Regardless of whether you work in sales or marketing, email deliverability has always been a critical performance concern. If your email doesn’t reach the inbox, it’s unlikely that your recipients will ever see it.

Fortunately, there are methods, tools, and hacks to improve your deliverability and ensure that your messages reach their destination!

In this post, we will explore what email deliverability is and how it can be valuable for your business. Then, we’ll give you free concrete tips & hacks to optimize your deliverability rate and increase your sales performance!

What is Email Deliverability?

Email deliverability is the ability for your email to get from your server to the recipient’s inbox. It’s an important metric for both sales and marketing teams, as it dictates whether or not your message will be seen by your leads.

What are the criteria for email deliverability?

When you send an email, the success of that email can be determined by several factors.

These include:

  • The reputation of your sender domain (i.e., how much spam has been sent from it in the past)
  • How often recipients interact with messages sent from that domain
  • Whether recipients have marked emails from that domain as spam before
  • Delivery settings set up by the recipient’s ISP or mail provider
  • Whether the recipients’ inboxes are already full or not
  • The image-to-text ratio
  • etc.

You should also notice that email servers will check if you’re domain respect some security certification:

  • SPF: Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an email authentification method that allows for the verification of a claim that a mail has come from a specific domain, during the process of mail delivery. This is done by checking if the IP address submitting the claimed mail is authorized by that domain’s administrators.
  • DMARC: DMARC allows mail administrators to stop spoofing attacks, where hackers & other attackers falsify the “From” address on an email. This makes it seem like the message is coming from a different, usually more reputable source.
  • DKIM: DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) aids in the prevention of spoofing for any messages sent from your domain by attaching an encrypted signature to the header of all outgoing messages.
  • MX Records: The Mail Exchanger Record (MX Recor) indicates which mail server is responsible for receiving email messages on behalf of a domain name.

If you’re using Gmail, you can set this up directly through Google Tool Box, as described below:

There are four ways to verify the authenticity of your email. The better you set up these elements, the more likely another server is to trust you, which in turn enhances your deliverability.

Why email deliverability has been created?

Historically, email deliverability has been created to protect users from spam, because. As such, there are algorithms in place that analyze each message you send to make sure it is not classified as spam.

Depending on the factors above, your emails may be blocked by the recipient’s server or sent directly to their inbox.

Nowadays, companies are sending much more marketing and sales emails than they used to. This means that the amount of messages sent from a given domain has increased, and so have the rules to get a green signal from your recipient mail server!

Regarding this, email deliverability is much more important than ever, as it can make or break your business’ success, and that’s what we’re going to talk about in the next part of this post.

If you’re using LaGrowthMachine, you’ll know exactly how many emails you sent, how many got opened, and how many got replied to in real-time.

It’s a great way to automate your sales emails to a large audience while keeping an eye on deliverability.

What Affects Email Deliverability?

As said above, email deliverability is the measure of how many of your sent emails successfully land in recipients’ inboxes rather than being flagged as spam or getting lost in the ether. That being said, ensuring a high deliverability rate is crucial for salespeople as it directly impacts the effectiveness of email campaigns. Here’s what affects email deliverability:

  1. Sender Reputation: Your IP address and domain have a reputation score based on your email-sending habits. If you’ve been sending spammy content or have high bounce rates, email service providers (ESPs) may mark your emails as spam.
  2. Email Content: Overly promotional language, numerous exclamation marks, or the use of certain flagged words can trigger spam filters. Additionally, large images or attachments can negatively impact deliverability.
  3. List Hygiene: Regularly clean and update your email list. Remove unengaged users and ensure you have the right permissions to email contacts.
  4. Authentication Protocols: Implementing standards like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC can help verify your identity, reducing the chances of your emails being flagged.
  5. Frequency & Volume: Bombarding recipients with too many emails in a short time can harm deliverability. Pace your campaigns appropriately.
  6. Feedback Loops: Some ESPs offer feedback loops that notify senders when recipients mark an email as spam. This feedback can guide improvements.
  7. Responsive Design: Emails that aren’t mobile-friendly can be flagged or ignored. Ensure your design is responsive for all devices.
  8. Engagement Rates: ESPs monitor how recipients interact with your emails. High open and click-through rates are favorable, whereas low engagement can hurt deliverability.

Let’s bring some details on these.

How sender’s reputation affect deliverability?

