The Email’s Journey to the Inbox

We audit email practices often and find that marketers/salespeople (usually those outside MOps) don't fully understand the "journey to the inbox".

It can get complex, so I thought I'd share a slide we use to simplify the process and demystify email deliverability.

First off it's important to distinguish "delivery" vs. "deliverability".

  • Delivery: email received by the server (not invalid / not bounced)
  • Deliverability: email lands in inbox (and not spam, quarantine, blocked)

Each of the four bolded bullets in the slide describes an area that needs attention, but there are 4 things I like to really call out:

#1 Stop verifying cold email addresses by emailing them from your MAP. When you email an invalid address it can lead to a reputational hit and/or could be a spam trap. Try to verify before emailing from your MAP.

#2 When you get a spam-related bounce your MAP will still let you email (Marketo stops you for 24hrs). This is fine but set up a trigger to suspend after a few spam bounces or risk deliverability issues.

#3 Gateways like Barracuda will quarantine or delete your emails but you may see it was "delivered". Don't get overconfident if your delivery % is high, your inbox placement could still be bad if you're mistreating your database.

#4 Recipient engagement matters. If you email 100k people and get low engagement, this will be factored into your email placement in the future. Be sensitive to low engagement, it'll quickly lead you to the spam folder. Whatever people say there IS a downside to making your lists too big.