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Strategy Sessions: Improving email deliverability and inbox placement

In our last video, Chris Creech and I explained the differences between email deliverability, inbox placement and email engagement. Understanding the distinctions of these terms is important, but equally important is having a firm grasp on the factors that affect each of these components of your email marketing. In this video, we break down those factors by diving into topics including sender reputation, list cleanliness and quality content creation.


Chris: Hi, it’s Chris and Lauren again. We’re following up on a recent video we just did talking about the difference between deliverability, inbox placement and engagement. We defined those three terms but we didn’t get into what different factors affect each of those, so we wanted to do a little bit of a followup. In this video, we want to address what factors affect deliverability and inbox placement. Because there is some crossover in there, people often get confused about those two.

Lauren: We’ll start with email deliverability. As a reminder, deliverability meaning how many of your emails are actually being delivered to the inbox. There are two primary factors that are really going to affect your deliverability. One is list cleanliness: Who is on your list, are they valid email addresses, are you going to be sending to a bunch of emails that will be hard bounces or just not valid addresses, that kind of thing. Keeping your list as clean as possible is something that we work through with our clients on a monthly basis to make sure that people on the list are engaged and that they are actually valid people to be delivering mail to.

Chris: Yeah. It’s really important if you purchase a list. And we’re not against purchasing a list.

Lauren: Absolutely not. But if you do, clean it.

Chris: You know nothing about these names, so it’s always good to plan to spend a little extra money and pay for a good list cleansing to make sure that you have good, valid names so as not to affect your deliverability.

Lauren: The other thing is your sender reputation also plays a big part in whether or not your email is actually going to be delivered. Your sender reputation is a score that’s based on the mail coming from the outgoing IP as well as the domain. Basically, the mail coming from any given IP or domain is being looked at to see if people receiving that mail are unsubscribing or if they are getting put in spam folders, etc. If that’s happening a lot, you’re going to get dinged on your sender reputation. What we do at Newfangled is all of our clients send from a dedicated IP address, and we’re meeting with everyone who is sending from that IP address to ensure that they are adhering to best practices about list cleanliness and other email best practices to make sure that that sender reputation is quite high.

Chris: Yeah. We’re using Anyone can go there and check the sender score for any IP address. We keep an eye on ours. The score is on a scale from 1 to 100. We like to see ours at 97 to 100, which thankfully, it usually is. Once that email is delivered, we turn our attention to inbox placement.

Lauren: Right, where in the mailbox is that email going?

Chris: Once that mail is delivered, each receiving server has to decide, “Do I think this is something worthy of going to the inbox or am I going to place it in the junk folder?” Where is that going to go? They look beyond your sender reputation, and look at your domain and your previous mailing history. If you’re sending to Microsoft servers— Hotmail, MSN, Outlook — Microsoft can see, “OK, emails that have come from over the past year, a ton of them have ended up in spam, very few get opened, so we’re going to learn from that, and we’re going to place you in the spam folder.”

Lauren: Right.

Chris: To combat that, you need to be writing really engaging emails, sending to a targeted audience so you’re getting people that are more likely to open, more likely to click on it, less likely to unsubscribe or put it in spam. Because then those servers will learn from it and hopefully place you more often in the inbox.

Lauren: You’ve got the IP consideration and the domain consideration.

Chris: Both of those play into both of the deliverability and inbox placement. Both equally and important if you want people to read that mail.

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