A few weeks ago I decided to conduct a little experiment on email deliverability and domain reputation. I created a new Gmail account and subscribed to the email lists of several dozen ecommerce companies who all use the same well-respected marketing automation platform for email delivery.
The results were shocking, but not entirely unpredictable. While some companies welcome emails made it to my inbox, many went directly to spam, and the majority ended up in my promotions folder.
Keep in mind, I had directly opted-in to receive these emails, and despite being delivered by the same provider who is known to have healthy, warmed IP’s, many companies emails went directly to my Gmail spam folder.
Despite knowing that email deliverability can vary an enormous amount (Return Path found that for senders with the lowest scores, less than 1% of their email ever reached the inbox) it was still shocking to see emails I had personally opted-in to go directly to spam.
So what makes the difference? Domain Reputation.
While its possible that some of these companies are using their own (poorly maintained) IP for delivery, whats more likely is that Gmail is filtering out these emails based on the sender’s domain reputation. While sending from an IP address with a low reputation is sure to drop your deliverability, using a clean IP is no guarantee of high deliverability if your domain reputation is poor.
There was one common thread I noticed between the senders with the poorest deliverability in the pack. They all sent a LOT of emails. Even though I hadn’t opened a single message, the emails just kept coming.
So how can you tell if your emails are actually being delivered?
Unfortunately, it's more complicated than looking at the delivery rate on a campaign in your marketing automation platform. All of the companies I subscribed to had their messages delivered, some just had their emails delivered to spam!
One way to get a handle on your deliverability is to look at your open rate. Open rate is an imperfect metric, but its fair to say that if your open rate is significantly below the average for your industry, you likely have a deliverability problem.
According to GetResponse, email open rates averaged across all industries are 21.73%. That means a 2%, 4% or even 10% open rate is below average in any industry and you likely have a deliverability issue.
With the advent of new data protections bills like the GDPR in the EU and California’s Data Protection Act, your opted in email list is more valuable than ever. Unlike social media followers, you own your opted-in email list. There’s no gatekeeper charging you every time you send an email, but subscribers are only valuable if you can reach them.
What kind of equity have you built with your subscribers? Are you protecting your domain reputation by sending high-quality content, to the right people, at the right time?