Email Deliverability vs. Email Delivery Rate: Know The Difference

Vladislav Podolyako
Sep 21, 2021
Reading duration

If you meet a marketer who thinks that the term "email deliverability" can be replaced with "email delivery rate," they're not a marketer and they aren't qualified to work on your email marketing issues. Don't let people like these put their ignorant hands all over your campaigns and mailboxes. 

To weaponize you further and make you more perceptive when choosing the right marketer for your inbound campaigns and cold outreach, we decided to provide a little bit more information about those two terms and explain why they aren't interchangeable.

Email delivery rate: What is it? 

Email delivery rate shows how many emails got received by your prospects’ email service provider and weren’t returned to you as hard or soft bounces. 

Why do you need an email delivery rate?

Email delivery rate is important when you need to assess how healthy your bounce rate is. Your message will inevitably get bounced due to technical issues or any other factor that you can't control or foresee. However, this bounce rate should stay at an acceptable level. Your email delivery rate allows you to see whether you're fine or it's time to take measures. An email rate is usually calculated via the following formula:

An average delivery rate starts at 95%, while a tolerable bounce rate varies between 25% to 40%

A good delivery rate helps you rest assured that you send to existing and valid email addresses, and your IP address isn't blocked by internet service providers. 

However, this metric is not an accurate reflection of your email campaign's success because the email delivery rate includes both emails that reach your recipients' inboxes and emails that never get there because they're redirected to a spam folder. 

What is email deliverability?

Email deliverability is the term used to describe the percentage of emails that land in the inboxes of your recipients. So, while email delivery rate means all emails that get received by your prospect's email service provider, email deliverability focuses only on those that are granted access to the inbox and get seen by the recipient. This is exactly why only email deliverability matters when it comes to evaluating the performance of your email marketing campaigns.   

Email deliverability encompasses a wide range of conditions that should be met before you can count your message as delivered and contributing to your success. 

  • Sender reputation. Many senders can send an email, but only the most credible ones can make it reach their intended recipient. A good sender reputation stems from a healthy domain and a reliable dedicated IP address as well as steady, consistent, and legitimate mailbox activity. 
  • Authentication protocols. When receiving servers can't identify whether the email came from the domain indicated in the sender's address, the message gets sent to a spam folder. Proper identification requires DNS records, such as an SPF record, a DKIM signature, and a DMARC policy. Those records help recipients authenticate incoming mail and prove that it wasn't tampered with or sent without the domain owner's knowledge. 

How to calculate email deliverability?

Unlike the email delivery rate, there is no exact formula for calculating the perfect email deliverability. Instead, you should keep your eye on several important metrics and use them to make sense of your performance. 

  • Delivery rate. Yes, a good delivery rate doesn't mean good email deliverability, but it's one of its components because soft and hard bounces affect sender reputation and, therefore, reduce the chances of sending an email directly to the recipients' inboxes. Meanwhile, it increases the risk of angering spam filters. 
  • Inbox placement rate. Also called IPR, the inbox placement rate shows the number of emails that land in the inboxes of your recipients instead of getting to the spam folder. An inbox placement rate is usually calculated by dividing the number of emails received by your prospects by the number of messages sent to your recipients. As a rule, IPR is used for permission-based email marketing. To get a clear view of your deliverability, you should take into account the inbox placement rate for all email services you send to (Gmail, Outlook, etc.)
  • Open rate.  Whenever a recipient opens your email, you can know for sure that your message hit the inbox. Opens are vital for figuring out where your emails go and if you need to work on spam issues to improve your condition. Opens can be tracked with special software that sends you a notification whenever a user opens your email or with email deliverability tools like GlockApps and Folderly.
  • Engagement rate.  Getting your email opened is not enough. Your recipients must display their interest in your message, interact with it, open it more than one time, click the links and respond to you. Interactions from recipients contribute to your Sender Score, so high email deliverability is impossible without high engagement levels from your recipients. 


So, what we learned today will help you understand your email marketing metrics and tell a real delivery expert from a wannabe.

Email deliverability is a huge set of metrics and processes outlining the number of emails that get received by your target audience and trigger it to respond and interact with your content. Email delivery rate is a metric used to calculate the total number of messages that get sent to the receiving server without getting bounced. You can't evaluate your email deliverability with email delivery rate alone, but email delivery rate, along with other KPIs, is the essential component of evaluating email deliverability

If you want to explore email deliverability, we have plenty of articles dedicated to this subject. Make sure that you know how to assess your performance correctly and know all the factors that can stand between you and your email marketing goals. Also, you can use Folderly to see your Sender Score and find out the ways to improve email deliverability that can raise your campaign results from average to stellar.

Vladislav Podolyako
Vladislav Podolyako
Founder & CEO
Vlad’s decades of entrepreneurial wisdom and business building experience have allowed him to successfully mentor a diverse group of business owners, entrepreneurs in growing their companies. A recognized expert in the areas of transforming organizational culture and leadership development, B2B Sales, Marketing, spent more than 10 years building technology products, with a background in communication networks and electronic device engineering.

Also you may like

Why Spam Filters Hate You
Why Spam Filters Hate You

Spam filters are scary. Sometimes it feels like they do everything possible to destroy your outreach. However, this isn’t true. Spam filters exist to protect your outreach and you. Your goal is to prove that you’re a sender, not a spammer. In this post, we’ll show you how you can do it.