The True Measure of Deliverability

Many email marketers today define and measure “deliverability” or “email deliverability” in different ways.

Some people measure deliverability as the number of messages accepted, regardless of whether they go to the Inbox or Bulk folder. In practice, this is the percentage of emails that did not bounce. You may have seen claims of a “deliverability rate of over 90%.” These claims are usually based on this kind of statistic, which is what the Email Experience Council when standardizing email metrics, defines as the “Accepted Rate,” not the deliverability rate.

Others refer to “deliverability” as the percentage of emails placed into the Inbox. Seed-list based deliverability monitoring systems often use this metric. The EEC defines the “Inbox Placement Rate” as “The ratio of emails that are delivered specifically to the recipient’s Inbox divided by the total emails sent.” This is what is meant when referring to Deliverability or the Deliverability Rate – the emails that actually reach the Inbox.

Delivery to the Inbox is the key to getting your email read and acted upon. Only tracking the Accepted Rate does not effectively measure that. Just because an email was accepted by the ISP and not bounced back, does not mean it was delivered to the Inbox. The wise email marketer also measures the Inbox Placement Rate as a key email metric.

Deliverability is determined by an accumulation of multiple factors, determined over time, as to whether an email sent ends up in a recipient’s Inbox. And with more recent filtering techniques and methods used by Hotmail and Gmail, as an example, there are even sub-levels of Inbox delivery that place a message in the “Important” area, categorized based on engagement factors or whether an email appears to be a newsletter.

Even though email marketing has been around for a long time now, many marketers, especially at the executive level, seem to believe still that what works in print mail marketing also works in email. They believe that sending out a “blast” of email to a list of addresses accumulated over many months or even years or purchased from a “reputable” source results in the best ROI. But that mindset does not focus on email deliverability.

With print mail, you send a piece through the Post Office or another physical method. You are mostly guaranteed that that piece is delivered to the intended recipient unless the recipient does not reside at that address, in which case your mail is returned. This method is still frequently used by marketers in the email world, assuming the success seen in print mail carries over to email. The difference is that the Post Office does not penalize you on future delivery attempts if your print mail is undeliverable or is thrown away, torn up in anger, not read, or even if the recipient complains. Their job is to deliver the mail, and they don’t care if the recipient reads it or even wants it. Now imagine, your local postal carrier getting a batch of mail put in their truck and then going through each piece of your mail about to be put in your mailbox and determining, based on experience, which is junk mail and which is legitimate, discarding the junk mail and only putting the good mail into your mailbox. As a customer, you might like this. As a marketer, you would not, and you would likely change how you went about sending your marketing materials. That analogy better describes the process that happens to an email marketing piece you send.

Continuing with this analogy, with email, the ISPs are the final mail carrier with the task of delivering your email to the designated address. With millions of emails received each hour for delivery at the largest ISPs, their job is to do their best to keep unwanted email (Spam) from reaching their subscribers. Over the years, they have become much better and more efficient at doing this. There are many factors that ISPs use to determine what’s worthy of being delivered to the Inbox or vs. destinated for the lowly junk/bulk folder or bounced back as “blocked due to spam.” Ultimately, deliverability is whether your email reaches the Inbox of your subscriber, giving your message its best opportunity to be read and acted upon. Because the rules are different in email than postal mail, your approach must be different to ensure deliverability and the best response.

One way to help you determine whether your email is delivered to the Inbox is by utilizing a deliverability monitoring tool like GreenArrow Monitor. It gives you a clear picture of what percentage of your campaign is delivered to the Inbox, Junk/Bulk folder, or Missing (i.e., blocked).

As mentioned above, there are many factors that go into determining what reaches the Inbox. When we consult with our clients, we discuss these factors and how best to reach the Inbox. We’ll talk more about reaching the Inbox in future articles. Until then, best of deliverability to you.

DRH Internet provides the email delivery product suite GreenArrow, which is enterprise level and high volume email sending software capable of sending up to 1 million messages per hour from a single server. GreenArrow Monitor is the Deliverability Monitoring product that maximizes the ability for your transactional and marketing emails to reach the Inbox. Call GreenArrow by DRH Internet today toll-free at 1-866-374-4678.


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