7 Areas to Focus on for Improving Your Email Deliverability

Email deliverability is an extremely crucial factor that can make or break your email marketing campaigns. This step precedes the next crucial part of the recipe, which is having engaged users.

If your company has struggled to send emails that reach their desired targets, know that you’re far from alone.

Fortunately, it’s easier than you might have thought to improve your email deliverability rates.

In today’s post, we’ll share 7 areas of email deliverability to focus on. We’ll also delve into how the deliverability of your emails isn’t quite the same as email delivery.

You’re not going to want to miss it!

What Is Email Deliverability?

We can’t separate email deliverability from email delivery without a clear definition of the former. Your company’s capacity for sending emails is known as email deliverability.

In other words, it’s the rate that your emails arrive at the subscriber’s inbox when you factor in such issues as bulking, spam filters, email bouncing, and throttling.

Besides those hindrances, your deliverability rates can also be hurt in other ways. Let’s take a closer look.

Personalize, and optimize your email campaigns to enjoy high deliverability with EngageBay

No Prior Engagement

We all sign up for company emails or newsletters because we think we’ll buy from that company eventually. Then we either change our mind or shop from a competitor yet we still keep getting emails.

With no prior engagement in a scenario like this, you’re more likely to send future emails from the company to spam.

The email doesn’t reach its intended recipient’s inbox, thus dragging down email deliverability.

Shortening Your URLs

An abbreviated URL certainly looks better in the body of your email than a link with a URL that goes a mile long. Beware though of shortening URLs too frequently, as the act could trip up email spam filters.

Leaving No Options to Unsubscribe

Another no-no if you want more email deliverability is making it practically impossible for your audience to unsubscribe.

Listen, if the relationship between you and the lead/customer has cooled, you can always try igniting it, but you have to give them the freedom of autonomy.

Holding your email list hostage will have everyone marking your messages as spam.

Using a Free Domain Email Address

Free domain email addresses sure are convenient, but the downside is they don’t like very professional. As you might have guessed, that increases the likelihood of email bouncing and spam filtering.

What’s the difference between email delivery and email deliverability

Now we can get into what separates email deliverability from email delivery. The difference is subtle but very important.

Email is delivered first to the server and then to the client.

Say you have a Gmail account. Our marketing emails to you will first get delivered to Gmail’s servers, which is called email delivery.

At the server, the email gets processed and checked for spam. The Gmail server scans to see if the email contains legitimate information and is not a virus.

Once the server okays it, the email is delivered to your Gmail inbox, generally referred to as a subscriber inbox. This is email deliverability.

How to Improve Email Deliverability

We’ll talk in the next section about areas to improve for greater email deliverability rates, but here are a few tips you should implement as well.

Comply with Legal Rules

A GDPR policy like ours at EngageBay is important in ensuring the legality of the emails you send. When you comply with these web rules, you know that you’re on the right side of the law.

Also helpful is that your email deliverability rate could increase.

Write Subject Lines for Engagement

You only get one shot in an email to engage with your audience, and the subject line is your best bet.

You don’t just want to shove deals and sales down your audiences’ collective throat, but rather, engage and connect with them.

Write compelling Subject Lines with EngageBay’s Email Marketing Software

Regularly Clean up Your Email List

We mentioned before how email bounces can be one of the biggest roadblocks to deliverability.

If you’re sending emails to dead email addresses or those with typos you never fixed, you’re only wasting unnecessary manpower and energy reaching out to these people.

The emails will never be opened. They’ll either bounce back or go straight to spam.

To prevent this fate for your emails, go through your contacts list every few months and check for dead and misspelled email addresses.

Discard or update these emails so you have room for recipients that do want to hear from you!

7 Areas to Focus on If You Have Low Email Deliverability

  1. Raise Your Sender Score
  2. Authenticate Your Email Server
  3. Warm-up Your IP in the Initial Days
  4. Avoid Spam Traps
  5. Check That Your IP Wasn’t Blacklisted
  6. Uncomplicate Your Opt-out Process
  7. Check Your Email Frequency and Send Times

Email deliverability is an under-the-hood stat that’s not immediately apparent. In fact, it’s not just a single factor; lots of small moving parts in the email marketing mechanism can impact your email deliverability.

