Email Deliverability Audit: Ensuring Your Emails Reach the Inbox

Email Deliverability Audit: Ensuring Your Emails Reach the Inbox

What is Email Deliverability?

Email deliverability refers to the ability of your emails to successfully reach your subscribers’ inboxes without being filtered into spam or rejected by email servers. High deliverability ensures that your email marketing campaigns are effective, as your messages are seen and engaged with by your audience.

Importance of an Email Deliverability Audit

Conducting an email deliverability audit is crucial for identifying and resolving issues that might be hindering your emails from reaching the inbox. This audit helps in improving your sender reputation, ensuring compliance with email regulations, and enhancing overall engagement rates. By regularly auditing your email deliverability, you can maintain a healthy email marketing strategy and achieve better results from your campaigns.

Understanding Email Deliverability

Key Metrics: Delivery Rate, Inbox Placement Rate, and Bounce Rate

1. Delivery Rate: The percentage of emails that were successfully delivered to the recipients’ email servers.
2. Inbox Placement Rate: The percentage of emails that successfully land in the inbox, as opposed to the spam folder.
3. Bounce Rate: The percentage of emails that were not delivered. Bounces can be categorized into hard bounces (permanent delivery failures) and soft bounces (temporary issues).
Factors Affecting Email Deliverability

Several factors influence email deliverability, including the quality of your email list, the reputation of your sending IP address, the content of your emails, and the authentication protocols you use. Understanding these factors helps in identifying the areas that need improvement during the audit.

Pre-Audit Preparation

Gathering Necessary Data and Tools

Before starting the audit, gather all relevant data and tools. This includes access to your email service provider (ESP) reports, email list data, sender reputation tools, and authentication records. Having this data at hand will facilitate a comprehensive audit.

Setting Clear Objectives for the Audit

Define clear objectives for your email deliverability audit. Objectives might include identifying and removing invalid email addresses, improving sender reputation, ensuring compliance with email authentication protocols, and increasing inbox placement rates.

Email List Health Check

Importance of a Clean Email List

A clean email list is the foundation of good email deliverability. Regularly cleaning your list ensures that you are only sending emails to valid and engaged subscribers, reducing the chances of bounces and spam complaints.

Using Bulk Email Verification Tools

Bulk email verification tools, such as those recommended in AccuWeb Hosting’s blog, are essential for identifying and removing invalid or risky email addresses from your list. These bulk email verification tools check the validity of email addresses, detect disposable and role-based emails, and provide a deliverability score.

Removing Hard and Soft Bounces

Hard bounces occur when an email cannot be delivered due to a permanent issue, such as an invalid email address. Soft bounces are temporary issues like a full inbox or server problems. Regularly removing hard bounces from your list and monitoring soft bounces to address any recurring issues is crucial for maintaining a healthy email list.

Sender Reputation Analysis

Understanding Sender Score

Sender score is a measure of your email sending reputation. It is calculated based on factors like email volume, complaint rates, and bounce rates. A high sender score indicates a good reputation, while a low score can result in your emails being blocked or sent to spam.

Tools to Check Sender Reputation

Several tools can help you check and monitor your sender reputation, such as and Google’s Postmaster Tools. These tools provide insights into your sender score, feedback loops, and other reputation metrics.

Strategies to Improve Sender Reputation

To improve your sender reputation, focus on sending relevant and engaging content, maintaining a clean email list, and adhering to email best practices. Avoid sending emails to unengaged subscribers, as this can lead to high complaint rates. Consistently monitor your sender score and address any issues promptly.

Email Authentication

Importance of SPF, DKIM, and DMARC

Email authentication protocols like SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) are critical for verifying the authenticity of your emails. These protocols help protect against email spoofing and phishing attacks, enhancing your email deliverability.

How to Implement Email Authentication Protocols

1. SPF: Publish an SPF record in your DNS settings to specify which IP addresses are authorized to send emails on behalf of your domain.
2. DKIM: Enable DKIM signing on your email server to add a digital signature to your emails, verifying their authenticity.
3. DMARC: Set up a DMARC policy to instruct email receivers on how to handle emails that fail SPF or DKIM checks. Monitor DMARC reports to identify and address any issues.

Tools for Verifying Email Authentication

Use tools like MXToolbox and DMARC Analyzer to verify your email authentication setup. These tools can check your SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records and provide insights into any configuration issues that need to be resolved.

