You are familiar with the procedure. Once more, one of your customers didn’t get the confirmation, receipt, sign-up key, or other communication they wanted. On the other end of the telephone is the irate customer.
What happened to my order confirmation? Did you receive my email properly? One of your sales reps finally understands what’s going on after much back and forth. They were not given an invitation to the user group, she claims. They reported that it was spam. The phone starts ringing once more while she is saying this.
This may sound familiar to you. Your email program likely needs to be updated if your customers aren’t receiving your transactional emails. We’ll first discuss the distinctions between email delivery and deliverability, after which we’ll list the four most frequent deliverability problems and explain how to avoid them.
- What is email deliverability?
- How good of an email deliverability rate is it?
- What distinguishes email delivery from email deliverability?
- Common issues with email delivery
- Email Deliverability’s Four Foundations
- Advice on how to increase email deliverability
What is email deliverability?
The ability to get emails to your recipients’ inboxes is known as email deliverability.
It can be difficult to assess the deliverability of your emails. It depends on a variety of factors, including the service provider, the sender’s domain, the caliber of the email list, email volume, IP reputation, and the overall reputation profile of the sender.
It is imperative to clarify that email deliverability is distinct from a delivery rate. Delivery rate shows what proportion of your emails, including those that end up in the spam folder, are really opened by your subscribers’ mailboxes. Deliverability is the indicator for inbox placement in the meantime.
Therefore, it is feasible to still experience deliverability problems even with a good delivery rate.
Measures of email deliverability include how frequently emails arrive in subscribers’ inboxes. It’s also known as inbox placement and is the most important measure because getting into the inbox is how your messages are opened.
Your ability to reach the inbox (or the spam folder) can depend on a number of things, including your IP address reputation, your overall sender reputation, whether the correct SPF and DKIM DNS entries are in place, and more.
It determines whether your email reaches the inbox, which is what you and everyone else care about, or none of your subscriber’s email boxes at all.
How good of an email deliverability rate is it?
A decent email deliverability rate is hard to pin down. Only 79% of commercial emails reach the inbox, according to Return Path email deliverability statistics. The remainder “either goes missing or is routed to a spam folder—most likely blacklisted by the mailbox provider.”
Every marketer wants their emails to reach all of their subscribers. Marketers unfortunately rarely attain such a high rate.
When monitoring your overall email deliverability, you should pay attention to the KPIs listed below:
- For a bulk email service provider, a delivery rate of 95% or greater is regarded as favorable.
- It is recommended that the bounce rate, which is divided into hard bounce and gentle bounce, not exceed 3%.
- As long as the spam rate doesn’t surpass 0.08%, you should be okay.
Your email deliverability somewhat depends on the emailing platform you choose. Delivery rates for emails vary amongst email service providers. They typically range from 88 to 99%.
What distinguishes email delivery from email deliverability?
Do not be misled by the names. Email Deliverability and Email Delivery are two distinct concepts.
The proportion of emails that are received by the mail servers of your subscriber’s Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as Gmail or Yahoo, is known as email delivery.
Make sure you have a return-path set up to receive that bounce information because emails that fail to reach the server are divided into soft and hard bounces and can damage your sender reputation.
The percentage of delivered emails that reach the inbox is known as email deliverability. Inbox providers will consider how users interact with the content of your emails in addition to your sender and IP reputations, email authentication records, and other factors when deciding whether to place your emails in the inbox or the spam folder.
A sender may have a high email delivery rate yet poor email deliverability. Outlook, for instance, can accept your email but immediately place it in the spam folder.
One of the most useful resources available to an organization is its email program, which can assist in achieving a high deliverability rate—the percentage of times your email is successfully delivered to the inbox of your target audience.
But if executed incorrectly, your program could lead to low deliverability rates, fewer clients, and a backlog of orders or services.
Common issues with email delivery
Email deliverability may be negatively impacted by a number of causes, such as incomplete email authentication, low engagement, or poor list quality. Finding the problem—which is frequently a combination of two or more of the aforementioned—is often the first step in improving your email deliverability.
Consider using authentication techniques like SPF and DKIM if you want to increase the deliverability of your emails. Making ensuring your DMARC record is configured, an email authentication measure to safeguard your domain from unauthorized senders faking their emails to appear as though they were sent by you, is another popular check.
The way users interact with the content of your emails will also be considered by inbox providers. The open rate and click rate are two positive engagement indications that inbox providers will consider when deciding where to send your emails, and together they make up your email engagement rate.
Deliverability issues might also result from poor email list quality. If your domain is included on an email blocklist like Spamhaus, some inbox providers will conduct a domain blocklist query, and if they accept your message at all, it may go directly to the spam bin.
