Email Deliverability

According to SenderScore (a global email reputation measurement firm), only 28% of emails ever reach an inbox. Are you sending one of the 72%?

As we start to rely on email more and more, it is important to keep in mind your email deliverability statistics. Poor email deliverability is the equivalent of having ongoing natural disasters hitting your local post offices. You might have great things to say and really cool emails but too few people are seeing them.

How do you make sure your emails make it into inboxes? Read on:

First, it’s important to remember that just because you can send an email to everyone, that doesn’t mean you should. Email is not free. “Batch and blast” sends using dirty email files will hurt deliverability to all names – your best as well as your least-involved recipients – and impact email revenue for months to come.

A poor email deliverability score will impact your deliverability issues exponentially. That will cost you.

Tip #1: Check your hard and soft bounce rates

  • High bounce rates indicate either dirty data collection or that you haven’t kept your list updated. Be vigilant about verifying email addresses before they get added to your database and immediately remove hard bounces after the first bounce. Remove soft bounces after the third attempt.

Tip #2: Check your deliverability reports

  • Sometimes an organization has sent so much dirty email that an entire email client provider (like or sends all the organization’s email straight to a junk folder. This happens even with your most engaged constituents. What to do now?

  • Request regular domain deliverability reports from your ESP provider to determine your Sender Score over the past year. If it’s below 70, it’s likely that most of your messages are winding up in junk folders and you need to quickly rehabilitate your list. If it’s between 70 and 80, you need to be cautious and begin putting in proactive measures to increase deliverability and only adding clean names to your file.

Tip #3: Test your file with a one-time send out of a different system (do a small A/B test) to measure deliverability and email statistics

  • Using a third party server can determine if your file needs to be cleaned up. If you see an increase in deliverability, test again – to make sure you have enough data to make a recommendation to move forward with a server change, ESP change or file clean up.

Tip #4:  Engage your recipients

  • Keep an eye on who is engaged, who is opening your emails and who becomes immediately engaged in your Welcome Series. Every recipient of your email who takes an action lifts your credibility with email client providers.

  • Drop unengaged constituents on a regular basis. Pull them out of your database as they could be costing you money by increasing your file size on your ECRM and also lowering your quality score.

  • Make sure you set up clear rules on what an unengaged constituent looks like. For example: has not opened an email in six months, has not clicked through in 12 months, has not donated in four years, etc.

Tip #5: Define a “dead weight” check list

  • Send a last chance engagement email or even a re-welcome engagement email to those about to be dropped, where users have to complete some sort of action. If they don’t take action, remove them from the file.

Tip #6: Use the double opt-in

  • Ask new leads to double opt-in (confirming their email address after sign-up); this is the best way to keep your data clean and keep deliverability scores high. It immediately shows their interest in your organization and guarantees lower spam complaints across the board, keeping you with healthy first-time interactive users.

  • You can also use this tactic to re-engage the “dead weight” (send an engagement then a confirmation email engagement or check box). That’s a great way to bring these constituents back from the “dead and dragging” and increase your deliverability score immediately.

Tip #7: Use a consistent sender username and somewhat consistent email schedule

  • A sporadic email send schedule and using lots of different sender names can cause a reduction in your deliverability score. Make sure you stick to a somewhat consistent email schedule. Use a sender name that your constituents will recognize.

Tip #8: Limit high-graphic content

  • Avoid sending emails with a large file size, i.e. large images or video, as many email providers filter out this content immediately in order to send through their servers quickly.

    Tip #9: Be strategic in your subject lines

  • Change subject lines depending on the segment receiving the mail.

  • Be careful not to use spam-flagging subject lines.

  • Avoid using all capitals, unnecessary punctuation or symbols that could create distractions.

Tip #10: If users unsubscribe, it may be OK

  • Making it difficult to unsubscribe may backfire as it can cause an increase in spam complaints. Having users click the unsub button is a much better alternative than having users click the spam complaint button or mark your message as junk. Those people pull down your deliverability score and hurt all the hard work you just put in. Do not fear if people unsubscribe.

    Remember, keep your file clean and fresh with engaged constituents. If you don’t, your results will be on a downward trend and you may never know why. Plus you could have a more engaged base and a more productive email program than you realize.

If your list is “dirty” it really won’t matter just how great your creative is, if no one is receiving and reading your emails.