Content and Design Review

Ensuring Content Relevance and Quality

The content of your emails plays a significant role in deliverability. Ensure your emails are relevant, engaging, and provide value to your subscribers. Avoid using spammy language, excessive capitalization, and too many exclamation marks, as these can trigger spam filters.

Avoiding Spam Triggers in Content

Spam filters use various criteria to identify spammy emails. To avoid being flagged, steer clear of common spam triggers like misleading subject lines, too many images or links, and attachments. Use a spam checker tool before sending your emails to identify and fix any potential issues.

Mobile Optimization and Responsive Design

With a significant portion of emails being opened on mobile devices, it’s crucial to optimize your emails for mobile. Use responsive design techniques to ensure your emails look good on all devices, with easy-to-read text, properly sized images, and clear CTAs.

Technical Infrastructure

Reviewing Email Service Provider (ESP) Settings

Ensure your ESP settings are correctly configured to support high deliverability. This includes setting up authentication protocols, managing bounce handling, and using dedicated IP addresses if possible. Review your ESP’s deliverability best practices and guidelines.

Importance of a Dedicated IP Address

Using a dedicated IP address for your email sending allows you to control your sending reputation. Shared IP addresses can affect your deliverability if other users on the same IP have poor sending practices. Monitor your dedicated IP reputation and maintain consistent sending patterns.

Monitoring Email Sending Domain

Keep a close watch on your sending domain’s health. Regularly check domain reputation using tools like Google Postmaster Tools and ensure your domain is not blacklisted. Address any issues promptly to maintain a good domain reputation.

Engagement Metrics

Tracking Open Rates, Click-Through Rates, and Engagement

Monitor key engagement metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and overall engagement levels. These metrics provide insights into how well your emails are performing and can highlight areas for improvement. High engagement rates indicate that your emails are relevant and valuable to your subscribers.

Strategies to Improve Subscriber Engagement

To boost engagement, focus on delivering personalized and relevant content. Segment your email list based on subscriber preferences and behaviors, and tailor your messages accordingly. Use compelling subject lines, clear CTAs, and engaging visuals to capture your audience’s attention.

Handling Inactive Subscribers

Regularly identify and address inactive subscribers. Send re-engagement campaigns to win back their interest or ask them to update their preferences. If subscribers remain unengaged, consider removing them from your list to maintain a healthy engagement rate and improve overall deliverability.

Compliance with Email Regulations

Understanding CAN-SPAM, GDPR, and Other Regulations

Email marketing is governed by various regulations like the CAN-SPAM Act, GDPR, and others, depending on your target audience’s location. These regulations set rules for obtaining consent, providing opt-out options, and protecting subscriber data.

Ensuring Compliance in Your Email Campaigns

To ensure compliance, obtain explicit consent from subscribers before sending them emails. Provide clear and easy-to-find unsubscribe links in every email and honor opt-out requests promptly. Regularly review and update your privacy policies to align with current regulations.

Monitoring and Reporting

Setting Up Regular Monitoring Processes

Establish regular monitoring processes to keep track of your email deliverability metrics. Use dashboards and automated reports to stay informed about key performance indicators and identify any issues early on.

Key Metrics to Track Post-Audit

Post-audit, continue to track important metrics like delivery rate, inbox placement rate, bounce rate, open rate, and click-through rate. Regularly review these metrics to gauge the effectiveness of your improvements and make necessary adjustments.

Using Reports to Continuously Improve Deliverability

Leverage the insights from your monitoring reports to continuously refine your email marketing strategy. Identify trends, address recurring issues, and implement best practices to maintain high deliverability rates over time.

Action Plan for Improvements

Prioritizing Issues Identified in the Audit

After completing the audit, prioritize the issues based on their impact on deliverability. Focus on the most critical areas first, such as fixing authentication issues, cleaning your email list, and improving sender reputation.

Creating a Step-by-Step Improvement Plan

Develop a step-by-step improvement plan to address the identified issues. Assign responsibilities, set timelines, and track progress to ensure that each area is addressed systematically.

Tracking Progress and Making Adjustments

Regularly review the progress of your improvement plan and make adjustments as needed. Stay flexible and adapt your strategy based on the results and insights gained from ongoing monitoring and reporting.


Conducting an email deliverability audit is essential for ensuring your emails reach your subscribers’ inboxes and achieve the desired engagement. By understanding the factors affecting deliverability, maintaining a clean email list, implementing proper authentication protocols, and continuously monitoring your metrics, you can enhance your email marketing strategy. Regular audits and adherence to best practices will help you maintain high deliverability rates, protect your sender reputation, and drive better results from your email campaigns.

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