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Does email deliverability REALLY matter?

9 April 2018
by Adam Oldfield

It may sound like an odd statement for a team of marketing experts to make. As a profession we place a lot of onus on the email campaigns that we craft on a weekly basis. They have to generate a return for us, whether that ‘return’ is a brochure download, a website visit, a form completion, or general brand profile raising etc.

So surely email deliverability is important?!?

Well, yes, of course it is. We absolutely want our clients and prospects to receive the communications that we’ve created for them!

However, in truth, a number of marketers worry about email deliverability just a tiny bit too much. Here’s why.

For a start, if you’re partnering with an effective marketing automation provider, they will encourage you to cleanse your data and ensure you tick the basic technical boxes that influence delivery success.

But they will also hopefully urge you to think beyond deliverability alone.

That’s because if the email is irrelevant – or, worse still, blatant spam – it may not reach its end destination anyway.

Why? Because ESPs (email service providers) are on a mission to protect their subscribers from messages they don’t want to receive. You only have to think back to our blog about Clutter folders to put this into context.

So, the key takeaway here, is to worry less about deliverability and more about engagement.

Microsoft has a Sender Reputation Data (SRD) network for example, that invites random email users to vote on whether a message is junk. Because of the weight that Microsoft attributes to such ‘complaints’, a single junk report from an SRD network member is the equivalent of 100,000 ‘normal’ mail users marking an email as spam.

When considering that Microsoft is the ESP of choice for 40% of a typical consumer base, this is a big problem for brands.

Marketers should therefore invest more effort:

  • Distributing timely, relevant content that recipients truly wish to find in their inbox – the more appropriate the comms, the less chance it will be flagged as junk.
  • Deducing if a contact could actually do more harm than good. This is why lead scores are so important – automation technology can move contacts in and out of lists to keep them current and ensure only the ‘best’ recipients continue to be targeted. Savvy marketing is about quality not quantity after all.
  • Thinking carefully about segmentation. Most marketers don’t even realise that this Microsoft example is a ‘thing’ because they haven’t segmented the base on ESP type. They may have seen an overall reduction in open rates, but Microsoft opens could be skewing the stats significantly.

So, going back to the original question, yes, deliverability does matter. But worrying about it too much could in fact be a waste of time if it is to the detriment of engagement.

Photo of Adam Oldfield
Adam Oldfield
Managing Director & Founder

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