A lot of businesses spend time and energy creating emails but, what if those emails never get to the recipients’ inboxes? What if they always end up in the spam folder or the promotions tabs instead? It’s something that’s happening more often than you might think. Luckily, there is a very simple solution: email whitelisting.

“The From line is what recipients use to determine whether to delete an email. The subject line is what motivates people to actually open the email.” – Loren McDonald

There might be some people who believe that email whitelisting is a permanent, direct path to the inbox of any ISP – with no filtering applied – and that might’ve been true long, long ago. However, email systems have evolved and are much more sophisticated now.

In this article, we’ll cover the following email whitelisting topics:

  1. What is an email whitelist?
  2. What are the benefits of email whitelisting?
  3. How to whitelist email addresses in different email clients?

Let’s dive in.

What is email whitelisting?

In the world of email, whitelisting is a way for email providers (such as Gmail) to allocate special privileges to certain trusted senders or domains. Basically, it allows emails from certain sources – like EmailOut – to be allowed into your inbox.

An email whitelist is a list of approved or ‘safe’ email senders that tells your email client that you know and trust the email address (or addresses) you are getting messages from. More often than not, users have to manually add a domain or a sender’s address to the whitelist within their email client. The process varies between the different email clients.

Another relevant and important term, especially for email marketers, is email blacklisting. A blacklist is a real-time database put together by an ISP to help protect subscribers from harmful content. It identifies known domains or IP addresses which send spammy emails. If you end up on an email blacklist, your email will get flagged by spam filters and your message will not get through to your subscribers – at all. Take a look at our articles about improving email deliverability and sender score reputation to learn more on the matter and ensure you won’t be blacklisted.

The Benefits of Email Whitelisting: Why Do It?

You shouldn’t be afraid to ask your subscribers to whitelist your email address. Plenty of people don’t even realise that they have this ability. Just make it an easy, friendly request and if you include a ‘how-to’ link to the instructions, users can do it even more easily. Also, by doing this, you can position your brand as helpful – which most definitely is a plus. Shocking how easy it is, isn’t it?

Of course, just politely asking subscribers to whitelist your email address doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s guaranteed that they’ll do it. For example, if someone has just discovered your brand or product, they might be excited about it but still a little bit hesitant to give you an affirmative ‘thumbs up’. Additionally, if they have no clue what whitelisting even means, they’ll probably have no idea what doing it will entail. So, explain it to them. Let them know that by whitelisting your email address all they are doing is ensuring the emails they get from you won’t end up in the spam folder. However, it’s imperative to make them aware that they can unsubscribe at any time. Thus, always remember to have an unsubscribe link in your email.

You can incorporate email whitelisting instructions in your ‘welcome email’ or on your ‘thank you’ page. Our advice, make a straightforward suggestion for your subscribers to whitelist your email address in your ‘welcome email’. Here are a few reasons as to why –

  • Email whitelisting leads to improved deliverability
  • Your subscribers will not miss an email. After all, they already subscribed to your marketing emails because they knew you will deliver value straight to their inboxes.
  • The email you’ve worked so hard on will hit your subscribers’ inbox every time. More eyes on your email message means better results for your email marketing campaigns.

A common approach is adding a short message to your email content. For example – “To keep receiving emails from us, please add us to your address book.”It’s direct but not pushy. 

Overall, asking subscribers to whitelist your email address is one of the simplest ways of ensuring you are doing the most you can to get your emails in front of your intended audience.

After all that work you’ve put into crafting the perfect email campaigns, why shouldn’t you make all the necessary steps to improve your email marketing metrics?

How to whitelist email addresses in different email clients?

Gmail

  1. Log into your account and open your inbox.
  2. Place the mouse cursor over the sender’s name and a window will pop up. 
  3. Simply select ‘Add to Contacts’ to save the sender to your contact list. That’s it.

Yahoo!

  1. Open the message.
  2. Click ‘Add contact’ located next to the From name and address and add the sender to your list.

Hotmail

  1. Locate the message from the desired sender.
  2. Next to the From name and address, click on ‘Mark as Safe’.
  3. Then add the email address to your contact.

Outlook 2003 – 2007

  1. Open the email of the sender you wish to whitelist.
  2. Right-click on the email address in the From field.
  3. Click on the ‘Add to contacts’ link.
  4. Then click OK.

Outlook 2010 / Outlook 2013

  1. Locate the email sender you want to whitelist then right-click on the email.
  2. Select ‘Junk’.
  3. Choose from the available options – Never block sender, Never block sender’s domain, Never block this group or mailing list, Not junk or navigate to the Junk options to choose – or adjust – the level of protection. 

Verizon

  1. Navigate to ‘Options’.
  2. Select ‘Block Senders’.
  3. Type your trusted address or domain in the Safe List.
  4. Just click OK.

Comcast (Xfinity)

  1. Click ‘Address Book’.
  2. Go to ‘New Contact’ and add the email address you wish to whitelist.
  3. Then click Save.

Thunderbird

  1. Find the message from the sender you want to whitelist and open it.
  2. Right-click on the email address in the From field.
  3. Go to ‘Add to Address Book’.
  4. Click OK.

MSN

  1. Go to ‘Help & Settings’.
  2. Click on ‘Email Settings’ then on ‘Safe List’.
  3. Type the specific email address or just use @domainname.com to whitelist the domain in the ‘Add an item to this list’.
  4. Then simply click ‘Add’.

Final Thoughts

We hope we’ve addressed any hesitation you might’ve had when it comes to email whitelisting. To be honest, there’s no real reason not to request your recipients to whitelist you.

Your deliverability rates might be outstanding but spam filters can still ‘tag’ your email before it reaches the subscribers’ inbox. After all, when the only constant thing about algorithms is the frequency they change, you never know when there’d be a sudden shift in your deliverability and you end up missing out on an opportunity to connect with dedicated subscribers.

Ah, an important thing to keep in mind is that whilst email whitelisting is helpful in reaching the inbox, you won’t stay there long if the subscribers dislike what they’re getting from you. Therefore, keep striving for the most relevant, useful content possible.

In conclusion, sending marketing emails from a verified sender means you get to leave all those worries in the dust. Despite any unexpected changes from Gmail or Apple mail (or any other email clients that may emerge in the future), you can rest easy knowing your email marketing will always land in the right place. So, have you chosen your trusted email marketing provider yet?

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