Email Marketing Delivery Rate

by | Nov 12, 2019

Email Marketing SeriesIn a recent post, I talked about why you should use Email Marketing. As you learned, Email Marketing has the highest ROI of any online marketing tool. Now that you’re using email marketing for your business (hint, hint), let’s begin the exploration of the 3 primary metrics in email marketing, Delivery Rate, Open Rate and Click-thru Rate.

Each one of these metrics requires a lengthily discussion, so today I’m going to start with Delivery Rate.

I will discuss Open Rate and Click-thru Rate in future posts.

Delivery Rate

Delivery rate is the percentage of subscribers that receive your message. This number is determined by the communication between your email marketing service provider (Constant Contact, Exact Target, MailChimp, etc..) and the service provider for your subscriber (Hotmail, Earthlink, AOL, your company’s Exchange server, etc..).

You may hear Bounce Rate in place of Delivery Rate. Each is looking at the same data but from a different perspective. If your Delivery rate is 95%, your Bounce Rate is 5%.

Say I send you an email from MailChimp to your Hotmail account. Based on a number of things, Hotmail will do one of 2 things:

  • Accept the Message
  • Bounce the Message

Hotmail could bounce my message for a variety of reasons, some that are my fault (i.e. hard bounces like a spammy message or bad email address), and many that aren’t (i.e.soft bounces like a full mailbox or an out of office reply).
If I send a message to 3,000 subscribers and have 500 bounces, I need to know why.

  • Is Hotmail blocking my message because of MailChimp?
  • Is the company’s Exchange server flagging my message as Spam?
  • Did I acquire my subscriber list from a 3rd party that gave me a bunch of bad email addresses?

I can’t control soft bounces, but I can control hard bounces. If MailChimp’s servers are getting blocked by Hotmail, MailChimp needs to figure out why and fix it. If my email is getting flagged as spam, I need to understand why and fix it. If my subscriber list has bad email addresses (inactive, invalid, not opt-in, etc.), I need to remove them.

Some people get caught up on how big their list is regardless of the impact on their Delivery Rate (and Open and Click-thru Rates as you’ll see in future issues). Would you rather have a list of 5,000 subscribers and a Delivery Rate of 98% or a list of 30,000 subscribers and a Delivery Rate of 62%?

Simple math suggests 30,000 subscribers because that translates into 13,700 more people receiving your email.

In the short-term, this is great. In the long-term, you’re playing with fire. If your email service provider (i.e. MailChimp) is concerned about their business, they are going to do one of two things, stop letting you send to bad email addresses or deactivate your account (no joke, I’ve seen it happen).

If you’re doing something that causes a service like Hotmail or Yahoo to block all email from MailChimp’s servers, it impacts all of their customers, not just you. The same goes for spammy messages. If their own spam filters are triggered by your email, they aren’t going to let you send that email.

Finally, repeatedly sending spammy email or email to bad email addresses could get your own domain flagged as a spammer. If that happens, any email you send may not get delivered. Imagine that big proposal to Walmart never getting delivered because your company domain was flagged as a spammer by SpamHaus because of bad email practices.

What Does All This Mean?

To improve the effectiveness of your email marketing, you need a subscriber list that is made up of people that actually want your message. Strive for a 100% delivery rate. Protect your reputation above all else and don’t spam.

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