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What Is Email Delivery & Deliverability?

Sending an email seems simple. You might be wondering, “Why do I need an email deliverability service? Why should I care about deliverability?”

The first mistake to make is comparing sending an email from your computer with transactional and bulk email. Let’s compare the two scenarios:

Sending Email From Your Computer:

Sending EmailsYou sit at your desk, open up Gmail, and begin composing your emails to your colleagues, customers, and perhaps a few family & friends mixed in. Most of these emails are in plain text, short in length (couple sentences to a couple paragraphs), and maybe with an attachment or two. Even in a complete day when you do nothing but respond to email, you could be composing at most a couple hundred of emails.

Sending Transactional and Bulk Email:

You have a successful ecommerce web site online with thousands of orders every day. Many actions by a customer on your website result in an email being generated and sent to the customer, such as creating an account, generating a new password, an order confirmation, a shipping confirmation. Let’s not forget the daily sales email you send every morning to customers who subscribed to that mailing list. Any email that is a result of a customer action (such as placing a order) is a transactional email, every email that results in a scheduled send on a specified interval is considered bulk email.

So, Why Is This Important?

“What’s the big deal?” you may ask. After all, you sending an email from a computer and a website sending an order confirmation are the same thing! It all travels over SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) and ends up at the same destination (defined by the receiving domain’s MX record within DNS). Just fire up some more SMTP servers and send more mail! What’s the worst that can happen?

Actually, there is a gigantic difference and the main reason is the people who send spam. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) are very protective of their customers and don’t want them to receive unwanted email that the customer never opted in to. Sending lots of transactional and bulk email is very difficult to do correctly without hitting the spam or junk folder due to the complex and different rules and behavior that each ISP has for verifying what is legitimate email.

There is also the need to build up the infrastructure to support sending thousands, millions, or even billions of emails a day. You have to learn how to handle complex MTA configurations, how to distribute email across multiple IPs, and disaster recovery.

What if you need analytics from your emails? Such as how many you sent, how many were delivered, how many bounced, how many had complaints, or even how many emails were opened and links within the emails clicked?

Suddenly there is an entire infrastructure and email team that you need to hire to properly build your email infrastructure just to keep sending and providing proper analytics to your company’s marketing and sales teams.

The Need For Better Deliverability

Most reputable sender team

Someone like this guy (Steve Wheeler, Most Reputable Sender & Director of Deliverability) and his team might be just what you need.

This is where the subject of deliverability comes into play. Sure, you can send millions of emails to your customers, but how do you ensure the best chance for them reaching the inbox? How do you analyze each ISPs filtering behaviors and quirks when an email is not hitting the inbox? How do you keep up on emerging email authentication technologies such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC that help build your email reputation?

A deliverability expert has become the most critical member of your email team. He/she knows all of the different ISPs and their various filtering behaviors and quirks, plus maintain contacts with these ISPs. He/she knows best practices about sending rates, maintaining proper lists, and building the reputation of your sending.

Your deliverability expert knows that your email lists must be opt-in (preferably double opt-in) and not sold to third parties. It isn’t about tricking the ISPs to accept your mail, it is sending the email the recipients expect to receive. If the recipients (your customers) are expecting and want to receive your emails while you follow best practices for sending email, then your emails will hit the inbox.

The key in the end is to pick an email delivery provider that not only gets how to scale their infrastructure as your sending needs goes, but understands deliverability and can educate you on the best ways to improve your inbox placement.


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Whois: Chris Gonyea

Chris Gonyea is Product Manager, Traffic Management at Dyn, a cloud-based Internet Performance company that helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Follow on Twitter (@ChrisGonyea and @Dyn).