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Understanding Deliverability In Email Marketing

March 19 - 2024

Email Marketing Strategy 5 min read

Reporting emails

Email deliverability is a hot topic in the world of marketing right now, with some of the largest email providers on the planet issuing new deliverability guidelines. As a result, many brands are realising that they may need to make significant changes to their processes to ensure emails arrive safely in their customer’s inboxes. 

We recently wrote about Yahoo and Google’s email marketing requirements and how to create email marketing campaigns that align with the platforms’ sender guidelines. 

Deliverability might not spark creativity in the same way that coming up with a new campaign idea does – but you need to spend enough time to ensure you’ve got all the necessary boxes ticked or your emails won’t reach your audience. 

In this article, we explore email deliverability and answer some of the most important questions on marketers’ lips in 2024. From defining email marketing deliverability through to testing and common mistakes marketers make, we cover it all. So, hopefully, by the end, you’ll have a better idea about how your emails are delivered, and what you can do to ensure they are hitting your audiences’ inboxes every time. 

What is deliverability in email marketing?

You probably know this, but let’s just go back to basics for a moment. Email marketing deliverability refers to the way your email campaigns are reaching your audience’s inbox, not just their spam or junk filters. 

As a recipient yourself, you’ll know that not all email campaigns are landing in your inbox. If you’ve ever had a look in your spam, you’ll probably find dozens, if not hundreds, of emails from brands desperately trying to get your attention but failing at the first hurdle.

From a business standpoint, investing in deliverability should be high on your list of marketing priorities. Of course, if your email isn’t delivered to the right place, you limit who sees it – not only does this reduce your engagement, but it also takes away from the time spent creating the email and its content. This means there is little-to-no return on your investment, be that financial or time. 

Deliverability has always been on email marketers’ radar, but it’s absolutely at the top of our priorities for 2024 as the largest email platforms in the world are setting our new, stricter sender guidelines that we all must follow. 

Under the umbrella of deliverability in email marketing, you’ll find technical aspects such as authentication requirements and unsubscribe protocols, as well as GDPR and data privacy considerations like one-click unsubscribes. Even specialist email marketers can struggle to keep full oversight of the industry changes, regulations and requirements regarding deliverability. (That’s why working with an experienced agency can lighten the load on your in-house team, and ensure you are always meeting compliance expectations across the board). 

Deliverability affects every organisation that sends email marketing, even if you don’t have a significant database. Google has additional requirements for those they deem “bulk senders.” – we’ll cover these later. 

A bulk sender sends 5,000 messages or more to personal Gmail accounts within a 24-hour. You only have to meet this criteria once to be permanently considered a bulk sender. This might sound significant, but if you consider all automated emails, welcome emails, post-purchase emails, requests for reviews, etc, the number of communications will soon add up. 

If you’re already working with Jarrang, then you can rest easy knowing we’re doing everything we can to maximise your email deliverability. So, let’s dive into the causes of poor email deliverability and some actions you can take to improve it. 

What affects email deliverability?

There are several factors that affect email deliverability, and as time goes on, we only expect these to get more stringent. As of right now, these include:

  • Authentication requirements – All senders must set up DKIM or SPF authentication. Bulk senders must set up SPF, DKIM & DMARC.
  • Spam rates – Sends must keep spam rates below 0.10% (in Postmaster Tools) and never exceed 0.30%. As a rule, the lower your spam rates, the better deliverability will be. 
  • Unsubscribe process – You must make sure that recipients can easily unsubscribe from emails. This is, of course, a compliance issue, but it also means that the quality of your database will remain strong if only interested parties stay subscribed. 
  • Sending from personal email addresses – Sending from @gmail and @yahoo domains will automatically trigger spam filters, so make sure you always send from a custom domain with all proper authentication established.
  • Subject lines – Recipients report spam emails based on subject lines and subtitles, so be sure to avoid spam words and trigger phrases. 
  •  ‘Spam’ language when overused or irrelevant – While certain words and phrases previously triggered the sender’s spam filters, we now know that filters are sophisticated enough to identify whether these terms are used in context and relevant to the content. For example, you can send an email about a giveaway using “Win!” as long as this is both relevant and not overused. 
  • Relevancy – Is every email you send relevant to the recipient? People are more likely to mark emails as spam if they don’t think they are relevant to them. You can easily avoid this by segmenting your database, and only sending emails that are relevant to recipients. 

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to email deliverability. From ensuring your email setup is technically sound through to creating relevant and interesting emails, all of this takes time and resource. Investing in email deliverability now will stand you in good stead for future campaign success. Ultimately, even the best thought-out campaigns will fail if they don’t even arrive in your recipients’ inbox. 

Not sure about whether your emails are getting to your audience? Let’s take a look at testing email deliverability in the next section. 

How to test email deliverability

Testing email deliverability is the first step towards improving it. If you’ve noticed your marketing emails are no longer hitting inboxes, engagement has reduced, or emails are being increasingly flagged as spam, then you should be able to determine the problem areas through a rigorous testing process.

Email tracking

There are a few different tools you can use to track your emails, and find out where they are going. Your email marketing platform probably has a basic tracking facility built-in, and there will be data in your reports around bounce rates, spam flagging and other vital aspects of email deliverability. 

We’ve written in the past about Litmus, an all-in-one marketing platform, which has an advanced testing offering, including allowing you to preview email campaigns in different email clients, and identify potential spam triggers.

Spam testing

Your emails may be flagged as spam either by the email client or the recipient. There are lots of both free and paid tools available that allow you to test for automated spam flagging on various email clients. When it comes to reducing manual spam flagging, this is a bit tricker as it relies on you ensuring that content is always relevant and you don’t bombard your database with too many emails. 

Ongoing testing

Remember, it’s not just about testing your email deliverability once, getting the results and making changes. You need to constantly monitor this aspect of your activity so you can see any patterns or changes as soon as they happen. If you don’t have the resource or expertise on your team to regularly monitor and test email deliverability, then give us a call, and we’ll see how we can help.

Email deliverability software

As with any marketing discipline, the more you know about how well your performance, the better informed your decisions can be. Email marketing is one area, in particular, where data can provide invaluable insight into your activities, allowing you to continually improve your performance and, ultimately, achieve your marketing goals.

With that in mind, you need access to live and accurate data about your email deliverability. 

There are so many platforms on the market that claim to monitor and improve email deliverability, it’s hard to know which to trust. We work closely with Validity, a customer data company which has developed a number of useful data-driven tools, including Everest, its email deliverability platform.

Everest provides email marketers with a live dashboard covering the full spectrum of email deliverability metrics, including signal spam complaints, suspicious mail and inbox placement. With access to this level of information and detail, you can identify potential deliverability issues as early as possible, thus minimising the impact of the problems if and when they do happen.

Email deliverability is complicated, and even the best software requires experts at the helm to ensure you are getting the best results. With access to the data and understanding how to read it, you can compile reports that tell stories. This will work to inform decision-makers about what deliverability means in real terms and how it impacts the likes of engagement and ROI. 

How to improve email deliverability

Though it requires expertise and investment, making an effort to improve deliverability has clear benefits for your campaign performance. To help you get started, we've created a detailed guide on how to improve deliverability. 

Knowing what you need to do is one thing, but putting it all into practice can be time-consuming and technically complex, so that’s where Jarrang comes in. As your email marketing partner, we fill gaps where your in-house team may lack expertise, knowledge or resource. 

So, if you’ve read this guide and you think your team could do with an extra pair of hands to ensure email deliverability, get in touch with Jarrang today for a chat. 

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