Deliverability Insights: Helping your emails land in the inbox

Email Deliverability

Helping your emails land in the inbox

Let’s face it: People are still unsure about what email deliverability really is, what it entails, and why everyone should care about it. 


Firstly, it’s a difficult word to begin with: Just try saying it out loud. “Deliverability”.  Secondly, it has seven syllables! Honestly, most seven-syllable words are either bad news or medical terms. 


In any case, deliverability isn’t as scary as it sounds. In fact, good deliverability is essential for your emails landing in the inbox; the more you become familiar with it the easier it becomes. In this article, we’ll make deliverability really accessible, and explain key concepts so you can understand why deliverability matters. 

What is deliverability

Before we dive into the world of email deliverability, it’s important to understand the basic difference between delivery and deliverability. 

  • Email Delivery is whether the email gets accepted (delivered) or rejected (bounced) by the receiving mail server.
  • Email Deliverability is where the email lands after it is accepted for delivery, usually the inbox or the spam folder.


To expand on the distinction between the two, imagine you’re being sent an important letter or package. Delivery refers to the letter or package merely arriving at your address. In this example, deliverability refers to you reading that letter, or receiving the contents of said package. 


It’s important to understand that good delivery doesn’t necessarily imply good deliverability, because even if the emails arrive at their intended destination, they may still land in the spam folder. 

Important to know

Delivery still plays a fundamental role in the journey of an email to the inbox. Emma has an overall delivery rate of 99%. 

When it comes to Deliverability (landing in the inbox) User Engagement (whether a person interacts with your emails or ignores them) is one of the most important factors. Engagement directly impacts Sender Reputation, both for the marketer and the Email Service Provider. A stellar Sender Reputation is key to great email deliverability.

Although no one is able to know what percentage of emails arrive in the inbox vs the spam folder, we can make inferences about your Sender Reputation by analyzing some key metrics for our emails.

Open rate - The percentage of the total number of unique opens in a given time period compared to the total number of delivered messages. You can use Emma's Insights feature (more on this below) to track trends in open rates compared to a previous time period. However, the trend data only displays if enough historical data is available.

Click-to-open rate - Consists of the total number of recipients that clicked a mailing sent within the specified time period. It's a percentage that is derived from only the recipients that opened the mailings within the time period. The trend line indicates the percentage increase or decrease compared to the previous time period. However, the trend data only displays if enough historical data is available.

Click rate - It’s the percentage of the total number of recipients that clicked the mailings sent within the specified time period out of the total number of delivered messages, whether they opened the mailing or not. The trend line indicates the percentage increase or decrease compared to the previous time period. However, the trend data only displays if enough historical data is available.

Unsubscribe rates - This indicates how much of your audience would rather not be receiving emails. It’s not a positive metric, however, it’s important to understand that it’s better to have users unsubscribing from your emails, than marking the emails as spam. For that reason alone, it’s necessary to let people go, because you should only retain in your audience those who are happy to receive and engage with your emails. 

Bounce rate - A bounced email is essentially an email that the receiving server didn't accept and it "bounced" back.

A soft bounce is usually more temporary in nature: an overflowing inbox, a temporary server problem, etc. Soft bounces remain in Active status and will be tried again on the next mailing. 

Once a contact experiences 3 consecutive failed deliveries for soft bounce reasons, i.e. 3 consecutive mailings, the contact is put in Error status on the 3rd soft bounce. If there is a successful delivery to that contact before the 3rd soft bounce, the bounce counter is reset to 0 for that contact.

A hard bounce indicates a more serious delivery issue: The recipient's address is invalid, etc. Hard bounces are immediately moved to the error tab of your Audience to protect from continued sending causing reputation damage.

You can find information on how to reduce opt-outs and increase subscriber engagement with Subscriptions here.


Monitoring these metrics over time provides valuable insight on audience activity and engagement.


Within our platform, you have access to detailed information about the metrics above and more. Account Insights is a reporting tool that tracks the performance of all of your sent mailings over time. Led by informative graphs and charts, Insights gives you a bird's eye view of how your audience is growing so you can use the data to improve future campaigns or to more readily act on any changes in engagement.


You can find further details about account Insights here. 

What you need to know 

You need to know that by far, the biggest contributor to great deliverability, and as a consequence effective email marketing, is your data. If you have to focus on only one thing to optimise your deliverability, let it be data management.


Maintaining list health is a constant practice, and the best way to begin is by focusing on your active subscribers. Imagine you’re looking after a house plant. You have to water it constantly, and sometimes pruning may be necessary. In the same way ongoing data management helps you grow and maintain a healthy list.


Just because an email address is on your list doesn’t mean it’s beneficial to your marketing plan to send to it. When you manage your list properly, you make sure only those people that read and engage with your content keep receiving your emails. You can identify the less engaged segment of your list and send them a series of re-engagement campaigns. And finally if these people are still not showing any engagement or are active, it is time to say goodbye and remove them from your list. In doing so, you lose the dead weight of inactive addresses and get the most potential from the active and engaged audience.

Why deliverability matters

Deliverability matters because it is what the success of an email marketing programme built on. It describes the connection between you and your subscribers but in more practical terms, it is ultimately what really drives revenue in a marketing campaign. Your budget can be spent on crafting the perfect email, but if this email doesn’t land in the inbox and isn’t read by its intended recipients, then the email isn’t fulfilling its purpose. 

Wrap Up

Email deliverability can make or break an email marketing campaign, and like I said previously, deliverability is a seven-syllable word, not a seven-headed dragon. So in order to gain the most out of your marketing campaign or programme, please ensure that firstly, your subscribers are opted in and active, and secondly, that you’re on top of list management and tracking the metrics described above. If that’s in place to begin with, success shall indubitably follow. 


About the Author

Will Astout is a Deliverability Specialist for Emma and Campaign Monitor, and has over seven years of Deliverability experience. In his spare time Will enjoys cycling, swimming, and has a keen interest in bee keeping.

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