A friend recently asked me my thoughts on the terms “Delivery” and “Deliverability” and how they were related but different. These are two terms that are commonly confused in the email marketing world so here are some thoughts on how to separate them in your mind.

Email Delivery:

  • Email Transmission: Email delivery primarily concerns the technical process of transferring an email message from the sender’s email server to the recipient’s email server.
  • Basic Metric: While crucial, email delivery alone does not guarantee that the email will reach the recipient’s inbox. It merely confirms that the email has been handed off from the sender’s system to the recipient’s email infrastructure.

Email Deliverability:

  • Comprehensive Reach: Email deliverability encompasses a broader spectrum of factors beyond mere transmission, focusing on the holistic journey of an email from sender to recipient.
  • Inbox Placement: It examines the likelihood of an email landing in the recipient’s inbox rather than being diverted to the spam folder or being blocked entirely.
  • Engagement and Interaction: Email deliverability evaluates the effectiveness of an email marketing campaign by considering metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.
  • Reputation and Trustworthiness: Sender reputation plays a crucial role in email deliverability. Factors like spam complaints, bounce rates, and adherence to authentication protocols contribute to the sender’s credibility.
  • Content Quality: The content of the email, including its relevance, clarity, and adherence to spam guidelines, significantly impacts deliverability. Emails with compelling content are more likely to bypass spam filters and engage recipients.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Adhering to legal requirements and industry standards, such as CASL, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the CAN-SPAM Act, is essential for maintaining deliverability and fostering trust with recipients.

    While email delivery focuses on the technical aspect of transmitting emails – Did the mail get there successfully? Email deliverability takes a broader and more holistic view – What happened to the mail, and did it deliver where you expected it to (i.e. the inbox). Encompassing factors that influence whether emails successfully reach the intended recipients’ inboxes and elicit positive engagement. It involves a combination of technical proficiency, sender reputation, content quality, and adherence to regulations to ensure effective communication and marketing through email.

    I’m happy to admit that there are likely lots of other opinions on the answer to this questions or elements I’ve not noted. Do you agree with these differences, or do you have a different definition?