Sender reputation is like a credit score for your email practices, and it plays a pivotal role in determining where your emails land: in the inbox or the spam folder. Here’s how it influences deliverability:

Your sender reputation is built on a combination of factors evaluated by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Email Service Providers (ESPs). These factors include:

  • Bounce Rates: If a significant portion of your emails are returned as undeliverable, it indicates that you might not be managing your email lists effectively. High bounce rates can tarnish your sender reputation.
  • Spam Complaints: When recipients mark your emails as spam, it’s a clear indication to ISPs and ESPs that your content might not be wanted. A high number of spam complaints can severely harm your reputation.
  • Engagement Metrics: ISPs and ESPs observe how often recipients open, read, and click links in your emails. Regular engagement indicates that recipients find your content valuable, boosting your reputation.
  • Unsubscribes: A high unsubscribe rate might signal that recipients no longer find your content relevant or that they never wanted it in the first place, both of which can hurt your reputation.
  • Volume Consistency: Sending large volumes of emails suddenly, especially if you typically send in small batches, can raise flags. Consistency in sending behavior is preferred.
  • List Quality: If you’re sending emails to old, stale, or purchased lists, there’s a greater chance for high bounce rates and spam complaints. Quality lists, built with genuine opt-ins, enhance your reputation.

When your sender reputation is high, ISPs and ESPs trust that your emails are legitimate and wanted, so they’re more likely to deliver them directly to the inbox. On the flip side, a poor reputation can lead to your emails being flagged as spam or even blocked outright.

How does email content affect deliverability?

The content of your emails plays a significant role in whether your message lands in the recipient’s inbox or gets sidetracked to the spam folder. Here’s how the content can influence deliverability:

  • Spammy Language: Emails that contain phrases often linked with spam (“Win money now!”, “Special deal!”) can trigger spam filters. It’s important to craft messages that are clear and professional without relying on sensationalist language.
  • Image-to-Text Ratio: An email filled predominantly with images and little to no text can raise red flags. Not only can it trigger spam filters, but it might not display correctly in all email clients. It’s advisable to maintain a healthy balance between text and images.
  • Hidden Text & Links: Concealing text or links, perhaps by making them the same color as the email’s background, is a tactic sometimes used by spammers. Such actions can be quickly detected and are a surefire way to get flagged by spam filters.
  • Attachments: Heavy attachments or using certain file types can be seen as suspicious. Whenever possible, it’s better to link to a file or a webpage rather than attaching files directly to the email.
  • URL Shorteners: While URL shorteners can be handy for tracking clicks or saving space, they can also be abused by spammers to disguise the actual destination. Direct links are generally seen as more trustworthy.
  • HTML & CSS Quality: Poorly coded emails or those that use outdated practices can be flagged by certain email clients. Ensuring your email is well-coded and displays correctly across different devices and clients is crucial.
  • Personalization: Personalizing content, like including the recipient’s name, can not only increase engagement but can also indicate to ISPs and ESPs that you have a pre-existing relationship with the recipient, thus improving deliverability.

In essence, the content of your email needs to be carefully crafted, not just from a marketing or sales perspective but also with deliverability in mind. High-quality, relevant, and clean content is more likely to reach its intended recipient, boosting your chances of engagement and conversion.

How do Authentication Protocols affect your deliverability?

Authentication protocols serve as a verification mechanism for the origin of emails. They help Email Service Providers (ESPs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) determine the legitimacy of the sender. Let’s delve into how these protocols influence deliverability:

  1. Verification of Source: Authentication protocols validate that an email claiming to come from a specific domain is authorized by the domain owner. Without proper authentication, emails can be easily forged, leading to phishing scams or spam. Valid authentication establishes trust and helps ensure that genuine emails aren’t wrongfully flagged as suspicious.
  2. SPF (Sender Policy Framework): This protocol verifies that the sending IP address is authorized to send emails on behalf of the claimed domain. When SPF records are correctly set up, it can significantly reduce the chances of your emails being considered spam.
  3. DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail): DKIM adds a digital signature to the email’s header, linking it to the domain. When an email is received, the receiving server checks this signature against a public key in the domain’s DNS records. Successful validation proves the email’s integrity and that it wasn’t tampered with during transit.
  4. DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance): DMARC builds upon SPF and DKIM. It allows domain owners to specify how emails that fail SPF and DKIM checks should be handled (e.g., quarantine or reject). Additionally, DMARC provides feedback to senders about how their emails are performing, allowing for adjustments and improvements.
  5. Enhanced Deliverability: When these authentication protocols are correctly implemented, it signals to ESPs and ISPs that the sender is legitimate and takes security seriously. As a result, emails from authenticated sources are more likely to bypass spam filters and land directly in the recipient’s inbox.
  6. Protection Against Phishing & Spoofing: Authentication makes it harder for malicious actors to impersonate your domain, safeguarding your brand’s reputation and trustworthiness.

