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Term of the Week: Deliverability

With a new year, we’re reviving our Term of the Week Series. This week, we have deliverability, which is rather self-explanatory: it’s about getting emails to the inbox instead of the spam folder.

How do emails get to an inbox?

An email doesn’t simply go from A to B, there are a number of processes between the launch and the inbox that an email has to go through.

A simple way of describing it is that emails are first put in a queue with other outgoing messages. If there is a high volume of outgoings it can delay your campaign slightly. It then goes through the Domain Name System (DNS) to find the recipients’ IP address and mailbox.

The email will then be put through spam and virus filters, before passing a firewall. This is the crucial stage where your email’s content is examined and if it fails either of these it won’t make the recipient’s inbox.

What affects deliverability?

The three common factors are:

  • Quality data goes a long way: Make sure to clean up your data to avoid bounces and old addresses
  • Content is king: Spam check your content before sending to make sure you aren’t falling foul of common spam phrases
  • IP address reputation: Set up DKIM and an SPF for a custom domain email address, this will allow your email to be authenticated by the recipient’s servers.

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  • And the reputation of the sending domain (and From address in some cases).

    • Peter Rylands

      Absolutely, domain reputation also affects deliverability. A domains’ reputation is fed by how recipients interact with the emails in which it is included. Bounces and complaints (as well as the extent to which emails are filtered), also have a significant impact. That is why it’s so important to send relevant content and to adopt data collection and management practices that result in quality data, which in turn mitigates things like high bounce rates, complaints and unsubscribes.

  • ajmetz

    Will look into DKIM and SPF. Did a 2700+ email campaign in December, and 600 didn’t make it, =P.

    A few of the responses mentioned authentication, and also PTR record with reverse DNS entry.

    • Peter Rylands

      Yes, do! Let us know how you get on with it too 🙂