Email Marketing Strategy: Focus on Deliverability

content marketing Jun 23, 2022
email message bubble

When you run a business, email communication with customers and prospects is paramount. Email marketing continues to be an effective conversion channel, BUT it is a waste of time and resources if your emails are not showing up in customer inboxes. The rate at which your emails show up in recipient inboxes is called email deliverability. That's what we want to dig into today.

Your email marketing strategy must take into consideration several factors: technology, regulations, audience expectations, and your brand's content.

By "Technology" we mean everything from the software you choose to send out emails to understanding your metrics. More on that further down in this post. A big reason for writing this post relates to how changes in technology and regulations are impacting your email communication.


Consumer Privacy Regulations

More data privacy regulations continue to roll out, so our email marketing strategy needs to shift. First, there was the CAN-SPAM Act, then GDPR and Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation came along. In more recent years, some states have released release their state-level privacy laws such as CCPA.

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Consumer privacy has become an increasing challenge for small businesses. If you’re not aware of or following the regulations, then your domain could end up blacklisted. Creating compliant email marketing campaigns isn’t arduous, but it requires some setup and avoiding some crucial mistakes.


How Do We Measure Email Marketing Strategy?

Measuring, evaluating, and analyzing your email data should be woven into your campaign planning from the very beginning. Marketers should be thinking about goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) throughout the customer journey. The first step is to understand which metrics are most useful as KPIs.

You may already be reviewing and tracking email metrics regularly. However, many small businesses are focused on open rates, and that has become a much less reliable metric - especially with the changes to iOS.  Instead, we should focus on email deliverability metrics as well as click rates. Some of the key metrics that impact your email deliverability are:

  • Delivery rate: This is the percentage of emails received by your contacts' Email Service Providers (ESP).
  • Bounce rate: These are the messages that the recipients’ mail servers returned.
  • Unsubscribe rate: This is the percentage of contacts you choose to opt-out of your email marketing.
  • Inbox placement rate: Measures the percentage of emails delivered to recipients' inboxes rather than the spam or junk folders.
  • Device statistics: This tells you which devices your contacts use to read your emails.  
  • Click-through rate: This is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the total emails delivered.
  • Open rate: This is calculated by dividing the number of emails opened by the total emails delivered. This has become a more questionable metric in more recent days.


A good email marketing platform gathers and reports these important metrics, although inbox placement tends to be less common since it is difficult to track. What matters most is how you, the marketer or business owner, use relevant data in context to identify problems and opportunities. The smarter you measure your marketing, the better your marketing campaigns.


How Do You Improve Your Email Marketing?

Let's assume that your email marketing strategy could use a little help. Maybe you have a decent open rate, but your click rate is lower than ideal or your deliverability is not high enough. 

Even if you are doing well, there is always room for improvement. How can you increase the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Your email list sources significantly impact the quality of your list. Buying lists is usually a bad idea. And messaging people without first getting their opt-in is even worse. A simple way to address these potential issues is by obtaining lists through organic opt-ins such as lead magnets. 
  2. Keep up with your list "hygiene" by using the double opt-in setting in your email platform. And, of course, you must always include an unsubscribe link in the footer of every email. Even better would be to include an email preferences link where your contacts can decide which emails they want to receive or how frequently. In Zoho Campaigns, this is called Topics
  3. Email authentication helps further secure your email from malicious email senders. SPF and DKIM authentication are the most basic (and important) ways to verify that your sending domain is authorized to send email from a particular email server. Your contacts' email service providers use this to validate the legitimacy of the sender and the messages you're sending.
  4. Avoid using URL shorteners because spammers often use shared domain url shorteners such as to direct people to malware. You could create a custom domain link shortener. Then, when someone clicks on the link you’ve shared, you can more closely track their activity.
  5. Subject line should always complement the content of your email. The subject line should be short, sweet, and give your contacts a reason to open it.  Ideally, your subject line should be 30 - 60  characters. Here's a helpful article from SendInBlue with ideas about subject lines. 

  6. Preheader text is what appears on the snippet window of the email servers. Think of it as the first sentence of the email that contacts see in a preview. The preheader text should be interesting, catchy, funny, or direct. This is the next most important content that you write to drive opens

  7. A single CTA can make a big difference in your click-throughs. As you now know, clicks are important for your overall email marketing success. Sometimes people feel overwhelmed by too many things to click on, so simplifying things to only include one option can make a big difference.
  8. Address deliverability problems as soon as you notice. This includes checking on your domain authentication and potentially adding a DMARC record to your website hosting. 


You Are a Guest Someone's Email Inbox

It's easy to forget that the contacts on your email list are actual people. Everyone feels inundated with information coming at them from every direction, so your email marketing can (and will) get lost in the shuffle at some point if you aren't respectful. Though you may think your message is important, your email is likely to be one in a million others. 

Let's Talk Email Etiquette...


 When it comes to email marketing strategy, copywriters and marketers sometimes forget about etiquette. It's easy to have an idea, push that sales pitch, and hit send. However, successful email deliverability and email engagement start with the words you choose. We recommend having at least two rounds of copy review. This includes the body copy, subject line, pre-header text, and calls to action. Take some time to reread (out-loud) your copy before sending it to someone else for review. If your email is unclear, worded awkwardly, or too verbose then your contacts will probably not read it.

 Readability is SO important in all of your content marketing. By readability, we mean a few things: the actual reading level that your content is written (Flesch Reading Ease), the sentence length, paragraph breaks, and the visual layout. Simple writing does not mean that the ideas are simple or dumbed-down, it means you wrote in a way that is accessible. Email marketing, after all, is not an academic paper or legal document. Your copy should be concise, avoid overly long sentences, long words, jargon, and cliches.

 The voice and style of your content should always take three things into consideration: your brand, your audience, and using an active voice. When you use an active voice in your content, it will motivate readers.  Understanding how to adjust your content writing from passive voice to active voice could be a big differentiator for you. 

 Lastly, consider how your message comes across to the end reader. If you write in an overly "salesy" way and not offer value to the reader, then you will ensure unsubscribes and spam from your contacts. 


You can improve email deliverability and ultimately help your email marketing strategy. There are many factors to "get it right" and stay connected with your contacts. We covered a few of the ways, and there are always more.

Have you made any big changes to your email marketing that made a positive impact? Tell us about it!

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