Blocklist providers and ISPs maintain a list of spam traps, or email addresses maintained by bots rather than actual people, that are intended to catch senders who utilize shady sending techniques. Your emails will be blocked and not be delivered if one of those makes it into your email database.
Other indicators, such as sender score, which considers both your domain reputation and IP reputation, may also have an effect on your deliverability. These metrics are affected by the way you send messages. You’re already well on your way to avoiding serious problems if your email marketing efforts adhere to the best practices described in this post.
Email Deliverability’s Four Foundations
Here are the four essentials for ensuring that your emails land in your recipients’ inboxes and not their spam folders.
You need an email list if you own a business. Of course, you also need to send excellent emails. But what’s the point if those fantastic emails aren’t getting in to people’s inboxes?
If you’ve worked very hard on your email marketing but aren’t getting the results you desire, your email deliverability may need some assistance. I’ll outline the four essential elements that can assist more of your emails avoid spam folders and reach inboxes.
And if you don’t already have an email list, this will position you for success right away!
It all comes down to deliverability when it comes to email. Email deliverability: What is it? The possibility that your emails will arrive where you want them to—into recipients’ inboxes where they’ll really read them—is the straightforward definition.
The most elegant automations, the greatest copy, the best upsells, downsells, and follow-ups are all possible. But it’s all for naught if no one is receiving those emails in their inbox.
Here, you’re up against the email juggernauts Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, whose algorithms govern more than half of all inboxes worldwide. You must be aware of what they are seeking and adhere to their guidelines.
The good news is that staying on the algorithms’ good side is not that difficult. As long as they adhere to a few essential rules, everyone can avoid the spam folder.
The acronym RACE stands for the four basic pillars of email deliverability:
As with everything, reputation matters in business. Nobody will want to listen to you if you have a bad reputation.
You should concentrate on your sending reputation when it comes to email marketing.
As you can see, the major mailbox providers keep an eye on the emails you send and, more crucially, how recipients respond to them.
They will mark down your sending reputation when they notice more people labelling your emails as spam, ignoring them, or deleting them. Additionally, they are more likely to immediately push your emails to the spam bin.
The short explanation is that your entire email marketing strategy must be centered upon maintaining and enhancing your sending reputation.
How to Boost Your Sending Credibility
What can you then do to maintain and enhance your standing with the major email services?
Use common sense first. If you think you’re manipulating the system, you probably are, and you’ll eventually be exposed.
Downloading email address lists from the internet is a (not so great) example.
Sending emails exclusively to those who have specifically requested to be contacted by you is now the only ethical way to advance with your email list.
You’re considerably more likely to receive spam complaints if you buy a list and start sending emails to recipients who haven’t given you permission, which will damage your sending reputation.
And what is the sole definition of spam that the mailbox providers consider to be relevant? whatever the receiver perceives it to be.
There are companies that run email addresses known as spam traps, like Spamhaus and Cloudmark. If you send an email to a spam trap address, you can end up on blocklists that identify you as a sender with a bad reputation.
The only accurate description of spam? whatever the receiver perceives it to be.
It’s definitely preferable to have control over the data yourself, but if you do decide to purchase a list of addresses for some reason, make sure you absolutely trust the individual supplying it.
The next step is to frequently sanitize your email list. You’ll avoid falling victim to a rehashed spam trap that way.
Here’s how it functions.
Let’s say that ten years ago, Microsoft terminated your account because you ceased using your Hotmail address. Anyone attempting to email you for the next few months would get a message indicating that the mailbox did not exist.
However, Microsoft might reopen that address and use it again a few months down the road to find senders who weren’t maintaining the hygiene of their email list.
Send spam trap addresses enough emails, and you’ll be included to a blocklist.
To avoid being caught in recycled spam traps, only send emails to recipients who have indicated they want to hear from you. Additionally, maintain your email list clean.
The second essential component of raising your email deliverability is authentication.
It all comes down to proving to the world that you are sending genuine emails.
It’s likely that someone who used a bogus email address sent you spam. Spoofing an address you don’t own is quite simple, but authenticating one is more difficult.
There are two actions you must perform to authenticate your email address, which is what separates you from spammers.
The good news is that when you set up your email platform, you often only need to do this once.
There are a few acronyms used in the two authentication phases.
Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM)
Domain keys identified mail, or DKIM, is the first one. You can do this to make your email client digitally sign each message you send.
To precisely configure DKIM, you’ll need to look at your platform because each one does it a little bit differently. The most crucial factor that will determine whether your message lands in the spam bin or the inbox is probably for you to find someone who can assist you if you’re stuck.
Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
The sender policy framework, or SPF, is the second aspect of authentication.
SPF makes it possible to determine which mail servers are authorized to send emails on your domain’s behalf. The frequency of email spoofing—people pretending to send mail on your behalf—can be decreased by communicating which platforms you trust to send emails on your behalf. It is a one-time but important thing, similar to DKIM.
