Email Deliverability and Verification: Tools and Best Practices

Did you know that more than 20% of all emails sent never make it to their intended recipients’ inboxes?

20 percent!

If that’s true for your marketing and sales emails, you could be missing out on a significant amount of potential sales and revenue. That’s why email deliverability is so important.

The question is: are you paying attention to yours?

If not — or if you’re unsure whether you’re succeeding — not to worry. In this article we’ll go over the email deliverability tools, tests, and best practices you need to know to feel confident your emails always make it to the right inbox.

Quick Takeaways

  • Email deliverability is at the top of the email funnel. Issues with deliverability can have ripple effects on open rates, click rates, and other email marketing metrics.
  • Two ways to conduct an email deliverability test are by sending an email to yourself and using online tools that assess email deliverability for you.
  • Email verification tools go deeper than standard email address validation to assess the quality of email addresses and bulk email lists.

What is email deliverability?

Email is the core of most companies’ marketing and sales communications strategies. It’s also the most preferred method of communication for consumers. Everything from lead nurturing emails to sales engagement messages to order confirmations to sales promotions (and much more) are sent to customers through email.

Email deliverability, or the ability of your emails to reach their intended inboxes, is a crucial part of your overall business success. Not optimizing your emails for deliverability or, even worse, not even knowing that you should be monitoring it, can lead to missed opportunities and gaps in your communication with target audiences.

Many companies focus on click rates and open rates without ever considering the root cause of the issues they may encounter in those two areas: deliverability. Deliverability comes before open, click, share or any other metric that you measure related to email marketing success. It’s at the very top of the email funnel.

Visual representation of the email funnel.

Image Source

Email deliverability issues mainly arise when your emails are either directed to spam or when they’re blocked by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Fortunately, there are many email deliverability tools and best practices to help you avoid these issues altogether. You just have to know the right steps to take!

How to test for and improve email deliverability

First thing’s first: testing the current email deliverability status of your emails. An email deliverability test will identify existing issues and help you rectify them to avoid problems in the future.

Email deliverability test #1: Send an email to yourself

One of the easiest initial steps is to simply send an email to yourself. Do it a few different times. Include emails with different content, some with images and some without. Do they land in your inbox or get routed to spam? Did you encounter any other issues receiving them? Did they take a long time to load or appear to be spammy?

Assessing your own emails from the perspective of the recipient helps you see issues you may not have spotted when you were acting solely as the sender.

Email deliverability test #2: Using online tools

Next, try some email deliverability tools to conduct deeper tests and identify the cause of deliverability issues if you have them. Here are some we recommend:

  • Mail-Tester: Mail Tester is a free tool that helps you assess the deliverability and spam potential of your emails. It’s extremely easy to use and gives you a detailed score breakdown so you can take specific action to improve email deliverability.
  • Email on Acid: This tool checks specifically for deliverability problems. It identifies whether your IP address is on any block lists and performs tests to ensure your emails won’t get routed to the spam folder.
  • Email marketing platform: If you use an email marketing platform like Constant Contact or MailChimp, it likely incorporates email deliverability testing and performance tracking, centralizing sending and testing in one place.

What is an email verification service?

Bounced emails are one of the most common email deliverability issues and often indicate an even larger problem that needs to be addressed — like a poor quality email list.

Email marketers can use an email verification service to verify emails on their subscriber lists, assess the quality of those email addresses, and clean up bulk lists — all of which help increase your email marketing ROI.

An email verification service goes deeper than many email validation tools that are embedded in your email marketing software. Those tools often check simply to see if an email address exists. But today, that’s not enough information to determine if you should be sending emails to an address.

Email verification services also identify things like:

  • Accept-all platforms – Domains set up to accept all email sent to it, even if the specified mailbox does not exist.
  • One-time use emails – Email addresses set up with tools like Trashmail. They’ll accept emails, but the messages will be discarded and you won’t earn engagement.
  • Role account – Email addresses associated with a company, function, or department rather than a person. Because no single person is attached to the account, engagement will be low.

It’s a good idea to find an email verification tool you like and use it periodically. HubSpot research found that 22.5% of email addresses naturally degrade every year. Email addresses that were good one year may not be the next, so cleaning up your list is never a one-time process.

Check out this list of 10 top email verification tools (including a detailed product comparison) to help you get started with choosing the right one for you.

Our outbound email software and lead generation services are custom-built for startups, consultancies, marketing agencies, and other B2B organizations. Schedule a quick call with us and find out how we can help you win more clients.