How to nail email deliverability – every. single. time.

How to nail email deliverability - every. single. time.
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Veronika Belova
by Veronika Belova

2 Min. Read

99% of people check their inbox at least once a day. 

That’s a big opportunity for you as a salesperson. But with every great opportunity comes a potential pitfall; in this case, email deliverability. 

If your email doesn’t deliver, you’re missing a chance to reach your prospect – plus, if enough of them don’t get through, the future of your email activity could hang in the balance. Scary stuff.

Fortunately, with a bit of care, email deliverability problems are something we can avoid. This article will teach you to do just that: making sure your outreach emails land in the right inbox every single time. 

Just don’t forget us when you’re wildly successful and making millions, ok? 

Skip ahead: 

  • Understanding email deliverability 
  • Making sure you have the right email address 
  • Avoiding bounces 
  • Preventing spam and malicious marks 
  • Protecting your domain 
  • Scaling your efforts 
  • Tools and services for email deliverability 
  • Best practices summary

Understanding email deliverability 

Simply put, email deliverability is the rate at which your email makes it to its intended destination: recipient inboxes. If an email bounces or (uhoh) gets marked as spam, your email delivery rate goes down. 

There are several key data points you should keep an eye on to make sure your email deliverability rate stays high. Let’s take a quick look: 

Bounce rate: an email bounces when it can’t be delivered, because the recipients’ mail servers returned them. This is often due to an error in inputting contact details, or a no-longer-in-use email address being on the list. 

Open rates: this is the percentage of an email list who open the email you’ve sent. High open rates mean you’re nailing your subject lines – and visa versa. The quality of the contact list and relevancy of the email also come into play here. 

Click-through rate: included a link or attachment in your email? If people click on it, they’ll contribute to your click-through rate. It’s the number of people who clicked within the email, divided by the number of people who saw it and did nothing. 

Spam complaints: the scary one. We’re sure you’ve done it – maybe you received an email of no relevance and confusing origin, or got frustrated after you heard from the same person five times in five days. Mark an email as spam, and you’re making a complaint about the sender – which spam filters will remember for future emails.

Making sure you have the right email address

Making sure you’re sending emails to email addresses that exist may sound simple, but it’s surprisingly easy to get wrong. Emailing inaccurate addresses will waste your time, and harm future emails – no thanks. 

So, how do we stop it happening? The answer lies with email verification tools. These verify and validate email addresses to make sure they’re accurate – and reduce bounce rates in the meantime. Guess what – Surfe is one of them 😉 

Once you’re using the right tools to check accuracy, you make sure these emails stay up-to-date, too. Regularly clean email lists to remove outdated or incorrect addresses. This is something your entire team needs to stay on top of – you can use a tool like ZeroBounce, or let Surfe do the job for you. 

Our tool makes sure that the contact data in your CRM is always accurate, by keeping an eye on any changes in LinkedIn and automatically transferring new data – including email addresses – over to you.

Avoiding bounces 

A bounced email is frustrating – to avoid them, we need to understand the difference between hard and soft bounces: 

Hard bounces: this is a permanent failure – as in, there’s no going back. They’re usually caused by an inaccurate email address or your domain being totally blocked. 

Soft bounces: there’s still hope with a soft bounce. Your email might just take a bit longer to get through due to deliverability issues. Your recipient could have a full inbox, for example, or a problem with an email service provider like gmail or Yahoo. 

It’s important to know the difference between the two bounces, as they require different actions. For example, a lot of hard bounces indicates the need to clean your email list. 

List maintenance

Let’s take a look at a few ways you can maintain your email list: 

Segmentation: remove or merge duplicates. It’s easy to have duplicates in a list, particularly if you have multiple team members working on it. Tidying this up is a surefire way to avoid that spam button being hit. 

Remove bounced addresses: knowing when to move on is a good skill for sales and for life – and the same goes for email addresses. If it’s bounced, it needs to be chopped off. 

Use technology: tools like Surfe help to keep your emails clean by making sure contact data is accurate and up-to-date. You’ll also want a migration tool that automatically merges duplicates, so you don’t have to stress about doing it manually. 

Verification process 

Build a verification process into your email-sending routine (a bit like brushing your teeth in the morning – you want to do it without even thinking).

A tool like Zerobounce can pre-check email addresses before you send out an email, and save you from having to clear up any post-email damage.

Preventing spam and malicious marks 

Content quality

 Any good salesperson will find this easy enough. Don’t spray and pray with your emails (that is, emailing every person under the sun about an offer that may or may not be relevant to them). Keep things appropriate and timely (good list segmentation can help with this). 

A word on spam trigger words: words surrounding money, savings, discounts and pricing usually will automatically mark your email as spam. Don’t hard sell over your email. Instead, you want a soft sell that focusses on providing value. 

Authentication protocols

There are a couple of authentication protocols you need to know about here: 

Sender Policy Framework (SPF): no, this isn’t what you slap on when sun is out – it’s what Internet Service Providers (ISP) use to make sure that a mail server is authorised to send emails for a domain. It helps protect you and your prospects from spam, spoofing and phishing. 

DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM): oh look, another fun acronym! This one is all about keeping domains secure, which it does by using digital signatures to ensure email authenticity. If your emails are authenticated, they’re more likely to make their way to the right inbox. Simple. 

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC): we saved the longest for last. DMARC builds on the protocols of SPF and DKIM. It adds linkage to the email author’s domain name and improves and monitors the protection of the domain from fraudulent email. 

