Good email deliverability practices to increase ROI

email marketing expert diaries

email marketing expert diaries

Melissa Berdine is the Content Manager of Email on Acid by day and moonlights as a freelance email marketer. Her M.O. is connecting brands with their audiences via intentionally crafted messages. Being an avid traveler and eater, Melissa finds solace on airplanes and can often be found concocting something delectable in her kitchen. Follow her antics on Twitter at @MelissaBerdine.

Expert Diaries from Zoho Campaigns connects avid email marketers to the experts in this space, and help them learn some best practices and tips. Our aim is to connect email geeks and form a community that learns email marketing from one another. Check out our amazing line-up of Season 1.


Your email is flawlessly designed, you’ve made it accessible, the CTA is killer and even pulses. This message will grace subscribers’ inboxes with its presence. But wait… Is it actually going to make it to people’s inboxes?

Deliverability is one of the greatest hurdles of email marketing and can have a significant impact on your ROI.

We should pause here to clarify that deliverability is different from delivery. Delivery means your email was received by the client, even if it lands in the spam folder. An email bounce would mean the email isn’t delivered. Deliverability, on the other hand, is whether your email makes it to the inbox.

Spam traps are rampant, blacklists seem to pop up out of nowhere, and spam filters can set you up for failure. With so many hurdles just to land in an inbox, email marketers need to know how to avoid or alleviate these pitfalls. The more subscribers that see your email, the more opens you’ll achieve. The more opens, the higher amount of clicks and, therefore, ROI.

Why is deliverability such a tough nut to crack?

This subject can be difficult to navigate because all the rules, parameters, and criteria used to determine whether an email is spam aren’t made public. Otherwise, they’d be incredibly easy for actual spammers to skirt.

Deliverability exists for subscribers’ safety. We’ve all received some type of spam or phishing email before. Email clients need a way to protect their email users from mass amounts of those messages, especially the ones that are malicious. Spam filters quickly and automatically run through their checklist to decide whether or not the email goes to the inbox or spam.

Do I need to achieve 100% deliverability?

Unfortunately for email marketers, factors such as email client updates, email address changes, and personal spam filter setting make 100% deliverability nearly impossible. That said, 95% deliverability is a good benchmark to strive for. As long as you’re emailing an engaged audience on a healthy list, your deliverability rate should be about equal to your delivery rate.

Ways to avoid the spam folder

While email deliverability may seem detailed and tough to tackle, there are a few trustworthy methods you can implement to ensure quality deliverability and maintain a great sender reputation.

Staying up-to-date on and routinely following best practices are your keys to success in email marketing. After all, even the greatest emails lose their effectiveness if they aren’t getting in front of your subscribers.

Keep a healthy email list

Marketers should always be looking at their subscriber lists and cleaning them up to avoid hard bounces or users who are no longer interested in their content. The more bounces you get from an email send, the worse off your reputation. This means your email is more likely to land in the spam folder.

A longer email list ≠ more revenue.

Run re-engagement campaigns when needed to ensure your subscribers are still engaged and interested.

Maintain a consistent sending frequency

Or make changes gradually. Email strategies shift, so your sending cadence may shift along with it. The main point here is to not go from sending two emails a month to four in a week. Maintain a consistent frequency to each of your list segments. Drastically increasing your sending volume is a red flag for spam filters and could land your email in way more spam folders, thereby greatly reducing your chances of getting as many opens and, thus, conversions.

Segment your email list

One of the highest recommendations from email experts is to segment your email list. Sending to your entire list will not only raise your chances of landing an email in more spam folders, but also of it being less likely to garner much meaningful engagement from those subscribers.

The more you can tailor your emails to be customized for different audiences, the better your chances of increasing opens, engagement, and conversions.

Avoid spammy words and phrases

This sounds obvious, but sometimes they can slip through the cracks. We’re all marketers after all, and certain phrases that try to get someone to buy something or take action will look spammy enough to trigger a filter.

Balance text and image content

Avoid image-only or long, wordy emails. The more text-to-image balance you can achieve in your message, the greater likelihood of it making it to the inbox for your subscribers to see (and open).

Have a double opt-in

Typos happen and sometimes fake emails are input into subscription lists. It’s an imperfect world. A double opt-in requires a new subscriber to confirm their subscription through an email in their inbox. This ensures that only real email addresses get added to your subscriber list, which minimizes future bounces and keeps your list healthy.

Polish your welcome email

A welcome email is the perfect way to remind new subscribers who you are, what kinds of messages they can expect from you, and how often. It’s your first chance to set the tone of your new relationship.

Welcome emails are great for deliverability because about 74% of new subscribers expect one. As such, welcome emails see about 4x the open rate and 5x the clickthrough rate (CTR) of other emails.

Properly register your domain on a Domain Name System (DNS)

Not registering your domain with a DNS can cause issues for email authentication protocols, such as DKIM, SPF or DMARC, when trying to pass through to the inbox.

Run spam tests often

Spam tests allow you to know your email’s deliverability rate so you can fix any issues before you send your email. Email on Acid’s tools will run a spam test against 23 of the most popular spam filters, plus a blacklist check for your domain against 72 of the most common blacklist sites.

Improved Deliverability = Higher ROI

Deliverability rates inherently impact an email’s ROI. The more inboxes your email can reach, the more subscribers that will see and open it, and the more engagement you’ll achieve.

Implementing these efforts to clean up your list, send tailored emails, use intentional content, and check deliverability rates will improve the results of your future campaigns.

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