Email Deliverability Explained in Under 4 Minutes


Listen as Skip Fidura, Digital Director at dotmailer, defines key concepts of email deliverability and explains hard bounces, inbox placement, quarantines and more.

This clip is from our webinar, "2017 Email Tune-Up," in association with dotmailer. To watch the full on-demand recording, click here.

Deliverability. I'm going to try and make this as untechnical as possible, and I can't stress how important this is. It doesn't do you any good to write good copy, it doesn't do you any good to have great pictures, it doesn't do you any good to have a brilliant strategy, if your email is not getting to the inbox. At the end of the day, you are the biggest determiner as to whether that is going to happen or not. To put this into context, I'm going to tell you a story.

Annika is our front of house manger here at dotmailer, she is a lovely Swedish woman, and she takes care of us. I always think about Annika when I talk about deliverability because she is very much like an ISP. When one of us orders a package, it comes to Annika's desk and they say "Hi, I've got a package for Skip Fidura." Annika says "yes, he's here," and she takes the package. Now, if somebody comes and says "I've got a package for Bob Jones" - we don't have a Bob Jones - so she would reject that package. That would be a hard bounce - that is not a valid email address.

But when the mailman drops off the package for Skip Fidura and it is signed for, at that point the delivery person is done. At the end of the day, they've got the signature, and their job is over, and we're like the delivery person in this scenario. Once we've handed your email off to the receiving server, we've got no control over what happens to it then. Now, going back to my package from Amazon, if Annika isn't too busy, she might bring the package to my desk and say "hey, here's your package." She might be busy, so the package sits on her desk, and if I walk by she's like "hey Skip, I've got a package for you," or she might be really busy, and I might have to go to her desk and say "hey, did I receive a package?" and she'll be like "yep, here it is."

Now, it's also possible, that for whatever reason, Annika doesn't like the company that the package came from. So she'll be like "I don't think Skip ordered this" and she throws it away. Annika's far too lovely for this, but this happens with ISPs - for whatever reason, they decide to throw away the email and they don't tell the sender or the intended recipient - that's called a silent delete.

So, if Annika turns the parcel away, that's a hard bounce, if she accepts the package, that's going down in your delivery report as delivered. What she does with it next is - hopefully she gets it to me directly, that's called inbox placement. If she waits til I walk by, that's some sort of quarantine, and if I have to ask for it, that's like it going into the junk folder.