Mastering the essentials to maximize your email deliverability

    Last updated: July 9, 2024

    Left unchecked, deliverability issues hinder audience engagement, prevent emails from reaching interested people, and reduce your revenue.   

    It sounds scary, but the opposite is also true. Even small strategy tweaks can improve your deliverability and make reaching and growing your audience easier.  

    How do I know if I have deliverability issues?

    If your spam rates are above 0.3%, your delivery rate is below 95%, or your bounce rate is above 3%, your emails are likely being sent to spam.

    Get ahead with innovative marketing automation! Unleash conversions & engage audiences:

    Some other red flags: Your audience complains that they can’t see your emails or you have corporate domains with a 0% delivery rate. 

    For perspective, the average delivery rate for Omeda clients is about 98.5%. You can use our benchmark calculator to compare your domain’s performance to the industry average.

    How do ISPs determine your deliverability? 

    Each ISP uses a proprietary formula to determine whether recipients think your emails are useful. They combine these factors to assign each domain a sender score from 0-100 (check your sending score here). That score determines whether their emails go to recipients’ primary, promotions and spam folders. 

    Key factors include:

    • IP reputation: How trustworthy the sender’s IP address is. 
    • Recipient engagement: What percentage of recipients open and click your emails. Historically, they’ve used open and click rates to judge this, but now some ISPs will penalize senders if too many users open their email and immediately click out. 
    • Spam, complaint and bounce rates: The number of spam complaints and hard bounces your emails get. Each ISP’s threshold varies, but under Google and Yahoo’s new anti-spam requirements, senders with a 0.3% spam rate or higher may not get their emails delivered. 
    • Sending volume: The number and frequency of emails being sent from your domain. Unexpected spikes in frequency will hurt your sending reputation, especially if your domain is new and ISPs haven’t had time to judge your trustworthiness. 

    But these formulas aren’t set in stone. ISPs are continuing to tighten their formulas as they become better at recognizing signs of engagement and spammy sending practices (and that’ll only accelerate once Apple and other ISPs incorporate AI and user-level intelligence into their models). 

    Deliverability comes down to two key factors: maximizing email engagement and keeping inactive/invalid email addresses off your lists. Read on for practical ways to improve on both fronts.  

    9 ways to protect and improve your deliverability

    Use an email verification service to ensure each email address is valid and safe for sending. For instance, our forms integrate with AtData (fka FreshAdress), which checks incoming email addresses to ensure they can receive mail, are spelled correctly and are safe to send to.

    Clean your lists at least quarterly, if not monthly, to remove unengaged subscribers.

    Make it easy for subscribers to manage their email preferences or unsubscribe through easily accessible preference forms. 

    Suppress unengaged recipients. This can start at a general level (we’ll send emails to anyone who engages within 6 months) but is more effective when it’s more targeted (we were sending a customer 4 newsletters, but they only engaged with 1, so we’ll continue to send 1 newsletter, and stop sending the other 3).

    Run re-engagement campaigns to ‘win back’ unengaged recipients. First, stop sending for a given period (e.g. 30 days). Then send them a short series of emails to entice the customer to engage. “Resting” the email address lowers the chances that your email is pushed to spam, making it more likely the audience member will see your email and engage. (Learn how to run effective re-engagement campaigns here).    

    Periodically remove audience members from the database if they no longer engage with your emails. 

    Create a welcome series for new customers who register for a product to confirm the registration and brand awareness 

    Segment audiences and target messaging. Segmentation helps you target your communications more effectively and increase engagement, boosting deliverability. For best results, segment emails by behavior, like website engagement history, past purchases, content downloads and event attendance.

    Throttle deployments to prevent overwhelming customers with ‘too many’ emails. Many ISPs limit—or throttle—the email accepted from a particular sender during a specific period, especially when you’re starting up.

    To avoid this, spread out your emails over days or weeks (e.g., “throttle” them). This helps you improve your reputation gradually rather than making one overly aggressive move that backfires. 

    What to look for in an email service provider 

    The right email partner won’t just help you avoid spam complaints. They’ll make it easier for you to do the little things that please your audience and help your deliverability — like segment your audience, personalize your content, and plan more responsive campaigns. 

    So prioritize email providers with these features: 

    • Email providers with their own IP and a network of trustworthy senders. This way, you can ensure that another client’s sending practices don’t hurt your own sender score.
    • Marketing automation that connects to your database, so you can easily use first-party data from every channel to segment, personalize and target communications to each individual in your audience 
    • Dynamic audience segmentation and content personalization tools (including content recommendations) 
    • Omni-channel campaigns covering email, on-site personalizations and ad retargeting 
    • Campaign planning tools like fatigue filters and suppression elements 
    • Smooth integrations with your preferred systems (subscription management tools, event platforms, etc.) 
    • Comprehensive real-time reporting that goes beyond opens and clicks to tell you whether each link, CTA, and asset is contributing to conversions 
    • Automatic bot click removal from reports 
    • A trustworthy sending reputation among ISPs 
    • Deliverability monitoring and representatives that will intercede with ISPs on your behalf 

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