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The company I work for sends a marketing email at least one time per week using Mailchimp's email service. All of our subscribers are opt-in active customers and our emails are not spammy. There is an above average text to image ratio, and copy does not contain 'spammy' words.

However, we've recently started noticing that our emails are being filters to spam significantly more often.

According to Mailchimp, by using their internal authentication our campaigns will pass SenderID, SPF, DomainKeys, and DKIM checks.

What else can I do to reduce the likelihood of our emails going to peoples spam folder, and Gmails promotions tab?

Email Header

From =?utf-8?Q?The=20Bouq=27aneers?= Mon Mar 24 12:39:14 2014
X-Apparently-To: theodore.boulard@yahoo.com via 98.136.214.242; Mon, 24 Mar 2014 19:39:15 +0000
Return-Path: <bounce-mc.us4_17409995.559249-theodore.boulard=yahoo.com@mail138.us4.mcsv.net>
Received-SPF: pass (domain of mail138.us4.mcsv.net designates 205.201.128.138 as permitted sender)
 IHRyb3VibGUgdmlld2luZyB0aGlzIGVtYWlsPyBTSE9QIEFMTCBDT05DSUVS
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X-YMailISG: tsr6Z3gWLDuDWnRFocC4J9MhIkx2qKNSex7ftoHa_Xxr3dt6
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 aku0LhTM2YhGRmVD5jEVSM5Wk2rqpRQ7JxgT8vs1uNeVIl9347dmch92BgxD
 AauYKRHihzaU_kE7XGW_k8F42D6XbJ4IhydGJW8NA_iCveJZSBfETypwQW1_
 U0GbF84Kqs_q3AC1gDX2tDSxLUZr7o3P52iKJez0qRJLWFbBVtu8hksGj47z
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 v7yavzOaY_1K4spod2qylk2F0gOTNFyqzRA8iasaLw--
X-Originating-IP: [205.201.128.138]
Authentication-Results: mta1290.mail.bf1.yahoo.com  from=mail138.us4.mcsv.net; domainkeys=pass (ok);  from=mail138.us4.mcsv.net; dkim=pass (ok)
Received: from 127.0.0.1  (EHLO mail138.us4.mcsv.net) (205.201.128.138)
  by mta1290.mail.bf1.yahoo.com with SMTP; Mon, 24 Mar 2014 19:39:15 +0000
DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha1; c=relaxed/relaxed; s=k1; d=mail138.us4.mcsv.net;
 h=From:Reply-To:To:Date:Message-ID:List-Unsubscribe:Sender:Subject:Content-Type:MIME-Version; i=service=3Dthebouqs.com@mail138.us4.mcsv.net;
 bh=bObuRS8aqvaGI3hZvjmTUJYN9IM=;
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   r7+z7EyCI+6HSv9eNgs=
DomainKey-Signature: a=rsa-sha1; c=nofws; q=dns; s=k1; d=mail138.us4.mcsv.net;
 b=NRK0hrLVYnqs0t5dploysMvTOF9sij70v6O6ROg/El5qDTGnoOnMvqbaJXaqvNZ9tXW38ip4+es8
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   DY3vYdB8EteGo4VpmRk=;
Received: from (127.0.0.1) by mail138.us4.mcsv.net id h624u6174lge for <theodore.boulard@yahoo.com>; Mon, 24 Mar 2014 19:39:14 +0000 (envelope-from <bounce-mc.us4_17409995.559249-theodore.boulard=yahoo.com@mail138.us4.mcsv.net>)
From: =?utf-8?Q?The=20Bouq=27aneers?= <service@thebouqs.com>
Reply-To:  <us4-845b9b6174-ed7573511d@inbound.mailchimp.com>
To: =?utf-8?Q?=3C=3C=20Test=20First=20Name=20=3E=3E?= <theodore.boulard@yahoo.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2014 19:39:14 +0000
Message-ID: <e9c7499aeda15720c6e28fa94.20140324193906@mail138.us4.mcsv.net>
X-Mailer: MailChimp Mailer - **CIDa9958ea379**
X-Campaign: mailchimpe9c7499aeda15720c6e28fa94.a9958ea379
X-campaignid: mailchimpe9c7499aeda15720c6e28fa94.a9958ea379
X-Report-Abuse: Please report abuse for this campaign here: http://www.mailchimp.com/abuse/abuse.phtml?u=e9c7499aeda15720c6e28fa94&id=a9958ea379&e=
X-MC-User: e9c7499aeda15720c6e28fa94
X-Feedback-ID: 17409995:17409995.559249:us4:mc
X-Accounttype: pd
List-Unsubscribe: <mailto:unsubscribe-e9c7499aeda15720c6e28fa94-a9958ea379-@mailin1.us2.mcsv.net?subject=unsubscribe>, <http://TheBouqs.us4.list-manage.com/unsubscribe?u=e9c7499aeda15720c6e28fa94&id=6f70b006f7&e=&c=a9958ea379>
Sender: "The Bouq'aneers" <service=thebouqs.com@mail138.us4.mcsv.net>
x-istest: yes
Subject: =?utf-8?Q?=5BTest=5D=20=5BTEST=5D=20Spring=20has=20Sprung=20Reminder?=
x-mcda: TRUE
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="_----------=_MCPart_1211447354"
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Length: 41034