Engagement tactics

Use the right tactics to drive up engagement rates, and you’re significantly improving your chances of success. These don’t have to be complicated: 

Personalized content: use your ICP to help you here – what do they care about? What have they responded to in the past? You can also use intent data here – such as an insight from an industry publication – to help you create content that feels personal and is genuinely useful. 

Subject lines: play around and see what works here. It might be something completely unexpected, or maybe your ICP prefers a straightforward description of what’s in the email. You should get a sense of what drives those open rates up pretty quickly.

Protecting Your Domain

Every domain has a reputation – and it impacts whether your emails are delivered or not. In a nutshell, it’s a measure that Internet Service Providers use to determine whether your emails can be trusted or not. It’s considered everywhere, including: 

  • The address you’re sending your emails from 
  • The address where bounces or non-delivery reception go 
  • The DKIM signing domain 
  • Links, content and brand assets in an email 

Best practices for domain health 

You can control your domain reputation (unlike your reputation in real life – sorry). Here’s how to do it: 

  • Don’t send twenty emails one month, and two the next. You want a nice, consistent volume of emails that isn’t going to freak out ISPs – or your prospects.
  • Avoid sudden spikes in email sending – following on from the next point, don’t wildly decrease or increase the number of emails you’re sending day-to-day. Keep it consistent.
  • Keep your email list clean, and respond to any unsubscribe requests quickly. 
  • Send content that your prospects will want to receive – in other words, what’s actually helpful for them.
  • Keep an eye on your email engagement metrics to make sure you’re hitting the mark. 
  • Use tools to help you monitor your domain reputation, like SenderScore or TrustedSource.

Scaling your efforts 

Ok, you’ve got a squeaky clean email list, your content’s on point, and your authentication protocols are all in place. 

Now it’s time to keep everything in check as you scale your efforts. Let’s take a look: 

Common bulk email challenges 

The bigger your send list, the lower your open and click-through rates are going to be. This isn’t necessarily a reflection on you: after a certain point, it’s just not possible to appeal to every one of thousands of people. 

If you’re not careful, though, it can lead to more spam complaints and bounces. 

Segmentation is your friend here – and using the aforementioned tools to automate keeping your email list clean, no matter how big it gets. As well as segmenting by customer profile, you can take a look at responses and opens of previous email campaigns, and use that data to segment your lists and keep future emails relevant. 

Automation tools 

Once your email list gets past a certain size, you’ll want to use an email automation tool to help you manage your processes. 

This could be a CRM like Hubspot or a specialized provider like ActiveCampaign or Drip.

Tools and services for email deliverability 

Tools are your best friend when it comes to a killer email process: 

Email verification tools 

These are tools like Surfe, Apollo, Hunter and ZeroBounce. They aggregate providers to make sure you’re getting accurate contact data – which leads to email deliverability. 

Authentication tools 

By this we mean tools that help you manage SPF, DKIM and DMARC. There are two we’d recommend here: easy DMARC and DMARCLY. 

Monitoring and analytics 

Tools that can help you stay on top of all the performance data and your domain reputation include: 

Google Postmaster: got a deliverability problem? Troubleshoot it! You’ll get an understanding of what went wrong, so you know the best course of action for next time. 

SenderScore: this handy tool takes a look at your email sending-habits and identifies problems. For example – it might spot where all your complaints are coming from, or where you’re running into spam problems. Once you know what the problem is, it’s a matter of iterating and improving. 

Best practices summary 

Phew – nearly there! To keep your email deliverability rates high, we’d recommend focussing on the following key areas: 

  • Make sure you’ve got the right email address, and regularly maintain your lists 
  • Use verification tools to avoid hard bounces 
  • Get a handle on authentication protocols
  • Keep emails consistent to maintain your domain health, and use tools for an overview 
  • Use segmentation and personalisation when sending emails at scale, and use automation tools to help you keep things under control 
  • Choose a few key tools to help you with email deliverability 

Email deliverability checklist: 

  • Have you used an email verification tool to check for accuracy? 
  • Have you segmented your list?
  • Have you used intent data to inform your email content, and does your content have any trigger signals in it?  
  • Have you checked the data of your last emails, and made sure nothing is amiss?

Let’s wrap it up! 

Email deliverability sounds stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Get the basics right – email list accuracy, relevant content, thinking hard about what your audience wants to receive – and you’re over halfway there. Use tools and tech to help you with the rest, and you’ll have emails that deliver (to your prospects, and for you 😉) every time. 

Surfe is trusted

Want to maximise your email deliverability rates?

Get your email lists squeaky clean with Surfe – no soap or water required. Try it free today.

FAQs about email deliverability 

Who is measuring my email deliverability? 

Your email tool should provide your email deliverability rate, or you can calculate it by dividing the number of emails successfully delivered by the total number of emails sent. If your email deliverability rates are low, your emails are more likely to end up in the spam folder – not what we want to happen as salespeople. 

Can email deliverability mean my emails get banned? 

Unfortunately yes – if you have consistently low email deliverability rates, your emails will end up in the spam folder, or all of your emails can be blocked. It’s super important to maintain good list hygiene, send relevant content that prospects will want to receive, and keep an eye on authentication protocols and domain health to make sure this doesn’t happen. 

How do I improve my email deliverability? 

First things first, use a tool to troubleshoot any problems you might be having. You can then use the insights you receive to optimise your email deliverability. Use verification tools to check your email lists and help keep them clean. You can also look to segment your lists more carefully and make sure your prospects are receiving relevant emails. This will also keep your domain nice and healthy – sorted.