Deliverability. It’s the seven-syllable word that can either excite or intimidate you.

Even with the rise of social media, email continues to be the most ubiquitous medium for marketers today. And what’s not to love about it? Email is easy to set up, used globally, and it has a great return on investment (if done right).

Although email’s importance seems everlasting, its ability to reach a customer’s inbox isn’t guaranteed.  On average, a staggering 20% of all permission-based emails never make it to the inbox. Instead, these messages land in the spam folder, which hurts both your reputation and the revenue you could be generating via email.

Are your campaigns part of that statistic?

If you don’t know the answer, then you may be someone that finds deliverability intimidating. And that’s okay. Perhaps you’re a marketer, or an IT professional, or an expert basket weaver, and deliverability monitoring may not part of your everyday life. However, if you (or your company) sends email, deliverability should matter to you. Here’s why:

 1. You can see how strong your customer connections are. Deliverability monitoring goes beyond reporting on the inbox and spam folder. Depending on the provider’s platform, you can also monitor engagement rates (whether someone is reading or deleting) and inactive rates (if a previously-engaged subscriber is no longer opening your messages).

Since deliverability is strongly based on subscriber engagement, these metrics are essential for higher inbox placement.

A low average read rate paired with a high inactive rate puts your email messaging at high risk for the spam folder. If there was a Goldilocks inactive rate, it would hover around 40%. Do you know your inactive rate and how it’s changed over time?

Screenshot from our Inbox Tracker platform. This dashboard uses a monthly aggregate to show you how your inactive rate is trending.

An independent view of these engagement rates allows you to take action to address any problem areas that could be hurting your overall deliverability. If lower engagement rates are a problem for you, look into solutions such as list pruning, segmentation and personalization within your campaigns. For more, check out my last blog post on how to boost your engagement rates here.

2. It tells you what is or isn’t working. Let’s say your marketing team spent hours developing a new campaign: The subject line is enticing, the graphics are eye-catching, and the deals are unbeatable. And yet, when you finally press “Send”, the campaign’s inboxing looks something like this:

Less than half of your audience saw this email in their inbox. Although this (luckily) is a hypothetical scenario, these situations happen all the time in the email world. As unfortunate as this scenario may be, the good news is that proactive deliverability monitoring can help prevent these problems from reoccurring.

As stated earlier, deliverability monitoring goes beyond inbox placement. On the surface, the email itself may look fine, but spam placement may be indicative of a deeper issue. For example, did you know some ISPs will examine certain words in your subject line to determine whether it’s spammy or not? Other template issues include not having a working unsubscribe link, the HTML email size exceeding 102 KB, or using a higher ratio of images to text.

Luckily, this is where pre-deployment software comes into play. Our Design Tracker platform, powered by Litmus, lets you preview your template before sending:

Preview your campaign through all the different email clients to make sure it’s completely optimized.

You can use the Spam Score tab to see specific campaign components of your message that could hurt your chances of landing in the inbox.

3. You may discover issues beyond your immediate control. Continuing with the above scenario, perhaps you’ve tackled all your campaign’s content issues. You fixed the broken links, removed the word “free” from the subject line and cleaned up your list. Now all your spam problems will go away, right?

Unfortunately, some cases aren’t that easy.

Depending on your configuration, there may be underlying set-up related issues that are unfavorable from an ISP’s point-of-view. And this information is not easily accessible on your own. So you can either ignore the problem(s), hire a deliverability expert (they are expensive and hard to find), or you can invest in deliverability monitoring software that will alert you on these hidden problems.

For example, built into Inbox Tracker is an on-demand deliverability audit called Reputation Advisor. Each time you load the page, it performs over 100 checks on your configuration, IP reputation, and authentication, and addresses any set-up-related items that may be hurting your deliverability.

Say you are regularly being spoofed (a sender is using your domain pretending to be you). You can see these instances from our Inbox Tracker Dashboard:

Spoofing is usually a sign that you are missing a crucial DNS authentication record that legitimizes your domain to the ISP, such as a DMARC record:

From there, you can use our in-house DMARC Policy Manager to create the record. Using the provided record will also grant you access to our DMARC Dashboard, which allows you to monitor potential threats to prevent further spoofing incidents.

Use the DMARC Policy manager to easily set up your DMARC record.

Once your record is published, easily monitor threats to ensure no unauthorized users are attempting to send mail from your domain.

Publishing this record is one small step you can take to ensure your messages land in the inbox. Without a deliverability monitoring platform, you may never know about outsider attacks or lack of authentication within your email infrastructure.

To conclude, deliverability monitoring is multi-faceted and will benefit anyone who sends email. Knowing engagement rates, what is or isn’t working, and discovering underlying set-up-related issues will ensure the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts.

If you would like additional information on SparkPost’s email deliverability services, reach out to our email experts today!