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There is a meme going around the email marketing industry right now that takes the term “best practices” as it relates to email, and reduces it to “common practices.”

This is a very dangerous, slippery slope on which to pin your email deliverability. To suggest that best practices aren’t really best practices, but only ‘common practices’, reduces them to less imperative practices.

Make no mistake – as far as those receiving and delivering your email are concerned, there are very definitely “best practices”, and they want you to follow them if you want them to accept and deliver your email.

Moreover, many “common practices” are not best practices at all. For example, it’s surprisingly (shockingly, in fact) common for otherwise legitimate email senders to not remove from their mailing lists email addresses which are bouncing in a timely manner – if at all. However, anybody who thinks that removing bouncing addresses is a “nice thing to do”, and not a best practice, is sadly mistaken. They would be similarly mistaken to think that they can ignore it as a best practice and not suffer the consquence.

Reducing what have finally become acknowledged as best practices (such as using confirmed or double opt-in, responsible bounce handling, and instant removal from lists of those requesting to be unsubscribed) to something which appears to have less authority about it (“common practices”) may make senders feel better about not doing these things – but it doesn’t change that they are generally accepted in the email industry – and particularly by email receivers such as ISPs and spam filters – as, well, best practices.

Which means, if you choose not to follow these best practices, well, caveat emptor. You may get away with it, but you are much more likely to find that your email starts going to the junk folder more and more often.

And when that happens, and when an ISP demands proof that a subscriber complaining that you are spamming them actually subscribed (which is where COI or DOI sure comes in handy), or when the ISP tells you that you are being dinged because you continue to send email to addresses that are bouncing, try responding with “but those are just common practices, not best practices.”

Then let us know how it works for you.


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