Email marketing campaigns are an impactful way to reach customers—but only if your emails actually arrive in your customers’ inboxes.
Just because you send them something, it doesn’t mean it will escape junk mailboxes or the spam filter. Email deliverability requirements are more stringent than ever, so monitoring and improving deliverability is essential to keep in touch with your audience.
Email deliverability enables email marketers and merchants to carry out effective email campaigns. With more than four billion email users worldwide, global email marketing revenue will reach an estimated $17.9 billion by 2027. If you want to keep your marketing emails from turning into spam messages, learn what factors influence email deliverability and how you can improve your email marketing success.
What is email deliverability?
Email deliverability measures whether your marketing emails arrive in subscribers’ inboxes. Whereas the term “email delivery” refers to the successful delivery of an email—meaning it didn’t bounce but could have ended up in spam—“email deliverability” measures whether the email actually made it into a recipient's inbox.
By improving your email deliverability, you reduce the extent to which email service providers send your email messages to spam folders. Email deliverability affects email campaigns—the more often messages end up in users’ inboxes, the higher your conversions and engagement could be.
In 2024, Gmail and Yahoo introduced tighter email deliverability requirements for bulk senders. You must comply with best practices for email validation and spam prevention to ensure your emails continue to land in inboxes. These include authenticating your email and enabling easy unsubscription, while you must also remain under new spam rate thresholds. Ensure compliance as a Shopify store owner by following the steps outlined here.
What factors influence email deliverability?
- Email sender reputation
- IP reputation
- Spam traps
- Email list quality
- Email volume
- Open rate
- Bounce rate
- ISP infrastructure
There are multiple factors that influence email deliverability. Consider each of them when setting up and iterating on your email marketing strategy.
Email sender reputation
Internet service providers (ISPs) determine your email sender reputation based on a number of considerations, including spam complaints and low open rates. Your sender reputation informs inbox providers how reliable a sender you are and influences whether your emails end up in the spam folder. While your sender's reputation can change from one internet service provider to another, it typically manifests in the form of a sender score that ranges from 0 to 100.
Whereas email sender reputation is specific to your company and domain, IP reputation refers to the quality of the server you use to send your emails. If a sender's IP address sends a high volume of spam messages, it will have a low IP reputation.
Send high-quality emails from a dedicated IP address to improve your IP reputation and increase the chances that your email messages appear in your customers’ inboxes.
Spam traps are fake email addresses that ISPs and other organizations create to find scammers. They are common in email lists that you can purchase or rent online. Spam traps attempt to identify scammers by luring them into sending spam to fake email addresses. If you accidentally send your marketing emails to a spam trap email address, it can negatively impact your email deliverability.
Email list quality
Email list quality also affects email marketing deliverability. If your list includes invalid email addresses, it signals to ISPs that your emails do not properly arrive in an inbox, which impacts your sender reputation.
Practice good email list hygiene by culling any unknown users with strange email addresses and avoiding spam traps at all costs by not purchasing or renting email lists. Only keep engaged users on your email list to improve your email deliverability and help ensure your emails make it to inboxes.
Erratic email volume can negatively impact your email deliverability. Internet service providers notice when the frequency of your email marketing campaigns increases too fast. To ISPs, this is a sign that scammers may have hacked your email account and can trigger spam filters that hurt your sender reputation and email deliverability.
Email service providers monitor how often recipients open your emails. By maintaining good email list hygiene, crafting quality content, and writing compelling email subject lines, you can increase the chances of a higher open rate. When your open rate starts to decrease, so can your email deliverability.
Bounce rate measures how often your emails cannot reach recipients. There are two types of bounces: hard bounces and soft bounces. Hard bounces are permanent errors; they are most common when you send an email to an invalid email address. Soft bounces indicate a temporary problem with your email, like a technical difficulty or a recipient’s inbox being full.
A high bounce rate (more than 2%) can decrease your email deliverability. Remember to remove any email addresses from your list that trigger a hard bounce and investigate soft bounces to make sure there isn’t a technical issue with your IP address or ISP infrastructure.
The internet service provider you use influences the quality of your email deliverability. Send your marketing emails through a reputable ISP infrastructure to increase email deliverability and avoid technical issues with your campaign. Tools like Shopify Email enable you to send well-designed emails with a strong ISP infrastructure.
Tips for improving email deliverability
- Authenticate your emails
- Write high-quality email content
- Maintain good email list hygiene
- Segment your email list
- Send emails on a consistent schedule
- Implement a double opt-in process
- Craft compelling subject lines
- Make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe
- Include plain text versions of your emails
- Use effective email marketing tools
Email deliverability requires a strong strategy, but if you nail it, you can get your campaign in front of your customers. Here are a few ways to avoid the dreaded spam folder:
Authenticate your emails
Use email authentication tools to signal to internet service providers that you are sending legitimate emails.
Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an authentication method that checks emails against a list of specific IP addresses, making it impossible for scammers to forge email addresses outside of their dedicated IP addresses. DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is another authentication method that uses encryption keys and digital signatures to validate the content of your emails to prevent spoofing and phishing scams. Finally, Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) builds off SPF and DKIM to align domain information.
SPF, DKIM, and DMARC work in concert and complement each other by covering different aspects of the email authentication process.
Write high-quality email content
To avoid receiving spam complaints, craft useful emails that relate to your target audience’s needs. Focus on relevant content that your customers want to increase your chances of a high open rate and better email deliverability. Use optimized images and design elements to increase engagement. Attachments can trigger spam filters, so opt for simple and distinct call-to-action buttons that direct your recipients to the necessary information and web pages.
Maintain good email list hygiene
Cull inactive subscribers often and keep an eye out for spam trap email addresses that could wind up on your email list. By deleting inactive email addresses from your list, you can increase your open rate by only emailing recipients who engage with your content. Build your email list organically and never purchase or rent a list, as this can affect your email sender reputation.
Segment your email list
Consider segmenting your email list and sending email campaigns to specific subcategories within your list. For example, if you own an online furniture store, you can send emails about midcentury modern designs to customers who have purchased items in this category in the past. By sending targeted email campaigns to sections of your email list, you can send more tailored content, which can increase your engagement.
Send emails on a consistent schedule
Mail servers monitor the frequency of the emails you send and adjust your email deliverability based on that. If you send one email a week for several months and then send 10 emails in one week, chances are that some of those 10 emails will get caught in a spam filter. Keep a consistent sending schedule with your email campaigns. If you need to send a higher volume of emails for a new campaign, ramp up slowly and avoid sending too many emails at once.
Implement a double opt-in process
A double opt-in process requires people who sign up for your email list or newsletter to also click on a confirmation link sent to their inbox. While it may seem tempting to simplify your sign-up process, including an additional confirmation step can increase the chances of building an email list with active recipients. The more engaged your subscribers are, the better your email deliverability.
Craft compelling subject lines
Write engaging, attention-grabbing subject lines. Use active words and clearly indicate your brand’s unique value proposition, laying out the value of your products, services, and company.
Use subject lines that clue your target audience into what useful content and relevant information your email is offering. Avoid using spam trigger words like “Free!” or “Guaranteed!” in a subject line, as this can prompt a mailbox provider to mark your emails as spam.
Make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe
Include a clear unsubscribe link in all of your emails. An effective email marketing program gives subscribers the opportunity to opt out without any hassle, which allows you to maintain quality email lists as well as your company’s reputation. Avoid hiding unsubscribe links within design elements or confusing wording.
Include plain text versions of your emails
When you send an email, include a link for a plain text version that will load faster for users with poor internet service. By optimizing a plain text version of your emails, you allow more recipients to open a version of your content.
Use effective email marketing tools
Email marketing software tools like Shopify Email offer user-friendly systems that make professional email campaigns possible. With customizable templates, comprehensive analytics, and reputable infrastructures, email marketing tools enable you to create campaigns and monitor their strength.
Email deliverability FAQ
What is good email deliverability?
While it varies from business to business, a strong email deliverability rate is often greater than 95%.
What is the common reason for bad deliverability?
Some of the most common reasons for bad email deliverability include poor sender reputation or IP reputation, a low open rate, spam traps, and bad email list hygiene.
How can you monitor your email deliverability performance?
You can get insight into your overall performance through email marketing software tools like Shopify Email. Monitor bounce rate, open rate, and spam complaint rate to gain a better understanding of your email deliverability.
How does email deliverability affect my email campaigns?
Maintaining a good email deliverability rate can determine whether your email campaigns reach their target audience or whether spam filters block them. Even with a well-crafted email campaign in place, merchants must implement good email deliverability practices to ensure all of their hard work actually arrives at its intended destination.
Do email deliverability best practices vary for transactional and marketing emails?
The strategies differ slightly. A company sends transactional emails on a one-by-one basis, due to a customer’s action (like making a purchase). Marketing emails, on the other hand, go to a wider audience to inspire action from potential customers. Transactional emails include specific content relevant to a customer and typically have higher open rates, while marketing emails (announcing a new product launch, for instance) often have lower open rates and require clear unsubscribe links.