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The E-mail Delivery Dilemma

If you have been reading my posts over the last months or have spoken with me you will know I am always talking about email deliverability, the ability to deliver marketing emails into the inboxes of intended recipients.
Historically the delivery rate has been measured as all the emails sent less all the emails that had a hard (fatal) bounce. Today, deliverability is measured as all the emails sent, but not bounced, less those that did not reach the intended inboxes. Surprisingly few email service providers (ESPs), agencies or marketers measure this very important metric.
This week eMarketer let us in on some recent research that shows 68% of marketers using email are worried about deliverability. In the September 13 edition of eMarketer Daily, the leading piece called Delivery Dilemma tells us these people are concerned about Email Filtering, ISP Blocking, Blacklisting and much more.
If you are not already tracking your email deliverability here are some things you can do to start.

*If you outsource any part of your email programs, including using an external technology or software platform:*
* Partner with an email service provider (or use an email platform) that tracks true deliverability to major ISPs, webmail providers, etc.
* Make sure your email partner is aware of the technology landscape and methodologies affecting deliverability.
* Make sure your email partner uses a third-party deliverability auditing solution or service.
* Use current content filters to test your copy and content for things that will trigger spam filters.
* Keep an eye on your response metrics and look for sudden negative changes.
*If you do everything in-house, including hosting your own software:*
* Know the technology landscape (Authentication, Sender Policy Framework, Sender ID, etc.) and methodologies affecting deliverability.
* Consider a one-time third-party audit of your deliverability.
* Use current content filters to test your copy and content for things that will trigger spam filters.
* Keep an eye on your response metrics and look for sudden negative changes.
* Check your domains and IP address(es) against blacklists and blocklists.
As an email marketer always follow permission best practices. This begins with getting permission before you send marketing emails. In addition, always make sure that your messages are relevant. Don’t waste the time of your customers, prospects and other recipients. They will unsubscribe, ignore your emails or create a rule or filter to automatically delete what you are sending.
Please let me know what your deliverability is. Post a comment below or contact me directly.


  1. Stefan Eyram
    Stefan Eyram September 16, 2005

    With all the talk of deliverability issues and concerns, next week you can read my new post about the fact that email marketing is growing and increasing in effectiveness.
    – Stefan

  2. Jeff Ginsberg
    Jeff Ginsberg September 17, 2005

    Hey Stefan….
    I have clients achieving over 98% deliverability from the use of DoubleClick’s DARTmail platform.
    This is a combination of stringent data maintenance combined with superior deliverability and ISP relations. It’s the number one reason we why we have partnered with them.
    We have tested a number of other email service providers and find their deliverability to range from high 60’s to the mid 80’s. That’s 15 – 35% of your email never reaching the inbox. How much will that hurt someone’s bottom line?
    Our delivery test tool is Return Path’s Delivery Assurance that tells us if our IP’s are black listed and which black lists they are on as well shows is how SPAMY a message is and gives us inbox monitoring of over 22 major domain with 6-10 seed address per domain.
    At the end of a campaign we can see per message how many made it to the inbox, junk folder or when missing all together.
    This is just one example of deliverability at the ISP level. Everyone’s first battle.
    If anyone reading this post wants to a deliver test to see how they fair, we will give them the seed list and email them the report when the campaign is over.
    Normally we charge for delivery testing, but for Ken and good people reading One Degree we are more than happy to supply it at no charge*.
    *One campaign only please :o)

  3. Stefan Eyram
    Stefan Eyram September 18, 2005

    In response to Jeff’s post, I have previously posted info about ExactTarget and their audited deliverability of 98%. They work with Pivotal Veracity and have been touted as the leader in deliverability by them. My take is that there are a handful of email service providers, including Doubleclick and ExactTarget, that have truly figured out deliverability. These companies have established the necessary realtionships, and clout, with the ISPs and webmail providers that matter. Unfortunately, unless you use email platforms like these, and measure true deliverability to the inbox using third-party solutions like Return Path and Pivotal Veracity, you will be less than optimized in your email marketing. I find too few email marketers in Canada are really measuring deliverability to the inbox so they don’t really know how many emails are getting through and how many are being blocked.
    Stefan Eyram

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