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The State of Email Deliverability in Ecommerce 2021

Creating an ideal email message is one challenge, but ensuring it gets delivered is another story. That’s what email deliverability is about – it shows you how many of your emails successfully arrive to your customers without being missed or stopped by anti-spam filters. 

A ReturnPath report from 2017 estimated the average email deliverability at about 80%. This means of every 100 messages you send, around 20 don’t make it to get to your customers. That’s before we can even start talking about open rates and conversion.

Deliverability can be a hassle with email marketing campaigns, but the real challenge happens with transactional emails. Imagine how your customers’ experience would change if they didn’t receive payment confirmations, links to change their passwords, or messages about delivery of their orders.

It sounds like trouble, doesn’t it?

But thankfully those situations can be prevented, and a lot depends on you. Let’s discover more about what email deliverability is and how you can work on it.

Ecommerce and email deliverability: why should you care?

A typical ecommerce email article rarely mentions the importance of email deliverability. Let’s talk about the most important reasons why you should care!

Reaching more customers with promotional messages

Building your mailing list isn’t an easy task: you need to coordinate numerous actions to convince people that it’s worth subscribing to. That’s why you don’t want to waste all that effort by neglecting your emails’ deliverability.

Another side of this issue is that you often put a lot of work into optimizing your messages to increase open rates and clicks. Yet if deliverability is poor, your results will not increase as much as they could and you might abandon some really good ideas just because the circumstances aren’t right to produce the desired effects.

As you can see, your email deliverability is yet another element that you should take care of, together with growing your email list and improving your messages. Only those three elements combined together will give you the expected results and translate into business value.

Ensuring no transactional email gets lost

Transactional emails are all of the messages that you send out automatically, like password resets, payment confirmations, or shipping updates. Usually, your customers will be expecting to receive them, and that’s why there is even more pressure on having an efficient email delivery process.

Here, it’s not only about delivering your message – it’s also about the speed. If you keep your customers waiting too long for your message to arrive, they will probably abandon the task and (maybe) come back later. This means that you will lose them right at the moment when they want to interact with your business.

What should you look for when choosing an email provider for your ecommerce business?
Sławomir Pucia from Coresender provides an answer:

Deliverability is the first criterion because it’s the basis. There are almost always pools of test emails available from every ESP, so you can examine how they arrive and how long it takes for them to arrive. Although delivery is a fluid topic, you will need to seek your supplier’s support on it sooner or later. Small clients, especially, may not be able to get such support. Here at Coresender, our client-focused approach and level of support make a big difference.

Benefits of improving email deliverability in ecommerce

When working on improving your email effectiveness, you will usually take a look at metrics like the open rate or click-through rate. Email deliverability means additional statistics to look at, so why is it worth the effort?

Ensuring everyone’s on the same page

This is crucial, especially in case of the transactional emails because they usually send important messages to your customers. For this reason, it’s important for you to know whether or not they are delivered to your customers’ mailboxes. When you have this information, you will be able to avoid complications and act instantly if something does go wrong.

You’ll also know for sure that your customers have learned about the important information you sent to them: whether it’s about changes to their orders, account notifications, or replies to any complaints. This can help you in some more complex situations, such as solving serious customer complaints.

Identifying technical problems

Tracking email deliverability helps you spot technical problems and address them as they arise. This will allow you to determine what causes communication problems and where your efforts should be directed. In addition, you can access detailed information that can assist you with identifying the source of problems. What type of inbox is there a problem with, or are there specific customers affected? Finding solutions becomes easier when you know such details.

Having complete data to work on

When you ensure that more emails get delivered, you learn more about your target audience. Losing 20% of messages is a lot – it’s like ignoring 1 out of every 5 customers. If you can reduce that percentage, you will get more actual value and information from the email base you already have.

Respecting both your and your client’s time

The time spent communicating with someone is wasted if they do not receive the message. If you can prevent that waste of time, it can be spent on more important issues than waiting for replies or attempting to reach out to customers with more emails. For example, you could try other communication channels.

Furthermore, you can waste a lot of time trying to figure out whether or not something has happened when what really needs to be determined is if the message has been delivered. Customer service is not the only area affected. The marketing or communication team that handles transactional emails wants to know how effective their messages are and tweak them to increase the conversion rate. These teams will get incomplete data if a high percentage of messages don’t reach the intended recipients.

