Email Marketing Deliverability 201: The Complete Guide

25 June 2019 - Sharon Beilis

This page has been designed to act as your complete guide to all things email marketing deliverability. It contains; an explanation of what email deliverability is, why it’s important to your email operation, how to achieve great delivery rates and, finally; how to maintain it once you’ve got there. 

At Ongage we’ve been writing about all things email for a long time, not least the important aspects of email delivery. That’s why we’ve pulled all of our best assets and information into one key area. So make sure you bookmark this page and share it with your colleagues! Our Deliverability 201 information page is yours and your team’s new go-to guide. 

 

What is deliverability when it comes to email?

Your email marketing deliverability refers to the delivery rate of the email campaigns you send. Specifically, it refers to the percentage of emails you send which make it to your recipients’ inboxes or spam folders, vs the percentage you send which are blocked or bounce back.

 

The difference between delivery and inbox placement

Further to deliverability, your inbox placement rate is also a key metric to keep a close eye on. It refers to those emails which make it specifically to the inbox alone, which is ultimately what we as Email Marketers are aiming for. 

 

Why is having great deliverability important?

Achieving and maintaining great email deliverability rates is important because, ultimately, reaching more recipients means spreading your brand message further and engaging more of your audience with your email campaign. You spend a lot of time crafting the perfect email content, subject lines, planning your audience segments and organizing your sends. 

But if your emails are never seen by your recipients because they’re never delivered to their inboxes, then what’s the point? This very important factor within your email operation is not just a metric, it has a direct impact on your ROI from email, and therefore your overall business health. 

 

How to achieve great email deliverability rates

There are a number of varying factors which come together and have a combined impact on improving your overall delivery rates, to help get your email campaigns more ‘seen’. Take a read of the below points and have a look through our linked posts, for our collation of the best hints, tips, help and advice:

 

Solid data management and list hygiene

Possibly the biggest factor in achieving good delivery rates within email marketing is good data management, and the positive effect of this cannot be underestimated. From operating a double opt-in strategy whereby your recipients need to confirm the accuracy of the data they’ve given you, to ensuring you ’clean’ your user lists at regular points throughout the year depending upon your business needs – good clean data is at the heart of what you do. 

 

Learning to avoid email spam traps also comes into play with practicing good list hygiene, which is something used by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to identify and filter-out spam emailers. They take the form of email addresses that the ISPs already know shouldn’t be receiving emails, so by sending to them you highlight yourself as a poor sender. Avoiding tempting practices like buying data lists is one way to keep you out of the line of sight of spam traps, but take a closer look at the above mentioned blog post for even more detailed advice. 

 

Using multiple vendors to send through

Using multiple delivery vendors can have a hugely positive effect on your email campaigns’ deliverability rates, most especially due to the level of control you have over which vendors are assigned to which sends. There are two key ways in which you can utilize multiple vendors to enhance your delivery success; routing your emails via delivery provider and routing your email sends by target audience and segment. For more detailed insights, read here.

 

Content is king!

Your email campaign content is what will set you apart from your competitors, and help you to stand out to your savvy consumers in their ever-crowded inboxes. Ultimately, this drives engagement. And engagement means the difference between your emails appearing of a quality nature or not to the ISPs. 

Reacting to the preferences you’ve previously collected from your subscribers is the first place to start, as this will ensure that you’re serving up relevant content that is of interest to them. After consulting the preference data you hold, personalization is absolutely key. Personalizing and tailoring dynamic content as well as segmenting your audience into smaller segments will achieve maximum content-impact. 

Furthermore, avoiding poor content factors like misleading subject lines will ensure to safeguard your delivery and help to avoid those pesky junk folders. 

 

Send Consistency

Send consistency refers to ensuring you’re sending your emails as per the expectation you’ve set with your recipient, at the point at which they’ve signed up. Maintaining consistency in not only the volume of emails you send and when, but also the type of content you share and who exactly you’re sending to. 

This means sending on time, every time – sending only as many emails as you’ve set their expectation to receive in your sign-up text, and keeping your campaign sends consistent and to a schedule so that they know when to expect them. Sending sporadically and off-schedule will make you appear immature to both your audience but also ISPs, who are likely to score you as spammy for lack of control over your sends. 

Sending consistently also mean the difference between consistent engagement with your audience, and falling out of sync with your subscribers. This consistent level of engagement only bodes well towards your sender reputation score and ultimately your delivery, as it works to demonstrate that your users enjoy and are satisfied with your email campaigns.

