Email delivery and deliverability mean different things.

Email delivery and email deliverability are two entirely different things when it comes to running a program. Unfortunately, they are often used interchangeably, and it causes some confusion amongst non-email people around your organization.

Email Delivery

Delivery simply means that the email you just sent was accepted by your recipient’s server and did not bounce.  It doesn’t mean that the email was delivered to the inbox or a folder; it simply means that it wasn’t rejected.

Email delivery rate is NOT a metric you want to use to gauge the success of your campaign or your program.  Therefore, the email delivery rate is directional and should only be used as a supporting narrative for how clean your list is.

Email Deliverability

Simply put, email deliverability is the rate at which the email you send arrives in the inbox of your subscriber.  It is one of the most important metrics to track in your program because if your emails do not get to the inbox, the downstream metrics of opens, clicks, and conversions will be affected. 

The deliverability of email is complex, and many factors affect whether or not your email lands in the inbox. Some of these factors are authentication, content, reputation, technology, and complaints, and all play equal roles in determining inbox placement. 

Let’s be clear here, in that email deliverability, especially when on dedicated IPs, falls squarely on the shoulders of you, the sender and not the vendor. You cannot blame a vendor for sending your emails if your reputation is poor based on sending practices or list hygiene.  If your vendor set up authentication when you began sending with them, it is always good to periodically check that the authentication is in place and passing. 

Final Thoughts

An email delivery issue is relatively common and straightforward to mitigate, but an email deliverability issue is not.  There could be dozens of factors to consider in how you approach fixing it, and in most cases, it cannot be done in real-time. Therefore, patience and understanding are a requirement and often will require some changes on your part.