Six Methods for Managing Email Permission & Deliverability

This post was written by Paul DeBoer, Marketing Implementations Consultant at Kicksaw, and last updated on 3/29/21.

It’s All About that Reputation

Good email marketing hinges on sender reputation. If you have a good sender reputation, your emails will be delivered at a higher rate (to the recipient’s inbox), you’ll experience higher open rates, and your click-through rates will be higher too. If you have a bad sender reputation, though, you will see low delivery rates (or your message will be delivered to the recipient’s spam folder), low opens, and low click-through rates — plus you risk complete suspension of your ability to send emails at all. Clearly, sender reputation is of utmost importance, so maintaining it needs to be a high priority in your marketing operations.

To keep your sender reputation stellar, you need to gather permission from your recipients. There are two types of permission: implied and express.

  • Implied permission means that you likely have a business relationship with them (for example, they’re a current customer).
  • Express permission is when someone gives you permission to send them emails (for example, they fill in a form on your site or agree to hear more from you when a sales rep contacts them via a one-to-one email or phone call).

Avoiding Spam

Research shows that average open rates across all industries for emails are around 30% (with a click-through rate of 20%) when emailing those who have given permission, both implied and express. When emailing those who haven’t given permission, though, that average open rate drops to around 2%, with a click-through rate of 0.2%.

When you signed the contract for your marketing automation platform, you agreed to abide by their email guidelines. Marketing automation software providers pay attention to senders who fall outside their tolerance threshold for spam reports. For example, both Hubspot’s and Pardot’s tolerance is one spam complaint per every 1,000 emails sent.

Sending to a new list is enticing because it can yield fresh prospects, but remember that you run the risk of harming your deliverability to your existing prospects, and even potentially to your members! Worse yet, if your marketing automation software provider sees you as an abuser, your ability to send emails can be revoked, which will severely limit your capabilities of using the platform you’re paying for and put a black mark on your reputation. On top of that, you run the risk of being fined $750 per incident due to CCPA legislation.

There are times when you might run an ad or sponsor an event where registrants agree to hear from a third party (you) when they signup, but they may not know you explicitly. In this situation, there are a few strategies you can employ to email these leads that will help keep you off of the “spam radar” of your marketing platform.

Here are some insider tips on how to contact these leads.

For no-to-low risk leads:

  • Run a pass through an email validation service such as ZeroBounce or Impressionwise. This will help with removing invalid emails before you ever press “Send.” Impressionwise has the added ability to look for spam traps or honeypot email addresses, but it costs a little bit more.
  • Work with your Google Ads expert to target these email addresses with a remarketing campaign. Share this list with your expert and target the prospects with ads about your service, then drive them to your website for conversion.
  • Have your sales reps work through the list and send one-to-one emails or have conversations with the list members to see if they’d like to learn more about your service. Many marketing automation platforms allow you to create an email template within your CRM solution that can be put together quickly and sent out with just a few clicks.

For low-to-moderate risk leads:

  • Send a permission pass email allowing recipients to simply click a link to choose to hear more information from you, whether that be a phone call from a rep or future emails.

For moderate-to-high risk leads:

  • Send an email to a list that you know is responsive (such as your current customers) and add in a portion of these moderate-to-high risk email addresses. This reduces your risk of being reported as spam above the one out of 1,000 recipients threshold. The email you create for this send should be enticing and offer a way for these new recipients to signal that they want to hear more from you — just because they don’t report you as spam in this send doesn’t mean they won’t do it in the next. Always keep in mind that there is still the possibility that your spam complaints could be greater than 0.1% with this method.

For high-risk leads:

  • Send to the list either as a single send or in smaller sends. As with our suggestion for the moderate-to-high-risk leads, there is still the possibility that your spam complaints could be greater than 0.1% with this method.


As you’ve no doubt noticed, some of our suggestions are quite safe, while some carry varying degrees of risk of drawing the attention of Salesforce/your marketing platform or regulatory authorities, if you break CCPA legislation. Keep in mind that these send styles can be done in any combination, or you can choose to go all-in on one strategy. Consider the best steps for your business, as your sender reputation is at stake, and your reputation is directly tied to your ability to send emails to your customers and prospects.

If you need additional help creating a Marketing Ops strategy that will not only maintain your sender reputation but help you stand out from the crowd, reach out to us! We’d love to help boost your revenue team.

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