What is email deliverability and how to keep it healthy?

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what is email deliverability and how to keep it healthy

Email marketing is part art and part science. Copy and design are crucial for a successful strategy. However, we should not forget that segmentation, offers, timing, and deliverability are indispensable. People can often overlook the latter when setting up email as a marketing channel, and that’s a big mistake. Deliverability can make or break your whole email strategy. So let’s see what email deliverability is and how you can make it proficient.

What is email deliverability and why it matters?

Email deliverability is the ability of an email to reach your subscribers’ primary inbox instead of other tabs like spam, social, updates, or any others that the recipient does not check regularly.

The term exists because Inbox Service Providers (ISPs) put filters and restrictions for an email to land in a user’s mailbox. This approach prevents spammy emails from landing in users’ inboxes.

You can see why email deliverability is essential. There’s no point in having a great email with an attractive offer if it is not going to be seen by the recipient because it failed to pass the spam filters in place and didn’t land in the user’s primary inbox.

Generally, a healthy deliverability rate is between 85% and 95%. Your email deliverability rate is directly affected by your sender’s reputation. An email sender’s reputation is a score the ISPs assign to an email sender. The higher the score, the higher chance your email lands in the primary tab. If you have a low score, you risk your email ending up in the spam folder or getting undelivered.

Email deliverability is the ability of an email to reach your subscribers’ primary inbox

7 things that affect your email deliverability

The main goal of deliverability is getting your emails to land in your recipients’ inboxes. But, there are a lot of factors that play into achieving that goal or not. These can include but are not limited to:

  • Number of emails you send out
  • Spam complaints
  • How often do your emails hit the ISP’s spam trap
  • Your inclusion on email blacklists
  • Bounced emails
  • Engagement rates (open rates, click rates, replies, forwards, deletes).
  • Unsubscribe rates
  • Poor segmentation

If you are unfamiliar with the terms, here’s a glossary that will help you. If you know the meaning of all these concepts, feel free to skip them and go into the next section to learn how to protect your email deliverability.

Email Deliverability Glossary: 7 terms you need to understand

Several factors play into your email deliverability rate. Therefore there are tons of terms you need to learn. Here are ten words you need to understand to comprehend email deliverability.

  • Inbox service providers: Organizations that provide users with email accounts, and the ability to accept and deliver emails. For example, Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.
  • Spam: In its most basic definition, spam is unwanted emails. This can be either because they are not relevant for the recipient, they are inappropriate or the recipient did not consent to get them in the first place. 
  • Spam: In its most basic definition, spam is unwanted emails. Either because they are not relevant for the recipient, they are inappropriate, or the recipient did not agree to get them in the first place. 
  • Spam trap: This is a tool inbox service providers and blacklist providers use to identify fraud emails and block them. A spam trap seems like an authentic email address but it doesn’t belong to an actual person.
  • Email blacklist: List that identifies IP addresses or domains with a reputation for sending spam. 
  • Bounces: Emails that were not delivered or were rejected by the recipient’s inbox service provider. There are soft and hard bounces and different ways to tackle them.
  • Unsubscribe rate: Email deliverability metric that represents the percentage of people that received your email and unsubscribed from your email list.

engagement metrics

5 things you should do to keep a healthy email deliverability

1. Make it really easy to unsubscribe.

One of the things that affect your deliverability is your spam rate. That means the number of people that mark your email as spam. It is impossible to have a 0% spam rate. Someone is bound to mark it as spam. 

However, you can try to make it easier for people to unsubscribe than to mark you as spam. To do this, always include a clear unsubscribe link and a physical mailing address in your email footer. If you’re struggling with high spam rates, try having your unsubscribe link on top of yours instead of at the end, so it’s easily accessible.

Email unsubscribe footer

You can also set up an “Update Preferences Center”. Sometimes it is not because the recipient does not want to hear from you. But they are just not interested in what you have to say. So you ask them to let you know what kind of content they want to receive from you and what content is irrelevant to them.

update preferences center

2. Send relevant content to keep engagement

Engagement is probably the most definitive factor for your sender’s reputation. Recipients can engage with your emails by opening, clicking, replying, or forwarding them. However, this will only happen if the email you send out is relevant and interesting enough for them to engage with it. 

Therefore you must do your research when planning your email content strategy so you can send out good content. Remember, your emails should always have a clear goal, message, and target audience.

Good email content is relevant

3. Optimize your emails

Optimizing your emails can be bothersome, but it’s important. There are so many ways you can (and should) optimize your emails:

  • Make sure you are not using an overwhelming number of images or heavy images. A good image-to-text ratio is essential. 
  • Do not include excessively long URL links. But also, don’t use URL shorteners. 
  • Make sure there are no broken links in your email. 
  • Write alt-text in all your images, but be careful to include spammy words. 
  • Optimize your email to look great on desktop and mobile. 
  • Make sure your email looks good in dark mode too.

4. Keep an eye on deliverability 

Spam rates, unsubscribe, and bounce rates are the main metrics you should track to keep an eye on your email deliverability. Analyze them for every campaign and flow. Compare your metrics to the industry benchmarks to see where you stand.

email industry benchmarks

Test regularly the state of your deliverability and the sender’s reputation. Here at Hustler Marketing, we test at a monthly basis our accounts’ deliverability through G-Lock Apps. It is a paid but robust email deliverability testing software that shows you where your emails are landing in different ISPs if you are on any blacklists. G-Lock also suggests how to optimize your emails for deliverability. 

G-Lock Spam Test Email Deliverability

5. Segment your list intelligently

Sending all your emails to your whole list is a mistake, particularly if you are not maintaining proper list hygiene. We recommend using smart segmentation and sending emails only to people that want to receive them.

As a best practice, do not send emails to:

  • Inactive subscribers: Remember, engagement is a vital part of your sender’s reputation. Regularly sending emails to chronically unengaged subscribers is bound to hurt your deliverability. 
  • Spam traps: Segment your list based on the actions your profiles have taken. This way, you avoid sending emails to spam traps and getting caught on the wrong side of ISPs.
  • Unsubscribed profiles: If someone unsubscribes from your mailing list, honor their wishes and stop sending them emails. If you do, you risk getting higher spam and unsubscribe rates.
  • Purchased lists: Sending emails to people who didn’t consent to receive emails from your brand is a sketchy tactic and goes against the Terms of Service of your email service provider. It is also not a good idea because these people don’t know you and probably don’t want to receive your emails. Again, these profiles will likely mark your emails as spam or unsubscribe, hurting your deliverability.

smart segmentation

Signs of poor email deliverability: When is it time to ask for help improving your email deliverability?

If you find these signs of alarm in your email campaigns and flows, we highly recommend you ask for help before your deliverability is permanently damaged:

  • A sudden and significant drop in open rates 
  • The bounce rate regularly exceeds 1.5% 
  • The unsubscribe rate consistently exceeds or is near 0.7% 
  • The spam rate always exceeds or is close to 0.15% 
  • A consistent increase in spam, bounce, and unsubscribe rates
  • A large number of emails are being skipped from send-outs by your email marketing automation platform

If you see these signs, don’t hesitate to ask for help from an email deliverability expert. Reach out before it’s too late. Remember, healthy deliverability is built over time but can be quickly gone if you are not careful. 

You can do your best to keep healthy email deliverability. However, ISPs are changing and optimizing algorithms to get ahead of spammers. Therefore, you should optimize your deliverability strategy regularly too. If you need help protecting and improving your email deliverability, book a free call with us

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