Maybe you’ve read countless sources, and you’re still not sure what email deliverability is (or isn’t). It can be difficult to cut through the noise and get to the bottom of its complexities.
Anyone can create a website or pose as an expert in just about any field you can imagine these days. Bombarded by a flurry of information masquerading as “fact,” sometimes it can be difficult to know the difference between what is accurate and what isn’t.
This is especially true when it comes to email marketing, and, more specifically, email deliverability. Believing everything you read online about email deliverability is a recipe for misinformation since this can be a convoluted and confusing topic!
Once and for all, let’s cover what email deliverability (legit) is, so you can set out on the right path to fixing any inbox placement issues you’ve been experiencing. While we’re at it, we’ll de-mystify three of the most common misconceptions you might have about email deliverability and what can affect it.
Ready to leave those misconceptions behind? Let’s dive right in.
Is email deliverability what I think it is?
That depends on what you think email deliverability is, to begin with. If you’ve always heard or read that email deliverability is the same thing as email delivery, then buckle up because we’re about to dispel that myth head-on.
What’s the difference between email delivery and email deliverability?
While they share the same prefix, we’re afraid that’s where any similarity between these metrics ends. There are countless differences between email delivery and email deliverability. But rather than bog you down with the technical nuances, we’ll focus on what each metric is, generally speaking (before exploring deliverability in greater detail later).
Email delivery deciphered
When you send an email, and your recipient’s server accepts, that means your message was delivered.
Seems simple, right? Sort of.
Where that server placed your email after it was delivered — whether the inbox or spam, for example – is a question of deliverability.
Email deliverability deconstructed
By email deliverability, we’re referring to inbox placement.
This means the email was delivered, but now we need to know which folder your message landed in after it was delivered. That could mean the spam folder, or it could also mean the inbox or a specific tab like Social or Promotions (in Gmail).
Top 3 misconceptions and myths about email deliverability
Misconception 1: A high sender reputation means you’ll always land in the inbox
There are spammers, spoofers, and numerous other malicious senders skulking around across the internet. Because of these bad actors, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) need a way to know who is a credible sender and who isn’t.
That’s where sender reputation comes into the conversation.
You might be thinking this doesn’t apply to you. After all, you’re not one of those email bad guys. So, your sender reputation is likely on the high end.
And because of that, your emails will always land in the inbox, right?
First, every ISP has its way of assigning you a sender reputation. Some give more weight to certain indicators over others, but generally speaking, they all have their secret sauce for this. So, you could very well go to the spam folder in Outlook, but then the inbox in Gmail.
There isn’t a 100% guaranteed way to reach the inbox either. Imagine the field day spammers and spoofers would have with that type of golden arrow. To improve your inbox placement, you’re going to want to work on what’s in your control, like keeping your email databases clean and sending your emails to people who’ve consented.
Misconception 2: Subscribers on your opt-in lists want to get your emails
Have your engagement rates been less than stellar? How old are your email lists? Are they teeming with hundreds of thousands of email addresses from ten years ago? You need consent before you can send emails to anyone. Just because a subscriber gave you double opted-in three years ago, doesn’t mean they would do the same today.
Check out their level of engagement. That can give you some idea of how they feel about your email (or indicate a different problem entirely, such as they’re not even seeing your email, to begin with, because your email landed in their Junk folder).
The truth about subscriber behavior
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “…In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” You may have gotten consent from your subscribers once, but they’re free to have a change of heart. If they’re unengaged, create a re-permission campaign or just sunset them outright.
Misconception 3: My email content doesn’t affect my deliverability
All of the tech-talk surrounding deliverability and sender reputation may leave you feeling outside of your comfort zone. But creating stellar email content? Maybe you’re 100% in your element.
From color schemes and consistent design rendering to the perfect balance of graphics and text, (after all you’re known as the content design wizard), you’ve got your company’s content down to a T.
And if your company’s emails aren’t landing in your subscribers’ inboxes, well, that has nothing to do with your email content, right?
Sadly, this isn’t the case.
Inbox placement is the sum of all signals. And those signals carry different weights when it comes to deliverability. The quality of your email content (the domain reputation of any URLs included in your email, for example) is a relevant signal that can factor into whether you’ll make it to the inbox.
The truth about your email content
While there isn’t a single word, phrase, or content indicator alone that will necessarily trigger a spam filter (and derail your inbox placement), you still need to make it past the eyes of your recipient. A misleading subject line with a spelling error could make them raise an eyebrow (and report you as spam).
What’s in my control to improve my email deliverability?
Perform inbox placement testing
Most ISPs can tell you if your emails were delivered. What they won’t tell you, however, is where your message ended up once it got through the gates.
That could mean Spam or siphoned up into the Promotions tab or elsewhere.
With Kickbox’s inbox placement testing, it’s possible to see where your emails are landing across most major email clients, like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, and others.
Having these insights at your fingertips will allow you to observe and track inbox issues and deliverability trends so you can make necessary adjustments, like optimizing your email campaigns.
Run spam filter tests on your email content before you send
You don’t want to send an email campaign and cross your fingers that it won’t trigger a spam filter. Instead, you can run a spam filter test before you ever disseminate your campaign to see how it fares against some of the biggest spam filters in existence, such as Symantec Cloud, Spam Assassin, and Barracuda.
Monitor for blocklistings and delist (if applicable)
If an ISP suspects your sending domain or IP address of sending spam or engaging in other forms of email abuse, you could find yourself on a blocklist. A blocklist is a real-time collection of email sending domains and IP addresses suspected of being a source of spam or any other type of email abuse.
You could end up on a blocklist for any number of reasons. Take a look at some of the most common among them:
- Sending unwanted emails to email addresses that have sketchy or non-existent permission statuses
- Spam complaints
- High email bounce rate and spam trap hits
- Failing to maintain clean, opted-in email lists
- ISP-initiated because of the number of spam complaints against you
- Failure to authenticate your email (to prove you are who you say you are and your server has been authorized to send an email for that email address)
- Custom spam filters
- Any combination of the above along with other proprietary data sources and contributing factors
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. At Kickbox, our blocklist monitoring tool can send you a real-time alert if your sending domains or IP addresses end up on a blocklist.
And if you do land on one, you’ll receive helpful resources so you can understand the potential impact of that blocklisting. And, then, you’ll get customized instructions and steps you’ll need to delist.
Ready to gain a better understanding of email deliverability from the Kickbox consultants?
It’s difficult not to be confused by all of the deliverability “facts” floating around out there. You can’t afford to take a risk on just any expert or information outlet when your deliverability is on the line.
At Kickbox, our suite of deliverability tools can provide you with clear and specific insights about several different indicators that impact your deliverability rate, including blocklist monitoring, inbox placement testing, DMARC monitoring, and more.
But what happens when you have questions about the best way to move forward? Or, maybe you know you need to warm up a new IP address, but you’re not sure where to begin. Perhaps, you have a list of questions, and you (and your email program) would both benefit from direct access to a deliverability expert.
Reject the deliverability misinformation pipeline and equip yourself with the tools and deliverability consultants you can trust, and that your email program deserves.