The two things mentioned earlier—configuring your SPF and DKIM settings—will have a significant impact on deliverability. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance if you need it.
In the previous past, it was very simple to keep your emails out of the spam bin by being cautious about the content: avoid using profanity, avoid mentioning Viagra, and avoid using the term “free.”
Today’s spam filters are far more advanced, and the major email providers heavily rely on artificial intelligence to distinguish between spam and legitimate emails.
Writing “free” as “fr.e-e” in an email in 2005 might have gotten away with it, but today that will send your message straight to the spam folder.
Being genuine in your email content will be much more important for 2022 success. Another acronym is useful in this situation: WILF is an acronym for:
Obviously, words are crucial. In terms of email deliverability, this entails composing emails in the same manner as a conversation.
Write in your own style. The more real your emails seem and the more like they have been coming from you, the more probable it is that those highly advanced algorithms will identify it as genuine.
Most of the time, shorter is also preferable. Don’t shorten it to the point where your message is lost, but also don’t ramble on needlessly. Since people’s attention spans are declining, let’s confront it.
Don’t worry too much about the content either, but, at the same time. There aren’t any strict guidelines to follow here, and doing so would dilute your message.
Sending a few test emails and watching what happens is always an option. Just keep in mind that email has changed, and no longer does everyone have the same email experience. Both Spongebob’s inbox and Squidward’s spam folder could get the same email.
However, by examining the overall picture of what you’re sending over time, you can still gain some knowledge. Use that information as a starting point to inform how to write your email content moving forward if you observe that emails written a certain way are delivered more frequently than others.
Links and Images
This is when things really start to get interesting. Should you use photos in your emails or not? What about links, then? One? None? Many?
First of all, keep in mind that every rule has an exception. However, the more graphics you include in an email, the more likely it is to end up in the rubbish bin, and testing supports this. The same holds true for the quantity of links.
A graphical banner at the top makes an email appear like a promotion, which is one of the quickest methods for Google to flag it as such. So, keep your message short and to the point.
A different situation arises if you require photos in the body of the email to clarify or explain points. However, only include them if they will truly provide value and not merely for show. The ideal number of photos would be three or less.
At SPI, the majority of our emails are really sparse, with just one link and few (or no) graphics.
The same is true with links: the more you utilize them, the more like advertisements your email will appear to be. Use of a plethora of tiny social media icons in an email signature is one of the major blunders individuals make. Before you realize it, your email contains five more graphics with links, and the promotions tab is open.
Be cautious when linking to websites you don’t own when it comes to links. When linking to a domain, you can’t always be sure if it has a positive domain reputation or not. Only linking to content that you own, such as that on your own website, is more preferable.
Frequency is the last component. You’ll fare better if you send emails to those who desire to receive them more regularly. Once a month email newsletter distribution was acceptable in the good old days, but mailbox providers these days are seeking for regularity and engagement (which we’ll cover in a moment).
Your engagement will appear better the more often you send emails to the recipients who wish to read them. You’re much more likely to swiftly reach a larger portion of your audience if you send emails three times per week as opposed to only once per month.
The more often you can share some really cool value, the more people will love you and, more crucially, the more the mailbox providers will love you. This doesn’t mean you have to send an email every day, but if you can, that’s excellent if you have something to write about.
Engagement requires constant attention, as opposed to authentication, which is something you set up once and essentially forget.
Are people reading your emails when we talk about engagement? Do they actually open them? Do people click the hyperlinks? Do they genuinely understand what they’re reading? Or do they simply delete it without even reading it?
Sending something out, having it end up in the spam bin, and no one saving it is one of the worst ways to damage your engagement.
The first time someone subscribes to your email list may be your last opportunity to prevent your emails from ending up in the spam bin. So send them to a thank-you page with instructions telling them to look in their spam bin for your first email and, if necessary, relocate it to their inbox. If they don’t, they might never receive another email from you.
The most significant factor is that.
The other is increasing engagement by raising your open rates. Here, it’s crucial to routinely clean your email list to ensure that you’re only sending emails to recipients who are likely to read them.
Regular email list cleaning can be intimidating because it involves removing people from your list, but it’s vitally essential for email engagement and the longevity of your list.
Why? It will demonstrate to Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! that your subscribers are more interested in what you’re sending. They are more likely to boost your domain reputation the greater your open rate is. Guess what, the better your reputation is? Your next email has a better chance of getting sent to the inbox. It’s a positive cycle.
Advice on how to increase email deliverability
What can you do, then, to increase email deliverability? Here are some pointers:
Tip #1: make sure your mailing list is current.
Wine, all four Golden Girls, and Hello Kitty goods are examples of things that age nicely. Your email database Not really.
