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8 Ways to Improve Your Email Delivery

Will Jago

Only 79% of marketing emails reach the recipient’s inbox!

That’s an awful lot of emails that aren’t even contributing towards your marketing goals. On top of that, there several simple mistakes that could be negatively affecting your email campaigns.

In this article, I address eight factors that could be affecting your email delivery, but first, I will provide an overview into what the email providers (known as Internet Service Providers or ISPs) are measuring…

Most ISPs are following the customer-experience approach set by Google (Gmail), so it’s becoming increasingly difficult for marketers’ emails to navigate their way into the Inbox. As many of you will know, Gmail uses filters within the inbox to determine ‘Primary’, ‘Social’ and ‘Promotions’ emails, and if your emails are not landing in the ‘Primary’ filter, they have little chance of being read. Today, it’s not just about avoiding spam filters.

To be worthy of landing in the ‘Primary’ inbox, a score is associated to the following subjects. As marketers, we don’t know what the overall score is, but it’s in our interest to create an email strategy around the following subjects:

  • Continuously Opened – If the recipient stops opening your emails regularly, the emails will drop out of the Primary filter. Refer to our recent article about subject lines & pre-header text to improve your email open rate
  • Scrolling – You want users to scroll down through your email, so it’s important to have engaging content throughout. Refer to our recent article about email content for more information
  • Unique Clicks – Email providers will score you on unique clicks within the emails. Our recent article about email content addresses ways to improve your click-through rate
  • Multiple Clicks – Email providers will also score you on multiple clicks within the emails (clicking on different links - not just the same link multiple times)
  • Frequency of Engagement – This is about whether the recipient opens and engages regularly with emails from the particular sender.

To conclude, the email content does affect the deliverability to an extent, but it’s not the only factor. The score of the sender is a big contributor, too.

8 Factors
1. Opt-in – Your emails will perform better if the recipient actively opts-in to your emails. For that reason, it should be the first thing you think about with your email strategy. You should:
       a. Create an opt-in page, which clearly outlines what the recipient is signing up for and what they can expect from your emails.
       b. Embed an opt-in form within your website.
       c. Make that opt-in form available through your social media channels.

2. The First Email – Don’t wait too long before sending the first email. We recommend you set up an automated ‘Welcome’ email that is triggered to send when the recipient signs up. This provides you with an opportunity to start developing a valuable relationship from the very beginning.

3. Bounce Management – Review your email campaign reports and you’ll see there are two types of bounced emails:
       a. Soft Bounce – This is when the email address is temporarily unavailable, for example, the inbox is full or the server is not available.
       b. Hard Bounce – The email address is incorrect and recipient will never receive the email. You should remove all hard bounce emails from your list because they will have a negative impact on you as a sender. You should also review the soft bounce emails consistently throughout the year. If you have repeat offenders, you should remove these emails from your list, too. Depending on what email tool you are using, the bounce management process could be automated.

4. Role-related email addresses – It’s best-practice for you to remove role-related email addresses (for example, from your email list, but I appreciate that sometimes it’s a necessity. Keep an eye on the activity from role-related email addresses and remove them if you can afford to.

5. Positive & negative engagement – There are two types of engagement and, as a sender, you are trying to increase positive engagement and reduce negative engagement. We address the two types below:
       a. Positive: Opens, Unique Clicks
       b. Negative: Spam Complaints, Blacklists, Hard Bounces

Note, ‘unsubscribe’ is not listed as negative engagement but ‘spam complaints’ is. If a recipient doesn’t want to receive your emails anymore, it’s much better for you if they unsubscribe rather than submit a spam complaint.

6. Provide an unsubscribe link – If your marketing email doesn’t include an unsubscribe link, it will go straight into Spam/Junk - if the email is received at all.

7. Stagger your email send – When you review your recent emails, you will see some of the recipients are a lot more engaged with your emails than others. Tools like Mailchimp will score the list for you, between 1 & 5 starts (learn more here). It will benefit you by splitting the list into two – list 1 to include your most engaged recipients and list 2 to include your lesser engaged recipients.

Send your email to list 1 around 30 minutes before list 2 and your overall results will improve. This is because your sender score will increase due to the high number of positive engagement from list 1. Think of it as warming up your email account, like a runner who always performs better when they are warm.

8. Your IP address – If you have suffered a lot of negative engagement, your IP address could be effective, which will have a negative impact on your deliverability. For example, you may get blacklisted. I recommend checking your IP Address via Sender Score.
I hope this article is useful to you and your business.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to email me directly at

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