The importance of email deliverability and how to make sure your emails hit the inbox

March 14, 2020
Email
Analytics / data
Education
Why should you care about email deliverability and how to make sure your emails keep hitting the inbox

When you’re actively sending emails to prospects and customers, the spam folder might be your most feared enemy. Legitimate emails ending up in the spam folder or not even making to the inbox keep you up at night. Sure, your low-end email marketing program lets you create compelling emails for little to no money, but what you’re now ignoring is the essential part of the email: it’s delivery. In this article, we’re sharing four tips to increase email deliverability and hit the inbox again. 

Table of Contents

• Why delivery speed is crucial and how to improve it 

• Maximize email addresses, minimize bounces 

• How domain reputation influences your deliverability 

• Add value to your emails! 

Get your emails delivered in the inbox fast.
Get your email in the inbox (quick)

Delivery vs deliverability 

To start on the right foot, you will first need to know the difference between email delivery and email deliverability. There is some overlap, but especially in sales and marketing, those two should be considered separately. Email delivery is the process between hitting “send email,” and the moment it pops up in your client’s inbox. It’s about speed and inbox placement. When you’re talking about how your email went from your CRM system to your customer’s mailbox in less than 4 seconds, you’re talking about email delivery. 

Email deliverability, on the other hand, goes way beyond speedy delivery and focuses on the inbox placement. Email deliverability is the ‘science’ behind ending up in the inbox. It involves domain reputation, clean recipient lists (as little bounces as possible), and some authentication methods to be clear on who you are as a sender. 

Why delivery speed is crucial 

As you and your sales and marketing colleagues discuss inbox and spam rates of your emails, add delivery speed to the list. Email delivery speed is just as important as any other email rate. It tells you how quickly your emails have arrived. To appreciate the value of supersonic email delivery speed, we’re taking a step back to see the effects of delayed delivery. 

The proposal is delayed, the customer is gone 

Let’s say you’re in sales for a B2B company, setting out proposals to interested prospects asking you for your prices and other details. You will send these by email. Your prospect will select various companies for a product pitch, and you’re the one to inform him. But your prospect hasn’t got all the time in the world, so he’ll quickly select all the proposals he has collected in his mailbox and review them. If yours is not among those proposals due to a delayed email, you’re not the one with a new and happy customer. 

Thank God for support 

Another example is when your customer relies on your email to continue operations. Forgotten passwords, two-factor codes, license keys to your software, emails they need to use your product or service. Delayed emails immediately result in support calls. Sure, there is no real problem when this happens to a single email, but try answering 10s or 100s of such requests every day. Your support team hates terrible email delivery speed. 

Slow email delivery will either cost you your money or your support team’s happiness
Slow Email delivery speed
Make sure your emails get delivered fast.
Reading tip: Privacy Shield Shot Down: EU alternatives for your Email Marketing

How to increase commitment speed 

To increase your email delivery speed, you should consider highly reliant providers with lightning-fast response times for SMTP. SMTP is the protocol used for most email communications (next to REST API) and is most likely the protocol your other systems use to send emails. It’s critical to use an email software provider that excels in these response times, as it allows you to increase your delivery speed dramatically. Softwares like this focus on the delivery of your emails, as opposed to the sending software (like your e-commerce platform, CRM, CDP). 

Figure 1: The lower and steadier the response time, the higher your delivery speed 

Maximize email addresses, minimize bounces 

It has never been okay to buy an email list with contact details without any permission but still marketing, and salespeople all around the globe try this to increase their email rates. Sure, if you’re looking for an increase in email rates: buying email lists does. It increases your recipient’s list, your numbers of emails sent. But it also increases your bounce rate and likelihood to be marked as spam. It will kill your email performance. 

Buying random lists of email addresses is never the way to go

What you should do to build your email address list 

For salespeople, cold emails are an effective way to gather new customers. Collecting them can give you a hard time, but by using intelligent tools, like prospect.io, Mailshake or Anyleads, you will be increasing your email address list in no-time. Using these tools for cold email purposes is a great way to start emailing interesting leads, without having to wait for them to find you. 

Consider your message twice before sending a cold email, in any case. Too many sales or marketing messages can kill the vibe of a cold email, resulting in a lot of spam complaints. This will marginally have the same effect as sending bulk emails to bought email lists. 

Reduce bounces 

Once you have collected email addresses, there is always a good chance that a small percentage of this collection will cause a bounce. There is a difference between bounces (hard or soft), but email addresses resulting in hard bounces impact your deliverability.

To make sure the email addresses you’re about to send an email exists (and not cause a hard bounce), consider using great email verifier tools, like Xverify. Tools like this run your collection of email addresses against a group of every hard bouncing email address they know. This will help you determine what email addresses you can or cannot send an email to, and reduce your bounces. 

Figure 2: Running email address lists through a verification tool 

How domain reputation influences your deliverability 

The most significant factor in email deliverability is your domain reputation. In short, domain reputation is your credibility towards receiving email servers. Domain reputation is based on behaviour shown by your IP addresses and the known complaint rate of your domain. To understand this, you should know a thing a two about DNS and mail servers already, but we’re skipping that part for now. What you should know is that emails are sent via multiple IP addresses and server per domain. The other way around: multiple domains make use of one IP address. 

Managing your domain reputation is a difficult part to manage. You’re not always in control of the reputation of the IP addresses your domain uses, nor are you always in control of the complaint rate for your domain. There are a few things you can do to improve your domain reputation and decrease your complaint rate: 

Increase your Domain Authority step by step

Use securely monitored IP pools 

For most businesses, shared IP pools are the only reasonable solution to send emails and have more control over their reputation. Admitted, shared IP pools can be vulnerable, but with secured and tightly monitored IP pools, like Flowmailer’s. You’re sending your emails on the same IP address as other legitimate businesses. Monitored IP pools allow you to hand over IP reputation issues and start delivering emails like a pro. 

Can I not just use a dedicated IP? Dedicated IPs can be a solution for IP reputation issues as well, but only if you’re sending billions of emails a year. Dedicated IPs need continuous monitoring (by you), and you’ll need to build your domain reputation from scratch. 

Set up domain authentication 

If you aren’t using these methods already, you should implement them while reading this article: SPF, DKIM and DMARC. Three verification methods to prove a receiving mail server that it is you that is trying to deliver an email to your customer. Without SPF, DKIM and DMARC, receiving mail servers are unable to distinguish SPAM from HAM, increasing the likelihood to end up in spam. 

Turn down complaint rates 

Using the prior tips should result in lower complaint rates. If your email list is clean and your domain reputation is okay, your complaint rates should be low. However, if you’re sending messages to recipients that did not ask for them, complaint rates will skyrocket in a few minutes. Use compelling copywriting tools to improve your sales pitch, like Reply or Outreach, and turn cold emails into converting copy. No need to mark an email as spam if the message is compelling enough. 

The best tip you can get for decreasing your complaint rate is our final tip: 

Add value to your emails! 

Adding value will not only decrease complaint rates and increase your domain reputation. Emails with value will convert prospects into customers. To properly add value to your emails, use several of the beforenamed tools combined. Use Email Finder tools (i.e. Hunter), and Lead Generation tools combined with LinkedIn to build your recipient’s profile. Use Marketing Automation flows (i.e. ActiveCampaign or HubSpot) to create a value-adding Customer Journey, filled with optimized content. Deliver and analyze the effect of your emails with powerful email deliverability tools, and you’re converting cold emails in happy customers in no-time. 

Ready to have perfect deliverability? Check this email deliverability checklist!

Reading tip: How to build a Sales Cadence that converts Leads efficiently