How to Improve Email Deliverability - A Complete Guide

Eman Zahra
Eman Zahra

Last updated on

October 27, 2021

Email marketing is one of the most potent and influential internet marketing channels. It helps reach the audience in a more personalized way at an affordable cost. A strong email marketing strategy remains the key channel to interact with potential and current customers followed by social media. According to recent stats, email marketing delivers a strong return on investment that goes as high as 42 times your initial investment. To make your email marketing techniques work, you first have to ensure email deliverability to your contact list.

In order to reap the complete benefits of email marketing, one should have a complete grasp of building a strong email strategy. Email deliverability should be made smooth and the whole structure should be flawless. There are a few things to know before you draw out a new email marketing strategy that can help you improve email deliverability. To avoid headaches related to email marketing strategy building, you need to understand the complete journey of your email:

Email Journey

The email journey consists of different starts and stops. You have a new email all ready to get sent but you need to know the process it goes through before reaching the target. Here’s how the journey goes:

Email List Building

Before you send out the email, you have to build a list of people that will receive the email. Different lead generation tools can help you collect more emails and help turn visitors into customers.

Email Sending

When you have the list and all you have to do is send it out. Your ESP (Email Service Provider) will take care of this after evaluating the consent of each list member. If the consent is revoked by any member, ESP will eliminate them from the list.

Email Delivered

The sent email gets delivered but sometimes it may fail due to reasons like::

  1. Invalid email address: Your email gets bounced back due to an invalid email address. This type of bounce is called a hard bounce and you can avoid this by email list verification.
  2. Recipient’s full inbox: This is a highly rare form of soft bounce. It occurs when the recipient has a full inbox. Since most ESPs provide much larger inboxes today, therefore a full inbox is hardly the reason for email delivery failure.
  3. Sudden change in email sending volume: When there’s a sudden increase in the volume of emails, this soft bounce occurs. In order to reach your email list successfully, keep a consistent volume.
  4. Email frequency too high: Email frequency is the number of emails sent to the email list. If this frequency increases either suddenly or slowly, it will become more and more unlikely to reach the recipients.

Email in Inbox (or not)

Your intent is for each of your emails to reach your recipients’ inbox, but this may not always happen. They may have been blocked by the recipient, or they may end up in their spam folder.

Email gets opened or not

There are ways to know if your email was opened or not without invading anyone’s privacy. The chances of the email getting opened depend upon the quality of email’s subject line and recipient’s interest.

How to get contacts to open your email

Your email got delivered but how do you get them to read what you said and interact with it? We have got you covered here too. We are discussing some ways you can improve the open rate of your emails but first let’s discuss what it is.

Open Rate is the percentage of contacts who actually open the emails you’re sending. This determines how well your email marketing strategy is doing. But this is not the only indicator. Combine this with some other factors like email clicks, email forwarding, email deletion, unsubscriptions, and subscriptions, etc to get a better idea. Keep a check if your email open rate is improving over time or not and try to better your strategies accordingly. You have to aim for at least a 20% open rate or better. Here are some of the ways you can increase the open rate of your emails:

Improve subject lines: This is the first thing that your contacts will see when they find your email in the inbox. So you have a second to make an impression there. If that impression fails, they are not going to open the email. Here’s how you can make a good impression:

  1. Keep the subject line short and sweet
  2. Personalize subject lines
  3. Give them a clear taste of what’s inside
  4. Try avoiding “no-reply” as your sender name
  5. Be personal
  6. Time the email right

According to research, personalized and well established subject lines generate 50% higher open rates.

Keep them compact: Keep your email compact. You do not have to add unnecessary details as they tend to bore the reader. Your contact might lose interest in the email and stop engaging with future emails. If possible, personalize the emails too according to your subscriber’s interests. This is where segmentation really comes in handy.

Better content and format: Try to whip up interesting content for your emails and even that might not be enough. You have to format the whole email in a comprehensible way. The content of the email should be easy-to-read and should offer a clean user experience. If the email is too complicated, you can lose loyal subscribers. Design it in the most effective way to keep them interested.

Sender Reputation: Sender reputation depends on many factors. Some of those are out of your control but you can improve the reputation by handling the others. The same things we mentioned to ensure email deliverability also handle your sender reputation. Double check each one of them.

Interactive Emails: Sending interactive emails can make you a favorite of your contacts. There’s a great chance of increasing user engagement with interactive emails. These emails include animations, video messages, quizzes, polls, surprises, and much more.

Recipient Action

The recipient takes some actions with the email. He can either engage with it, not engage with it, unsubscribe to your emails, or even mark it as spam. We recommend avoiding any email that gets you marked as spam for it can hurt your reputation.

Why is your email not reaching the recipient?

