Let subscribers mark you as a safe sender
    Ask your subscribers to whitelist your email by marking the email as safe.

    They can then whitelist by clicking on “Options”, under junk e-mail click the link “Safe and blocked senders”. Clicking on “Safe senders” allows your subscribers to add your email to the whitelist.

    Microsoft bypasses their filter when your email is whitelisted, or marked as safe.

  5. Keep a consistent email frequency
    We all know that consistency is key in all areas of life, and this is true for sending email. Sending sporadic emails leads your subscribers forgetting who you are.

    More importantly: On the other hand, sending multiple emails in a short space of time can also irritate your subscribers! Aim to strike a balance by monitoring the open rates to figure out the amount you should send.

    Emailing at set times and days secures familiarity with your subscribers, while keeping them in the loop about your offerings.

    When you begin sending emails from a dedicated IP, it’s also important to consider warming up your email. Gradually increasing your volume while targeting your most active subscribers will help to build a good reputation with ISPs such as Hotmail.

  6. Avoid Spam Traps
    Spam traps are email addresses used as a fraud management tool by ISPs, anti-spam organisations and blacklist providers to identify spammers. They are often created from out-of-date email addresses or by the organisations themselves.

    Ensure your lists are clean by taking caution when sending to old inactive mailboxes. Most often, it’s easier to just delete them in case they have become spam traps.

    One way to avoid spam traps is by dealing with the source. At Inboxroad, we recommend you use the double opt-in forms in your signup process. This process involves your subscribers signing up first through a subscription form, and then receiving an email with a verification link to confirm that they signed up to your list. This way, you know that everyone who joins your list is an actual human.

    In order to track spam traps, use the Microsoft SNDS portal that provides information about IPs. This portal gives you the data that you need to understand and improve your reputation at Outlook.com. Here, you can find detailed information for a specific IP such as the amount of emails sent, the complaint rate, and the amount of spam trap hits. At Inboxroad we monitor this for all our customers.

  7. Check if you are blacklisted often
    If you have a feeling that your emails are not getting through as your open rates have plummeted, you can check your IP address or sending domain on either MultiRBL or MxToolbox to see if you are listed. If you do find that you are listed, it is not the end of the world since it is likely that you are able to remove your IP address or sending domain. You will need to first discover the reasons as to why you have been blacklisted from the information provided on the site, and then take your time to resolve these issues.At Inboxroad we will proactively delist our customers and inform them on the latest status.

    In addition to this also check if urls in your content are listed or inactive. It’s always better to act on these listings as soon as possible, therefore we advise you to check this on a daily basis. You can test these by sending your email to a tool like mail-tester.

 

Get started today

You can apply the above steps in a number of hours. Why not get started today!

A few tips may take some brainstorming, for example optin-forms and keeping a consistent stream of emails going out at a set time every week. Whereas others require a quick update of DNS records.

With Inboxroad, we’ll provide you with a clear dashboard to view all your Hotmail email deliverability statistics and much more. We safely deliver and manage all of your emails so you don’t have to worry about delisting. Contact us today if you would like to chat about how to apply the above email deliverability tips, or to discuss your current mailing system.