When I take my weekly spin class at the local gym, the instructor is constantly reminding the class to breathe. So often we go as fast as we can, with all our effort expended toward rapid short-term gains, when instead we should relax, stay focused, and breathe.

Successful email marketing strategy is a lot like my spin class: We start with a predefined warm-up, slowly move into the heart of the workout (remembering to breathe), and finish with a focused, well deserved cool-down. I wonder if spin class should be a requirement for email marketers.

No email marketing campaign should be attempted without a warm-up phase, which includes verifying the integrity of your list: Did all the recipients opt in to receive your mailing? Did you set subscriber expectations during the opt-in process—e.g., type and frequency of your mailings?

Mailing lists with more than 10% undeliverable email addresses is a red flag to Internet service providers (ISP)s. Sending to recipients who previously unsubscribed will lead to spam complaints and ISP blocks. If you are unsure about the integrity of your list, don't send to it, or send to a small sample and analyze the results before using the entire list.

During the warm-up phase it is equally import to make sure you have a professional presence in cyberspace. You should have a public WHOIS record for easy domain identification. You also need a well-defined privacy policy on all landing pages.

Use different Internet protocol (IP) addresses for your transactional mail and your marketing mail. And contact the ISPs about having your IP addresses added to their feedback loops and whitelists. Information is available at the ISP's postmaster site, or if you are using an email service provider (ESP), it should be able to assist you.

Finally, you need to stay current on authentication technologies. Having your Domain Name System (DNS) record in order with Sender Policy Framework (SPF) records, DomainKeys and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) will help ensure your warm-up is complete.

Now you are ready to work out.

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Louis Chatoff is the deliverability manager for StreamSend Email Marketing Service (www.streamsend.com).