Getting to the Inbox – Let’s Talk Email Deliverability

First, let’s agree on what Email Deliverability is. A successful email will arrive in the inbox of your recipient as intended, but that’s not always what actually happens. Several things can happen to your emails along the way. Some are filtered into the spam folder, blocked by the users’ ISP, or bounce back.

There is some confusion as to what your true email deliverability rate actually means. It does not reflect whether your email messages are going into the spam folder. If you email was delivered (even to the junk folder), it counts as a successful delivery to the address. The email service provider has various safeguards in place to decide whether the email goes to the inbox or not.

Email Deliverability

You can calculate your email deliverability rate by dividing the number of delivered emails by your list of emails sent. This is your email deliverability rate. (The industry average is about 80%). Emails that were not delivered to the recipient may not exist, or the data was entered into the system with errors. Other reasons why your emails may not be delivered include:

  • the email address has been deactivated
  • the email service provider system is down
  • the recipients’ inbox is full

Basically, any email that was sent to an invalid destination account is considered an undeliverable email.

What is your email deliverability rate? If it’s below the industry average, you may be missing out on a lot of business and potential opportunities. Luckily, there are ways to improve email deliverability by taking precautions in a number of key areas such as reputation and authentication.

The Truth about Email Deliverability

Email Deliverability can be a major issue for companies that rely on email communication to drive their business forward. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t even consider there current email deliverability rate until they have run into problems. Sometimes business owners assume that their email messages were delivered simply because they did not receive a bounce notification – but this is not true. In fact, up to 20% of emails (even opted-in) never make it to the recipients’ inbox.

Some of these messages contain important information that your customers need to continue working with your business. This could include:

  • password requests
  • shipping details
  • membership confirmations

How much potential revenue could your business miss out on if these emails are not received? For large email lists, 20% is a lot of missing emails. If you are struggling with a poor email deliverability rate, here are some techniques and best practices you can use to improve it.

Sender Reputation

Your sender reputation has a lot to do with your email campaigns ability to reach the inbox. A poor reputation will send signals to the Internet Service Provider that you are not to be trusted, and that your emails offer no value to the user. This means that your emails may go directly to the spam folder when they are sent, not the inbox.

There a number of metrics that go into your sender reputation, including the format of your emails, your sending volume, and user activity such as spam complaints. The list below outlines all of the signals of a good sender reputation. The better you get at these aspects, the better your sending reputation will become.

  • Sender Reputation Best Practices
  • Format your emails properly (including properly coded HTML)
  • Send in a consistent volume (stay consistent)
  • Maintain a low complaint rate (less than 0.1%)
  • Avoid spam traps and bounces (regularly clean your data)
  • Don’t get blacklisted! (Following the tips above will avoid this)

Easy Ways to Improve Email Deliverability

Some red flags should go up if you are noticing a poor email deliverability rate of your email campaigns. If you’re seeing a lot of bounced emails and a delivery rate that is dropping, it’s best to diagnose the issues and repair the obvious ones. The problem will only get worse over time.

One of the first measures you can take to improve deliverability is to monitor the email addresses that are signing up to your list. Unfortunately, many users will mistype their email address when they enter it into the submission form.

Its impossible to spot all of the errors, but at least have a look at your subscriber list to see if they have the basics right. This includes confirming the “@” symbol in the address, as well as the “.com” or similar extension to filter out the obvious bad emails from your system.

Regularly run your email list through a list cleaning/verification tool to remove bad emails. This simple step can save you countless headaches in the long run. An email validation tool can automate the list cleaning process and save you time and money.

Have a look at this eye-opening infographic created by

email deliverability best practices

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