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The Ultimate Guide to Mastering E-Commerce Email Deliverability

June 28, 2023 | Author:  Andrew Maff

Despite advancements in paid advertising and other marketing strategies, emails remain an essential and highly effective tool for e-commerce businesses. The click-through rate for email marketing campaigns is higher than other marketing channels because they reach people most likely to click. A person who has subscribed to your emails will be more receptive than a  random individual who sees your ad on a social media platform.

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There’s something that ultimately leads to acceptable click-through rates, and it comes before tweaking subject lines and other persuasive tactics. The deliverability rate of your emails shows whether your messages are successfully reaching the intended recipients' inboxes or ending up in spam folders. Getting the best email service provider improves your chances, but you must consider other things to avoid spam folders.

Email deliverability rate depends on the internet service providers (ISPs), subject line, custom authentication, and domain. We’ll walk you through the best practices to maintain a reasonable deliverability rate that will generate sales for your e-commerce business. Let’s get you started on what deliverability entails before we move on to the industry's best practices.


What You Should Know About Email Deliverability

Your email campaigns may have the most compelling subject lines but never appear in the subscriber’s inbox. In September 2021, 88.88 billion of the total 105.67 billion emails sent ended up in a spam folder. You can spend your efforts starting your eCommerce business and collecting customer data without ever reaching them.

Ultimately, email deliverability rests on the following:

  • Trustworthiness
  • Reputation of the sender
  • Authority
  • Content

Spam filters search for these aspects before allowing emails into customer inboxes. Hence, ignoring them or focusing on one part disadvantages your marketing campaigns. The same applies to desktops, tablets, and mobile devices.

You have complete control over the content of your emails. Even automated emails use preset content to forward based on customer data or behavior.

That content includes the subject line, the body of the emails, and any call to action. The email’s fundamental structure remains the same, whether it is welcome emails, messages for your sales events, or follow-up emails. While the copy may change the starting point is always the subject line. 

Typical Causes of Poor Deliverability

What causes your message to be sent to the spam folder? Here are a few things that might truncate your email marketing efforts:

  • There is no proper authentication.
  • You are using a blocklisted IP address.
  • The domain’s reputation is soiled.
  • The recipient filtered your message as spam.
  • Your contact list is not clean (that could include inactive email addresses).
  • Your reply-to email address is not set up.
  • Your use of open URLs.
  • Your attachments are suspicious.
  • You’ve had spam complaints against you.

Internet service providers are the gateway between you and your subscribers. While they cannot read the content of your message, as it is private, they use other metrics to determine viability. For example, they can screen the domain and the sender’s reputation.

There are solutions to ensure none of the above reasons hinder your email marketing efforts. Then, you can capture the email addresses of new customers and keep your online store running. We know how this strategy, along with others like social media advertising, is essential to customer retention.


The Tripartite Approach to Mastering Deliverability

E-commerce brands and email marketing are inseparable. The two must go together if businesses hope to increase customer retention and generate sales.

You must get everything right, from the opt-in forms to the welcome emails and the email subject lines. The subject line is a critical factor in the click-to-open rate of your email campaigns.

Getting it right today does not mean becoming lax about optimizing your email marketing efforts for optimal deliverability. It is an ongoing effort that must continue, provided your e-commerce brand remains in operation.

We’ve identified the key areas to pay attention to during your email marketing campaign or periodic newsletter. Your email subscribers are at one end, and your e-commerce company is at the other. In between are the email service providers, blocklisting companies, and spam-detection systems.

You do not control what lies between you and your email subscribers. The best thing to do is to ensure your marketing emails adhere to their algorithms. Otherwise, they’ll be more than happy to screen out your marketing emails, ensuring they never get to your email subscribers.

With that in mind, here is the ultimate guide to ensuring marketing, promotional, or transaction emails from your e-commerce store get to your email subscribers.

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The Sender

Senders include you, the email service providers, and spammers. Most email service providers have good relationships with ISPs and can help you pass ISP filters easily. However, using them often requires monthly, yearly, or periodic fees.

