Deliverability vs. Delivery

Lance Hemenway Blog, Delivery

According to an ancient Egyptian proverb- “It’s better to get a hundred in the inbox, than it is to get a million in the junk folder.” No wait. -maybe that’s something my boss said.

The terms ‘delivery’ and ‘deliverability’ are thrown around in many email marketing circles as interchangeable terms. But there is a stark difference between the two. I’m not talking semantics here. Well, okay, -technically I am. But these particular semantics generally mean a significant difference to your bottom line, ROI, revenue and, most importantly, cold hard cash in your pocket.

Delivery – Delivery is really just the acceptance rate of all mail sent to an ISP. This includes mail accepted to junk, inbox and mail that gets black holed. Just because an email is accepted doesn’t mean the user saw it. Think about your personal email account. Do you read every piece of mail in your junk box? Or are you like everyone else and scan for important items and then delete all, leaving other messages unread?

Deliverability – The amount of delivered mail that goes to inbox. IP reputation, from name, content, user interaction, are all part of deliverability and determine if you’ll be allowed into the white fluffy clouds of the inbox, sent to the junk folder, or be forever forgotten in the black hole.

How do you track deliverability?

Seed accounts – You can get a rough estimate of how much of your mail is going to junk or inbox by sending to your seed accounts. You are testing, right? Be careful when using your seed accounts as some isps have rules to punish those who try to game the system by inflating their open and user interactions score by doing this on a large scale which will negatively affect your reputation.

Third Party Tracking – There a few options for using third party companies to evaluate how your mail performs and can provide you with the data to estimate where you stand.

eCPM – You can see a direct impact, both positive and negative, with deliverability in your eCPMs. If your delivery rate stays the same and you are seeing an increase in clicks, revenue, or whatever your metric is and you haven’t made any other changes, you can attribute this to improved deliverability. Keep a close eye on fluctuations as this can be an early indicator of improved or reduce deliverability.

If you have a 90% delivery rate but only a 40% inboxing rate, that is where you are missing out. If you’re only focused on delivery and not deliverability you are missing a big part of the picture. Start focusing on deliverability if you want your users to see your mail, be engaged in your content and want to increase your value to the user. If those things are happening, and they will, you’re ultimately going to increase to your bottom line.


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About the Author
Lance Hemenway

Lance Hemenway

Lance is the AdStation Director of Marketing. He's an internet veteran who was a founding member of Intermix Media, the parent company of Lance serves on the boards of the Bureau of Internet Accessibility and Think Big Kansas City. He's based at the Kansas City headquarters.