Email Deliverability

Bad Deliverability is Costing You Cash

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Many marketers are under the impression more email is better. The more subscribers you send to, the more money you make, right?
While the “more equals better” mindset might work for some things (cookies, puppies, rainbows… just off the top of my mind), it doesn’t work for email. You might think to yourself, “It doesn’t matter if my program’s email deliverability is poor. As long as I’m reaching SOMEONE, it’s worth it to keep sending.”


In fact, optimizing your email deliverability could be your secret weapon to increase revenue and make you the hero of your company. In fact, according to Litmus, email marketing’s return on investment (ROI) is 42:1 on average, and some brands achieve even higher ROI.

That means for every $1 spent on email, marketers can expect to see an average return of $42 or more! Furthermore, it is five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain current customers. Clearly, it’s important to optimize your email program to maintain high deliverability because not doing it could actually jeopardize your revenue.

To improve your deliverability, you first need to know the difference between delivery and deliverability. While these two words sound similar, they represent two completely different email metrics. It’s important to know the difference in order to understand where you need to focus your efforts – do you need to focus on delivery and increase the number of messages making it past the initial gateway? Are your emails making it past the gateway, but being filtered into the spam folder? To learn more, check out my colleague Kayla’s article explaining delivery versus deliverability.

What causes bad deliverability?

Once you understand the factors affecting your deliverability, you can focus on where you’re going wrong and jeopardizing critical opportunities to generate revenue. First, mailbox providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Microsoft determine if a sender’s email will be accepted for delivery, or whether it will be outright blocked and returned. From there, the provider will determine whether to filter the message to the inbox or the spam folder based on the sender’s reputation (both IP and domain). There are several key factors determining sender reputation, and while all mailbox providers analyze these factors, each mailbox provider weighs the importance of each differently within their own filtering algorithms. With that said, the following list includes key indicators of poor sender reputation important across all mailbox providers.

  • Poor list acquisition and list hygiene practices. List quality issues are indicated by a high rate of unknown email addresses, bounces, and high numbers of spam trap hits. Unknown users are invalid or unrecognized email addresses. These email addresses never existed, have been closed, or were abandoned by the end user. You can proactively catch unknown users prior to sending by using and email validation service such as BriteVerify. A spam trap is an email address or server specifically designed, maintained, and monitored to catch abusive email traffic. These types of email addresses indicate to mailbox providers that you send to unengaged subscribers, purchase or rent subscriber addresses, or scrape email addresses off websites. Not only do unknown users and spam traps negatively impact your sender reputation, but you’re essentially sending email to addresses with no chance of converting the email into a sale. If you’re factoring those addresses into your sales projections, you’re guaranteed to be disappointed. To learn more about how to avoid spam traps, check out Deliverability 101: Monitoring Blocklists and Spam Traps.
  • Blocklistings. While there are several reasons an IP or domain can be added to a blocklist, they all have one thing in common: they are typically associated with senders who practice spam-like, abusive behaviors. If you’re blocklisted, certain mailbox providers could actively block all your mail from recipients, so wave goodbye to those potential sales. To learn more about the blocklists, check out our Email Blocklist learning resource.
  • High complaint rates. A complaint, like clicking “This Is Spam” or ”Move to Junk,” is the subscriber’s way of notifying mailbox providers they no longer want to receive your email. Mailbox providers are hyper-focused on subscriber engagement to help them determine inbox placement. As a result, the more subscribers complain about your emails, the more this metric negatively impacts your sender reputation and increases the likelihood of your emails being filtered into the spam folder rather than the inbox. For recommendations on how to avoid high complaint rates, check out our How to Avoid Spam Complaints and Unsubscribes blog.
  • Low subscriber engagement (opens and clicks) rates. The more engaged subscribers are with your emails, the more mailbox providers will filter your emails to the inbox. On the contrary, if subscribers aren’t opening your emails, it indicates that subscribers aren’t interested. As a result, mailbox providers will begin to filter your emails into the spam folder so subscribers aren’t “bothered” by your emails. Beyond losing those opportunities, you’re creating a negative perception of your brand by incessantly contacting uninterested potential customers, meaning they’ll likely stop being prospects soon and even worse, they might tell their friends, too. Need help increasing your open rate? Read Increase Email Open Rates: 7 Proven Practices for recommendations.

By not focusing on optimizing email deliverability and increasing your inbox placement, you are leaving easy money on the table. In fact, Backlinko states that shoppers spend 138% more when marketed through email, as compared to those who do not receive email offers. Beyond that, not optimizing your sending practices creates a false sense of financial security. If you’re not doing the right things for your deliverability, no list or email will convert to revenue, no matter how many addresses it has or how clever your subject line.

While it may be daunting to update your sending practices, Validity is here to help. When you want to take control of your deliverability, Validity for Email can help you monitor the key deliverability signals affecting your inbox placement, which directly impacts the amount of money you will make from your email marketing campaigns.