Email Deliverability: You Are the Master of Your Own Fate
“Deliverability” is the measure, usually expressed as a percentage, of how many of the emails you send actually make it into the inbox. To create highly deliverable email campaigns, you must first understand the landscape and the challenges to be overcome in order to place a message in an individual’s email inbox.
Because each receiving Internet Service Provider (ISP), business email exchange, and individual account uses significantly different rules, there’s quite a bit to learn. The landscape changes every day, due to the ongoing evolution of both spam and the service providers that battle it.
Most businesses use specialists – such as marketing automation solution providers – to handle much of the mechanics of an email campaign. It’s true that your provider’s business processes and reputation affect your deliverability but the most critical deliverability factors rest with you, the email creator and sender.
The DMA’s “Email Deliverability Review” (2012) noted that 80% of email delivery problems are directly attributable to a poor sender reputation. Let’s take a closer look at how actions you can take affect your reputation. The factors noted below (some low-risk, others high) are all in the marketer’s control.
Do you know what your current email deliverability rates are?
Whether you work with an email service provider or a marketing automation service provider, they should be able to provide them to you. Here are the basics to look for:
This is how many messages were in the queue before any delivery attempts were made, but after internal suppression has been performed. For Act-On users who subscribe to a number of “active contacts”, this is the number counted. This will be a whole number, not a percentage.
This metric describes how many emails were completely transferred to the intended recipient’s mailbox provider without generating a “bounce” or other delivery error. There are two levels of delivery:
If the receiving provider rejects the email message, it does not count as delivered. However, if the provider accepts the message, it counts as delivered.
Once past the provider’s filters, it will count as delivered even if the email recipient has content-based filters set up that prevent the email from reaching the inbox (e.g., being diverted to the junk folder).
“Email delivered” is the metric used to purchase email advertising by CPM or third party list rental. You’ll see it as a whole number and also as an “Email Delivery Rate” percentage (e.g. “95%”).
Email inbox delivered
This metric is an estimation of how many of the Sent emails actually ended up in the inbox. You’ll see it as a whole number or as a percentage (e.g. “95%”).
Bounces are emails that cannot be delivered to the mailbox provider, and are returned to the service provider that sent it. “Hard” bounces are the failed delivery of email due to a permanent reason, such as a non-existent address. “Soft” bounces are the failed delivery of email due to an impermanent issue such as a full inbox or an unavailable ISP server.
Email Unsubscribe Requests
This tallies how many people took an action (such as clicking an “unsubscribe me from this list” button) to unsubscribe from a list.
This tallies how many people clicked a spam or junk button link in their email client to report an email.
The other common email metrics such as Opens and Click-throughs are also important, as ISPs look at engagement measures to help determine overall how “wanted’ an email is.
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