Your goal should be to improve email deliverability, and by focusing on these 7 areas, you can!

Raise Your Sender Score

SenderScore.org gathers data from multiple sources and assigns your IP or your domain a score that indicates your sender reputation.

A sender score of less than 70 is indicative of background work that you may need to improve your sender reputation.

If your email stats are falling, checking the sender score is a good way to get started with the troubleshooting.

Authenticate Your Email Server

Email servers run email authentication protocols to make sure the senders are not spamming or engaging in phishing.

If you don’t implement these protocols, the receiver server will mistake you for a malicious sender.

Your emails could land in the spam folder or might not be delivered at all. Authenticate your email servers before you start your first email marketing campaign

The three primary email authentication protocols are SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance).

Here’s a great video about how to prevent email spoofing with DKIM, DMARC & SPF:

SPF is a very basic email authentication protocol. In SPF, the receiving email server pings the originating server to ask for a list of approved senders.

If the sender is not on that list, it is marked as spam because there’s a possibility of impersonation.

In short, the receiving server directly asks your domain server if you are an approved sender. You need to ensure your domain server (DNS) has an SPF record with your name.

If you use an email service provider, you can ask your support team to clarify the details of SPF on their server to check if that might be a source of the problem.

Another email verification protocol is DKIM, which uses encryption with a public and private key.

DKIM-encrypted messages are encoded in two different keys. One is a private key that encodes only the email body and is available only with two parties – the sender and the receiver.

The email header (a separate block with additional meta-information about the content) is encrypted with a public key.

The receiving server verifies the authenticity by using the public key to decrypt the header. This ensures the contents of the email have not been tampered with and the source of the email is a legitimate sender.

DMARC has the combined power of SPF and DKIM. The receiving server will verify if the email follows SPF and DKIM policies.

Offending emails and senders will be reported back to sending servers as offenders. This makes DMARC stricter than the other two.

If you use a mass email sending service (like that of an ESP), do ask the support team about their DMARC implementation.

Warm-up Your IP in the Initial Days of your First Email Campaign

IP warm-up means starting with a low volume of approximately 100 to 500 email sends and then gradually increasing it to full steam with tens of thousands of emails per month.

Your fresh IP address has no sender reputation for these servers to judge the quality of your emails.

Without a disciplined schedule, you will end up bombarding the server with a large volume of emails before the server has enough data to assign your IP a sender reputation.

If you send bulk emails from a brand-new IP, the server will see your emails as spam because it doesn’t know what to make of them.

How to Warmup Your IP or Repair a Bad Domain Reputation


IP Warm-up is the most basic way to ensure you don’t get blacklisted just for being on a new email server. A balanced IP warm-up schedule allows you to get into the good books of popular ESPs like Gmail or Yahoo.

The warm-up period gives all receiving servers enough time and data to analyze your sending behavior and monitor your engagement levels.

During the warm-up, you can monitor the campaign to gather data for detailed optimization later on.

To conduct a successive warm-up, start with an internal email list (personal email addresses). Start by sending welcome emails to your own employees’ personal email as a test.

Try to get them to respond to your emails and click on CTR (the more engagement, the faster is the learning of their receiving server).

If the email does drop into someone’s spam box, ask them to move it to the original inbox.

After your internal emails, start with your most engaged subscribers. You can send your emails to those who have freshly subscribed in the absence of sufficient engagement data.

Now start sending emails to your lesser engaged subscribers working your way back to the least engaged ones. If you notice a considerable drop in open rates or engagement rates, slow down and let the server catch up with your IP.

Also, be sure to send a similar number of emails to every ISP each day.

Avoid Spam Traps

Email providers have a smart way of catching spam attackers. They send a massive volume of emails to collapse a network by using purchased email lists; these lists are not maintained.

