Mr. Deliverability Blog

Email Delivery vs. Deliverability

Ever see an advertisement that was too good to be true? Yet, against your better judgement you put down your guard and allowed yourself to believe it. After all, the offer was so good  that it lured you in, seduced you even. Maybe you wanted to believe it was true, but your spider senses confirmed that something was off. I know I’ve experienced this a time or two.

When email service providers (ESPs) tell you that their deliverability rate is 100%, they’re lying to you (sad but true).

As an online business owner, it’s easy to get drawn in when ESPs boast of their great or industry-leading deliverability.  But what does this mean? When deciding which ESP to use, should this metric or claim elevate companies above others that don’t have the same accolades? We don’t think so yet it sways many non-email marketers everyday.

Throughout my time in the email marketing industry, I’ve come to the conclusion that many ESPs and marketers confuse the Delivery Rate of a campaign and its Deliverability Rate.  

Let’s examine these by definition.

Delivery vs Deliverability Rates

The Delivery Rate of an email campaign is defined as the amount of emails sent minus any hard bounces, divided by the number of emails sent.  For example, if I sent an email campaign to 10,000 subscribers, and 1,000 of these hard bounced (EEEEKKK!), my delivery rate would be 90% (10,000 – 1,000) / 10,000.

The Deliverability Rate of an email campaign measures where your emails land once they are delivered (inbox vs spam).  There are tools within the email industry that allow us to gauge perceived deliverability rates; however, it’s not really possible for an ESP to provide an absolute, quantifiable deliverability rate.  When an ESP sends an email, they receive a response back from the recipient’s server that either accepts or rejects (bounces) the email. No information beyond that acceptance is provided; therefore, there is no way to absolutely know whether or not the specific email was delivered into the inbox or spam folder.

Beware of the Hype

Many ESPs will boast of Deliverability Rates between 95% – 99%, which sounds amazing, and lures many marketers in under false pretenses. Unfortunately, they are speaking half truths. Instead of quoting deliverability rates, they are quoting their delivery rates instead.  

I want to let you on a little secret, your ESP doesn’t have the biggest impact on your delivery rate, your list does. Sending to an active, engaged, permission-based email list will drastically reduce the amount of email addresses that will hard bounce when you are sending your campaigns.  The fewer hard bounces, the higher your delivery rate.

Your deliverability rate has more to do with your IP/Domain’s Reputation, and what percentage of your list is opening and engaging with your emails and less to do with any one thing that your ESP is doing.  

Our team has experience working with online business owners and non-marketers alike to determine their perceived Deliverability Rates, and implement strategies to help you improve them. High deliverability rates (inbox placement) leads to efficient email campaigns, which often improve your conversions and ultimate ROI.  

Long story short, the next time you’re in the market for a new ESP, don’t get hung up on claims of high deliverability rates without examining the entire picture.  High delivery rates don’t necessarily mean better deliverability. If you’re looking for a new tool and deliverability is the key factor, try testing out the tool rather than taking anyone’s word for it.

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