7 Ways to Improve Your Email Deliverability and Reach More Inboxes

Learn about email deliverability so you get better results from your email marketing campaigns. The Blueprint lays out the ways to improve your email deliverability and reach more inboxes.

We may receive compensation from partners and advertisers whose products appear here. Compensation may impact where products are placed on our site, but editorial opinions, scores, and reviews are independent from, and never influenced by, any advertiser or partner.

Here’s a truth bomb: Even if you spend wads of cash on your email marketing strategies, you’ll hear crickets if your emails don’t reach your recipients’ inboxes. They won’t be opened, let alone read.

In one of the email deliverability tests conducted by EmailToolTester, 20.4% of their emails were either missing or caught by spam filters. Can you imagine how many sales you’d lose if 20% of your emails weren’t opened and read by your subscribers?

To improve your email deliverability, follow the tips shared in this guide. But first...

Overview: What is email deliverability?

Email deliverability is a metric that shows how many of your emails reached your contacts’ inboxes.

Several issues can prevent your emails from landing in those inboxes: your emails might have gone to their spam folder, your sender reputation might be horrible, or the email addresses are invalid to begin with.

Regardless of the reason, your email marketing campaign suffers. You get abysmal open rates and click-through rates, causing your email marketing ROI to nosedive. To help you avoid this horror, we’ll cover several tips to improve your email deliverability.

7 strategies to improve deliverability and reach more inboxes

Use the email marketing best practices below to achieve better email deliverability, audience engagements, and conversions.

1. Establish your IP credibility

If your IP is tagged as suspicious by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), your messages most likely won’t reach your recipients’ inboxes.

Build your IP reputation to establish your credibility and avoid getting your emails sent to spam.

Tips to improve your IP reputation:

  • Warm-up your IP address: Minimize the number of emails you send through your new IP and gradually increase your send volume over time. This helps you avoid getting flagged by ISPs for sending too many emails too soon, ruining your sender score, hurting your IP reputation, and hindering your email deliverability.
  • Separate your transactional and marketing mail streams: Avoid sending both your transactional and marketing emails from the same server. This way, if your email marketing campaigns perform poorly, they won’t negatively impact your transactional emails’ performance. The worse your email performs overall, the more chances your IP reputation will decline, leading your emails to land in spam folders and hurting your deliverability.

2. Use a double opt-in

Also known as a confirmed opt-in, a double opt-in is when people sign up to your email list and receive a confirmation email with a link they must click to complete their subscription.

As shown in the sample newsletter from North Wild Kitchen below, users fill out the subscription form with their names and email addresses.

A newsletter opt-in form on the North Wild Kitchen website.

Users provide their name and email address to subscribe to the newsletter. Source: northwildkitchen.com.

Once they submit, users receive a confirmation email with the verification link or button they need to click to complete the sign-up process.

Use a double opt-in to ensure subscribers want to receive your emails and that they expect to receive your messages regularly. It also prevents adding inactive or fake email addresses to your list.

This helps reduce the chances of your recipients and ISPs flagging your emails as spam, and it will improve your engagement, sender reputation, and deliverability.

3. Authenticate your emails

If you’re sending your emails from your domain instead of your IP address, ISPs might reject or filter them out if they seem suspicious, damaging both your sender and domain reputation.

Set up authentication protocols correctly to show ISPs you’re a trustworthy sender. This improves deliverability, especially if you’re using email marketing software to send your emails.

Use the following authentication protocols:

  • Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM): This authentication method allows receivers or the receiving systems to determine if the email was sent and authorized from your domain. Each email you send is signed with a DKIM signature or private key, and the ISP or receiving mail server validates them using a public key in a Domain Name System (DNS). The process checks your email’s validity and ensures your content was not altered during transit, making your messages appear more legitimate to your recipients.
  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF): An SPF helps you prevent spammers from sending emails to your recipients on behalf of your domain. The email authentication technique allows you to specify which email servers have permission to send emails using your domain. Perform an email spam test to check your content against spam filter criteria and improve your email deliverability. You can do this by sending a test email to mail tester. The tool gives you a comprehensive view of what’s good and bad about your email. The email tester also checks your email against several blacklists to see if you’re listed. It will give you a wealth of deliverability-impacting information on your emails which you can use to improve deliverability.

4. Segment your emails

Sort your contacts according to factors such as gender, engagement, demographics, purchasing behavior, and more to help you create super-targeted email marketing campaigns.

Sending one message to multiple contacts in bulk can make your emails seem suspicious to ISPs, which can hurt your email IP address’s credibility.

Apply smart email marketing segmentation by using email marketing automation to streamline your segments. Marketing automation platform Mailchimp, for instance, builds and lets you create dynamic audience segments.

The feature to create audience segments on the Mailchimp platform.

Set the conditions to create your audience segments for your email marketing campaigns. Source: Mailchimp.

The platform moves your contacts in and out of your segments as they meet or stop meeting relevant criteria, saving you from manually creating and maintaining your lists.

5. Verify and clean your email list

Manage your email list properly to keep it healthy by removing your inactive and unengaged contacts who will potentially report your messages as spam. Purge your mailing list of potential spam traps, email address typos, and catch-all or disposable emails.

This helps reduce sending emails to dead email addresses, leading to hard bounces that damage your sender reputation and hinder your deliverability.

Consider sending reconfirmation opt-in emails to non-responsive contacts to help re-engage them and remove them from your list if they remain non-responsive after three months.

Add a link to a preference center to allow subscribers to customize the frequency and type of emails they receive to improve their experience.

6. Avoid spam traps

ISPs use inactive email addresses to catch spammers and malicious senders who obtain lists illegitimately or purchase mailing lists.

Avoid sending emails to spam traps as this can get your emails flagged, and ISPs will add you to email blacklists, which can be difficult to get out of and will ruin your sender reputation.

Dodge spam traps by:

  • Validating newly added email addresses to your list
  • Deactivating email ads that bounce
  • Managing your unresponsive subscribers
  • Cleaning your email list regularly

Follow email marketing best practices to avoid spam traps, keep your list healthy, enhance your email deliverability, and ensure your messages reach your contacts’ inboxes.

7. Assess your email deliverability

Test your deliverability before starting your cold emailing campaigns and during the run to assess what’s causing your low delivery rates or potential blocking from your email service provider. Use a service such as mail tester, mentioned above.

It will analyze your message, your mail server, and your sending IP, showing you a detailed report of what's configured properly and what's not.

Check for potential email deliverability issues such as:

  • Misleading subject lines
  • Spammy words and elements in your preview text, such as using too many exclamation points, the text “100% guaranteed,” and others
  • Poor email content formatting

Start developing your strategies to boost your email deliverability

Improve your email deliverability to get better results from your email marketing campaigns.

Establish robust email marketing planning, maintain a healthy email sender score, and follow the tips in this guide to ensure your emails reach your recipients’ inboxes and comply with applicable laws.

6 Digital Marketing Strategies You Can Use Today

Digital marketing can accelerate your business, but it can also be overwhelming. Let our experts walk you through the basics – including 6 strategies you can implement and how to decide which one to tackle first.

The Motley Fool has a Disclosure Policy. The Author and/or The Motley Fool may have an interest in companies mentioned.