How do email lists affect your deliverability?

Your email list is a pivotal element in your email marketing efforts, determining whether your messages reach their intended audience or get caught in the maze of spam filters. Here’s how these lists impact deliverability:

  1. Quality Over Quantity: It might be tempting to aim for the largest list possible, but the best approach is to focus on quality. A list filled with engaged, interested recipients will yield better deliverability rates than one packed with unverified or uninterested contacts.
  2. List Hygiene: Regularly cleaning your email list is one of the best practices in email marketing. Removing unresponsive subscribers, correcting typos in email addresses, and eliminating duplicates can significantly enhance deliverability.
  3. Opt-in Methods: Ensuring that the audience on your list has explicitly chosen to receive emails from you is crucial. Using confirmed opt-in methods can reduce the likelihood of spam complaints. More on this later in this post.
  4. Unsubscribe Mechanisms: Make sure it’s easy for subscribers to unsubscribe from your emails. A clear, simple unsubscribe process can prevent recipients from marking your emails as spam, which can harm your deliverability. Plus, honoring unsubscribe requests promptly is not only a good practice but also a legal requirement in many jurisdictions.
  5. List Acquisition: Avoid purchasing or renting lists. These often contain outdated or irrelevant contacts and can lead to high bounce rates and spam complaints. Instead, build your list organically, ensuring that your audience genuinely wants to hear from you.

In essence, the quality and management of your email lists play a significant role in deliverability. By adopting best practices and focusing on cultivating a genuinely interested audience, you enhance the chances of your emails reaching their intended inboxes.

Single and Double Opt-in to Improve Deliverability

When building an email list, the method by which you collect and confirm subscribers can significantly influence your deliverability rates.

Here’s a breakdown of single and double opt-in methods and their impact on email deliverability.

Single Opt-in

With single opt-in, as soon as someone provides their email address, they are added to your list without any further confirmation. This method offers the advantage of a faster list growth due to the reduced steps for the subscriber. However, it comes with downsides. You’re more likely to get fake or mistyped email addresses, which can lead to higher bounce rates. Additionally, since there’s no additional confirmation, there’s a risk of lower engagement and an increased likelihood of your emails being marked as spam.

Double Opt-in

In contrast, double opt-in requires an additional step. After providing their email, the subscriber receives a confirmation email with a link they must click to verify their address. This method ensures that the email address is valid and that the subscriber genuinely wants to receive your emails. While this might slow down list growth slightly due to the added confirmation step, the benefits are noteworthy. You’ll have a more engaged list, reduced bounce rates, and a lower risk of spam complaints, all contributing to better email deliverability.

In essence, while single opt-in might boost your list size more quickly, double opt-in can lead to better quality subscribers, potentially resulting in higher deliverability rates and more successful email campaigns for salespeople.

How Can Email Deliverability Benefit Your Business?

To fully understand the concept behind this, here’s a reminder of how things go when sending an email:

1. You compose your email and hit the “send” button;

2. Your message is sent to an SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) server, which transfers it to the recipient’s mail server;

3. The recipient’s mail server receives the message, then checks it against various criteria (we’re going to focus on this part later in this post);

4. Finally, either the message is delivered to their inbox or sent to their spam folder. In this last case, we call them soft or hard bounces.

The success rate of this process is determined by your email deliverability rate:

  • If all goes well, your emails will reach their destination and be opened by recipients.
  • On the other hand, if something goes wrong along the way, you can expect lower delivery rates and fewer conversions.

If you’re working in sales or marketing, you should already be aware of all the benefits of an optimized email deliverability rate. But let’s illustrate with 2 examples:

  1. You’re working as a growth marketer and you want to send a coupon to 1280 leads that left your website while in the middle of a stage in your conversion funnel. Let’s say you add a hefty and unbalanced image-to-text ratio, then your deliverability rate is only at 52% and you’ll miss 48% of them.
  2. You’re working as a sales manager and you want to send B2B cold emails to hundreds of leads. Your image-to-text ratio is good, but you didn’t check your B2B email leads database and there are plenty of catch-all emails that decrease your deliverability rates to 72%. You’ll miss 28% of them… unless you think multichannel!
analytics 2.0

To make sure you get all the benefits of deliverability, a good rate allows you to:

  • Reach more leads when sending prospecting emails;
  • Get more conversions;
  • Increase your ROI by reducing the number of emails you have to send;
  • Save time and money on email marketing campaigns.