They don’t care as they just want to bombard the system with email traffic.

So, buying email lists is essentially akin to buying clothes from a defective clothes sale, without any knowledge of where these defects are.

If you want to look good at a party, you would want to avoid these defective clothes. Likewise, for a successful email campaign, you must avoid buying these defective email lists.

In short, email providers simply plant an old (and inactive) email address (i.e. the spam trap) and plant it in these networks where spammers buy their lists.

These spammers will attempt to overload the email system with massive traffic. But they will be caught and blocked by the email provider.

If such a spam trap has found its way into your email list, chances are one of the major email networks has mistaken you for a spammer.

They have blocked your emails resulting in the death of an otherwise highly active email marketing dashboard. It may happen later if it hasn’t happened so far.

Being caught in a spam trap leads to directly being blacklisted. This affects your sender reputation and as a result of that, your email deliverability goes down in the dumps.

To avoid these spam traps:

  • Stop buying lists
  • Always use double opt-in email
  • Regularly run list cleaning campaigns. Besides identifying spam traps and invalid email addresses, these campaigns also allow you to identify subscribers who no longer want to receive emails.

Check That Your IP Wasn’t Blacklisted

Chances are some parts of your email campaign may have gone off track and committed an error that landed you on a blacklist. You will then fail the email reputation check.

To check if your email server is blacklisted, head over to DNSBL website and check for the IP of your email server. The site tells you which blacklists mention your IP.

If it is on a blacklist, it may not be an accident. On a shared email server, other senders may be committing one of the mistakes that got the IP blacklisted.

Find which blacklists are listing your IP and talk to them to see what you can do to get off the blacklist.

As a worst-case scenario, you may have to get yourself a dedicated IP or change to a reputed email service provider.

Uncomplicate Your Opt-out Process

Your emails may be regularly marked as spam because you have not paid attention to your opt-out process. This is true because users will find marking your email as spam much easier if they can’t unsubscribe in one click.

Make sure there is an unsubscribe link at the end of every email you send. It should be clearly visible; don’t make color or font size adjustments to hide them.

This is a mandatory privacy requirement under GDPR laws if you serve EU citizens.

And when the link is clicked, the originating email address should be immediately removed from the list. This removal should be communicated to the user in clear and bold letters to the user or they may immediately mark you as spam.

But then again, you also want to understand why they are unsubscribing so you can prevent this mistake from happening again.

However, asking them a reason to unsubscribe should be without any pre-conditions.

And please – don’t hide your unsubscribe form behind a login screen; that is the worst kind of unsubscribe option.

Chances are the user won’t wait for another second to mark you as spam if they see a login screen linked to an unsubscribe button.

Check Your Email Frequency and Send Times

An unaware or uninformed email strategy may be yet another reason why your email gets regularly marked as spam or you may start receiving spam complaints.

Run some A/B tests to know what the email preferences of your audience are. This should include the frequency and the sending time for your emails.

Reduce bounce rates with EngageBay’s Email A/B Testing feature

Stick to those which give you maximum engagement.


The success of your email marketing campaign depends on your own campaign strategy as well as the service provider you choose to send emails from.

Of course, creating a conversion-optimized email with intriguing subject lines and engaging CTA is very important.

But after spending all the effort and time in debugging the marketing issues out of your emails, you wouldn’t want the campaign to fail because of a spam neighbor on your shared IP.

Worse yet, you don’t want to discover that your sender was already blacklisted. Hence, you must actively guard your email deliverability rate.

Besides, your emails already have so much competition when they reach the users’ inboxes. But if they don’t even see the inbox, they don’t even get the chance to compete.

Implementing the best email deliverability practices allows you to get out an email marketing funk by providing an enriching email experience, not to mention, it will reduce the bounce rate drastically.

Navin Israni

Navin Israni is a SaaS tech copywriter and content marketer. He writes for EngageBay about customer retention, marketing performance, and acing the sales process.

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