6 Tips to Improve Email Marketing Deliverability in 2016

Feb 02, 2016 1:29 PM  By

U.S. email marketing delivery rates have dropped more than 10%, from 87% in 2014 to 76%  in 2015, according to a recent study conducted by Return Path. American businesses saw nearly one in four emails land in the spam folder or go missing.

Now that mailbox providers have added the ability for consumers to block specific email addresses, marketers will increasingly be held accountable and need to be more responsible when sending email marketing campaigns. Below are six tips to increase the deliverability and success of an email marketing campaign.”

Send Relevant, Properly Formatted Email: Sending quality email that your subscribers want to receive is the basis of a great sending (and brand) reputation. Ensure that your recipients want to receive your email by implementing a clear opt-in during the subscription process and be sure to send relevant and interesting content. Also, make sure your HTML is properly formatted—poorly coded emails get caught in filters or don’t render properly.

Consistent Volume: How much email do you send? High-volume senders are always a red flag, especially when volumes are inconsistent. Do you send approximately the same number of emails each week or month, or is your mailing schedule all over the map? Consistent volumes based on subscriber preferences are a key consideration for ISPs.

Very Few Complaints: Do your subscribers complain or tag your messages as “junk” or “spam”? Even a tiny increase in complaints can cause your email to be blocked by the ISPs. Keeping your complaint rate very low (less than 1% of mail that is sent and accepted by the ISP) is very important.

Avoid Spam Traps: Sending to even one spam trap or “honey pot” will instantly set back your reputation and cause deliverability problems. When you send to a spam trap (an email address activated by an ISP to catch spammers), it means you’re engaging in email address harvesting (an illegal practice) or your list hygiene practices are weak. Either way, ISPs aren’t going to deliver your email.

Low Bounce Rates: A good reputation also means that only a small percentage of your emails “bounce” back or are returned by the ISPs because the account is no longer active (hard bounce) or the mailbox is temporarily full or the recipient is out-of-office (soft bounce). If a lot of your mail is bouncing back, it means your subscribers aren’t engaged and you’re not keeping up to date with them. It also indicates that your list hygiene practices are not up to industry standards. This makes your email look like spam to an ISP and your email is unlikely to get delivered. Keeping your bounce rate low by implementing procedures to immediately remove email addresses that return “hard” bounces is essential.

No Blacklist Appearances: Appearing on just one of the leading blacklists is enough to get you blocked by some ISPs. Senders with low complaints, who don’t hit spam traps, and who send email consistently generally don’t get blacklisted. However, if you do get blacklisted, having a good sending reputation will help convince the blacklist administrator to remove your IPs from their list.

Paul Kincaid-Smith, VP of Email Delivery at SendGrid


  • Sophia Henson

    Great post

  • Natasha

    Great post! It’s important to keep testing and improving email campaigns. I’m always doing A/B tests with GetResponse before sending anything and then look at data in analytics.