You can also enhance your day-to-day performance by taking care of technical aspects, like the technology you use to send your emails. When your customers are waiting for a payment confirmation or password reset email, each second adds up to their impatience – so it’s important that your messages arrive quickly in their inboxes. Choosing a good email deliverability system can significantly increase the delivery speed.

Why is Coresender the right choice for e-commerce?

Coresender makes it simple – businesses are providing their customers with instant transactional emails that they have been waiting for. 
Businesses can somewhat outsource the topic of email deliverability to their email service provider, freeing themselves from the burden. This allows them to focus on what matters most.

What can you do about your email deliverability?

Email deliverability is an equally important issue, yet not as popular as crafting your content or subject lines. Let’s now get down to how to improve this metric.

Clean up your mailing list

How long has it been since you last cleaned up your mailing list? Even if your list is growing, it always hurts if there are always a few people who don’t want to hear from you anymore. Don’t take it personally: it’s in both parties’ best interests. 

Keep your list updated by regularly removing the email addresses of those who have unsubscribed or resulted in a hard bounce. This way, you will only email addresses that are correct and whose owners agree to receive your messages. You may also want to consider sending a separate email campaign to users who haven’t opened your emails in a long time. This can work as a last-chance strategy to re-engage your subscribers. 

Assess your reputation

Let’s start by looking at how mailboxes view you as a sender. It depends on the way your subscribers react to your messages: if they engage with them, ignore them, or mark them as spam. Generally, the higher the engagement, the better the reputation – though there are no easy ways to achieve high rankings.

This factor impacts your email deliverability heavily: whether your emails land in the recipient’s main inbox, spam folder, or get rejected. If your messages are marked as spam, added to blocklists, or result in a spike of unsubscriptions then your reputation will suffer. Similarly, your sender’s reputation increases when emails are opened, forwarded, replied to, or links within them are clicked on.

To assess your reputation, you should regularly check your sender score. A lot of services offer such checks, including Sender Score from Validity. It gives you insights into how mail services perceive your IP.

Engage your readers

The way your audience interacts with your messages impacts your business goals and your future email campaigns. That’s why working on all aspects of engaging your audience is crucial. It’s a tough challenge, so don’t expect to notice changes overnight.

Luckily, there are numerous ways to boost your audience’s engagement.

Rather than just viewing your data, try to analyze and understand it. Use different formats, topics, send times, and run A/B tests to see what works best for you. Don’t forget to ask for feedback from your subscribers and invite them to respond.

You can also increase engagement by cleaning up your mailing list. It’s a good idea to remove users who haven’t been active for a while. If you are worried about your audience shrinking, focus on the positive aspects. The engagement rate will go up, the feedback you receive will be better, and you won’t have to pay for users who don’t view your content anyway.

Getting inspired is equally important. You can get many ideas by looking at what others do. ReallyGoodEmails is a treasure trove for all email message creators. Analyze newsletters from the largest brands and hone in on what works for your particular situation. You should also subscribe to their newsletter – there’s much to learn from it!

Make the unsubscribe link easy to find

While it might seem counterintuitive, the easier it is for people to unsubscribe, the better. When readers lose interest in your newsletters and they can’t find the unsubscribe link, they’re likely to mark the email as spam. While this solution will work for them, it will be the worst-case scenario for you because your sender reputation will be affected as a result.

If you’re dealing specifically with high spam rates, check out Coresender’s guide on why your emails hit spam folders.

When it comes to e-commerce email deliverability, what is the most common mistake made?

Transactional emails shouldn’t be treated like advertising poles. Overloading them with only promotional content (upsell, cross-sell, etc.) is a mistake. This increases the probability that the message will reach spam or the promotion tab (the promo tab is not where transactional emails should land!). Alternatively, such messages may cloud the recipient’s perception, as when e.g. they waited for confirmation of registration yet received an offer for five lawnmowers.

Sławomir Pucia, Coresender

A few final thoughts

As email remains as one of the top promotional and communication channels for most ecommerce businesses, making sure this channel is effective is a top priority issue. What matters more than just having a stunning subject line and interesting content is thinking about the delivery of your message.

Make sure to tackle the problem from all angles. Start with your email infrastructure to prevent any technical issues. When you have it covered, work on your content and reader engagement. All of this helps you with mastering email deliverability.