The Truth about Delivery v. Deliverability

The language delivery and deliverability are consistently used in the email marketing industry. The problem is people use them as identical terms, but there is a significant difference between the two. The reason this is important to you is because understanding this distinction could bring considerable change to your ROI and your bottom line.

All marketing shares a common goal: conversion. You are usually trying to get the customer to sign up for something or buy something. You can do a lot to influence conversion long before the customer clicks that buy button.

Every marketing medium takes your customers down a different path to reach a buying decision. Internet marketing and email in particular allows a surprising number of measurement points that let you see how well your customers are responding to your message as they travel the purchasing decision path.

Delivery is the acceptance rate of all mail sent to an ISP. This includes mail accepted to inbox, junk, and mail that gets black holed — which includes a DNS based black hole list, a fake email account that is set up using Hotmail, Yahoo, etc., or disposable email addresses that are used when registering for something so future email (often SPAM) is routed to that address. There is a program, called Black hole that is used to route SPAM to separate folders so it can be checked by an IMAP client). Just because an email is accepted does not mean the user saw it. Think about it — 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 many messages unread?

Deliverability is 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 will be allowed into the inbox, sent to the junk folder, or be forever forgotten in the black hole.

A good way to track deliverability is what we call Seed accounts. Seed emails are email addresses placed on a list to determine what messages are sent to the list and/or to track delivery rate and/or visible appearance of delivered messages. Seeds may also be placed on websites and other areas of the Internet to track Spammers’ harvesting activities.

You can get a rough estimate of how much of your mail is going to junk or inbox by sending to your seed accounts. However, be careful when using your seed accounts because some ISPs have rules to discipline people who try to inflate their open score by doing this on a large scale, which will negatively affect your reputation.

You also can see a direct impact, positive and negative, with deliverability in your eCPMsEffective cost per thousand impressions (eCPM) is the amount of revenue you can expect to earn for every 1000 impressions shown on your site. To calculate your eCPM you need to determine the number of impressions, or number of times the ad was shown. For example, over the past year the advertisement may have been viewed 10,000 times. Then determine the amount of earnings the ad made. For example, over the past year, an ad may have brought in $50 of revenue. Finally, divide the number of total earnings by the number of impressions and multiply it by 1,000. The sum is the effective cost per thousand. In this example, divide 50 by 10,000 and then multiple by 1,000 to get $5.

If your delivery rate stays the same and you are seeing an increase in clicks, revenue, or whatever your metric is and you have not made any additional 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, this means something is not right. If you only focus on delivery and not deliverability you are missing a huge part of the process. Start focusing on deliverability if you want your users to see your mail, and want to increase your value to the user. If those things are happening you should ultimately increase to your bottom line.

Email marketing has become a science so do not become overwhelmed with all the aspects you need to consider to become truly successful at it. What you need to do is consider using the services of a company that specializes in helping companies with email campaigns.

*Did You Know? Only 81% of emails sent during the first half of 2011 reached consumers’ inboxes. The Global Email Deliverability Benchmark Report found that 7% of emails worldwide were classified as SPAM and 12% were missing.

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