All of your deliverability questions answered

July 27, 2021

Where, oh where, could your emails be?

There’s no getting around it: email deliverability is a tricky topic to understand and apply.

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a handy dandy expert nearby that you could just grab and ask all of your deliverability questions?Well, I do! And I’m willing to share his wisdom with you too.I recently sat down with our Head of Engineering and asked him every deliverability question that I could think of in a 40-minute timeframe. Here’s what he had to say.

Alright, let’s start at the beginning. What is email deliverability?

Simply put, deliverability is the art of getting the emails into the inbox. Most people think that once they hit send, their emails magically appear in the inboxes of their customers. But there are a lot of things that need to go right in order for your emails to arrive successfully at their destination. Think of it like an airport! You drop your email off at departures, it still has to make it through security AND the whole flight before it gets to where it’s headed.

You’re bound to miss a few flights inboxes here and there, especially if you send a lot of emails, but it’s about getting as many emails delivered to the primary inbox as possible.

Wait… If my emails don’t make it to the primary inbox, where are they going instead?

If your emails aren’t making it to their destinations, there are a few pretty common obstacles that might be standing in their way.The first, and most likely, culprit is the promotions tab. Not all email providers include this feature. But, for those that do, it’s a sub-folder within the inbox made specifically for marketing and promotional emails. It’s not necessarily a bad thing if your email ends up here though, it just means you’ll be in amongst all of the other marketing emails. We cover the promotions tab in more depth here, if you’re interested in learning more.The other possible explanations are that your email ended up in the spam folder, that it bounced back to the sender, or in very rare cases, that it was simply lost to the void of the internet.

In any case, it’s important to keep track of where your emails are ending up in case there are issues that need to be addressed with your list or your sending address.

Okay, I think I'm getting the hang of deliverability. But why should I care about it?

Well, the obvious answer is that if your emails aren’t arriving in your customer’s inbox, then they aren’t being seen. And if they aren’t being seen, then you’re losing the sale or the connection or whatever it was that your email was aiming to accomplish.But deliverability is also important because of how it impacts your sending reputation.

...My what??

An email sender reputation is a score that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns to an organization that sends emails (so, you!).

There are a bunch of different things that impact your sending reputation score, including: how many people are opening and clicking your emails, how frequently your emails are being marked as spam, and how many people are unsubscribing from your list, to name a few.Sound familiar? That’s because email deliverability and sending reputation are inextricably linked. The higher your sender reputation score, the more likely the ISP is to deliver your email to its intended destination. On the other hand, if your score is too low, your email could end up going to spam, or being rejected by the ISP altogether. This topic could be a separate post all on its own, so let’s leave it there for now. Just one final word of warning: it’s a lot easier to ruin your sending reputation than it is to improve it.

So I should keep my deliverability healthy so that it, in turn, keeps my sending reputation healthy?


That makes sense! But how do I measure the health of my deliverability?

Technically, you can figure out your email deliverability rate by looking at how many of your sent emails were successfully delivered. From there, you can look at things like your bounce-back rate and spam rate to determine where your unsuccessful sends may have ended up.But, if you want a deeper understanding of how your emails are being received, there are a couple of other places to look. Looking at your open rates and click rates is a great place to start. Both will give you an indication of if the people on your list want to be there. (Remember, you want them to want you!)

One last one that sometimes comes as a surprise for people is the reply rate! Engaging with your customers (and having them engage with you) like a real person and not a spammer definitely wins you points in the eyes of the ISP.Once you’ve got your metrics, you can find benchmarks specific to your industry (from Klaviyo or elsewhere) to see how they compare, and to adjust accordingly.

Noted. So then the big question: what can I do to improve my deliverability?

So let’s say you’re looking at your metrics and you realize your deliverability is a little low. The most important thing is to figure out what’s causing the deliverability issue, if you can. That way you can adjust to directly treat the issue.Buuuuut that might take some time. If you want to find one thing you can do to help TODAY, here are a couple of different places you can start.

  1. A/B test your subject lines and send times to improve open rates.
  2. Play around with your copy and design to make sure you give the reader a convincing place to click ASAP.
  3. Make sure you’re using alt text on any images in your email. (Did you know that 40% of people have email images turned off? Make sure they can still read your email without them!)
  4. Run a spam test.
  5. Segment, segment, segment!!! Make sure the people receiving your emails want to be receiving your emails and cut the dead weight.

Just remember, these are starting points, not entire strategies! You’ll have to do the work to figure out what works best for you.

Phew! Alright, well my brain is full. I’m sure I’ll have more questions soon, but for now, I’m gonna go try some of this stuff out. Thanks!

Still have questions you need answered? Book a call to speak with one of our experts yourself.

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