Short Introduction to Email Deliverability
What it is?
Businesses send millions of emails to their customers assuming all of them will be read. But like in traditional mail, an email be either kept by the post-office and not sent to the recipient at all, or just thrown by the postman in the recipient’s drive-way, or in the best case, handed over personally to the recipient after ringing his bell. Each of these cases results in different probabilities of the user reading the letter, from 0 upward, but NEVER 1. Electronic Mail also travels through so many intermediaries and processing systems, that the probability of the user reading your email gets impacted at a lot of traffic signals and due to a variety of reasons. The sum total of all these impacts and signals is what is called the deliverability of an email.
Why should I care?
Why do businesses send email? So that users read them and take actions on them that result in more business. Clearly improved deliverability means more users reading your emails and hence more business.
How do I fare?
Unfortunately GMail, Hotmail and other ISPs are not very forthcoming on data on email deliverability. Some of them will share feedback on a case-by-case basis but no one published aggregate data or analytics for the senders. Their reasons for being secretive are bona fide. The moment they make the analytics public, spammers may reverse engineer from that and build more techniques to fool them and spam them further. The main interest of the ISPs is to protect users from spam. Your best guess at email deliverability is the open and click rates you get on your emails and compare them with industry or competition benchmarks to make a guess. You may also setup some sample mailboxes on various ISPs and monitor them to arrive at sample statistics. Since this is very cumbersome, another way is to go for paid solutions like ReturnPath that do this sampling on a large scale and hence have more reliable data. Even then, there is no way of getting a complete and accurate view of your deliverability statistics.
What do I do?
The best bet for any business is to follow the fundamental canons of email deliverability and then hope for the best. Once you are following each and very guideline from the ISPs in particular, and of the email marketing world in general, you can be reasonably certain that you are getting maximum bang for your buck and time spend on email marketing.
What are the canons?
The four main canons of deliverability are
- Permission – Thou shalt not email a user against or ignoring his wishes
- Engagement – Thou shalt send mails that users want to open and click on
- Frequency – Thou shalt send emails at a reasonable rate
- Reputation – Thy email sending domains and IPs should have a good reputation
As can be easily seen, most of these are subjective rather than objective in nature. For more information on how you can improve upon these, get in touch with the SendPal Team!