Inroads Into The Inbox: What Brands Are Doing To Boost Email Deliverability

Email data accuracy has improved this year, with only 13.7% of brands complaining of a high level of inaccurate data, down from 15.7% in 2019, according to Retail Reality - the Journey to the Inbox, a study by Validity and the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), presented during a webinar this week.

This improvement may be due to what companies are doing to get their emails into the inbox. There’s no doubt they are taking it seriously.

Email deliverability is regarded as vital by 87% of brands using email, with 17% citing it as the top factor in their campaigns, 38% citing it as important and 31% citing it as middling. 

Several elements affect email deliverability. Data quality is No. 1, with 45% saying it has significant impact, and 48% claiming it has some impact. 

Email content is next, with 44% citing a major effect and 49% citing at least some effect.  



These elements are followed by sender’s reputation (42%), engagement (40%), technology (35%) and authentication (35%) in having a significant impact. 

One curious finding is that 70% use purchased email lists -- with 13% using them always, 34% often and 23% sometimes. Presumably, these are permission-based lists. But purchased lists are at the bottom of the toolkit.

The top sources for building email lists are websites, POS/email receipts, sales team outreach, social media, and lead collection at an event. 

Yet over 90% agree that poor deliverability has at least some financial impact, with 8% saying it is severe, 36% saying it is moderated and 47% limited. 

This may be why 28% say deliverability comprises a high percentage of their email marketing budget, 23% a midway portion and 18% a low number.  Email itself draws 3% of the average digital marketing spend, paid search garnering 42%, display 39% and social 16%.

According to a Validity spokesperson, those that spend 1% more of their current digital marketing budget on email will see a 4.1 percent uplift in online visits. 

That’s not insignificant -- the same amount spent on paid search delivers 0.6% increase, versus 0.4% for social, and 0.2% for display.

In other words, email delivers 7X more visits to a retailer's website than paid search, 11X more than social, and 23X more visits than display, the spokesperson claims.

Why is all this important? Because email produces 11% of all website visits worldwide, according to Google Analytics benchmarking from April and May, as cited in the study. In the UK, email generates 15.7% of all visits and in the U.S.14.8%. 

Globally, email is fourth in producing website visits. Organic search is first, with 29%, paid search second with 23% and direct traffic third with 19%. 

The best email deliverability practices begin with compliance with legislation/standards, cited by 40%. However, only 38% actually to this. 

Second is having a clear unsubscribe button — 39% say it’s a best practice, and 38% actually achieve it.

In addition, 35% cite ending only to active recipients. But even more—36% — do so. 

Next on the list in terms of performing these tasks: 

  • Content optimization — 30%
  • Rigorous data hygiene practices — 27%
  • Stagger sends (active first, inactive later) — 26%
  • Deliverability monitoring/solution — 26%
  • Double opt-in — 25% 
  • Accreditation — 19%
  • Correct connection & thoughtful settings — 24%
  • List-unsubscribe message header — 20% 
  • Enrolled with all major feedback loops — 20%

Ever been blocklisted? It's no fun. The respondents have landed in that situation in the past for the following reasons:

  • Spam complaint — 28% 
  • Email content — 25%
  • Recipient complaints — 22% 
  • Volume of send — 20% 
  • Spam traps — 19%
  • Inactive customer send — 19% 
  • Invalid email address — 15%
  • Direct complaint — 15%
  • Subject line — 14%
  • List bombing — 14%
  • Don’t know/prefer not to say — 7% 


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