 

Supporting posts for how to achieve great email delivery: 

 

Step by Step Guide to Improving your Deliverability

Further to the points we’ve discussed above, our previous write-up of our Step by Step Guide to Improving Your Deliverability gives an even more comprehensive list of factors to consider when identifying where improvements can be made. Take a look.

 

Power-up your Email Personalization with Intelligent Segmentation

When it comes to doing email marketing personalization well, there are a range of tactics you can employ and it can be easy to get lost in the rabbit hole of the technology you need or the elements you’re personalizing. But before you think about the elements, you should think about how you’re going to power-up the data behind these newly-personalized email marketing campaigns. Read more here

 

Email marketing personalization 201

Our Email Marketing Personalization 201 blog post discusses the importance of utilizing personalization in email, alongside our advice on how to do it well. Read it here. 

 

How to Maximize your Emails with Dynamic Content

Dynamic email content works to dynamically change entire sections of your emails’ content depending upon criteria you set. It can be used to dynamically change a number of components within your email on the basis of data such as behavioral criteria or preferences your recipients have given. Read our How to maximize your emails with Dynamic Content blog post here.

 

Breakup on good terms.

Nobody likes to see a relationship end. But it happens, in life and in email – the unsubscribe.

And when it comes to the end, it’s best to part on good terms as it leaves the door open. Don’t play tricks and make the unsubscribe link hard to find. Doing so risks not only ending on bad terms but hurting deliverability. If the unsubscribe is hard, you’ll get a complaint, blocked, filtered out or otherwise ignored. All bad for deliverability.

Making a customer friendly unsubscribe is mostly common sense, once you know! This scientific usability test of  six major brand emails explains the best practice.

 

Top 3 Advantages of Using Multiple Delivery Vendors

Utilizing multiple delivery vendors has its benefits, especially when paired with an interface solution that joins them all up under a single dashboard. You can benefit from being more efficient, saving money, saving time and reducing risks by giving yourself fall-back solutions just in case that rainy day ever comes along. But better than all of those? You can massively improve your delivery rates in the process. Take a read.

 

12 Ways to Maximize Deliverability of Your Emails in 2019

Our friends from G2 comprised a thorough list of tips to improve your deliverability. keep your messages useful and relevant, apply tips such as list cleansing and double opt in, and you shouldn’t run afoul of the ISPs. Read more here. 

 

Improve your email delivery rate by improving reputation

Reputation is a huge determinant in email delivery, and all of the factors we’ve discussed today play a part in building what’s known as your overall reputation score. For more detailed information specifically around your email sender reputation, our improve your email delivery rate by improving reputation blog post has just the trick and you’ll find it here

 

Email Experts Answer: How to Land in the Inbox in 2019

We've gathered email experts from across the industry to answer the pressing question: how to land in the inbox in 2019. Our blog contains various insightful answers to this question, from relevancy and personalization to adaptability and trust. Discover more here

 

How to maintain your deliverability

Once you’ve gone through the above three steps and you’ve taken the time to build your delivery rates to where you’re happy, we’re sorry to say that the work doesn’t stop there!

It’s absolutely vital that you keep in place the best practices you’ve mastered up until this stage, in order to ensure that your hard work doesn’t now falter. 

The good news, however, is that there’s nothing new to now master at this point in time. Maintaining the great email delivery once you’ve improved your base level still comes down to the same best practice email management techniques that you’ve so far adopted into your email operation. These are; practicing great list hygiene, using personalized high-quality content and sending consistently. 

It’s really important to remember at this stage that this is only the beginning – successful email marketing starts now, and these codes of practice need to be instilled into your organization in order to protect your ROI going forward. To read up further on how to maintain a great email sender reputation, see our blog post here

 

To summarize

It’s important to strive for or maintain a strong deliverability rate as, ultimately, this is what gets your emails seen by more people, driving your messages and your ROI. There are a number of elements that can harm your brand’s deliverability score, including sending without authentication or sending too many messages which look like they could be spam. That’s why it's key to track your deliverability and practice methods that help optimize or improve it, which is where this helpful guide of advice and supporting links comes into play.


Over on the Ongage blog we also have a range of other write-ups, thought leadership pieces and insightful blogs, each designed to help you on your way. Take a look.