Screenshot (Desktop on left, Mobile on right)

Isnotspam.com Test Results

SPF Check : pass Sender-ID Check : pass DomainKeys Check : neutral DKIM Check : pass

SpamAssassin Check : ham (non-spam)

Details:

HELO hostname: mail94.us2.mcsv.net Source IP: 173.231.139.94 mail-from: service@thebouqs.com

Anonymous To: ins-i5vpjpax@isnotspam.com

SPF check details:

Result: pass ID(s) verified: smtp.mail=service@thebouqs.com DNS record(s): thebouqs.com. 300 IN TXT "v=spf1 include:spf.protection.outlook.com -all" thebouqs.com. 300 IN TXT "v=spf1 mx include:_spf.google.com ~all"


Sender-ID check details:

Result: pass

ID(s) verified: smtp.mail=service@thebouqs.com DNS record(s): thebouqs.com. 300 IN TXT "v=spf1 include:spf.protection.outlook.com -all" thebouqs.com. 300 IN TXT "v=spf1 mx include:_spf.google.com ~all"


DomainKeys check details:

Result: neutral (message not signed) ID(s) verified: header.From=service@thebouqs.com Selector= domain= DomainKeys DNS Record=


DKIM check details:

Result: pass ID(s) verified: header.From=service@thebouqs.com Selector=k1 domain=mail94.us2.mcsv.net DomainKeys DNS Record=k1._domainkey.mail94.us2.mcsv.net


SpamAssassin check details:

SpamAssassin v3.3.1 (2010-03-19)

Result: ham (non-spam) (0-1.9points, 10.0 required)

pts rule name description


  • -0.0 RCVD_IN_DNSWL_NONE RBL: Sender listed at http://www.dnswl.org/, no
  • trust
  • [173.231.139.94 listed in list.dnswl.org]
  • -0.0 RCVD_IN_IADB_UT_CPR_MAT RBL: IADB: Sends no material under Utah's
  • CPR
  • [173.231.139.94 listed in iadb.isipp.com]
  • -0.1 RCVD_IN_IADB_DK RBL: IADB: Sender publishes Domain Keys record
  • -0.0 RCVD_IN_IADB_SENDERID RBL: IADB: Sender publishes Sender ID record
  • -0.2 RCVD_IN_IADB_RDNS RBL: IADB: Sender has reverse DNS record
  • -2.2 RCVD_IN_IADB_VOUCHED RBL: ISIPP IADB lists as vouched-for sender
  • -0.0 RCVD_IN_IADB_LISTED RBL: Participates in the IADB system
  • -0.1 RCVD_IN_IADB_SPF RBL: IADB: Sender publishes SPF record
  • -0.0 SPF_HELO_PASS SPF: HELO matches SPF record
  • -0.0 SPF_PASS SPF: sender matches SPF record
  • -0.4 RP_MATCHES_RCVD Envelope sender domain matches handover relay domain
  • 1.0 DK_SIGNED DK_SIGNED
  • 0.1 HTML_MESSAGE BODY: HTML included in message
  • 0.0 BAYES_50 BODY: Bayes spam probability is 40 to 60%
  • [score: 0.5000]
  • 0.1 DKIM_SIGNED Message has a DKIM or DK signature, not necessarily
  • valid
  • -0.1 DKIM_VALID Message has at least one valid DKIM or DK signature X-Spam-Status: Yes, hits=-1.9 required=-20.0 tests=BAYES_50,DKIM_SIGNED, DKIM_VALID,DK_SIGNED,HTML_MESSAGE,RCVD_IN_DNSWL_NONE,RCVD_IN_IADB_DK, RCVD_IN_IADB_LISTED,RCVD_IN_IADB_RDNS,RCVD_IN_IADB_SENDERID,RCVD_IN_IADB_SPF, RCVD_IN_IADB_UT_CPR_MAT,RCVD_IN_IADB_VOUCHED,RP_MATCHES_RCVD,SPF_HELO_PASS, SPF_PASS autolearn=no version=3.3.1 X-Spam-Score: -1.9
share|improve this question
2  
Can you post the full headers of one of the emails here? That may, or may not help to give you a good answer. If you don't know how to get the headers, you can, for instance, send an email to a hotmail account and when you are reading the message look for the option "full headers" or "source code of the email". Something like that is called. –  PatomaS Mar 25 at 1:02
    
