We writers can live and die by our mailing lists. I wish I’d have known years ago what I know about them now—I would have started building and maintaining mine right away! But a mailing list is only good if people read your newsletters/posts.
I could talk all day about crafting content that matters or how to engage with/acquire new subscribers (you can search through my archives for more) but there’s a little key that you ought to know about to improve visibility: the whitelist.
The chances are high that some of your messages are going to your readers spam or promotions folders. Filters have gotten very aggressive in order to battle spam; this is a good thing—it has brought something of a renaissance to email which seemed like it had almost left the sphere of public interest as a communication medium due to the deluge of spammers, bots, and general junk mail.
Behind all of these automated systems and online resources there are algorithms. Math, meh. Your email service providers measure, weigh and assess all of the mail received and sent to pick and choose what most belongs in the spam folder and promotions folders. If you repeatedly open messages from a sender it will probably be assessed as worthy of the main inbox. If other service providers (they share limited information) report things as spam (or if you report it as spam) it will be rerouted appropriately. Getting a reader to add you to the protected sender list will ensure that your messages go to the inbox all the time. The method is different for every sender, however, so it might be difficult to walk new readers through every method since you can’t possibly be familiar with them all.
There is a handy, free tool I discovered that helps authors with this. In my first couple of emails with new subscribers I push the white-list with a simple link. I host a page on my website that allows a reader to pick his or her provider and get step by step instructions that will walk them through how to add you to their protected sender list.
The best way to keep your emails listed as relevant to your readers, whether or not they have you whitelisted, is to make sure that you write engaging, relevant content that is worth reading and building relationships with your readership. If you need some help and guidance with that, I highly recommend Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque… but definitely offer your readers the chance to whitelist your address and encourage them to add you.