Spammers are the reason ISPs use stringent algorithms. They can send malware or phishing emails to the subscribers.

The Gateway

This section includes the major and minor ISPs, blocklisting organizations, and anti-spam systems. Some people install applications on their mobile devices to block out spam.

You must get through this gateway to increase website conversions from your emails. The algorithm is essential if your transactional emails will appear on time and your email marketing campaign goes through.

In addition, you must avoid things that will place you among blocked senders. This is where the sender's reputation comes into play.

The Recipient

Your recipients, whether existing customers or prospects, matter in terms of deliverability. How many inactive subscribers do you have on your email list?

You must review and clean up your email subscribers to ensure optimal deliverability. Many of the inactive addresses on your list might send the wrong signals to the ISPs.

Escaping the ISP Filter

ISPs continue to step up their fight against spam. Microsoft blocked 1,000 malicious emails per second in 2021. That alarming figure shows how watchful the algorithms have become.

We’ve carefully mapped out this section of our ultimate guide to keep it in the good books of ISPs. You’ll learn what they do to keep spam away, and it includes the following:


Sending Limits

ISPs place limits on every sender. That means allowing you to send a specific number of emails over a specific period. You must wait until the limit resets if you reach it before the time elapses.

So, if your email marketing campaign targets more subscribers beyond your limits, the ISP will soft-bounce the rest. Only the number within the limit will reach your target audience.

You can lose a sizeable chunk of your customers if you have a high soft bounce rate. Conversely, the sender reputation contributes to the limits.

Here is what you can do to avoid soft bounces and reach your potential customers:

  • Slowly increase the volume of your emails over a period.

Sudden spikes are the main triggers of sending limits. Hence, it is best to take things slow.

Email Blocking

Blocking often occurs due to the following:

  • Spam complaints
  • Many hard bounces

Unlocking your emails can be done by contacting the ISP support team. However, you must demonstrate your adoption of best practices to convince them.

It is better to avoid blocking altogether. Think about what broken messaging can do to the customer journey. You’ve spent time and resources on paid ads and built your list, only to get blocked.

Here is what you can do to avoid blocked emails:

  • Clean up your contact list.
  • Use email Segmentation.
  • Offer easy ways to unsubscribe.

Email segmentation is essential to any email marketing strategy. It allows you to reach the target audience most likely to engage with your message, especially in promotional emails. Thankfully, most email marketing software has this feature.

The unsubscribe button should be prominent, similar to your opt-in form. That way, you’ll reduce the number of spam complaints against you.


ISP Bulking

Your emails may never reach your new customers if this happens. Bulking sends your messages to the spam box.

It can be discouraging to invest in customer acquisition and not be able to contact them during your email marketing campaigns. Or not being able to guide them on the customer journey.

It is impossible to see which emails are in the spam folder. You can use analytics on some essential metrics to detect this situation. An email marketing tool should have means to measure them.

It is crucial to get the best email marketing software for email marketing success. The open and click rates will tell you how many marketing emails are in spam folders.


Deliverability Factors You Can Control

A large part of your email marketing effectiveness lies with you. We know how subject lines influence open rates. Here are factors you should optimize to send emails that deliver:

  • Content: Ensure you have relevant content that concerns your target audience. Everything, from the welcome to the promotional emails, must be something they want to see.
  • Contact list: Ensure you send emails to active subscribers. You might have relevant content and a low-quality contact list. The deliverability will be poor if that happens.
  • Email segmentation: Divide your target audience and segment your messages. That way, you’ll reach a smaller group with the ideal message.
  • Subject lines: Write subject lines that arouse attention. That will give you higher open rates and reduce deletions.



Your source (reputation) must be trustworthy. It is the foundation of having solid deliverability rates for a successful email marketing campaign. Then, you have email segmentation that helps put your message in front of the right target audience.

Email is one of the most crucial marketing channels for e-commerce brands. It is not only helpful in customer acquisition but also in those customers making purchases. Hence, deliverability should be considered in your email marketing strategy.

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