How to Improve Email Deliverability

What is email deliverability?

Email deliverability is the ability of an email message to be delivered to subscribers’ inboxes and is typically measured by the percentage of emails accepted by the internet service provider (ISP). According to ISPs, a good deliverability rate is 95% or higher.

So, how exactly can you increase your deliverability rate?

Fortunately, many factors that affect email deliverability are within your control. This guide will cover what email deliverability is, why it matters, and how you can improve your email deliverability rate so you can start crushing your KPIs, engaging your customers, and generating more sales.

Why Email Deliverability Matters

Email deliverability is key for successful email marketing. If your message isn’t reliably delivered to your audience, your email marketing performance suffers and causes you to miss out on valuable engagement opportunities.

Where happens to emails that don’t get delivered?

Emails that don’t get delivered to the inbox either end up in the dreaded spam folder or bounce. There are two types of email bounces: soft bounce and hard bounce.

What is a soft bounce?

A soft bounce is a temporary deliverability issue that occurs when your email was sent to the recipient’s mail server but bounced back undelivered instead of going to the recipient’s inbox. Because soft bounces are a temporary problem, emails that soft bounce are often deliverable at another time. Factors that would cause an email to soft bounce include:

  • Email file size is too large
  • The recipient’s inbox is full
  • The server is down
  • Anti-spam and anti-virus filters
  • Content blockers

What is a hard bounce?

A hard bounce is a permanent deliverability issue that means the email address you’re trying to reach is invalid or inactive. Most of the time, emails that hard bounce won’t ever become deliverable, which is why you should check them and resolve spelling errors or remove them from your email list. Causes of hard bouncing include:

  • Invalid email address (mistyped email address or email address is no longer active)
  • Inactive inbox
  • Domain name doesn’t exist
  • Delivery blocker

How Email Deliverability is Determined

You now know what email deliverability is, but how is it determined? Email deliverability is largely affected by how many of your emails end up in the spam folder or bounce, but those are not the only factors to be mindful of. Email providers evaluate several components of your email messages that can influence your deliverability. Here are a few items that email providers consider when determining if an email message is spam or legitimate.

Sender reputation: Your sender reputation is how your email-sending IP address is judged by email inbox providers. Your sender reputation is linked to your sender score, which is determined by the number of times your messages have been marked as spam, the number of unknown and inactive subscribers on your list, and if your domain is on a block list. Sender scores are based on a rating from 0 to 100, with a score higher than 80 indicating an excellent sender reputation. A low score makes your emails more prone to blocking by email providers and ending up in the spam folder. Practicing regular email hygiene best practices can help increase your sender score, thus improving your sender reputation. Check out these tools to check your sender reputation.

Domain reputation: A domain is the part of your email address behind the @ symbol. A good domain reputation increases your email deliverability rate, while a poor one can get you labeled as a spammer. Think of managing your domain reputation the way you manage your reputation with new friends and colleagues. It takes time to earn trust with new friends and progress your career at work. But, by having integrity and dedication to hard work, you can build a great reputation and healthy relationships. Managing your domain reputation isn’t much different. Domain reputation is not determined based on a single email you sent but on several of the emails that you’ve sent over time. Sending too many emails, getting blacklisted, ending up in spam traps, and poor email engagement all put your domain reputation at risk. Following best practices when crafting your email marketing messages and regularly cleaning the database helps keep your domain reputation out of harm’s way.

Open rates: Email providers track whether users open or click through your messages. Consistently low open rates put you at risk of being marked as spam. If you’ve noticed a decrease in your open rates, re-evaluate your messaging strategy to ensure you’re sending information that subscribers opted-in for.

Email content: Email providers have filters that identify characteristics of spammy emails. Email content that email providers punish contains spammy words and phrases, large attachments, poorly written headers, and more. To combat this, write an enticing subject line and follow best practices for writing and designing for email.  

5 Tips to Improve Email Deliverability

1. Require a Double Opt-in Process

When it comes to the health of your email list, quality over quantity reigns supreme. The best way to ensure you’re only sending to quality subscribers is to have them double opt-in. A double opt-in is a process where users who signed up for your mailing list receive a message confirming their consent to subscribe to your email communications. For example, say a user subscribed to your newsletter through a form on your website. Once the user has filled out the subscription form, the user receives an email from you with a link asking them to confirm their email. If they click on the link, the user has double opted-in and joins your newsletter mailing list.

By requiring a double opt-in, you may lose some subscribers and it may take longer to build your email list, but what you will gain is far more important: quality subscribers who are interested in hearing from you. As a result, a double opt-in process improves deliverability, increases engagement, and improves the quality of your leads.

2. Perform an Email Validation

Performing an email validation helps you make sure that all the email addresses on your list are current and deliverable. Email validation also identifies spam traps and other problematic emails that could cause decrease email deliverability and cause your email reputation to suffer. Learn how to improve email deliverability with our email validation and appending services.

3. Simplify the Opt-out Process

While you don’t ever want to lose subscribers, the CAN-SPAM act requires you to provide a way for subscribers to opt-out. Make sure the opt-out link is easily accessible in every email you send, in addition to providing a physical mailing address to comply with the CAN-SPAM law. Many marketers put the opt-out link in the footer of their emails – just make sure it’s included and easy to locate!

4. Practice Email Hygiene

Email hygiene and email deliverability are closely connected. You can’t have good email deliverability without good email hygiene. So, what is email hygiene? Email hygiene is the process of removing bad or old email addresses and replacing them with verified, opted-in, deliverable email addresses. Signs of poor email hygiene include high bounce rates, decreased email engagement, increased unsubscribe rates, and increased spam complaints. An effective way to practice email hygiene is to perform an email append. Email appending helps assess the quality of your email list by replacing bad emails with good emails and adding in missing emails. Learn more about email hygiene best practices.

5. Segment Your Emails

The quality of your email content is what keeps subscribers engaged. Email segmentation is an effective personalization tactic marketers use to increase engagement by dividing subscribers into segments based on a certain set of criteria. Segmentation improves the quality of your emails by ensuring you’re sending messages with relevant information to the right audience. For example, let’s say you are an email marketing specialist for an automotive shop that offers automotive sales and automotive aftermarket services. The auto shop has several locations in different states and offers differ from location to location. Segmenting based on location is important to make sure subscribers are only receiving information and offers relevant to their nearby locations. As a result, subscribers find your information helpful and there is no confusion about what offers may or may not be available to them.

Download the Email Marketing Best Practices Guide

Ready to boost the success of your email marketing campaigns? Our Email Marketing Best Practices Guide outlines standard best practices that enhance email communications, including recommendations to ensure your emails stand out in crowded inboxes and generate ROI.

Email Marketing Best Practices

Improve Email Deliverability & Supercharge Your Email Marketing Performance

Boost your cross-channel engagement with one of the largest repositories of email addresses in the industry. Our database is a high-quality, permission-based national file with over 450 million email addresses. Email addresses go through strict data hygiene and validation processes to identify records known to be associated with spam traps, invalid emails and domains, known complainers, and fraudulent addresses.

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