Thursday, February 11, 2010

Email Deliverability: It's Worse Than You Think

According to Return Path's "Global Deliverability Benchmark" of 600,000 email compaigns, one email out of five sent in the U.S. and Canada is not delivered.

What happens to the mail? Three percent ends up in junk mail folders and 16% goes poof. It simply disappears.

Europe does a little better with 4% junk and 11% disappearing. Asia/Pacific delivery rates are highest with 3% getting junked and 10% vanishing.

If you think your results are better because you get reports with a high "delivered" metric, guess again.

According to Return Path president, George Bilbrey, "This is not the Inbox Placement Rate - the percentage of mail that actually arrives in the inbox. Rather it is simply a reporting of the number of messages sent minus the number that returned a hard-bounce message. This creates a false impression that nearly 100% of email messages arrive as intended."

Bilbrey says senders can improve deliverability by focusing on good email practices like clear and simple opt-out methods, welcome messages, cleaning lists, and so on. Reputation matters when it comes to email delivery.

You can check your company's reputation at You need to know your IP address. Here's how to find it if you use Microsoft Outlook...

  • Find an email from someone in your company or send one to yourself.
  • Right click on the email in Outlook and select Options.
  • In the Internet Header box you will see something like the following...
Received: from AspEmail [] by (SMTPD-9.20) id AC310694; Mon, 08 Feb 2010 11:30:41 -0500 From: "The Service Roundtable" To: "##### #######" Subject: [Mgmt] SR New User Signup Date: Mon, 08 Feb 2010 11:30:41 -0500 MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/html Message-Id: <201002081130125.SM07316@AspEmail> Precedence: bulk Sender: Reply-To: X-RCPT-TO: Status: X-UIDL: 565604625 X-IMail-ThreadID: 3c3100001e8064b5
The IP address is the series of numbers on the top line of the header: Simply copy this and paste it into the IP box at It will give you a score from 0 to 100. You can also check to see if your IP address is blacklisted by any of the myriad of blacklisting services.

"When we take a look at senders with good reputations (Sender Score of 90-100)," says Bilbrey, "inbox placement rates are over 50% higher at Yahoo!, Hotmail and Google than senders with mediocre reputations (Sender Scores of 40-60)."

I checked the Service Roundtable. We score 95 out of 100, which is pretty good, though not perfect (obviously). We were also absent from any blacklists, which is also good. Of course, we work hard on deliverability and keeping off blacklists. So should you.

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