Email Deliverability vs. Email Delivery Rate: How to Make It to the Inbox

Email Deliverability vs. Email Delivery Rate: How to Make It to the Inbox

What’s the difference between email deliverability and delivery rate? Although some marketers use these terms interchangeably, they’re not the same. Here, you’ll not only find out how these terms differ, but you’ll also discover important steps you can take to help ensure that your email campaigns make it to your subscribers’ inboxes.

Email Deliverability vs. Delivery Rate

Email delivery rate is the percentage of emails that are received by the gateway servers of your subscribers’ internet service providers (ISPs) and not returned as a hard or soft bounce. A hard bounce occurs because an email address is invalid, a domain doesn’t exist, or your internet protocol (IP) is being blocked. With a soft bounce, the email address may be valid, but the email is returned because of a full mailbox or a down server.

However, even if your emails are received by a subscriber’s ISP gateway server and your delivery rate is high, the emails still may not be making it into the inbox. Instead, the emails may be blocked by spam filters or sent to your subscriber’s spam folder.

That’s where deliverability comes in. Deliverability is a measurement of whether your email campaigns actually get into your subscribers’ inboxes. And because gateway servers don’t let senders know if their emails are blocked by spam filters or sent to spam folders, it’s more difficult to get an accurate measurement of your email deliverability.

To give you an idea of average email deliverability rates, email senders in the United States experienced an average inbox placement rate of 77% in 2017, according to Return Path’s 2017 Deliverability Benchmark Report. Compared to the same period in the previous year, this deliverability rate increased by 4%. However, it is 3% lower than the average worldwide deliverability rate of 80%. In addition, this report showed that approximately 8% of U.S. emails are sent to subscribers’ spam folders, whereas 16% of emails are blocked as spam by ISP gateway servers.

How to Improve Your Email Deliverability and Reach Your Subscribers’ Inboxes

As you look for ways to optimize your email deliverability, keep in mind that the following 2 factors have a major impact on whether your emails reach recipients’ inboxes:

  • Email authentication—This is the first step in getting your emails delivered. Authentication uses a set of protocols that identifies that you, the sender, are who you say you are. These email authentication protocols—including Sender Policy Framework (SPF), Sender ID, DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), and Domain Message Authentication Reporting & Conformance (DMARC)—help ISPs protect your subscribers from spammers and phishing scams. For more information on how email authentication works, be sure to read the FulcrumTech article, “Email Authentication—Key to Getting Your Emails Delivered.”
  • Sender reputation—As the name implies, sender reputation indicates how trustworthy your organization is. ISPs have developed sophisticated algorithms to determine a sender’s email reputation, which the ISPs don’t share the details of, for obvious reasons. However, we do know that there are certain practices that affect an ISP’s calculations of sender reputation. For example, 2 factors that negatively impact a sender’s email reputation are:

    1. Repeatedly sending emails to addresses that have previously bounced
    2. Sending emails that consistently have low engagement with subscribers.

    In addition, sharing an IP address with other companies that don’t use good email practices is another way to end up with a bad email reputation. How could this happen? Many email service providers (ESPs) share a limited number of IP addresses among a large number of their client users.

So what can you do to help improve your email deliverability? Here are some email best practices that are important for getting your emails into your subscribers’ inboxes:

  1. Use a dedicated IP address and private domain. ESPs offer companies the option of having their own dedicated IP address. This is a good way to improve the control that you have over your email reputation. Click here for more information about the role that IP addresses and domain names play in email deliverability.
  2. Make it quick and easy to unsubscribe. In addition to making your unsubscribe link prominent in your emails, streamline the unsubscribe process to be a single step. This will help reduce the chance of recipients marking your emails as spam.
  3. Keep a clean list. This includes immediately removing email addresses that have returned hard bounces, as well as people who have unsubscribed from your email list
  4. Be sure that your content is relevant to your target audience. Use personalization and segmentation to help boost your engagement metrics (e.g., open and click rates), which, in turn, will have a positive impact on your sender reputation.
  5. Optimize your email sends for frequency and cadence. This is another key way to help keep your recipients engaging with your emails and your emails getting to their inboxes.

For more information about how to improve your email deliverability, be sure to check out these FulcrumTech articles on the topic:

Need some help getting more of your emails into subscribers’ inboxes? Email FulcrumTech or give us a call at 215-489-9336 today. Our email-marketing experts will help diagnose your problems and develop effective strategies to greatly improve your email deliverability.

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