Email deliverability refers to the ability of your emails to reach their intended recipients’ inboxes. The majority of domains have a high rate of email deliverability, which means that their emails typically make it to their intended recipients.
Certain organizations, particularly those that send a high volume of sales and marketing emails, may discover that their emails are being marked as undeliverable or ending up in spam folders—which begs the question: What factors affect an email’s deliverability?
The first factor that affects email deliverability is the email’s content. Email servers (such as Gmail) make every effort to ensure that emails delivered to users’ inboxes are pertinent and relevant, rather than spam.
There is a list of email spam words that, if found in the body of your email, will significantly reduce the likelihood of it ever reaching the recipient’s inbox. Free, act now, Venmo, (seriously), and limited time have been identified in enough spammy emails that most email servers automatically place them in the recipients’ spam folders or even block them entirely.
The other factor is the reputation of your sender. If your email address has a history of sending spam or low-quality emails, you will be penalized, and future messages may not reach inboxes as expected.
Suggestions for increasing email deliverability
Maintaining a healthy sender reputation and email deliverability requires the following tactics:
1. Try to get engagement
Businesses that send engaging emails have no reason to be concerned about email deliverability. Engaging emails do more than look cool; they compel the user to act via clicks.
Email opens and clicks have an effect on deliverability. If there is a significant difference between these two figures, it can actually be detrimental to your sender’s reputation. The idea is that users will open the email and, if the CTAs are relevant, they will click—which means that an email with a high open rate but low click rate may lack both good content and relevant CTAs.
Pro tip: Including the recipient’s name or other form of personalization in the email subject line can increase engagement by up to 26%.
The only certain way to maintain a healthy email engagement score is to send relevant content to the appropriate audience. This does not necessitate the creation of hundreds of demographically segmented micro-lists, but it does mean that you should avoid blasting your entire audience.
Additionally, soliciting responses from your audience is a good idea. While the concept of a two-way conversation may seem absurd (consider how many newsletters you actually read), it is not against the rules. Consider ending one of your newsletters with an open-ended question and watching the responses pour in.
2. Don’t overwhelm your audience
For a million other reasons, this should already be a priority. Excessive emailing to an audience is one of the worst mistakes a business can make, as it can result in users abandoning the brand completely.
Overwhelming an audience can also have a detrimental effect on your deliverability. There is no hard limit on the number of emails you can send to your audience, and sending too many emails will not get you into trouble specifically. Rather than that, your users will be irritated by you.
They’ll stop opening your emails, unsubscribe, and mark your messages as spam, reducing your deliverability.
The most effective way to keep your email audience engaged is to establish some fundamental email cadences for your brand.
3. Double-check your email lists
This is where a large number of email senders run afoul. Creating an email list is difficult. To build a decent email audience, it takes time, patience, and a ton of good content. Multiply that by your conversion rate, and it becomes clear why businesses and email senders avoid list pruning or rely on third-party list vendors to secure additional contracts.
However, maintaining control of your email list is the only way to ensure that your emails remain healthy and deliverable. Email lists deteriorate due to a variety of factors. Individuals leave companies and their email addresses expire, or perhaps the content of your company is no longer of interest to them.
Additionally, list vendors are risky. There is no way to determine which contacts on the list are still healthy or even eligible to receive emails; the only way to determine this is to email them. Emailing an out-of-date list with a high bounce rate will negatively impact your deliverability.
It’s a good idea to maintain control of your email list management by manually unsubscribing bounces (if your email marketing software does not already do this) and recipients who have never opened your emails. There is little benefit to keeping them around, and maintaining a habit of removing them will help you maintain a healthy deliverability.
4. Exclude auto-spam words
Spam words are words that detract from your content’s deliverability simply by being present. ISPs and email providers have determined that emails with specific verbiage are more likely to be unsubscribed from and marked as spam than other emails, so the verbiage itself is a penalty against email senders.
Spam verbiage includes the following: call now, exclusive deal, free, prize, order now, and get out of debt.
This is not to say that emailing your children about a great deal on a car from Craigslist will render your email undeliverable. The spam-words rule is primarily applied to repeat offenders and is weighed against a sender’s reputation along with email open rates, unsubscribe rates, and other metrics.