According to research, 4 out of 5 emails reach the recipients and 1 is never even delivered. Sometimes, the delivered email is not visible to them due to different issues that arise during the whole journey. Some of the problems that arise during the email pathway from the moment you send the email to the time it is supposed to reach the recipient list are:

Email Spammed

The term email bulking is used for emails that are spammed by the ISPs. Email bulking causes your email to be thrown into the junk or spam folder. Spam messages are rarely checked by the customers hence your email does not reach them. There’s no concise way to see if your emails are getting spammed. You can, however, avoid this situation by taking the following measures:

Target the right customers

Filter your contact list and only keep contacts who are actually interested in hearing from you. This will also increase the open rate for your emails and hence will keep them from going to the spam box.

Tell subscribers to whitelist your emails

The best time to ask this from your users is right when you send a welcome email to them. This will not only keep you from getting spammed but also getting whitelisted will build a good sender reputation. Your inbox delivery rate will increase with this simple step.

Tell subscribers to keep an organized inbox

Most of the subscribers are usually disorganized and that’s simply because they don’t know why and how to organize their inboxes. Sending them clear instructions can make them clear up all the junk from their inboxes and find your emails easily. An organized inbox with your emails on priority will not make your emails spam.

Email Blocking

If you are blocked, you can not send email to anyone. This can never be good. It happens if your emails are mostly getting hard bounced or marked as spammed many times. There are different ways to avoid it that include cleaning your mailing list, increasing engagement, and decreasing spam records.

Email Blacklisting

Getting blacklisted can hurt your email marketing tons. It is a strict block that can keep you from sending out any emails until you get whitelisted. Unlike blocks that end in 2 days to a week, this is not revoked automatically. You have to appeal to the blacklisting organization to get whitelisted. You will also have to change your mailing habits in order to avoid this in the future.

How can you improve email deliverability?

Now that you know the whole email journey and the issues that can arise during it, here’s a treat for you. We have collected a list of established practices that can help improve email deliverability. When in doubt, always come back to this list to get an idea. Here’s a guide to how you can do this:

Email domain authentication

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) are email authentication methods that are the terms you should know before you start an email marketing strategy. The email world hates impersonation and can tank your sender's reputation in a poof. This can also allow someone else to take control of your domain, called email spoofing. This is where SPF and DKIM come into play. Getting yourself authenticated can prove that you are worthy of sending emails and can also keep your strategy secure. Unauthenticated emails can bring up issues in email deliverability.

Perfect the opt-in process

We can not stress enough this point. It’s simple- keep everything easy. When you’re collecting emails and making a list, make sure it's the people who really want to see what you have to offer. You can do it by simplifying your opt-in process and making it transparent. Confused users who unknowingly subscribed to your emails can mark your emails as spam and as a result, ISPs can think that you’re spamming everyone. This will also hurt the email deliverability for other users. You certainly don’t want that.

Improve Quality of Contact List

A factor that has a high impact on your email deliverability is the quality of your email list. A quality contact list means your recipients:

  1. Want to get your emails
  2. Interact with your emails
  3. Do not mark your emails as spam

However, a new sender does not have this under his control. You can only figure out quality contacts after sending out a few emails. That is why you should make it a regular practice to clean up your list.

Relevancy and frequency

Frequent emails can get you under the microscope of ESPs. Sending emails to the same contacts every day, for example, can put you under the notice of ESPs. Any inactivity from those contacts can hurt your sender reputation. Before you send frequent emails, make sure those emails are relevant to the recipients to avoid any unpleasant situations. Before you send those emails, make sure you

  1. Segment the list
  2. Do not send the same email to everyone- Personalize it
  3. Send emails only when you are convinced they are of value to your recipients

Improve Interaction

In order to improve email deliverability, you have to improve subscriber interaction with your emails. If the recipient does not interact with the email most of the time, your emails can go to spam. It is better to remove unengaged users as it can hurt your sender reputation. It is also a good practice to avoid spam traps. A spam trap can get you in a denied sender list and can affect email deliverability.

Summing it up with some do’s and don’ts

We have one last treat for you. We made a complete list of do’s and don’ts that can ensure email deliverability and this is how they go

The Do’s

  1. Make the sign-up process easy and memorable. A better opt-in process definitely leaves an impression.
  2. Use email engagement to calculate how often you should send an email and who you should include in your email list.
  3. Keep a check if your emails deliver what your subscribers signed up for.
  4. Always personalize your emails. You’ll be amazed by the results.

The Don’ts

  1. Don’t buy your email lists in bulk and use them without going through the details.
  2. Do not send emails to people who don’t want them.
  3. Do not use spammy language with all caps, extra punctuation marks, or going a little EXTRA with the terminologies.
  4. Do not make it complicated and difficult for the user to unsubscribe from your emails.

Email marketing, when done right, can do wonders for your business as this is one of the most valuable things in the marketing world. If you’re looking to know more about building a better email marketing strategy, check out our Email Marketing Strategy, Guide For 2021.


Author Bio

Eman Zahra

Eman-e-Zahra is an IT graduate and has helped many businesses especially software development companies with their content marketing. Eman has managed to achieve a global clientele with her work by lending them a hand in the marketing strategy department.

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