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With a sky-high return on investment of $42 for every $1 spent, email marketing is tremendously valuable for businesses across the board. If you’re running email marketing campaigns, there are so many metrics to pay close attention to: clickthrough rate, conversion rate, growth rate, and more. But there is one metric that gets less attention but is arguably the most important: email deliverability.
The truth is that deliverability is the foundation upon which your entire email marketing strategy rests. It’s the first and most important data point towards understanding the success of your campaigns—but it can also be easily neglected and overlooked. Before you know how an audience is responding to your message, deliverability tells you if that message is even getting through.
What is Email Deliverability?
Deliverability answers a simple question: did your email make it to your intended audience’s inbox? It’s important to first note that deliverability means something different than delivery.
Delivery means that a message has been successfully delivered to the email service provider (ESP). Unsuccessful delivery will usually mean your email was rejected or “bounced.” Your email might not be delivered for a number of reasons, like the email address may no longer be active, or your IP address has been blocked.
When we talk about deliverability, we mean that an email has been delivered to the ESP and has landed in the inbox, rather than the spam folder. This is a key point: just because an email does not bounce back does not mean that it was received by your audience in their inbox. It’s possible for marketers who are certain they are doing everything right to still have messages end up as spam, meaning that they are never seen by readers.
Why Deliverability Matters
It may already be clear why deliverability is such an important metric to track. What good is it to spend time and resources creating a meaningful email message only for it to end up in someone’s spam folder?
There are significant reasons why marketers not only need to pay attention to email deliverability, but also actively work to track and improve their inbox placement.
1. Ensuring Maximum ROI
The problem that arises with bad deliverability rates is that you may end up doing more harm than good if you are investing your marketing resources into emails that are never reaching your recipients. If you’ve put energy into creating an email and effort into building a strong email list, but then your emails don’t make it to your audience’s inbox, then you might have been better off not attempting email marketing at all.
When you turn your attention towards deliverability, you are taking steps to ensure that every email is making it to your recipient’s inbox. This isn’t just helping out your marketing strategy—it’s ultimately just smart business.
2. Connecting with Customers
Failing to shore up your rates of deliverability can also create a needless break in the chain of communication between a brand and its customers. Email offers companies a direct connection with customers. Plus, seeing recipient engagement and click rates are vital for understanding how your audience is interacting with your content. Without strong deliverability, you’ll never know how effective your marketing messages are.
When you pay attention to your inbox placement, you can feel confident that any other metrics you’re studying are accurate reflections of costumer engagement. Your insights won’t be clouded by fuzzy questions of deliverability.
Tips for Improving Email Deliverability
With so much riding on having good deliverability, the logical question for marketers is how to be assured that all your emails are getting through—all the way to the inbox. Fortunately, there are a number of steps that you can take to improve your deliverability.
Have a Good Sender Reputation
A first step is to make sure you have a good sender reputation, or sender score. Your sender reputation is summation of your credibility as an email sender from an ISP. If your sender score falls below a certain number (determined based on a 1-100 scale), then your emails will get sent to the spam folder.
In order to keep your sender reputation in good standing, you’ll want to avoid getting complaints, landing on blacklists, or sending to too many unknown users. A good resource for checking your sender reputation is SenderScore.
It’s important that you send consistently—but note that does not mean you should send constantly. If you overload your audience, there’s a chance they will unsubscribe or—worse—mark your messages as spam.
Once a week is a good middle ground. Once every month can work too, depending on how much value you have to share. If you have an especially engaged audience, more than once a week should be fine—just keep a close eye on engagement and any spike in unsubscribes.
Avoid Getting Blacklisted
Blacklists are a notable threat to deliverability. These are regularly-updated lists that identify sources of spam email such as specific IP addresses or domains. It’s important to note that blacklists are a benefit to email marketers, as they ensure that consumers are not being flooded with actual spam messages.
Marketers need to be vigilant though, as reputable emailers can end up on these blacklists. If you get some spam complaints, or surge in list size, or get a lot of bounce backs, you could end up on a blacklist. Minimize your blacklist risk by following email best practices. You can also frequently check sites like Spamhaus and Spamcop to make sure you’re not on their lists.
Use Email Marketing Software
It is possible to be very careful in all your email efforts and still have your emails end up in a spam folder, or for your IP to appear on a blacklist. To get the strongest possible protection again deliverability issues, look into email marketing software with tools for deliverability and inbox placement.
With the right email marketing solution, you can throttle emails to catch deliverability issues right away or get accurate reporting based on ISP. You can even put campaigns through specific delivery channels that let you select the idea ESP for each domain recipient.
To learn more about how email marketing software can be used to monitor and improve deliverability, check out our resources on E-Delivery—Phonexa’s email marketing platform.