Email delivery and deliverability rates can suffer as a result of the outdated, unresponsive, and abandoned recipients on older mailing lists.
ISPs have shifted their emphasis away from conventional spam filters in recent years and toward user engagement, or how your users respond to the emails you send them. These interactions enable them to choose whether to send emails to our inbox or the spam folder.
If you maintain these addresses on your list as an email sender, your emails may bounce or land in the wrong inbox. Spam complaints could result from this, which would be bad for your reputation and delivery rate.
Your emails will stop appearing even in the inboxes of individuals who want them if your sending address and domain are frequently marked as spam, and your messaging will reach fewer people. The financial objectives of your business may suffer as a result.
Validate your mailing list, keep it updated frequently, and remove inactive members to easily prevent these dangers. By using email verification, you may be sure that the recipients of your emails are interested parties and real addresses. These clients will interact with your messaging, maintaining excellent deliverability rates and a spotless reputation.
Tip #2: Before adding new members to your mailing list, have them confirm their addresses.
We’ve all entered our email address incorrectly. Maybe we’re not paying attention, or maybe we’re just rushing to buy something that’s selling quickly. On your platform, it’s conceivable that a few of your consumers will enter their email address incorrectly for a variety of reasons. Negative comments and unseen interactions can occur from using incorrect email addresses.
The answer? Utilize a double opt-in tool to confirm the email address at the moment of interaction. When someone places an order or registers for an account, if you ask for their email address, be sure to use double opt-in to send them a confirmation email.
Communication between you and your consumers will be much smoother and more beneficial for both parties if you receive an engaged customer and the accurate email address.
Tip #3: Control customer expectations.
Email deliverability is fundamentally based on the expectations of the recipients. Your customer needs to fully understand what they are signing up for when they become a subscriber. Your results will be better the more you are in alignment with them.
There are several dubious methods for expanding your email database that might increase the number of contacts you have but eventually damage your sender reputation. Why?
These subscribers may choose to disregard the message, designate it as spam, or unsubscribe because they didn’t desire to get regular emails. This low engagement will also be noticed by ISPs, who will lower your sender reputation and lower your deliverability rate as a result.
It will be easier to manage expectations and keep up strong email engagement if you ask for permission in a clear way and inform your contacts about the kind of information you’ll be sending them. Reduce the impact of non-engagers by segmenting your audience according to how frequently they interact with your emails and tailoring your email frequency to each of these segments. And if you’ve tried everything and the recipient is still not engaged, it could be time to cut them loose.
Tip #4: Keep an eye on spam complaints and engagement data.
The truth might be painful at times. One person might not mind receiving numerous reminders or offers from your company, whereas another person could complain about their overflowing inbox. But how can you be sure that your subscribers are interested in and responding to your communications?
Your unsubscribes and spam complaints, together with your open and click-through rates, can all give you insight into whether or not your subscribers believe your emails to be worthwhile.
ISPs now prioritize user involvement when determining where an email should land, therefore it’s critical to closely monitor them to safeguard your deliverability. High bounce rates or complaint rates in your email campaigns are indicators that you are not adhering to recommended practices and may affect whether or not you are delivered to the inbox.
Additionally, you want to set up a feedback loop (FBL) to monitor any spam complaints that are made in relation to your message. You should double-check and make sure that you are registered for all major email service provider FBLs even though Mailgun registers all of their IPs for feedback loops.
If you disregard criticism and receive too many complaints, these providers may decide to ban your emails, which has a detrimental effect on your deliverability. Reduce the number of communications that customers feel unnecessary and embrace the truth and the loop.
Tip #5: Avoid attaching PDFs to your emails
You might believe that including a PDF attachment to your email will make things simpler for the recipient. Perhaps your site developer is away and you’re having trouble hosting the file. Or perhaps your ERP creates a PDF invoice for your clients automatically.
Whatever your motivation, make sure to remove any attachments before sending any business-related emails to your clients. You’re guaranteeing yourself a trip to the spam folder and a reduced delivery rate if you leave them in your email.
Remove these files from your email or, if necessary, figure out how to put them inside the body of your message. This results in fewer spam and higher deliverability, which is a win in our book.
Making ensuring that your emails get in inboxes is the main goal of email deliverability. You must demonstrate to ISPs that your emails are desired and encourage favorable responses from your client base if you want to guarantee that your emails are noticed by potential customers and appropriately engaged with.
The greatest time to start thinking about and putting these email deliverability best practices into effect is right now if you’re just starting to build your email list.
And right now is also the greatest moment to start if you’ve had a list for a while but things have stalled out.
Your emails will safely land in your contacts’ inboxes if you use up-to-date mailing lists, valuable information, and short writing. This will give your business a strong basis on which to expand.