Send It: Understanding the Difference Between Deliverability and Delivered Rate

Posted by Patty Atwater 

As an email marketer, the term “deliverability” is nothing new, but many people we talk to still confuse it with “delivered rate”, which is actually something very different. We’d love to help clear up the confusion, so let’s go over what deliverability is and how it directly impacts your email program.

Deliverability is defined by the amount of sent email that reaches the inbox. It sounds incredibly simple, but we’ve found that many marketers are being misled by a similarly named metric called  “delivered rate”. The name “delivered rate” implies that it measures your brand’s deliverability—your ability to get into the inbox of your subscribers—but what it actually measures is the amount of sent email that received neither a hard nor soft bounce. More simply put, these emails could land in the inbox, the spam folder, or get blocked but still count as “delivered”. This results in many marketers mistakenly feeling secure in their ability to reach subscribers because they have a high delivered rate when, in fact, a large portion of their messages could be going straight to “spam”.

For example: Your email could have a 99 percent delivered rate, which essentially means 99 percent of your total volume didn’t bounce. However, of that 99 percent, 33 percent was delivered straight to the spam folder. Not only does this mean one third of your customers didn’t receive your message, but by not tracking the correct metric, you probably wouldn’t even realize you have a problem.

Just think about it, if your mail isn’t getting delivered, then your customers aren’t getting your messages. If they’re not getting your messages, then you’ll likely see fewer opens and clicks – and ultimately, fewer purchases. In the end, it hurts your bottom line.

This is why understanding your deliverability is essential for the success of your email marketing program. It doesn’t matter what new subject line, creative, or offer you include in the next campaign—if your messages aren’t reaching the inbox, your subscribers will not interact with it.

Hopefully this post helps clear up how “deliverability” and “delivered rate” differ from one another and how confusing them can cost you. There are many elements that can impact your ability to reach the inbox, making it one of the toughest challenges email marketers face. Learn more about how Return Path from Validity can help you send with confidence and effectively reach and engage subscribers by clicking here.

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About Patty Atwater

Patty Atwater is the Content Marketing Manager at Return Path. She loves digging into email data to discover new marketing insights and craft new, informative ways to tell the story. In her spare time, Patty loves traveling to new places, hanging out with friends, and continuing her mission to find the best guacamole in NYC. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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