I've updated my question with the headers as you requested. Thanks for the review. –  dcc Mar 25 at 16:30

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

To be honest with you I would like to think that Mail Chimp will have spf records and domain keys etc all sorted out and generally keeping the reputation of their infrastructure clean.

Hence I would imagine this will be issues with your content and interactions from your recipients.

A couple of things I have noticed straight off.

It looks quite image heavy there are spam rules regarding the balance of images to text.

My understanding is that spam filters cant check what is on an image hence is one preferred route for spammers to use. You can apparently fill the images alt text with a couple of relevant paragraphs to circumvent this. But make sure you dot just use the same paragraphs lots as this will look like duplicate content.

In addition to this there are a bunch of online tools that can check for spammy characteristics of your message. Such as -

http://www.emailspamtest.com/
http://isnotspam.com/

Also an issue we had was people who no longer wanted our emails just junked us. This is really damaging for your reputation its much more preferable that they unsubscribe. We moved our opt-out link to the top of our email and made it prominent rather than in the footer text and we belie that this helped.

Also the frequency and relevancy of your email messages to your users will also affect the number of times you are junked.

Deliverability will always remain somewhat of a dark art though - good luck!

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for users hitting "This is spam" instead of unsubscribing. We see the same behaviors and GMail, Yahoo and AOL makes this particularly easy for users to do. The problem is that hitting the spam button teaches those networks (and others) that you're a spammer and overall delivery rates go down. –  JCL1178 Mar 25 at 17:34
    
Oh yes, I know the email is image heavy, it's a constant battle with marketing+design vs dev. But I've run our emails against nearly every one of these only testing tools I've been able to find (and thanks for your links, I didn't know about these) but the score I get is always good. I'll post the results of the test I just ran on isnotspam.com in my question. Thx –  dcc Mar 25 at 17:47
3  
Design vs Dev the never ending battle continues ;-) –  megasteve4 Mar 25 at 18:02

There are many things that we can't say for sure because the spam world and spam filters are a never ending battle and constantly adding new rules and new ways to avoid rules. But a few things on those headers have caused problems on some clients.

X-Apparently-To

Many people has rules stating that if they are not a clear recipient addressed on the to field the mail should be discarded.

Return-Path

Although technically correct, this header has bad elements, for instance, it includes the word bounce, which some filters may use to redirect or prevent the mail to reach the inbox. That header indicates a real bounce address from your company, but any problem parsing it makes the email a message without return-path, which is basic for not being considered spam.

Subject and encoding of the message

You have non standard characters on the subject, not completely unseen, but not the most standard way, plus the encoding of the mail seems wrong, to me it looks that the system is relying on the default behaviour of clients to assume a default of utf-8. If you can control that, ensure that you set the content-type, either iso-8859-1 or utf-8 whichever is right for you.

In any case, nothing seems to be a show stopper, so most probably the problem is related to specific rules that you clients have. If you can run a small study with some of your users to find out their rules and email clients that may help to improve the situation.

share|improve this answer

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