Email Deliverability: How to Land in Contacts' InBoxes

You draft. You revise. You test. And test again. And test some more, just for good measure.

But even if you craft the perfect email, it will go directly to spam if you’re not sending it to the right contacts in the right context. How can you improve your deliverability rates?


What is Email Deliverability?

Email deliverability refers to the rate at which emails make it to subscribed inboxes. This is different from email deliveries (meaning the email has made it to the recipients’ inbox) or sends (meaning the email has been sent, but may not have made it to all inboxes yet). Both matter in terms of marketing, but ultimately deliverability is a leading indicator of email marketing success. If the email you spent so much time creating doesn’t get out of the gate, what good is it doing you?


Why Does Deliverability Matter?

If your business sends out emails, deliverability matters. Hitting your target audience’s inbox remains a great path to precious clicks and potential sales. Otherwise, you’ll be relegated to the dreaded spam folder, along with other unfortunate emails, legitimate and otherwise (I doubt a Nigerian prince is really asking for your help).


Opt-in or Opt for Penalties

It doesn’t matter how many inboxes your emails get sent to if the recipients haven’t opted-in to receive an email from you. You’ll need to stay in compliance with the laws in both your country and the country where your recipient lives. Thanks to CAN-SPAM and GDPR, you can get penalized for buying email lists, so we do not recommend that practice. There are also practices to stay in compliance with Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, and Email Service Providers, or ESPs. Stay on the good side of the law, ISPs, and ESPs, and you’ll have no trouble on that count.

When contacts sign up for your emails, they should have a very clear idea of what they will be receiving, and they should be able to opt out at any time. If a contact signs up to receive alerts for new blog posts, they do not automatically want to hear about upcoming events. Make it simple to unsubscribe from lists and adjust preferences, and you’ll stand a better chance at making it to inboxes.


Deliverability Dos and Don’ts

How can you improve your deliverability rates? To end up in your desired inbox, you have to avoid getting flagged by spam filters. This is largely determined by your sender reputation, which is how ISPs judge if you are a legitimate sender. Two metrics heavily factor into your sender reputation: complaints and hard bounces.

Complaints mean a recipient marked your message as spam. If your company’s complaint rate exceeds 0.1%, you risk suspension or losing the ability to send emails. The suspension can be short- or long-term, depending on the severity of the complaint rate. Hard bounces indicate your email was sent to an address that no longer exists. There is slightly more margin for error with this metric, but you should strive to remain between 0-1%. Get to 5% or higher hard bounce rate, and you’re at risk for suspension. Clean up your contact lists regularly to lower bounce rates.

Now, look at the emails you’re sending. Are you sending content opted-in contacts want to see? No matter how well-crafted the email, if it isn’t relevant to your recipients’ interests or isn’t what they signed up to see, you run the risk of spam complaints. Your email marketing health depends on sending contacts content they signed up to see — so don’t send irrelevant content or too much of a good thing.

A really easy way to improve deliverability? Check your subject lines before you send. ISPs look unkindly on certain phrases associated with spam emails, like “risk-free” or “FREE.” Keep your subject lines short, snappy and genuine, and emails should slide through spam filters no problem.



Originally posted on Channel Chatter, by Cameron Sutton. Cameron is a Marketing Content Manager at Zift Solutions.

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