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10 Reasons why your email marketing deliverability might be poor

Published: 15th January 2019

10 factors that cause poor email deliverability



Whether you are new to email marketing, or have been doing it since the dawn of time, chances are that you know in order for email marketing to be successful, people need to be receiving it ok.

When you send out email marketing, it will have to pass through various filtering, all email browsers employ this. Some companies also have an extra layering of filtering by using third party software or hardware to scan their email. If your email passes this filtering, it will be delivered to your recipient’s inbox, if not, it’ll be filtered through to junk and your recipient will never see your mailer

Poor deliverability is something that can kill off any email marketing, if you’ve quickly designed it yourself, or engaged the services of a design company - if people aren’t seeing it, it isn’t working.

So, in this video, we are going to look at the main reasons why deliverability can suffer.

Ok, so let’s start with number 1

#1 Poor Sender reputation


When you send out email marketing, any previous history that you have accumulated will be attached to your sending domain. This takes the form of a reputation, your recipient’s email filtering service will be able to see this information, based on this it then makes a decision on the fly of where to deliver your send; to the inbox or to junk.

A positive reputation will normally mean delivery to the inbox and a negative means delivery to the junk box. A positive reputation is gained by having a low previous bounce rate and decent numbers of people having previously been recorded as engaging with your send by reading and clicking links.

A negative reputation is gained by having a high previous bounce rate, or a number of unsubscribes or a level of complaints to previous mailers.

#2 Black Listing


This one is a real delivery killer. If your company domain or sending server has previously been recorded as hitting a spam trap, then this is recorded and pretty much closes the door to decent inbox placement. This history is often permanent and can’t be removed.

Spam traps are email addresses floated randomly on the internet by the email filtering companies, in an effort to stop the activities of people sending emails to recipients that have not asked to receive them, these addresses are there as traps.

The best way to avoid hitting spam traps and subsequently torpedoing any chance of email marketing success is never contemplate using purchased or third party databases, these are normally padded out with harvested email addresses and frequently contain spam traps.

#3 High Bounce rate


When we are talking about bounces, we are referring to email addresses that are not able to accept emails, this could be because they are old and the domain doesn’t exist anymore, or the user’s mailbox is full and not accepting incoming mail.

Email addresses that aren’t accepting mail are generally contained within databases that haven’t had regular cleansing or housekeeping. Again, we often see purchased databases padded out with lots of old or dead email addresses.

A high previous bounce rate plays a major part in the constitution of your sender reputation. Which, as we’ve previously discussed, a poor sender rep pretty much guarantees a poor delivery rate.

#4 Spam Content


Your recipients mail filter will read your subject header line and body text when deciding where to deliver your email to. One of the things it is looking for is the presence of phrases that it references against that could be considered ‘sales related’.

These include phrase such as, ‘promotional’ ‘discount’ ‘special offer’ etc. A high inclusion rate of phrases that are used in heavily focused sales emails are deemed as spam related by the spam filters.

These filters operate a points scoring algorithm, the more more spam phrases, the higher the point score. They often have a a scoring level of 5 points, anything more than two or three can means consignment to the junk box.

#5 Poor reputation of sending server


Linking to your own companies sending reputation, is the sending reputation of the mail server that is being used to send your email marketing. This sending server will also carry a recorded history of previous activity.

In terms of commercial email marketing software, it is quite normal for your account to live on the same sending server as other companies using the same software. This means that you effectively share an address with other people.

So, if any of these other companies have a poor reputation through using bad data or purchased lists, this can damage the sending server. This means that your marketing delivery rates could be affected by the historic actions of other companies on your server.

When choosing a new email marketing service provider, it’s always worth double checking this.

#6 Domain Name not verified


Verifying your domain name is vital if you are using a third party service to send your email marketing. Verifying your domain name is a method of adding an authentication to your sending domain.

When using third party software, you emails appear as being from you, but will be sent via your software supplier’s network. To your recipient’s mail filter, it can look as if it’s from one person but sent via an external route - some filters may see this as a security risk and send it to junk as a safety precaution. Adding authentication, adds a security seal that your recipient’s mail filter will be looking to see, if it is happy to deliver the mail to the inbox.


#7 Subject header line not engaging


The subject header line is a really important part of your mailer, it’s the first thing that your recipient see’s and if it doesn’t strike a chord with them, then they won’t open it.

Now, as we’ve previously looked at, if people aren’t engaging with your send then this results in poor viewer engagement. We know that that poor engagement means a negative sender reputation, ultimately resulting in poor delivery.

So, it’s important to spend time researching the best subject header line and split test your some variants. Doing this will help to make sure that your mailer gets opened and read.

#8 Poor quality list


Using a poor quality list is the fastest and most effective way to damage your delivery rates. Poor lists lists that aren’t qualified, are old, optin credentials are questionable and generate complaints.

Typically, purchased or third party lists have all of the characteristics. As they are priced on volume, dead addresses are left in they are padded out with duplicates and non qualified addresses.

For email marketing, purchased lists generally cause more harm than good. This is why all reputable service providers don’t allow their use nowadays.

#9 Poor previous positive engagements


If people aren’t opening reading or clicking on your mailer - they aren’t engaging with it in any meaningful positive way.

Your engagement history is attached to your sending domain name (this being your company name). Engagements are recorded as positive or negative - if someone reads your mailer, then that’s recorded as a positive engagement. If they click on unsubscribe - or the email bounces, then this is recorded as a negative engagement.

As much as negative engagements cause harm - a lack of positive engagements also has the same effect.

#10 Too many images


When a spam filter scans your message prior to inbox or junk filter placement. It looks at the amount of text versus the number of images, if the balance between the two is weighted in favour of images then they can filter your message to the junk.

Sometimes, we see mailers where all of the text is embedded inside an image - this is a real no no, as the spam filter cannot see any text. This dramatically increases the chances of your mail being sent to the junk box.
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