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We’ve talked more than once here about how not just your content, but the formatting of your content, can make a big difference to your email deliverability. It’s something on which we cannot put too fine a point, as some people just don’t get it – others don’t believe it – and yet others feel that it shouldn’t matter, gosh darnit, especially if their list building practices are kosher and their users really want their email.

But it does matter.

First of all, it’s your job to remind your users that they really want your email – each and every time they open an email from you, they should be reminded of just how much they want it.

And we don’t mean by your telling them “You want this email,” or “You have requested this email,” or “You are getting this email because you signed up,” – in fact that’s a great way to get your email blocked.

No, we mean, by making your email as appealing and readable as possible to them.

Here’s why it matters: if they open your email and either don’t recognize it as being something they asked to receive, or simply don’t like the looks of it, they will likely as not mark it as “spam”.

And, over time, as enough of your users do that, your email will start getting sent to the junk folder.

As we said, we’ve discussed this before. But it doesn’t stop people from ignoring it. In fact, the reason that it’s at the fore of our minds right now is that it has just been brought home, in spades, to someone that we are working with. They have a 100% confirmed opt-in list. In fact, some of their users pay to receive their mailings. But they are going to the junk folder at Gmail. Because they didn’t listen. And when we say that they didn’t listen, we mean that our CEO personally stood in front of them and gave them a custom 2-hour talk – for which they paid to fly her in – in which she personally explained all of this to them.

But they didn’t listen. Or, they didn’t believe us.

Why are they going to the junk folder at Gmail? Because their email is hard to read. It has lots of HTML – big fonts, colors, you name it – it looks like an HTML factory threw up in their email. Which makes it look spammy. Oh, except for their unsubscribe link, which is in a much smaller font, of course.

So Gmail users are hitting “this is spam” instead of delete or unsubscribe (which in itself would be bad enough, as if you are alienating your mailing list they sure as heck aren’t buying from you).

And because Gmail, like so many other web-based email providers, listens to their users, when enough of them say “this is spam”, Gmail believes them, and into the junk folder you go.

So listen to us when we say that it isn’t enough to have scrupulously clean list building practices. It’s a necessary, but by no means sufficient, element towards good email delivery. Put another way, it’s a good start – it will get you through the door, but list mailing is a lot like dating – getting in the door isn’t enough; you have to impress the other person, and continue to impress them. You have to make your users fall in love with you all over again with each and every email. And that never changes.

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