LaGrowthMachine will send emails on your behalf via your Gsuite/Gmail account. But if some technical parameters are not set up correctly, most of your emails will end up in spam.

If you’re having any doubts about this, you can ask for a technical set review from our support team!

Otherwise, we’re going to give you several tips to ensure you’re deliverability rate remains high and stable.

How to check on your email deliverability?

For all the reasons we explained just above, measuring and monitoring your deliverability should be one of your main areas of concern.

To understand how your emails are performing, there are three different methods you can use:

  1. Manual reporting: Manual reporting is the most straightforward method, and consists in monitoring email open rates, click-throughs, or other statistics to determine email performance. A long and not-so-accurate way to do it, though.
  2. Deliverability features of your favorite campaign tool: If your using a marketing or sales solution, some of them include live reporting features and display data such as email open rates and/or email deliverability. If you’re using LaGrowthMachine, you’ll get all of this information in a very detailed manner.
  3. Email deliverability tracking tools: This last solution allows you to monitor pretty easily your deliverability rate over time. You can plug these tools into your sales or marketing software to track the performance of your campaigns and analyze the data, recognizing potential issues, and improving your score.

We don’t recommend that you track your email deliverability manually as it’s very long and very time-consuming.

The second or third solutions are good ones, though, with their own pros and cons. To choose between them, you’ll need to consider the cost of each tool, compare the features that they provide, and decide which one better fits your needs.

What is a good email deliverability rate?

That’s the million-dollar question.

Currently, marketing studies are giving us an average deliverability rate of about 80%, in all industries combined.

80% is not a good deliverability rate, though.

This means that out of 1000 emails sent, 950 should hit the inboxes while 50 will end up in spam folders, or will never reach their destination at all.

This includes LinkedIn, Twitter, and Email channels

One of the main goals for any marketer is to have their emails delivered to 100% of subscribers. However, this is a difficult goal to achieve. A more reasonable goal would be to achieve:

  • A 2 – 3% maximum bounce rate – which has a huge impact on your deliverability.
  • A 93% or higher delivery rate is generally considered to be good on behalf of a mass email service provider.
  • A 1% maximum spam rate.

Furthermore, the platform you use for email correspondence affects your emails’ deliverability. All providers have varied rates, but typically they range from 85 to 88%.

If you’re using LaGrowthMachine for your automated sales email sequences respecting our deliverability guidelines (regarding custom domain tracking, SPF, DKIM, DMARC, and MX Records), you should be able to deliver at least 95% of your emails.

How to improve your email deliverability?

At the beginning of this post, we provided some of the most crucial metrics that affect your email deliverability and thus, your overall performance when using emails to reach new prospects.

Now, we will go further into this topic.

To improve your email deliverability, here’s a list of the 10 best practices you should apply when sending massive emails campaigns:

  1. Allocate IP addresses correctly
  2. Include a preference center
  3. Clean up your email recipient database
  4. Careful with Spam Traps
  5. Properly warm up your email address
  6. Optimize your subject line
  7. Measure your Image / Text ratio
  8. Set up an Opt-in process
  9. Measure your sender reputation
  10. Stick to a consistent send schedule

We’re going to go further on each one of these methods, so you’ll know exactly what to do to improve your deliverability rate at the end of this post!

Method 1: Allocate IP addresses correctly

ISP (Internet Service Providers) are very protective over their customers and the emails they receive, keeping security as a priority! This goes through IP reputation.

Essentially, you have to make sure both the ISPs and your recipients are happy if you want to improve your email deliverability. However, making your recipient’s content will please the former as well.

This is because ISPs prioritize end-user satisfaction and so long as they’re getting positive feedback about emails they receive, then jurisdictions like these will keep placing said emails in the inbox instead of filtering them out.

How do you tell ISP filters that your IP is legitimate?

By starting any email campaign by sending small batches of emails to addresses of people you know are engaged, as these messages are received and opened, your IP will start to build trust with the ISP.

Then, slowly increase the number until you hit your maximum volume.

Method 2: Include a preference center

A preference center is usually placed at the bottom of your emails and allows recipients to control how often they get emails, what topics they are interested in, and how much information they provide.

Essentially, this will help your recipients better filter the emails they get from you and keep them engaged with what’s important.

