Why Whitelisting Matters for Email Marketers

July 12, 2017

Tim Starr

Tim Starr

From concept, to creation, to coding, email marketing takes a lot of effort. Which is why there’s no worse feeling than having your emails end up in the spam folder.  

As email marketers, we’ve all experienced this disappointment, despite our best efforts to adhere to deliverability guidelines. But there’s one practice you might not be using that can make the difference between arriving in the inbox and ending up in spam.  

We’re talking, of course, about whitelisting.  

If you’re not familiar with the term, whitelisting is when subscribers add your email to their address book. But why is it so important?  

Whitelisting is a great way of letting ISPs know that subscribers value receiving your emails. More than that, it means all the effort you put into your emails is much less likely to be wasted on the spam folder. Getting your list to live up to its full potential means always aiming for better deliverability, and there’s no easier way than whitelisting. 

There are two main ways you can go about getting in your subscribers good (address) books, both of which require little effort, but offer big inbox placement rewards.

Whitelisting, Served Two Ways:

1. The Traditional:

It may seem a little bold, but being upfront with your subscribers can often yield the best results. Simply asking to be added to the address book works surprisingly well when you’re looking to get whitelisted.  

The big benefit of this method is that after you ask, each subscriber can go about adding your address however their ISP requires them to. Without having to get into too much detail, you’ll be able to spur subscribers into action.  

If you opt for The Traditional, taking the time to incorporate this request into your welcome email greatly increases your odds of getting whitelisted. Welcome emails have some of the best deliverability rates of any email format, and you can use this elevated engagement to your advantage.  

But even if they don’t add you to their address book on the first email, incorporating a brief reminder and instructions in the pre-header of your subsequent emails offers further opportunities for whitelisting.   

But bear in mind that this method has drawbacks, namely that it requires subscribers to manually input your address. While it might not seem like a big hurdle, it’s one more action your subscribers need to take, and one they may not know exactly how to do.

2. The Custom: 

Which brings us to the second option for getting whitelisted: The Custom.  

While there’s no single best way for customizing your whitelist request, we’ve found these methods that tend to work well.  

The basis of a good customized whitelist request starts with building a dedicated page on your website to describe the process and benefits behind adding your email to the address book.  

But don’t just stop there. Use this page as an opportunity to educate site visitors and position your company as an informed and legitimate email sender. By building this authority on your site, subscribers are more likely to trust the emails they receive from your company.  

If you’re wondering where to put this page, look no further than your subscription thank-you page. Reaching subscribers at the perfect moment, the thank you page (like the welcome email) lets you leverage the increased engagement of new subscribers to your advantage.  

Once you've made this page, make it work for you by adding a link in your subsequent emails that leads back to it. Leaving a small reminded in your emails allows subscribers plenty of opportunities to add you to their address book when the time works for them. 


But after all this work to get whitelisted, be sure you don't waste your efforts by sending bad emails. Getting added to the address book is a sign of trust from your subscribers, trust you can't afford to abuse. Once you've been whitelisted, earn your place in the inbox with creative, compelling content that offers your subscribers something interesting. After all, email marketing is about your subscribers and what you give them in exchange for access to their inbox.

New Call-to-action

How to Reduce your Email Campaign
Creation time to ZERO