By offering a preference center to your email recipients, they can regulate how often they hear from you.

Not only does this empower them, but it also stops them from unsubscribing because they’re unhappy with the frequency. A happy subscriber is an engaged one – and ISPs take notice of that!

Method 3: Clean up your email recipient database

This is maybe the most important deliverability factor of this list.

Providing a clear and easy way for users to unsubscribe from your emails helps automate the process, but it’s also important to regularly scrub your list so that it only includes people who engage with your emails.

If you’re using LaGrowthMachine, you can set this up pretty quickly:

The longer you keep people on your email list who are inactive and unengaged, the more you risk damaging your reputation and deliverability rates.

To do so, you need to regularly look up your bounce emails, spam emails, and emails that never get opened, and clean up your base.

Method 4: Careful with Spam Traps

Spam traps are email addresses implemented by ISPs and organizations to catch spammers who send unsolicited emails. If a sender sends an email to a spam trap, they’re immediately put on a deny list.

It’s very difficult to get off a deny list, so it’s best not to end up one in the first place.

Sales and marketers can avoid spam traps by keeping their lists of engaged users clean and never purchasing an email list under any circumstances, as they’re often containing crappy emails…

Method 5: Optimize your subject line

Not only for deliverability, but you should also take care of it for your email click & open rates.

The subject lines of your emails are one of the most important things to get right. You want to make sure that users will open your emails, and although spam filters have gotten better, it’s still wise to avoid using common spam phrases.

The length of your subject line is also important.

Here’s the data we’re observing at LaGrowthMachine:

Having an optimized subject line for length, clarity, and accuracy will result in more people opening your emails.

Here are some free examples for you to use:

  • Example 1: “Get 10% off your next purchase!”
  • Example 2: “Partnership LaGrowthMachine <> Client”
  • Example 3: “Eric x Sandra: link building opportunity”

Method 6: Measure your Image / Text ratio

Another key factor for deliverability is the images you use in your emails.

This won’t matter if you’re sending B2B sales email, using LaGrowthMachine for example, as it is written text 99% of the time:

Having too many images can be an indication of a spam message, so it’s important to keep your image-to-text ratio as low as possible. Aim for around 70/30 – no more than 30% of your email should be made up of images and HTML.

Additionally, make sure that all external resources like pictures, CSS, or JavaScript files inside the mail are properly stored online and linked from there. This will ensure that images appear correctly even when the user has disabled remote content loading in their email client (which is often the case).

By taking this element into account, you’re making sure that ISPs have less reason to flag your emails as spam.

Method 7: Set up a double opt-in process

Single opt-in, where the user merely has to check a box or leave a pre-checked box alone to start receiving emails, is commonly used since it’s easy and foolproof. However, this can lead to an influx of spam complaints.

Too many spam complaints can ruin your good standing with ISPs and cause them to block your sending servers.

Double opt-in is the most reliable defense against spam complaints. To do this, send a confirmation email to new subscribers asking them to validate their address and give their consent. (Keep in mind that double opt-in is now required in some European countries with GDPR!).

Method 8: Stick to a consistent send schedule

This one is a bit less important, but if you want to optimize your deliverability 100%, you should try to stick to it as well.

If you want to maintain a high sender score and avoid IP rejection, stay on a consistent email-sending schedule.

Randomly spacing out your emails causes broadcasting spikes that can be harmful to your sender reputation.

This is also important to maintain a good open rate and engagement rate. The more consistent your email sending is, the more regular you’ll become in your readers’ inboxes.

Method 9: Measure your sender reputation

One of the main reasons why your emails are not being delivered is due to a low sender score.

Sender Score is produced by Return Path and takes into account various email metrics such as unsubscribes and spam reports when assigning a numerical value to every outgoing mail server.

In order to reduce the number of undelivered messages, ISPs automatically reject any emails that have a score below a certain threshold.

If you want to check on your sender score, you can visit this website:

Method 10: Use an automation tool!

Sales or Marketing automation tools provide you with very accurate features when it comes to deliverability.

If you want to make sure that every single email sent out is well-delivered, then an automation tool like LaGrowthMachine can help you do just that!

LaGrowthMachine includes a variety of features and guidelines that will help maintain and improve your sender reputation, such as setting up SPF and DMARC, customize your email domain, etc…

This way, we’re able to achieve very high deliverability rates, as you can see in the screen capture below:

And if you’re feeling a bit drained about it, you can always ask for advice or a campaign review from our support team.